Real estate and construction: foreign firms in China

Allen & Overy LLP

Drawing upon finance, funds and corporate expertise, Allen & Overy LLP‘s multi-disciplinary Greater China real estate team, which is based out of Shanghai and Hong Kong – ‘deploys top execution ability and superb business knowledge’ on behalf of financial sponsors, banks and corporates. As well as advising on purely regional work across all segments of the commercial real estate market, including office space, retail and logistics, the team is also ‘strong at handling cross-border real estate transactions’, and is well-placed to advise the growing number of international investors on their transactions.  Shanghai-based partner Wayne Lee ‘has rich experience in real estate transactions‘ and spearheads the firm’s private equity-related real estate offering, which provides comprehensive service throughout the life cycle of a deal, from structuring the investment platform and establishing the equity financing arrangements, through to downstream investment activity and divestments. Combining strong local real estate knowledge with overarching finance expertise, fluent Mandarin speaker Matthew Bisley co-heads the team alongside Lee and leads much of the finance work for an impressive mix of local and international banks, as well as for the firm’s funds clients. China and US-qualified partner Jean Ye also continues to impress on her work for many major private equity sponsors and sovereign wealth funds, where she is appreciated for her ability to combine her ‘considerable local legal experience‘, with her international legal nous.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Bisley; Wayne Lee


The firm deploys top execution ability and superb business knowledge.’

The team is strong at handling cross-border real estate transactions.’

‘Wayne Lee has rich experience in real estate transactions.’

Jean Ye has considerable local legal experience.’

Key clients

New Ease

Work highlights

  • Advising New Ease on the formation of a logistics development fund with Quadreal, including establishment of a Cayman Islands exempted limited partnership and commercial arrangements for New Ease to act as the fund advisor and project management advisor, setting up of the portfolio structure to be held by the partnership.

Baker McKenzie

Conversant with both corporate and traditional real estate matters, Baker McKenzie FenXun‘s seven-partner team, which is spread across the firm’s mainland China and Hong Kong offices, provides a comprehensive offering to developers, investors and end-users on their Greater China-related real estate needs. The team is also well-placed to provide multijurisdictional advice, by virtue of its international network, while the firm’s ability to advise on local law matters in mainland China is also appreciated by clients. Hong Kong-based team head Rico Chan has garnered vast accumulated institutional knowledge of the real estate market throughout China, which is appreciated by stakeholders engaged in domestic PRC and cross-border real estate transactions. Chan has developed particular expertise advising sophisticated real estate investors, including in the context of REITs, which is a strength of the team as a whole. The ‘very responsive and helpfulAlexander Gong heads up the real estate team in Shanghai and provides ‘clear advice‘ to local and international clients on land and development projects, leasing and private equity-related matters. Beijing-based senior counsel Hai Yong is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Rico Chan



‘They have a particularly strong China practice which has worked with us now on a number of key transactions.’

The very responsive and helpful Alexander Gong provides clear advice.


Key clients

Funyard Hotel Management (Guangdong) Company Limited

Gaw Capital Partners

Keppel Capital Holdings Pte. Ltd.


Shui On Land

Work highlights

  • Advised Gaw Capital Partners on the formation and successful closing of its Internet Data Center (IDC) platform in China, raising approximately $1.3bn.
  • Advised Link REIT, a listed REIT in Hong Kong, on its acquisition of 50% interest in a Shanghai commercial development (Qibao Vanke Plaza) from an Asia-based sovereign wealth fund, and entry into a joint venture with the other owner being a PRC private equity fund whose investors are affiliates of China Merchants Bank and Vanke.
  • Advising Shui On Land on its 50/50 joint venture with Grosvenor to acquire Nanjing IFC, a mixed-use building (with a 45-storey Grade A office tower and a seven-storey retail podium) in Nanjing CBD.

DLA Piper

Based out of Shanghai and Hong Kong, DLA Piper‘s cross-office team provides a ‘cost-effective and professional‘ service to developers, funds and end-users across a range of corporate real estate matters throughout the investment life cycle. The return of the ‘exceptionalEd Sheremeta from Ropes & Gray LLP in November 2020 further enhances the firm’s real estate transactional capabilities, particularly in the context of private equity-related investment work in the sector. In addition to Sheremeta, the team includes the vastly experienced Susheela Rivers, whose broad expertise includes hospitality and leisure-related matters, and Lillian Duan, who provides ‘a very rare blend of international standard/commercial clarity together with detailed-bottoms up local practice guidance and advice’ on transactional real estate work.


The meticulous team provides a cost-effective and professional service.’

The exceptional Ed Sheremeta is solutions-driven, bright and experienced.’

Lillian Duan provides a very rare blend of international standard/commercial clarity together with detailed-bottoms up local practice guidance and advice. This blend allows her and her team to be a very integral and critical part of our acquisition process.’

Key clients

Ping An Insurance

Work highlights

  • Advised Ping An Insurance on the 30% share acquisition from, and joint venture with, Sun Hung Kai Properties in developing the commercial and retail complex at the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong.

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown‘s integrated construction and real estate practice is well-equipped to advise a varied array of stakeholders, including funds, developers and end-users, across the gamut of contentious and non-contentious matters throughout Greater China. The ‘sheer volume of deals that they undertake every year is astonishing’ and this ensures that the team has an excellent perspective of market trends across the myriad of development, finance and M&A-related matters intersecting with commercial, residential, retail and logistics properties. While it does handle some contractor work, the construction team is best-known for its employer-side offering, where as well as advising on the front-end of deals  including a major piece of ongoing work for the Hong Kong Jockey Club on the 150-hectare construction of a facility for the training of Hong Kong’s thoroughbred racehorses, it is also extremely adept at advising on any disputes that may subsequently arise. Tom Fu, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, is leading on the aforementioned matter and is frequently at the forefront of the firm’s most significant construction projects throughout Greater China, as well as outbound and Belt & Road infrastructure and power projects. Shanghai-based partner Andy Yeo takes the lead on most of the highest-profile PRC-based real estate projects and is adept at advising on matters throughout the life cycle of a deal. Beijing-based counsel Rosalyn Han has a well-rounded construction offering and is a key member of the team that also includes Shanghai-based real estate-focused senior associate Ellen Zhang.

Practice head(s):

Keith Cheung ; Tom Fu ; Andy Yeo


Other key lawyers:

Rosalyn Han; Ellen Zhang


‘The firm provides practical advice which suit our company’s needs.’

‘They are helpful and rich in legal and contractual experiences.’

The sheer volume of deals that goes through them every year is astonishing.’

Key clients

China Life Insurance (Overseas)

China State

Gaw Capital

Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited

Hong Kong Jockey Club

InfraRed NF Advisors

Shui On Building Contractors Limited

Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited

Swire Properties Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising The Hong Kong Jockey Club on their Conghua Training Centre in Guangdong, which involves the construction of a world-class facility for the training of Hong Kong’s thoroughbred racehorses.

Paul Hastings LLP

With a strong and well-established presence throughout Hong Kong and mainland China, and also well-placed to advise on cross-border matters by virtue of the firm’s international network, Paul Hastings LLP is involved in many sophisticated real estate transactions for a wide array of stakeholders, including developers, banks and end-users. Leveraging strong relationships with regional/international asset managers and sovereign wealth funds, the firm excels at advising on sophisticated real estate investment mandates, both from an inbound and outbound perspective. Shanghai-based of counsel Elyn He regularly advises Chinese and international clients on complex multijurisdictional transactions, joint ventures, and fund formation matters. Former team head Paul Guan joined Kirkland & Ellis in July 2021.

Other key lawyers:

Elyn He

Key clients

The Carlyle Group

China Cinda Holdings

China Everbright/Everbright Real Estate

ICBC International

Mapletree Investments

Ping An

Warburg Pincus

Apollo Asia

ARA Asset Management

Ascent Real Estate Investors

Proprium Capital Partners

Hitone Capital

ACR Capital


Sino Ocean Capital

CapitaLand Asia Partners


Boyu Capital



Work highlights

  • Represented Manulife group in its formation of a partnership with Gaw Capital Partners, pursuant to which Manulife will join the Gaw Capital-led consortium as the single largest investor to acquire City plaza One from Swire Pacific and Swire Properties.
  • Represented SDP Investment in the formation of a joint venture with an international institutional investor in connection with the acquisition of U-Show Plaza in Beijing.
  • Represented Apollo Global Management in its formation of a joint venture with Hong Kong Shanghai Alliance Holdings Limited and in the joint venture’s RMB3.1bn acquisition of Great Wall Financial Building in Huangpu District, Shanghai.

Pinsent Masons

Benefiting from a huge presence in Hong Kong, as well as a sizeable footprint in mainland China, international construction heavyweight Pinsent Masons picks up a raft of front and back end work for major contractors, in particular, on substantial construction projects in China. The team’s expertise extends beyond purely regional work, however, and includes involvement in major infrastructure and energy projects in the Middle East, Africa and South America. Beijing-based partner Mark Hu has excellent ties with many Chinese contractor SOEs, which sees him regularly involved in substantial outbound infrastructure, power and renewables projects. Shanghai-based senior associate Rachel Turner specialises in construction and engineering law matters, particularly in a contentious setting. Sam Boyling, who splits his time between Beijing and Singapore, and Beijing-based partner Helena Chen, are the joint China office heads and are both particularly well regarded for their arbitration expertise.

Practice head(s):

Vincent Connor (Head of Hong Kong); Dean Lewis (Co-Head of International Arbitration); Helena Chen (Co-Head of China); Sam Boyling (Co-Head of China)


The team includes some very smart and thorough individuals.’

Key clients

CGGC International Limited

CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd

CRRC (Hong Kong) Co. Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising CGGC International on its equity investment and its bid for EPC contractor for the Red Sea Project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest projects to be undertaken by the Saudi Government.
  • Advising the consortium of CRRC (Hong Kong) and CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd on Mexico City’s Metro Line 1 modernisation project.

Clifford Chance LLP

Leveraging its finance, M&A and funds expertise, in particular, Clifford Chance‘s multi-disciplinary Hong Kong-based team is well-equipped to handle transactional China-based work throughout the investment life cycle. As well as advice on conventional office, residential and industrial buildings, the practice is also well-versed on matters involving more specialised real estate assets, including data centres, hospitals, exhibition venues and logistics centres. In addition to handling a significant amount of inbound work for international investors, the team also regularly forms an integral part of cross-office deployments for local clients on outbound matters. The team is co-headed by fund formation expert Matthias Feldmann and finance partner Dauwood Malik.

Other key lawyers:

Amy Ho

Key clients

Cainiao Network

Partners Group

Chelsfield Asia

Phoenix Property Investors Limited

Kai Tak Sports Park Limited

Carrefour Nederland B.V.


HOPU Investments


CK Asset Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Kirkbi A/S (Kirk Kristiansen family’s private holding and investment company founded to build a sustainable future for the family ownership of the LEGO brand) on its partnership with Merlin Attractions Operations Limited, CMC Holdings HK Limited (an affiliate of China Media Capital) and Shanghai Guoyi Investment Management Co., Ltd. (a Chinese state-owned enterprise and affiliate of the Shanghai Jinshan district government) to establish one joint venture to develop, construct and own the Shanghai LEGOLAND Resort and a second joint venture to operate and manage the Shanghai LEGOLAND Resort.
  • Advised Kai Tak Sports Park Limited, a consortium consisting of New World Development and its subsidiary NWS Holdings, on the successful award of a 25-year contract to design, build and operate the Kai Tak Sports Park.
  • Advised the underwriters on New World Development Company Limited’s sustainability-linked bond issuance.


Drawing upon experts spread throughout the firm’s international network of offices, CMS advises domestic and international clients across a range of projects and disputes related to real estate, including acquisition and development of real estate, drafting lease and service contracts and development agreements, and public procurement law. Shanghai-based corporate partner Ulrike Glueck heads up the team that also includes senior associate Sarah Wang, whose expertise includes advice on land use right expropriation projects.

Practice head(s):

Dr Ulrike Glueck

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Wang

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

With a significant presence on the ground in mainland China, and also able to draw upon resources in Hong Kong and other key jurisdictions in the region, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP excels in advising Chinese contractors and SOEs on their outbound construction mandates. The scope of this work is broad, extending throughout the value-chain and encompassing non-contentious and contentious work relating to infrastructure, energy and manufacturing projects. The team, which has ‘in-depth knowledge and insight’ of the local market, also handles work for international entities on their inbound China mandates. Splitting his time between Shanghai and Beijing, Hew Kiang Heong has vast experience acting for Chinese SOEs, in particular, on their cross-border infrastructure and construction disputes. Michelle Li co-heads the team alongside Heong and provides ‘on-point and insightful advice‘ to contractor and consultant clients in both a contentious and non-contentious setting.

Practice head(s):

Hew Kiang Heong; Michelle Li


Other key lawyers:

Murphy Mok; Grace Fang


The team has an in-depth insight and knowledge in our industry, expanding beyond legal risk management to include commercial risk management.’

Michelle Li is always on point, available and insightful to our business.’

Key clients

China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC)

China Railway Construction Corporation International (CRCCI)

China Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Co., Ltd

China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co. Ltd International

Shanghai Construction Group Co., Ltd.

PT Pertamina Rosneft Pengolahan dan Petrokimia

Work highlights

  • Advised a leading Chinese SOE contractor on a number of its road construction projects in central Asia financed by multilateral development banks.
  • Advising PT Pertamina Rosneft Pengolahan dan Petrokimia on the new “Grass Root Refinery and Petrochemical Complex” at Tuban, Indonesia.

Morrison Foerster

Led from Hong Kong by private equity expert Marcia Ellis, Morrison Foerster‘s multi-disciplinary team regularly advises clients on the acquisition, financing and disposition of real estate assets throughout China and across Asia. It has been particularly active of late advising global real estate stakeholders on data centre mandates, an area that plays to the firm’s overarching strength in the technology sector.

Practice head(s):

Marcia Ellis


Other key lawyers:

Chuan Sun; Lucy Lu; Maureen Ho

Key clients


Greenland Hong Kong Holdings Limited

Princeton Digital Group

Work highlights

  • Advised GLP on the financing of its acquisition of a 50% stake in China Merchants Capital.
  • Advised Shanghai Oriental Cambridge Property Development Co, a property development company and wholly-owned subsidiary of Greenland Hong Kong Holdings on its RMB7.26bn acquisition of Guangzhou Greenland Real Estate Development.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Primarily based out of Hong Kong, Proskauer Rose LLP is best-known for its hospitality-related real estate work, including transactions in the hotel and gaming sectors. Head of the Beijing and Hong Kong offices, Yuval Tal is global co-chair of the hospitality, gaming and leisure group; Tal regularly forms part of cross-office teams acting for longstanding multinational hospitality company, Accor, on projects throughout the globe. Hong Kong-based consultant Cynthia Cheng is a key resource to clients as a result of her vast in-house hotel-related experience.

Practice head(s):

Yuval Tal

Other key lawyers:

Jay Tai; Cynthia Cheng

Key clients


Galaxy Entertainment Group

Mori Building Real Estate Advisory Co.

Work highlights

  • Advised longtime client Accor in the launch of a global strategic partnership with Faena Group; in the sale of Accor’s interests in Huazhu, a China-based, NASDAQ-listed company; in taking full ownership of the hotel brands; and continuing to advise Accor on its negotiations with Ennismore to form the world’s leading lifestyle operator in the hospitality sector.
  • Advised Galaxy Entertainment Group on its agreements with a number of international hotel operators in connection with Phases 3 and 4 of its integrated resort gaming development in Macau.
  • Advised Mori Building Co. and JR Kyushu, one of the Japanese railway companies, in their multi-property deal with Marriott international for Japanese hotels, the first of which is their deal in Nagasaki.