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Corporate and M&A – Foreign firms

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A – Foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

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    • Charles Kim - Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
    • Huiyeon Kim - Ashurst
    • Jinkang Albert Nah - Paul Hastings LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s team of experienced bilingual practitioners regularly advise Korean clients on overseas investments opportunities as well as assisting international private equity funds on foreign direct investments and corporate transactions in Korea. Team head Sang Jin Han assists Korean clients in disposing of their businesses assets and in outbound transactions. He counts Korea Investment Corporation and  Samsung Electronics as recent clients. Associate Kelly Hyunsoo Jin is also recommended for M&A and private equity transactions.

Paul Hastings LLP handles high-value, innovative and complex outbound M&As for Korean conglomerates. Daniel Sae-Chin Kim is the head of the firm's Korea corporate practice and recently assisted SeAH Steel on the acquisition of a steel pipe processing and inspection company, based in Texas. Dong Chul Kim’s corporate expertise in global transactions is highly sought after by major international financial institutions including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Associate Jinkang Albert Nah is also a name to note.

White & Case LLP (Foreign Legal Consultant Office) is regularly instructed by Korean conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics, on outbound investment opportunities, as well as by global private equity firms on inbound investments in Korean enterprises. The team worked with Hong-Kong based Christopher Kelly for Baring Private Equity Asia on the sale of its 100% equity interest in Halla Cement to Asia Cement for $723m. The cross-border practice's expertise in private equity transactions is demonstrated by Kim, Kelly and private equity partner, London-based Peggy Wang, who collectively represented buyers Affinity Equity Partners, GIC and AlpInvest on GE’s sale of its interest in Hyundai Card to Hyundai Commercial. Kyungseok Kim has joined Arnold & Porter following the announcement that it is opening a Seoul office.

‘A prudent strategist and an unyielding negotiator’, Ashurst's John Kim has a strong reputation in high-value cross-border outbound M&A and investments and is praised for having ‘intimate knowledge regarding business operation’. The team has ‘impressive legal expertise’ and ‘understands numbers, business priorities, and has the flexibility to wear multiple hats at once’. Kim and Peter Kwon are acting for Hana Asset Management in relation to the corporate restructuring of E-Shang Redwood, an SPV into which Hana made a $300m debt investment. Other standout mandates include advising Kia Motors on its multi-billion-dollar investment in a manufacturing plant and facilities in Andhra Pradesh, India. The team is assisting Kia with the implementation of an amended investment agreement and accompanying land transfer, tax exemptions and infrastructure matters in relation to its manufacturing plant in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Huiyeon Kim is also highly recommended.

Corporate partners, Melissa Ng, Valerie Kong and Satbir Walia lead the Singapore-based M&A team at Clifford Chance. Noted highlights for the team include advising Unilever on its acquisition of Carver Korea for $2.7bn from the company's founder, Bain Capital Private Equity and Goldman Sachs. It is also assisting private equity firm Navis Capital on the merger of a portfolio asset, a chain of fitness gyms, with Fitness First gyms across South-East Asia owned by Oaktree Capital. Clients in the joint venture space include PT Medco Energi International and Airbus. Hyun Kim in Seoul acts for development banks and financial institutions.

Dechert's Hong-Kong based David Cho was active in several significant cross-border outbound M&A and private equity transactions related to South Korea.  Recent standout mandates include advising semiconductor supplier SK Hynix, as part of an investor consortium, on the proposed $18bn acquisition of Toshiba’s NAND flash memory and solid-state drive business. Cho is also advising e-commerce and energy companies on disposal of business assets, equity finance and joint ventures. Iris Park is active on several transactions and is another name to note.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's managing partner Dongho Lee leads the Seoul office, which includes senior associate Charles Kim, who advises on cross-border M&A, joint ventures and private equity investments, and Ken Nam who assists with international energy mandates. Recent instructions include advising UTC Investment the sale of its controlling equity interest in Markpro to CPA Global. The team has also been active in the outbound foreign investment space, assisting leading Korean companies in the consumer goods, insurance, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors on regulatory issues surrounding foreign investment. Lewis McDonald in the Tokyo office, Ian Williams in Australia and London-based James Doe are also active in Korean matters.

Ropes & Gray LLP's team are ‘always responsive with an in-depth understanding of market standards’ and has a strong offering in outbound M&A, particularly within the private equity space. Practice head Jaewoo Lee’s ‘broad industry experience’ in high-value M&As and familiarity with the Korean market is highly sought after by Korean clients across various industries; recent instructions include advising LS-Nikko Copper on the sale of its minority stake in Minera Panama for $635m, and Netmarble Games in its acquisition of a 100% stake in the Vancouver Studio business of Kabam. Lee assists key private equity clients TPG Capital and Bain Capital on the acquisition of a controlling stake in Hugel, a Korean biopharmaceuticals company.

Baker McKenzie LLP, Foreign Legal Consultant Office's Won Lee has a strong track record in representing Korean and international clients in multi-jurisdictional M&As, outbound investments and joint ventures. The corporate practice has notable expertise acting for clients in the energy, automobile, electronic and media sectors. Winton Kim regularly works alongside Lee and is recommended for telecoms and social infrastructure transactions.

DLA Piper’s ‘very responsive, thorough, and professional’ Seoul-based team ‘goes extra miles to get things done when faced with difficult challenges’ in M&A, corporate governance and responsibility, and other mandates. Korea country manager Daniel Lee is experienced in foreign direct investments, cross-border transactions, and is part of a multi-jurisdictional team representing a Korean conglomerate in a joint venture across several jurisdictions. Lee is also advising Korean investors and businesses on outbound investments and acquisitions in Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Latham & Watkins LLP has boosted its capabilities with the recruitment of Wonsuk Kang, previously counsel at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to head its corporate and capital market practice. The practice draws on cross-departmental expertise to advise on investment and divestment activities for Korean businesses, as well as aiding foreign corporates on inbound transactions in Korea. The practice boasts an impressive list of well-known international clients including BNP Paribas, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Temasek Holdings. Key contact Ji-Hyun Helena Kim is experienced in equity and debt capital markets transactions and cross-border M&As.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP's Paul Kim represented Mirae Asset Global Investments in the sale of over 9 million shares of common stock in Acushnet Holdings. In other highlights, he advised several Korean companies in connection with acquisitions and disposal of business assets, and is continuing to assist foreign corporates seeking investment and expansion in the Korean market.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has announced the closure of its Seoul office at the end of 2018. The firm's Hong Kong-based corporate partners Jin Hyuk Park and Ian Ho advised key client KKR in its formation of a joint venture with LS Group and acquisition of 47% voting shares in LS Automotive. The team also assisted Ant Financial Services in its $200m investment in fintech platform KakaoPay, a subsidiary to be launched by Kakao.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's ‘very responsive and dedicated’ multi-jurisdictional practice provides ‘clear and acute advice’ to Korean corporations on outbound investment opportunities and acquisitions in the energy, technology, manufacturing and healthcare sectors. Key Seoul contact H Young Shin is ‘client friendly and well experienced’ in advising Korean conglomerates on complex cross-border outbound M&A transactions in the energy, manufacturing and technology sectors.

Corporate and M&A – Local firms

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A – Local firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Dong Woo Seo, Byoung-Ki Lee and Sky Yang jointly lead the corporate and M&A practice at Bae, Kim & Lee LLC. Recent standout transactions include Sungjo Yun, Mok H Kim and Myoung Seok Oh advising on Unilever's acquisition of 95.39% of shares in Carver Korea, from Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs and Carver's founder for $2.7bn. Recently promoted partner Ho Kyung Chang assists international and Korean clients with cross-border M&A transactions, joint ventures, foreign and private equity investments. Joonki Yi is an expert in cross-border deals within the areas of energy, natural resources and defence. Other noted work includes advising KB Securities on the acquisition of 99.4% shares in Maritime Securities; Lee and Sun Hee Park acted for SM Entertainment and its affiliates in forming a strategic partnership with the country’s largest mobile carrier, SK Telecom.

Kim & Chang has strengthened its team with the recruitment of M&A specialists Woojae Kim and Eun Joo Kang from Paul Hastings LLP and Bae, Kim & Lee LLC respectively. In one of Korea’s largest outbound transactions to date, Kyung-Yoon Lee, Joon Kim and Sookyung Lee acted as lead counsel to SK Hynix, one of the main financial investors of the consortium led by Bain Capital, which acquired Toshiba Memory from Toshiba Corporation for $2bn.  Elsewhere, Shin Kwon Lim advised MBK Partners on the $1.1bn purchase of 100% of shares in Daesung Industrial Gases. The team also assisted on the sale of Lock & Lock shares to a private equity firm. Jong Koo Park, Young Jay Ro and Young Man Huh are recommended for being ‘experts in the field’.

Lee & Ko’s ‘experienced, dedicated and client-focused’ team, led by Hyun Tae Kim, is involved in sizeable transactions in the pharmaceutical, financial services, transportation and technology sectors. Sang Gon Kim and Ho Joon Moon advised LS Group in the transfer of LS Automotive business to a joint venture established by KKR.  As an example of outbound transaction work, Moon and Ki Wook Kang advised LG Hausys in its purchase of 50.1% of a Slovakian automobile parts manufacturer. Also of note is Hyeong Gun Lee, who is an expert in complex cross-border deals; Yongjoon Yoon is particularly adept in strategic deal structuring and negotiation; Daehoon Koo and Kyungchun Kim are ‘quickly developing an outstanding reputation’.

KL Partners is quickly developing a reputation as an ‘outstanding practice’ in the corporate and M&A space. Group head Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi is an all-round expert in M&A and private equity transactions; he advised KTB Private Equity in its sale of shares in Dongbu Express to Dongwon Group for $380m and assisted Kumho Holdings in the re-acquisition of Kumho Buslines for $400m. John M. Kim regularly advises foreign corporations on M&A, joint ventures and corporate transactions; he recently acted for NBC Sports in its broadcast of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Shin & Kim's ‘deep industry knowledge’ help it ‘deliver the best services to its client’. Key figures Tong-Gun Lee and Myong-Hyon Ryu advised CJ Group in the sale of its 100% stake in CJ HealthCare, one of Korea’s largest pharmaceutical M&As valued at $1.2bn. The team also assisted Novelis Korea’s joint venture agreement with Kobe Steel. Also of note, Jae Young Chang specialises in transactions within the manufacturing sector, while Joon Hyug Chung focuses on private equity transactions. Also recommended are Byung Tae Kim and Chang-Hyun Song. Associate Chaewon Kang has ‘lots of potential to become a great partner’.

Headed by Hee Woong Yoon, Yulchon’s M&A practice attracts clients with its ‘high-end service at reasonable billings’, ‘deeply knowledgeable counsel’ and seamless ‘cross-departmental coordination’. Key partner Jae Hyun Park advised Asia Cement in acquiring a 100% stake in HallaCement from Baring Private Equity Asia and working alongside Hong Kim, assisted STIC Investments on its purchase of a 70% stake in Daekyung O&T. Senior foreign counsel Anthony Choi stands out for his ‘strong legal knowledge and ability to provide commercial and strategic advise’; he and senior foreign counsel Seungyul Shawn Yum aided Lotte Confectionery in its acquisition of HavmorIce Cream, an ice cream manufacturer in India. Other key contacts include Jin Kook Lee and Tehyok Daniel Yi. Yong Yun, Woo Jin Ahn, and Seok Jun Park left the practice.

Jipyong’s ‘dynamic and efficient’ practice ‘always deliver beyond expectation’, and is regularly involved in significant corporate mandates and cross-border transactions. Practice head Cheol Jeong is praised for his ‘deep understanding’ and ‘ability to properly point out things overlooked by the client’; he advised Naver in its subscription of 5% of new redeemable convertible preferred shares in Woowa Brothers, a leading food delivery company in Korea. Also of note is Hee-Suk Chai, an all-round expert in private equity funds. Min Shin, Hye Jung Ryu and Tae Hyun Lee are also recommended for M&As and corporate mandates.

Yoon & Yang LLC's practice ‘always come up with the fast and effective solutions to the complicated legal issues’ and impress with its ‘good negotiation skills and high level of industry knowledge’. Soongki Yi co-heads the group alongside Sung-Jin Kim, whose strengths ‘lie on his creative approach to corporate matters’; he is able to provide sound advice based on ‘technical knowledge and insight on the markets’. Kim recently assisted CHA Healthcare with an investment of $98m from Mirae Asset. Hwang Lim Jang is also recommended for corporate and capital finance related matters.

DR & AJU LLC team impresses clients with its ‘excellent industry knowledge and extremely quick responses’. In recent highlights for the group, Jong Won Lee assisted Keangnam Enterprises with the sale of its interest in Suwan Energy power plant to Samick Music. The ‘very knowledgeable' Seung Hyo (Sam) Baek is recommended for transactions within the education sector; he advised New York-based MediaMath in acquiring a 25% interest in Korean firm Wishmedia, and aided a Hong Kong investment company in acquiring an interest in a Korean online language training platform.

Lee International IP & Law Group's Ghil-Won Jo assisted a Korean conglomerate on the creation of new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines, advised on a merger between two listed Korean companies, and acted for a creditor in a bankruptcy claim. Also of note, senior foreign attorney Stephan Sung-Eun Kim advised on the acquisition of business assets of a domestic semiconductor manufacturing company.

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Dinner with GC -
Korea 2018

  • China and Hong Kong GC Powerlist

    In May, The Legal 500 and GC Magazine added another country to the list of destinations for their exclusive Dinner with GC series, as South Korea’s elite in-house counsel came together at Mugunghwa in Seoul, for a closed-door discussion on the realities of the role.

    Dinner with GC - Korea 2018

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