Real estate and construction: foreign firms in China

Allen & Overy LLP

Appreciated for its multidisciplinary approach, Allen & Overy LLP has a solid reputation for real estate private equity (PE), M&A and finance. The 'China practice's strength is its ability to provide practical, innovative and timely legal services in the real estate sector'. It acts in relation to several real estate areas, such as offices, logistics, retail, serviced apartments, residential property and distressed assets. In a recent 12-month period, the China offices led on approximately 100 real estate matters, while at the end of 2019 the practice enhanced its legal services offering through an approved joint operation with Lang Yue Law Firm in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. Leveraging his strong PE background, Shanghai-based Wayne Lee focuses on the establishment of investment platforms and equity financing arrangements, as well as downstream real estate investments and divestments; and Matthew Bisley is an accomplished real estate finance lawyer. With over ten years' experience in advising on real estate deals, Jean Ye was promoted to partner in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Bisley; Wayne Lee

Testimonials

The China practice’s strength is its ability to provide practical, innovative and timely legal services in the real estate sector.

Accurate and efficient, with fast responses.

Allen & Overy understands China’s real estate market very well. It is not only very familiar with the legal business, but also very familiar with the actual operation of the entire market. In addition to providing professional legal advice to clients, it also assists clients make business judgements.

Wayne Lee and Jean Ye solve problems for their clients. Whenever issues arise, they give very professional and practical advice that is based on the actual situation in China. They understand the market very well and are trusted by clients.

Jean Ye will reply at any time and the file will always be flawless.

Key clients

KKR

Warburg Pincus Asia LLC

D&J China

Hony Capital Limited

SSG Capital Management (Hong Kong) Limited

C C Land Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised KKR on the formation of an investment platform between KKR and Hitone Capital, to invest in, operate and manage distressed real estate assets in China.
  • Advised D&J China (a portfolio company of Warburg Pincus) on its strategic partnership with Allianz Real Estate and Alpha Investment Partners, in relation to real estate investments in China.
  • Advised Hony Capital on its formation of a consortium with AEW Asia to acquire the North Tower of Hopson International Building, a 21-storey office tower in Beijing, from Hopson Development International and Big Market Investments.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper's widely respected practice advises on a variety of areas, including due diligence, acquisitions and divestments, joint ventures, structuring, financing, taxation, and leasing and facilities management. Other areas of notable strength are project and commercial developments, REITs, hotel management and agreements, trusts, fund formation and restructuring. The group also stands out for its extensive experience in cross-border transactions, including both domestic and outbound investment. In addition,  it has a substantial breadth of asset class expertise, including office, industrial, retail, mixed use, logistics, data centre, residential and hospitality. Lillian Duan, who is based in the Shanghai and Beijing offices, advises major investment institutions and property funds on their real estate investments and business operations in China. Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific real estate head, Susheela Rivers, is also head of Asia Pacific hospitality and leisure. The team lost Wayne Ma to Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.

Practice head(s):

Susheela Rivers

Other key lawyers:

Lillian Duan

Key clients

Ping An Insurance

Brookfield Properties

CPPIB

CBRE GI

Work highlights

  • Advised Ping An Insurance on the 30% share acquisition from- and joint venture with – Sun Hung Kai Properties, which related to the development of a commercial and retail complex in Hong Kong.
  • Advising Brookfield Properties on the acquisition of both a logistics property in Wenzhou and a project company that owns a parcel of logistics land in Huzhou.
  • Advising CPPIB on forming a joint venture with Longfor, for the purpose of acquiring and developing a mixed-use project.

Mayer Brown LLP

With one of the largest groups of real estate and construction lawyers in China, Mayer Brown LLP's real estate industry-focused legal team has a pre-eminent name in the market for real estate development, real estate finance, real estate M&A and disposals, and real estate disputes. In addition, the integrated construction and engineering practice fields contentious and non-contentious specialists in construction, building law, town planning and environment. Its scope of asset class is also extensive; in addition to commercial, residential and retail properties, the practice advises on agricultural land, industrial buildings, logistics centres, senior living and student housing, with healthcare and self-storage being notable areas of recent growth. Shanghai-based Andy Yeo acts for developers, funds and other investors, and China construction project expert Tom Fu divides his time between the Hong Kong and Beijing offices. Providing additional mainland China support are counsel Rosalyn Han, and senior associate Ellen Zhang. Keith Cheung is a key Hong Kong partner.

Practice head(s):

Keith Cheung; Andy Yeo; Tom Fu

Other key lawyers:

Rosalyn Han; Ellen Zhang

Key clients

China Life Insurance (Overseas)

China State

CSI Properties

Gaw Capital Partners

Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited

Hong Kong Jockey Club

InfraRed NF Advisors

New World Development

Phoenix Property Investors

Shui On Building Contractors Limited

SilkRoad Property Partners

Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited

Swire Properties Limited

Vanke Property (Hong Kong) Company Limited

Work highlights

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

Baker McKenzie FenXun

Baker McKenzie FenXun's full-service practice covers corporate, legal and tax structuring, land acquisition, construction and development, financing, M&A, joint ventures, and corporate spin-offs and demergers. It is also noted for its expertise in relation to hotel management and franchising, project sales, offices, retail, logistics, data centre leasing, investment exits, and real estate-related insolvency and dispute resolution. In addition, the team has been particularly active in real estate investment trust (REIT) transactions. Alexander Gong, whose practice spans transactions, commercial leasing, land and development projects and private equity funds, is the head real estate partner in Shanghai's joint operation practice, which also fields Beijing's Hai Yong. Hong Kong-based Rico Chan heads the Greater China real estate practice, while Paul Teo handles disputes involving infrastructure and construction, among others.

Practice head(s):

Rico Chan; Paul Teo

Key clients

Changsha Broad Homes Industrial Group

China Merchants

Gaw Capital Partners

Link REIT

Shui On Land

Work highlights

  • Advised Gaw Capital Partners on the structuring, formation and successful closing of its sixth flagship Asia Pacific real estate fund, Gateway Real Estate Fund VI.
  • Advised Link REIT, Asia’s largest real estate investment trust, on its acquisition of Central Walk Mall in Shenzhen’s Central Business District.
  • Acted for China Merchants on the global offering and listing of China Merchants Commercial REIT on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, marking the first Hong Kong REIT listing by a PRC state-owned enterprise since 2006.

Clifford Chance LLP

Operating as a fully integrated regional real estate, gaming and lodging team, Clifford Chance LLP's Hong Kong-based practice has substantial experience in high-end real estate conveyancing, real estate-related M&A, property finance, capital raising, joint ventures, property-related disputes, fund formation and IPOs. The breadth of the China real estate practice extends from conventional office, residential and industrial to specialised assets such as networks, hub sites, data centres, hospitals, exhibition venues and logistic centres. Working across the firm's Beijing and Shanghai offices, Terence Foo has significant cross-border M&A and PE experience, and his sector experience includes retail; and Tim Wang is an outbound investment and overseas listing expert. Global hedge fund sub-sector head Matthias Feldmann and Dauwood Malik are the key Hong Kong contacts.

Practice head(s):

Matt Feldmann; Dauwood Malik

Key clients

Cainiao Network

Partners Group

Chelsfield Asia

Phoenix Property Investors Limited

Kai Tak Sports Park Limited

Carrefour Nederland B.V.

Actis

HOPU Investments

HSBC

CK Asset Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Cainiao Network on a joint venture with China National Aviation Corporation (Group) and YTO Express, in relation to the construction of a digital logistics centre at Hong Kong International Airport.
  • Advised global private markets investment manager, Partners Group, on its acquisition (via a joint venture) of Dinghao Electronics Plaza, a landmark office and retail complex in Beijing’s technology hub, Zhongguancun.
  • Advised an investment bank on both its joint venture (with consortium members) and a financing, which related to the acquisition of 12 community retail centres in Hong Kong.

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP's long-established China practice is consistently sought out for high-level and high-value real estate work. It advises sellers, buyers, developers, corporations, investment banks and strategic partnerships (among others) on the full spectrum of real estate matters, including: real estate fund formation (acting for both sponsors and investors); strategic joint ventures and partnerships; real estate M&A; and borrower and lender-side multi-jurisdictional offshore and onshore lending structures. Hong Kong-based multi-jurisdictional expert Paul Guan co-leads the firm’s Asia real estate practice; and Shanghai of counsel Elyn He acts for Chinese and international clients on complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions, joint ventures, and fund formation.

Practice head(s):

Paul Guan

Other key lawyers:

Elyn He

Testimonials

Whether representing a buyer, seller or lender, the team consistently participates in large-scale real estate transactions with domestic assets structured overseas.

It has rich experience and high efficiency levels, and strives to conclude transactions.

Key clients

The Carlyle Group

China Cinda Holdings

Starwood Capital

China Everbright

Everbright Real Estate

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

SRE Group

Tan-Eu Capital

Warburg Pincus

Apollo Asia

ARA Asset Management

China Cinda

Ascent Real Estate Investors

Sigma Delta Partners

PAG

ARCH Capital

Proprium Capital Partners

Hitone Capital

Long Star Funds

ACR Capital

SDP Investors

Sino Ocean Capital

CapitaLand Asia Partners

Work highlights

  • Advised Proprium Capital Partners, and its co-investor, on the formation of a $500m joint venture with China SCE Group Holdings and FUNLIVE Holdings, to invest in high-quality rental apartment projects in gateway cities in China.
  • Advising ARA Asset Management on its formation of a partnership with Straits Real Estate and ICBC International for the acquisition of Shanghai retail mall, Sanlin InCity.
  • Advised Uban Capital on the formation and raising of its first discretionary private equity fund, which focuses on China real estate (including PropTech) investments.

CMS

With longstanding experience in China, CMS' real estate and construction team acts for high-profile Chinese and multinational clients from a range of sectors, such as automotive, utilities, TMT, life sciences and healthcare, along with logistics, aerospace, construction, sports, and banking and finance institutions. Shanghai-based Oliver Maaz is a real estate and construction specialist; and associate Sarah Wang assists with the acquisition, sale, construction and leasing of shopping malls, office buildings, industrial properties and hotels.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Maaz

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Wang

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Acting for Chinese and international contractors and owners on construction projects around the world, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's dedicated infrastructure and construction team comprises non-contentious and contentious construction specialists, who are based in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Working across the Shanghai and Beijing offices, Hew Kian Heong is an international construction expert; and Michelle Li is particularly focused on the energy, chemicals, petrochemicals, rail, roads and power sectors. At senior associate level, Grace Fang in Shanghai has extensive construction-related transactional and disputes experience.

Practice head(s):

Hew Kian Heong; Michelle Li

Other key lawyers:

Grace Fang; Murphy Mok

Testimonials

The team is professional and responsible, with rich experience in overseas-related engineering contracts. It is good at listening to the opinions of partners in the country where the project is located, as well as the views of the technical team, and has unique insights in dealing with engineering contract disputes.

The practice is able to face realities, come up with solutions and formulate strategies.

I am deeply impressed by: the time management of Hew Kian Heong, especially in terms of delivery on target; the hardworking team (particularly senior associate Grace Fang); and the fine quality of the final product presented to clients.

Apart from his deep knowledge and experience in contractual matters, Hew Kian Heong possesses extensive knowledge of the construction field and has a very good understanding of project delay and quantum matters, and can always bring strategic thinking to clients’ cases.

Key clients

China Machinery Engineering Corporation

China Railway Construction Corporation International

China Petroleum Technology and Development Corporation

China Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Co., Ltd

China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co. Ltd International

Shanghai Construction Group Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised CRCC International on its role in a consortium, which is investing in and constructing a high-speed rail link in Thailand.

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Morrison & Foerster LLP's resident real estate team in Greater China stands out for its technology sector expertise; in relation to data centres throughout Asia, it consistently acts for a range of clients on all stages of the real estate investment cycle. Hong Kong's Marcia Ellis co-heads the firm's Asia private equity practice, and regularly works with leading real estate companies in the region; and Chuan Sun, who works across the Shanghai and Hong Kong offices, assists real estate companies with cross-border M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Marcia Ellis

Other key lawyers:

Chuan Sun; Ruomu Li; Lucy Lu

Key clients

GLP

SoftBank

SoftBank Vision Fund

Pinsent Masons

Pinsent Masons is a go-to firm for large construction projects in China, from procurement to completion and dispute resolution. The team acts on infrastructure and energy projects across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, South America and Europe. Sam Boyling, who splits his time between the China and Singapore offices, and Beijing-based arbitration, infrastructure project and cross-border investments expert, Helena Chen, are the joint China office heads. Mark Hu is an infrastructure sector specialist, while senior associate Rachel Turner is a construction and engineering expert.

Practice head(s):

Sam Boyling; Helena Chen

Other key lawyers:

Mark Hu; Rachel Turner

Testimonials

Pinsent Masons has a wide range of services and deep business experience, and has unique insights and knowledge of international construction engineering legal affairs.

Sam Boyling has a higher level of awareness of the laws of various countries in the Middle East and the determination of force majeure issues following the recent epidemic’.

Key clients

A consortium of China Gezhouba Group International Engineering and Zhejiang Supcon Solar Technology

China Railway Construction Corporation Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for a consortium, comprising China Gezhouba Group International Engineering and Zhejiang Supcon Solar Technology, on their investment and construction of the Minos 50MW Concentrated Solar Project in Greece.
  • Advised China Railway Construction Corporation on  a public private partnership agreement with Nigeria, to build a new railway track from Abuja to Itakpe, as well as the construction of Warri sea port.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP's Greater China team regularly advises on significant real estate and hospitality projects. Head of the Hong Kong and Beijing offices, Yuval Tal, is global co-chair of the hospitality, gaming and leisure group; his practice includes both traditional deals and emerging areas, such as museums, co-living and co-working properties; Ying Li, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, is a key private equity real estate group member; and seasoned Beijing-based partner Yong Ren has real estate funds expertise.

Practice head(s):

Yuval Tal

Other key lawyers:

Ying Li;  Yong Ren

Key clients

Accor – Huazhu

Accor – Tribe

Galaxy Entertainment Group

Mori Building Real Estate Advisory Co., Ltd

Country Garden Asset Management

Grand China Overseas Investment Management Co., Ltd

OCI Capital Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised longstanding client, Accor, on its agreement to sell an approximately 5% stake in Huazhu Group for $451m.
  • Advised Galaxy Entertainment on its agreements with Hyatt, which concern a highly anticipated hotel project.
  • Advised Grand China Fund (the first Beijing-registered private equity real estate fund approved by the Chinese government) on its structuring and formation of offshore funds for investments in the US’ real estate sector.

Ropes & Gray LLP

Ropes & Gray LLP's 'top-notch real estate practice stands out for its collective responsiveness and always-on attitude'. It has experienced a marked increase in high-end real estate investment transactions that take place across the Asia Pacific region; and the department is particularly well-known for its presence on innovative real estate financing structures.

Testimonials

This top-notch real estate practice stands out for its collective responsiveness and always-on attitude

Key clients

Spring Asset Management Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised SAML (asset manager of Spring REIT) on negotiating a $555m refinancing of China Central Place, an office tower complex in Beijing.

White & Case LLP, Beijing Office

White & Case LLP's China-based real estate team advises developers, owners, private and institutional investors, investment funds, lenders and underwriters on a variety of real estate transactions in Asia. It is experienced in a range of assets, including office and apartment buildings, multi-family developments, mixed-use properties, shopping centres, hotels and resorts, and warehouses. Beijing-based David Li's real estate experience includes both bond offerings and bank financings; and Hong Kong-based Baldwin Cheng is particularly active in private equity-related real estate financing transactions.

Practice head(s):

Baldwin Cheng

Other key lawyers:

David Li; Jessica Zhou

Key clients

Greentown China Holdings Limited

Deutsche Bank AG

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Haitong International Securities Company Limited

PAG

Work highlights

  • Advised ICBC, as bridge lender, on €846m acquisition facilities for Jin Jiang International Holdings Co, in relation to the acquisition of Radisson Group, one of the world’s largest hotel groups.
  • Advised Greentown China Holdings on both a Regulation S offering of $600m senior notes and an unsecured and guaranteed term loan financing.
  • Advised the initial purchasers on the debut offering of unrated $250m guaranteed notes.