Firms To Watch: Real estate

The arrival of the vastly experienced Ian Devereux  from Stephenson Harwood and Simon Green 's relocation from Dubai is a statement of intent for Charles Russell Speechlys LLP on the real estate front. Leveraging the firm's already impressive private wealth credentials, the team is well-placed to advise on local work, as well as outbound mandates for expats and locals seeking to acquire residential property abroad, particularly in the UK.

Real estate in Hong Kong

Baker McKenzie

Under the joint leadership of Edmond Chan and Rico ChanBaker McKenzie's five-partner team advises developers, investors and end-users on all aspects of their real estate needs across Greater China. Real estate transactions form a significant portion of the mandates handled by the team, with work ranging from share deals (where real estate forms the underlying asset) and joint ventures to investor-side matters. Jeremy Ong, who garners praise for his 'integrity and ability to think from a client's perspective', heads up the firm's REITs offering. Shiu Man Wan has excellent credentials in development projects and compliance with regulatory legislation pertaining to the sale of first-hand residential properties in Hong Kong.

Practice head(s):

Edmond Chan

Testimonials

This is the best team that specialise in REIT practice in Hong Kong. The team is not only familiar with the regulatory environment, but the members are also very commercial and put the clients’ business interests first.’

‘Jeremy Ong displays integrity, experience and an ability to think from the perspective of the client.’

Key clients

Champion REIT

Funyard Hotel Management (Guangdong) Company Limited

Gaw Capital Partners

Keppel Capital Holdings Pte. Ltd.

Link REIT

SF Holding (parent of SF Express, the Shenzhen-based multinational delivery services and logistics company)

Work highlights

  • Acting as issuer’s counsel on the establishment and IPO of SF REIT.
  • Advised Gaw Capital Partners on the formation and successful closing of its Internet Data Center platform in China.
  • Advised Gaw Capital Partners and a consortium of institutional investors, including Schroder Pamfleet, on the HK$9.8bn acquisition of CityPlaza One office building from Swire Pacific and Swire Properties.

Deacons

Deacons‘ real estate team, which is ‘well-established as a market-leader’, is experienced in the gamut of transactional work relating to residential, commercial and industrial matters. It also handles landlord and tenant work and corporate real estate mandates. Elsewhere, much of the firm’s development work is led by practice head Lilian Chiang, who ‘possesses unrivalled knowledge, experience and insight in the every aspect of real estate law’. In addition to being noted for her transactional expertise, Chiang is also at the vanguard of legislative changes in the sector, as was demonstrated by her recent appointment to sit on the steering committee representing the legal sector to help to change/simplify the land system. The roster of clients includes a raft of major domestic developers, including MTR Corporation, which the group is advising on several major residential development projects.

Practice head(s):

Lilian Chiang

Testimonials

The team is able to provide practical advice and insight at an affordable rate.

It is well established as a leader in the market in the field of real estate.’

‘Lilian Chang is arguably the best in the business when it comes to real estate matters, who possesses unrivaled knowledge, experience and insight in the every aspect of real estate law.’

Key clients

MTR Corporation

Wheelock Properties (Hong Kong) Limited

Urban Renewal Authority

Gold Topmont Limited

Loyal Pioneer Limited

First Group Holdings Limited

Road King Infrastructure Limited

Mapletree Investments Pte. Ltd.

Hang Seng Bank Limited

Asia Art Archive Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising MTR Corporation on several on-going residential development projects in LOHAS Park, Wong Chuk Hang Station, and Homantin Station.
  • Advising an international real estate, investment, and property management company headquartered in Singapore in a RMB3bn acquisition of a 50% stake of 15 existing joint ventures and 100% interest in 6 logistic assets located in PRC from Mapletree entities in Hong Kong.
  • Advising First Group in the HK$1.5bn acquisition of two properties in Kowloon which will be demolished and redeveloped into new industrial and commercial buildings.

Mayer Brown

Led by Keith Cheung Mayer Brown advises a range of developers, banks, end-users and investors on the full range of real estate work, which spans commercial, residential and retail properties. In addition to being active in matters relating to Hong Kong and mainland China, the team is also regularly engaged in outbound Chinese investments into international markets, including those in Europe and London. Robert Lyn and Fun Kuen Au have vast experience in the market and remain particularly active in relation to development work; Au is also a legal adviser to the Real Estate Developers Association. Elsewhere in the group, Alvin Yeung is also noted for his development work. Pheona Chow acts for a wide range of clients, including property developers, property management companies, institutional investors, universities and accounting bodies.

Practice head(s):

Keith Cheung

Testimonials

The team is full of “can-do” spirit rather than dragging the deal out in order to get more time clocked.’

The team is simply one of the best in the market. The sheer volume of deals that goes through them every year is astonishing. They are practical and efficient.’

Ricky Yiu is highly recognised by the industry and extremely commercial.’

Key clients

Sun Hung Kai Properties

Swire Properties

Airport Authority Hong Kong

Phoenix Property Investors

CSI Properties

Hysan Development Company Limited

New World Development

SilkRoad Property Partners

Gaw Capital

The University of Hong Kong

Work highlights

  • Acted for Swire Properties on the HK$9.8bn sale of Cityplaza One to an investment consortium led by fund managers Gaw Capital Partners and Schroders Pamfleet.
  • Advised New World Development on its successful compulsory sale application with respect to the State Theatre Building in North Point.
  • Acted for Transport International Holdings Limited on the: (i) HK$750.5m sale of a 50% interest in Tuen Mun Town Lot No.80 by way of sale of 50% of the issued share capital of the property holding company and (ii) a 50:50 joint venture with Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited to develop the land to an office-cum retail development.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP's real estate practice in Hong Kong has continued its upward trajectory in the market, and in a key development, it was strengthened by Ciarán Londra's relocation from London in January 2021. Institutional investor real estate M&A remains a core area of strength at the firm, which has successfully established itself as a 'very strong player' in the REIT space, where it acts for funds and trustees. The firm is active in matters spanning the entire spectrum of commercial real estate assets, with one client highlighting its 'excellent advice in the hospitality sector', in particular. Andrew MacGeoch leads the team, which also includes 'excellent' of counsel Ann Ho. The latter practitioner is noted for her ability to provide 'very practical legal advice' across a range of investment and development issues.

Practice head(s):

Andrew MacGeoch

Testimonials

The firm provides strong legal expertise in relation to real estate and hospitality projects.’

The team provides very practical legal advice.’

Ann Ho – excellent in handling real estate projects and provides very practical legal advice which can safeguard the interest of client but at the same time does not overprotect the clients (which may lead to the failure of the transaction).’

Key clients

Link REIT

HSBC Trust Services (Asia) Limited

Hardinge Inc.

Schroder Pamfleet

Prologis

Carlyle

Vecima Networks Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acted for a Hong Kong statutory body on the procurement for the Arts Commerce Exhibitions PPP project.
  • Advised the trustee of Champion REIT on its acquisition of a minority interest in a joint venture which holds the ownership of an office property located at 66 Shoe Lane in London upon completion of the transaction.
  • Advised Hardinge Inc. on its sale and leaseback transaction regarding its 20,725 square metre factory site in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, PRC with a PRC SOE designated by the local government as the buyer to purchase the property.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper has an excellent record in real estate transactions in Greater China, with its offering in this space being complemented by its strong funds, finance and tax capabilities. Elsewhere, the firm is also prominent in major development projects across the Asia Pacific region, as well as lease-related matters. Reflective of its excellent reputation, the group acts for clients such as developers, funds and end-users. Its recent work included advising numerous international clients on investments into logistics and internet data centres, which are both booming areas of the market. In November 2020, the 'exceptional' Ed Sheremeta returned to the firm from Ropes & Gray LLP; he leads the 'smart and commercial' team. Another key individual is Susheela Rivers, whose diverse practice includes real estate investments and developments in the hotel, retail and mixed-use sectors. Janice Yau Garton joined Stephenson Harwood.

Practice head(s):

Ed Sheremeta

Other key lawyers:

Susheela Rivers ; Anthony Chan

Testimonials

A strong team at all levels. Smart and commercial.’

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

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance fields a multidisciplinary team to handle a wide range of real estate-related work, including conveyancing, M&A, IPOs, joint ventures and finance transactions. Funds partner Matthias Feldmann and banking and finance partner Dauwood Malik co-head the practice, which includes Amy Ho, who is particularly adept at advising funds/investors and developers on China-related real estate investments and divestments.

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.

Actis

HOPU Investments

HSBC

CK Asset Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Kirkbi Invest on its partnership with Merlin Attractions Operations Limited, CMC Holdings HK Limited and Shanghai Guoyi Investment Management Co. 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.

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons' real estate practice, which occupies a space within the banking and corporate departments, sees lawyers advise on a full range of cross-border matters. The varied workload includes real estate conveyancing, leasing, funds, M&A and capital markets transactions. The team advises clients on all manner of residential, commercial and industrial properties. Siu Ngor Chow excels in advising developers on residential and commercial project conveyancing. Hayden Flinn co-heads the group with Chow.

Practice head(s):

Siu Ngor Chow; Hayden Flinn

Key clients

Sky Asia Properties Limited

Urban Renewal Authority; Union Score Investments Ltd

Manful Global Development Ltd.

Schroder Pamfleet

LCLC3 Management Co Pte Ltd

Shui On Land Limited

KaiLong Investment Management Hong Kong Limited

C&D Property Management Group Co., Ltd

Guotai Junan Capital Limited

Ronshine China Holdings Limited

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP's practice is led out of Hong Kong by Paul Guan and the firm is also able to draw upon the expertise of a sizeable cadre of lawyers based in mainland China. The Hong Kong team is particularly adept at advising international and local institutional investors on a range of matters, including fund formation, JV structuring, downstream investments and financing, from an inbound and outbound perspective.

Practice head(s):

Paul Guan

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

SDP

Sino Ocean Capital

CapitaLand Asia Partners

GLP

Boyu Capital

Oaktree

Manulife

Work highlights

  • Acted for Manulife group on 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 Cityplaza One from Swire Pacific and Swire Properties.
  • Acted for SDP Investment on the formation of a joint venture with an international institutional investor in connection with the acquisition of U-Show Plaza in Beijing.
  • Acted for Apollo Global Management on its formation of a joint venture with Hong Kong Shanghai Alliance Holdings Limited and in its subsequent RMB3.1bn acquisition of Great Wall Financial Building in Huangpu District, Shanghai.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP is best-known for its real estate-related work in the hospitality industry, including transactions in the hotel and gaming sectors, in particular. Yuval Tal, who is the head of the Hong Kong and Beijing offices, is global co-chair of the hospitality, gaming and leisure group. He regularly works with practitioners in other offices to advise multinational hospitality company Accor on projects throughout the world. On a similar theme, consultant Cynthia Cheng is noted for her vast experience of holding senior roles in in-house legal teams at leading international hotel companies.

Practice head(s):

Yuval Tal

Other key lawyers:

Jay Tai; Cynthia Cheng

Key clients

Accor

Galaxy Entertainment Group

Mori Building Real Estate Advisory Co.

Work highlights

  • Advised longstanding client Accor on the launch of a global strategic partnership with Faena Group, the sale of Accor’s interests in Huazhu, a China-based, NASDAQ-listed company, and on taking full ownership of the sbe hotel brands. The firm is also 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 hospitality 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, on their multi-property deal with Marriott international for Japanese hotels, the first of which is their deal in Nagasaki.

Withers

Withers' varied real estate offering includes M&A, financing and leasing work and its practice covers a mix of commercial, residential and industrial properties. Polly Chu is regularly at the forefront of the most significant mandates handled by the group, including advice to internationally-renowned corporates on the retail leases for their flagship stores, branches, shops-in-shops and outlets. Chu co-heads the practice with Mabel Lui, who is noted for her experience of transactional real estate work in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Practice head(s):

Mabel; Polly Chu

Testimonials

At times when the partner is not available, you can always count on the others for the necessary assistance and to ensure that follow-up action will be taken promptly. It is comforting from the client’s perspective to know that your problem will be dealt with professionally and without undue delay.’

‘Polly Chu is of course fully conversant with real estate matters and handles each and every assignment very professionally and with utmost efficiency. I can always count on her valuable counsel every time a particular issue comes up.’

Key clients

Hundred Gain International Holding Limited

BBMG Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Hundred Gain International Holding Limited on the real estate and tenancy aspects of its proposed acquisition of Cheung Mei Holdings Limited and Goal Eagle Limited.