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Latham & Watkins LLP

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Hong Kong

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 2

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP’s team has gained momentum following the arrival of global banking practice co-chair Gary Hamp from Hogan Lovells at the beginning of 2016, with counsel Manas Chandrashekar more recently joining from White & Case. In addition, the group has expanded at associate level: Zhen Jin and Lynsey Edgar joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance respectively. Howard Lam is among a number of fluent Mandarin speakers in the team, whose Hong Kong, English and US law knowledge adds value in global financing transactions. Illustrative of its breadth of expertise, the group advises on bridge-to-bond financings, leveraged and acquisition finance, and syndicated lending, among various other matters. Hamp and Chandrashekar advised HSBC on the financing of Kuala Lumpur Kehong Berhad’s proposed takeover of London-listed M.P. Evans. Another highlight for the team included assisting Partners Group with negotiating the leveraged finance for its acquisition of SPi Global (the corporate team is handling the M&A side). James Burnett is a key adviser to Nord Anglia Education on the financing aspects of the take-private by a consortium led by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Baring Private Equity Asia. Posit Laohaphan is another active practitioner in the group.

Leading individuals

Gary Hamp - Latham & Watkins LLP

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Corporate (including M&A)
Corporate (including M&A) - ranked: tier 2

Latham & Watkins LLP

Led by Cathy Yeung, Latham & Watkins LLP’s Hong Kong team underwent significant expansion in 2016, adding depth to the firm’s existing offering in the corporate arena. Namely, Simon Cooke and Amy Beckingham were hired from Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer respectively, while Frank Sun, who is dual-qualified to practise in New York and Hong Kong, arrived from Kirkland & Ellis. In addition, Terris Tang rejoined the team as corporate counsel from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. The broad spread of the work sees the group play a major role in some of the most sophisticated and high-value transactions in China and further afield globally. As part of a multidisciplinary cross-office team, Cooke and counsel Dominik Sklenar are assisting Nord Anglia Education with the $4.3bn take-private by a consortium led by Baring Private Equity Asia and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. In 2016, David Blumental was a key adviser in a sizeable cross-border team, which acted for Shandong Ruyi Technology Group in its acquisition of a majority stake in Paris-based Groupe SMCP. Cathay Fortune Capital Investment, Vistra Group and Go-JEK are new clients.

Next generation lawyers

Terris Tang - Latham & Watkins LLP

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Private equity
Private equity - ranked: tier 2

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP’s recent high-profile lateral hires, both on the corporate and leveraged finance front, appear to be paying dividends and the office is picking up a significant amount of high-profile work for an impressive roster of clients including Carlyle Asia Partners, MBK Partners, Warburg Pincus and Cathay Fortune Capital Investment. Team head Simon Cooke is well known in the region and is advising Partners Group on its $330m acquisition of SPi Global from CVC Capital Partners. In a deal that involves significant input from several of the firm’s US offices, Cooke is also acting for New York-listed company Nord Anglia Education in the $4.3bn take-private by a consortium led by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Baring Private Equity Asia. Amy Beckingham handles a significant amount of work for Warburg Pincus including advising it, as part of a consortium, on the leveraged acquisition of Singapore-listed real estate fund management company ARA Asset Management. As well as buy-side work, Beckingham also has securities expertise for private equity firms seeking an IPO exit. Native Mandarin speaker Frank Sun rounds the team out at a partner level and regularly handles China outbound work; he recently acted for CITIC Capital Partners on its $186.6m sale of a controlling stake in King Koil Shanghai Sleep System to Advent International. Associate Maurice Conway is also recommended.

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Projects and energy
Projects and energy - ranked: tier 2

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP is a global leader in energy and natural resources and its Hong Kong office plays a key role in this maintaining this position. Hong Kong team leader David Blumental is co-chair of the firm’s global oil and gas industry group. He and the team frequently advise Chinese and Asian investors on outbound transactions, including in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US. The firm is at the forefront of Asian investments into Russia, the divestment of assets by oil majors, LNG-to-power projects in Asia, and Chinese investments in power generation and transmission. The firm advised Oil India, Bharat PetroResources and Indian Oil Corporation on their $1.12bn acquisition of a 30% interest in the Taas-Yuryakh oil fields in Eastern Siberia from Rosneft.

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Next generation lawyers

Simon Hawkins - Latham & Watkins LLP

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Restructuring and insolvency
Restructuring and insolvency - ranked: tier 2

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP is particularly well suited to handling bondholder matters involving New York-law governed high-yield bonds, where the firm is able to leverage expertise from its US offices in addition to US-qualified partner Josef Athanas in situ in the Hong Kong office. Athanas is also able to provide Chapter 11 advice to clients and recently worked alongside colleagues from several US offices on behalf of troubled oil and gas company Stone Energy Corporation on its $1.4bn restructuring. The ‘very experienced and accomplishedHoward Lam is particularly noted for his restructuring/insolvency work involving PRC entities; he recently advised a steering committee of bondholders on the default of redeeming bonds issued by China City Construction. Simon Powell regularly handles the contentious elements of insolvency issues, should they arise, as part of his broad commercial litigation practice. While he is best known for his leveraged finance expertise, Gary Hamp’s broad financing know-how also encompasses restructuring work and distressed investments. Senior associate Sally Mui is noted for her work on China-related restructuring matters. Other clients include PwC, KPMG and Rolta India.

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Structured finance and securitisation
Structured finance and securitisation - ranked: tier 3

Latham & Watkins LLP

Under the guidance of the ‘excellentPosit Laohaphan, Latham & Watkins LLP’s structured finance and derivatives practice has rapidly gained market penetration since his arrival five years ago. The recent recruitment of dual-qualified Hong Kong and UK counsel Simon Hawkins from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer enhances the firm’s ability on the regulatory front (of particular importance given the ever-increasing regulatory hurdles impacting on derivatives and structured products work). Laohaphan has particular expertise advising on equity derivatives matters and recently acted for UBS as underwriter on the $300m exchange bond issuance by an offshore subsidiary of Thailand’s largest agribusiness company, Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company. Able to utilise the expertise of regulatory and transactional colleagues globally, particularly in the UK and US, the Hong Kong office is in a strong position to structure deals with the knowledge that it will be enforceable across many different jurisdictions. Although the majority of the work is on the sell side, the team also picks up some work for end-users including Tencent Holdings.

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Hong Kong: Capital markets

Capital markets (debt) - ranked: tier 3

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP is a leading player in the investment grade market, where it benefits from excellent relationships with Chinese SOEs and LGFVs. Ji Liu recently assisted ChemChina with its $600m perpetual capital securities offering, and worked with James Burnett to advise China Southern Power Grid Co. as US counsel on its $1.5bn senior guaranteed notes offering. On the underwriter side, Liu was the lead adviser to Credit Suisse and Nomura on the $500m bond offering by Want Want China Finance. Elsewhere, the team is extremely active in the high-yield debt space, as was illustrated by it acting for Xinjiang Guanghui Industry Investment Group in its $300m offering, and also when it assisted the underwriters with the $200m issuance by Reward International Investment. Other areas of expertise in the diverse practice include convertible bonds, exchange offers and private placements, as well as the establishment of (and updates to) global MTN programmes and European MTN programmes. Terris Tang rejoined the firm as counsel from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in December 2016, following the latter’s closure of its Hong Kong office. Another counsel Simon Hawkins joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in June 2017. Benjamin Carale, Posit Laohaphan and counsel Louis Rabinowitz are among other active practitioners in the team.

Leading individuals

Ji Liu - Latham & Watkins LLP

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Capital markets (equity) - ranked: tier 2

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP’s Hong Kong team is part of a wider Greater China group, which includes lawyers in the Beijing and Shanghai offices. Big-ticket Hong Kong IPOs and other equity offerings (acting for issuers and underwriters) are the mainstay of the practice; in 2016, Cathy Yeung and William Woo were the lead advisers to Everbright Securities on its $1.1bn Hong Kong IPO and listing, and they also recently acted for Jilin Jiutai Rural Commercial Bank on its $446m Hong Kong IPO. Yuk Wing Group Holdings, Huishang Bank Corporation and Franshion Properties are other notable clients. Terris Tang, who rejoined the firm as a counsel from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, was (along with Yeung) a key adviser to Kunming Dianchi Water Treatment on its $171.1m Hong Kong IPO and global offering. Another recent addition to the team was Simon Hawkins, who moved from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Allen Wang splits his time between the Hong Kong and Boston offices, and Ji Liu is also recommended.

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Hong Kong: Dispute resolution

International arbitration
Dispute resolution: international arbitration - ranked: tier 3

Latham & Watkins LLP

At Latham & Watkins LLP, ‘the quality of the firm’s product and responsiveness to the task truly demonstrates its depth of expertise’. The firm primarily handles HKIAC arbitrations, but also some SIAC and ICC disputes, involving manufacturing, intellectual property, finance and M&A transactions. Ing Loong Yang is ‘able to give timely, sound and commercially oriented advice thanks to his wide experience of arbitration’; he also acts as an HKIAC, CIETAC and ICC arbitrator. On the counsel side, he recently represented Great Wall Pan Asia International Investment in a HKIAC arbitration over a loan to the chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company. Simon Powell represents Trajectory, a US e-book start-up, after the collapse of a business alliance with a Chinese partner which sought to compete with it and allegedly used a shared director to provide inside information. Other clients include South Asian Transport Services Company, which Yang acted for in a SIAC arbitration over the sale of a helicopter, and a number of Chinese state-owned companies.

Leading individuals

Ing Loong Yang - Latham & Watkins LLP

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Dispute resolution: litigation - ranked: tier 5

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP’s practice ‘has extensive experience to tap into’ and is led by the well-regarded Simon Powell. It also includes Catherine Palmer, arbitrator Ing Loong Yang and David Blumental. The team recently assisted Enova with an enforcement action against two parties in Hong Kong concerning alleged infringement of Formula E and overstepping rights.

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