Real estate and construction: foreign firms in China

DLA Piper

DLA Piper has extensive experience in cross-border transactions, including both domestic and outbound investment. Clients benefit from the Greater China team's assistance during all investment stages, with the practice covering due diligence, acquisitions and divestments, joint ventures, structuring, finance and taxation. It also fields specialists in leasing and facilities management, REITs, project development, hotel management and agreements, trusts, fund formation and restructuring. Particular sector expertise includes large, complex commercial, retail, industrial and residential sites, as well as smaller conveyancing matters. In recent highlights, the group advised Allianz Real Estate on both its acquisition of modern logistics assets in China and the acquisition of a grade-A office asset in Beijing. Lillian Duan, who works across the Shanghai and Beijing offices, has advised major investment institutions and property funds on their real estate investments and business operations in China, and experienced practitioner Wayne Ma is based in Shanghai. Hong Kong-based Susheela Rivers  is Asia Pacific real estate head.

Practice head(s):

Susheela Rivers

Other key lawyers:

Lillian Duan; Wayne Ma

Testimonials

The team is very balanced and knows the intricacies of local practice issues, while also being very familiar with international investors’ perspectives‘.

Its documentation is consistently very good and clients can feel assured that the lawyers have covered the appropriate points and issues at hand‘.

Highly recommended to those who require a strong partner for documentation in both English and Chinese, Lillian Duan is consistently outstanding at helping clients reach a commercial view in a market that is often not clear cut; she is also very good at helping clients navigate the local environment‘.

Key clients

Allianz Real Estate

Ascent Real Estate Investors

Partners Group

Sigma Delta Partners Investment

The Family Office Company

Gaw Capital Partners

The CPP Investment Board

Work highlights

  • Acted for an institutional investor consortium, which included Ascent Real Estate Investors, Partners Group and Sigma Delta Partners Investment, in the financing of its $1.34bn acquisition of Dinghao Electronics Plaza in Beijing.
  • Advised Gaw Capital Partners on its acquisition of Ocean Towers in Shanghai.
  • Acted for CPPIB in forming a joint venture platform with Longfor Group to invest in rental apartment assets in China.

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown's real estate industry-focused legal team is highly rated for its expertise in real estate development, property finance, real estate M&A and sales, and disputes. It stands out for its integrated construction and engineering practice that assists with both the contentious and non-contentious aspects of construction, building law, town planning and environment law; and the practice is experienced in handling all asset types, such as agricultural land, industrial buildings, logistics centres, self-storage, senior living, student housing, and educational institutions, in addition to commercial, residential and retail properties. It acted for Shui On Land in the approximately $510m buyout of the remaining 21 per cent stake in China Xintiandi, which was held by a Brookfield Asset Management-affiliated  portfolio company. Shanghai-based Andy Yeo advises developers, funds and other investors on investment structures, land and building acquisitions, establishing project companies, obtaining permits and licences, construction, and post-completion matters; and Tom Fu has extensive experience advising on construction projects in China, including compliance and regulatory matters. Also key to the mainland team are Rosalyn Han, who was recently promoted to counsel, and senior associate Ellen Zhang.

Practice head(s):

Keith Cheung; Andy Yeo; Tom Fu

Other key lawyers:

Ellen Zhang; Rosalyn Han

Key clients

China Life Insurance (Overseas)

CSI Properties

Gaw Capital Partners

Hong Kong and China Gas Company

Hong Kong Housing Society

Hong Kong Jockey Club

InfraRed NF Advisors

New World Development

Phoenix Property Investors

Shui On Building Contractors

SilkRoad Property Partners

Sun Hung Kai Properties

Swire Properties

Vanke Property (Hong Kong) Company

Wynn Resorts Macau

Work highlights

  • Advised The Hongkong Jockey Club on its Conghua Training Centre in Guangdong, which involves the construction of a world-class facility for the training of thoroughbred racehorses.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP is active in key segments of the Chinese real estate market, namely offices, logistics, retail, serviced apartments, residential, hotels and hospitality, and distressed assets. The team is particularly active in real estate private equity and M&A deals, as well as real estate finance. In private equity, clients are assisted with the entire lifecycle of a real estate deal, including investment platform formations, subsequent fundraising and co-investments, bolt-on acquisitions and disposals at portfolio level, restructuring, and exits through IPOs, REIT listings and trade sales. Shanghai-based Matthew Bisley is an experienced real estate finance lawyer, who acts on REIT, acquisition and mezzanine financings, and refinancing, and Wayne Lee is a highly regarded private equity real estate partner. Jean Ye is the counsel to note.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Bisley; Wayne Lee

Other key lawyers:

Jean Ye

Testimonials

‘We frequently work with A&O team on cross-border real estate transactions, whereby A&O team is the offshore counsel, and we are the PRC counsel. The strength of A&O team is their capability to provide practical, innovative and timely legal services in the real estate sector to satisfy the clients’ needs. We are highly impressed by their adherence to the highest quality standard in legal services, efficient communication with the clients, and sophisticated deal execution and management capabilities.’

‘We usually work with their partner Wayne Li and Counsel Jean Ye. They are quite hands-on, very efficient and responsive, and have solid experience in dealing with complicated legal issues in the China real estate industry, which covers office, commercial, retail, industrial and logistics sectors. They are also very easy to work with, and are so presentable in front of sophisticated institutional clients.’

Key clients

Brookfield

Warburg Pincus

AEW Asia

Hony Capital

QuadReal Property

Vanke

Goldman Sachs

KaiLong

Work highlights

  • Advised Brookfield Asset Management on its acquisition from Greenland Hong Kong of Prosper Spring Investments, which indirectly owns Greenland Huangpu Centre, a commercial complex under construction in Shanghai.
  • Advised Warburg Pincus on the formation of a platform joint venture with Weave to acquire, renovate and operate quality rental accommodation projects in gateway cities in the APAC region (outside mainland China).
  • Advised Hony Capital on its formation of a consortium with AEW Asia to acquire the North Tower of Beijing’s Hopson International Building from Hopson Development International and Big Market Investments.
  • Assisted QuadReal Property Group, a Canadian real estate investment and development company, with its co-investment with Gaw Capital Partners to acquire an office building in Shanghai’s Ocean Towers from ARA Asset Management.

Baker McKenzie FenXun

Baker McKenzie FenXun's team specialises in real estate M&A, sales and purchases, leases and operating contracts, financing, long-term management agreements, hotel franchising, timeshare projects, capital markets transactions, REITs, greenfield development projects, tax advice, and court and arbitration proceedings. In Shanghai, Alexander Gong's practice focuses on cross-border real estate M&A, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, financing, commercial leasing, hotel management and construction matters; he also advises on private equity fund investments. Also key to the mainland practice is Beijing's Hai YongRico Chan and Edmond Chan are the principal Hong Kong contacts.

Practice head(s):

Rico Chan; Edmond Chan

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Gong; Catherine Song; Hai Yong

Key clients

Gaw Capital Partners

Hengli Investments Holding Group

Link REIT

Shui On Land

Spring REIT

Taubman Centers

TPG Asia Capital

Weave Co-Living

Yuexiu REIT

Work highlights

  • Advised Hengli Investments Holding Group on the acquisition of a portion of two high-rise office towers from Swire Properties.
  • Advised Link REIT, Asia’s largest real estate investment trust, on its disposal of 12 retail properties to a Gaw Capital-led consortium.
  • Acted for Spring REIT in its successful defence against the unsolicited takeover bid by Hong Kong-based private equity firm PAG Real Estate, which had sought to acquire a controlling stake of Spring REIT.

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP's team covers the full range of market participants, including vendors, purchasers, bidders, lenders, developers, and warranty and indemnity insurance brokers. The practice operates as a fully integrated regional real estate, gaming and lodging team that advises on high-end real estate conveyancing, real estate-related M&A, property finance, capital raising, joint ventures, dispute resolution, fund formation and IPOs. The breadth of the practice extends from office, residential and industrial to specialised assets such as networks, hub sites, data centres, hospitals, exhibition venues and logistic centres. On the mainland, Terence Foo Tim Wang and counsel Yi Yang are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Matt Feldmann; Dauwood Malik

Other key lawyers:

Terence Foo; Tim Wang; Yi Yang

Key clients

Partners Group

Chelsfield Group

Cainiao Network

Phoenix Property Investors

Kai Tak Sports

ICBC (Asia)

HSBC

Bank of China

CK Asset Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advised Partners Group on its acquisition, through a joint venture, of Dinghao Electronics Plaza in Beijing’s technology hub, Zhongguancun.
  • Advised Cainiao Network on its leading of a joint venture with China National Aviation Corporation (Group) and YTO Express, which related to the investment of approximately $1.5bn towards the construction of a digital logistics centre at Hong Kong International Airport.
  • Advised Kai Tak Sports Park, a consortium comprising New World Development and its subsidiary NWS Holdings, on a 25-year contract to design, build and operate Kai Tak Sports Park.

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP advises on the full spectrum of real estate matters, including strategic joint ventures and partnerships; sales of real estate assets and interests; real estate M&A; private equity, venture capital and other real estate investment funds; and multi-jurisdictional offshore and onshore lending structures. David Blumenfeld, who works across the Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, chairs the firm’s Asia hospitality and Asia real estate practices. He is particularly focused on the acquisition, disposition, financing, development and construction of office, hospitality, and other commercial, mixed-use, and residential projects. Elyn He in Shanghai is an experienced associate.

Practice head(s):

David Blumenfeld; Paul Guan

Other key lawyers:

Elyn He

Testimonials

The Paul Hastings team is extremely well known in the market and seems to be involved in every major real estate transaction in China‘.

The team is very familiar with the trading structure of the underlying assets and large asset packages in mainland China, and at the same time it can master the essence of equity investment and debt investment‘.

Strikes a harmonious balance between business decisions and legal provisions‘.

Key clients

The Carlyle Group

China Cinda Holdings

Starwood Capital

China Life

Evergrande Real Estate Group

Fortress Investment

Forum Partners

Gemini Investment Holdings

Goldman Sachs

HNA Holdings Group

ICBC International

Mapletree Investments

Ping An

Shui On Land

Warburg Pincus

Apollo Asia

ARA Asset Management

Ascent Real Estate Investors

Sigma Delta Partners

Proprium Capital Partners

Work highlights

  • Advised ICBC International on its formation of a partnership with China Logistics Property Holdings for the acquisition of a logistics real estate portfolio.
  • Acted for SCPG Holdings (a shopping mall owner, developer and operator in China), China Vanke, (an urban and rural construction and residential service provider) and Triwater Asset Management Holdings, in their formation of an offshore consortium that involved the acquisition of a China real estate portfolio from CapitaMalls Asia.
  • Advised ARA Asia Dragon Fund II, a fund managed by an affiliate of ARA Asset Management, on its sale of Beijing Jingtong Roosevelt Plaza.

CMS

CMS' real estate and construction team advises clients that are active in industries such as automotive, utilities, TMT, life sciences and healthcare, logistics, aerospace, construction, banking and finance institutions, and sports. Shanghai-based real estate and construction expert Oliver Maaz and office managing partner Ulrike Glueck are the principal contacts, while associate Sarah Wang is experienced in assisting developers, agencies and investors with the acquisition, sale, construction and lease of shopping malls, office buildings, industrial properties and hotels.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Maaz

Other key lawyers:

Ulrike Glueck; Sarah Wang

Morrison & Foerster

Morrison & Foerster has a significant track record in advising both domestic and international clients on real estate matters. Hong Kong's Marcia Ellis is an active lawyer in the Asian market and Chuan Sun, who works across the Shanghai and Hong Kong offices, regularly advises multinational corporations, state-owned enterprises, private companies and private equity and venture capital firms on complex, cross-border M&A transactions, joint ventures, strategic alliances and business separation transactions. The practice experienced the departure of real estate partner Maria Wang for Fangda Partners in Shanghai.

Practice head(s):

Marcia Ellis

Other key lawyers:

Chuan Sun

Testimonials

The lawyers have a high level of business experience and are able to better understand the client’s commercial purpose and provide effective and comprehensive services‘.

Marcia Ellis pays great attention to understand the client’s business and transaction purpose. The final solution provided is excellent in combining principle and flexibility. She has a deep understanding of the industry and market practices and can provide a variety of flexible solutions‘.

Key clients

SoftBank

GLP

SoftBank Vision Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised GLP, the global provider of modern logistics facilities and technology-led solutions, on the establishment of a Japan-focused logistics private real estate fund.
  • Advised SoftBank Group on investments into WeWork Companies (recently rebranded as The We Company), which develops and provides shared workspaces.
  • Assisted Gemdale, a Chinese developer, with a joint venture for the construction and development of a high- rise residential condominium project (with retail space) in New York.

Pinsent Masons

Operating as one team across China and Hong Kong, Pinsent Masons is widely respected for its advice on large construction projects in China; the firm's scope of practice covers strategic pre-contract issues, complex mid-project problems and large-scale dispute resolution. Beijing-based Sam Boyling and Helena Chen are the joint heads of the China offices; also of note are Mark Hu and Shanghai's senior associate Rachel Turner.

Practice head(s):

Sam Boyling; Helena Chen

Other key lawyers:

Mark Hu; Rachel Turner

Testimonials

The team is very professional and hardworking‘.

Key clients

Shanghai Electric

Atkins China

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries

Work highlights

  • Assisted Shanghai Electric with the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of a solar power plant in Dubai.
  • Defended Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries against a dispute in the England and Wales Technology and Construction Court, which related to steel foundations that support wind turbine generators.
  • Advised the Commission of Inquiry for Atkins China on a hearing that involved alleged defective steel reinforcements.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP's China-based real estate team was recently active advising developers, owners, private and institutional investors, investment funds, lenders and underwriters on real estate transactions in Asia. It is experienced in a range of assets, such as office and apartment buildings, multi-family developments, mixed-use properties, shopping centres, hotels and resorts, and industrial, warehouse and other commercial projects. The principal advisers are Beijing's David Li and Hong Kong-based Baldwin Cheng.

Practice head(s):

Baldwin Cheng

Other key lawyers:

David Li

Key clients

Gaw Capital Partners

China Everbright Bank

Phoenix Property Investors

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Greentown China Holdings

Warburg Pincus

Work highlights

  • Advised Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, as bridge lender, on its €846m acquisition facilities for Jin Jiang International Holdings, which related to the acquisition of the Radisson Group.
  • Advised Greentown China Holdings, a Chinese luxury residential property developer, on its subsidiary’s private placement of unlisted $500m senior perpetual capital securities.
  • Advised a consortium, led by Gaw Capital Partners, on a HK$8.33bn term and revolving loan facility for the acquisition of commercial real estate from Swire Properties.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's infrastructure and construction team comprises construction specialists, who are based in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong; it regularly assists contractors with high-value, infrastructure and energy projects outside of China and advises on complex construction disputes. Hew Kian Heong and Michelle Li , both formerly of Pinsent Masons until 2018, work across the Shanghai and Beijing offices.

Practice head(s):

Hew Kian Heong; Michelle Li

Key clients

China Machinery Engineering Corporation

China Railway Construction Corporation International

China Petroleum Technology and Development Corporation

K&L Gates

K&L Gates' real estate practice advises on the entire spectrum of its clients' real estate-related needs, including development and construction, acquisitions, dispositions, financing and leasing, land use, planning and zoning, tax advice, joint ventures, and real estate-related litigation. The recommended partners are Shanghai-based Simon Poh and Frank Voon, who works across the Hong Kong and Beijing offices.

Practice head(s):

David Tang

Other key lawyers:

Simon Poh; Frank Voon

Testimonials

Very familiar with cross-border transactions‘.

Key clients

Kaisa Group Holdings

Iron Mountain

Work highlights

  • Acted for Kaisa Group Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed real property developer, in its acquisition of stakes in Nam Tai Properties.
  • Assisted Iron Mountain, a global service provider in storage and information management services, with its acquisition of the records management business in China from GRM Information Management.

Proskauer Rose LLP

The key features of Proskauer Rose LLP's real estate group are private equity deals and inbound and outbound transactions, and it has extensive M&A experience in the hospitality sector in Asia, particularly involving tailor-made transactions that combine Western and Asian hotel brands. Yuval Tal heads the Hong Kong and Beijing offices and is global co-chair of the firm's lodging and gaming group; also key to the practice is Beijing-based funds expert Yong Ren.

Practice head(s):

Yuval Tal

Other key lawyers:

Yong Ren

Key clients

Accor

Formosa International Hotels Corporation

Mori Building Real Estate Advisory Company

Peterson Group

Grand China Overseas Investment Management Company

Work highlights

  • Advised Accor on its recent acquisition of Tribe, Australia’s first integrated modular hotel brand.
  • Advised Taiwan-based Formosa International Hotels, an international luxury hospitality group, on an agreement for the sale of a 51 per cent stake in the Regent Hotels and Resorts brand to InterContinental Hotels Group.
  • Advised Country Garden Asset Management on its real estate investments in Southeast Asia.

Ropes & Gray LLP

Ropes & Gray LLP regularly assists global-leading financial institutions and high-profile real estate asset managers on significant real estate deals, including complex real estate financing structures. Ed Sheremeta in Hong Kong has a significant track record in advising on major real estate investments and financings across the Asia Pacific region.

Practice head(s):

Ed Sheremeta

Testimonials

The team is good at problem solving in a commercial manner‘.

Ed Sheremeta has longstanding experience in real estate-related business practice. Ed is open to working on both the lender and borrower side, which makes him very special when compared to other lawyers‘.

Key clients

Spring Asset Management

Work highlights

  • Advised UK-based Spring Asset Management, as borrower, on a £50m secured refinancing, which involved a portfolio of 80-plus commercial properties.