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Singapore > Banking and finance > Banking and finance – Foreign firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance – Foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Allen & Overy enhanced its finance capability with the recruitment of Singapore law qualified banking and finance partner Prakash Raja Segaran, who joined from Shook Lin & Bok LLP. Indonesia and India continue be a prime focus for the team, though deals involving Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar are of growing importance to the group, which primarily acts for investment banks, but is handling an increasing number of instructions from private equity and debt fund clients. The firm, which has 'a great market share in the region', has 'good industry knowledge and a broad understanding of sponsor-driven deals'. John Richards is 'commercial', 'advises the client in a way that gets the deal done'. Gautam Narasimhan is a 'good operator' who 'will always go the extra mile'; 'capable and energetic', he 'gets things done and is strong in contentious negotiations'. He led the team advising EMR Capital and Adaro Capital on the financing of the $2.25bn acquisition of Rio Tinto’s Kestrel coal mine. Chris Bishop and Scott Lovell were elected partners in May 2018, with the former praised for his 'very good response times' and 'commercial approach'. Jason Humphreys is recommended for project finance.

Clifford Chance's sizeable department is 'a market leader in Asia Pacific in all areas of finance', and is increasingly active in acquisition and leveraged finance, acting for both lenders and borrowers, including private equity sponsors. The firm advised Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on the acquisition financing for the landmark take private of Global Logistic Properties. The Singapore team is also increasingly active on behalf of alternative lenders and funds: it advised Apollo Management Singapore on its $40m mezzanine financing to a holding company of a proposed listed company operating in the instant beverages sector. Key partners include Andrew Gambarini, who has impressed in distressed financing; Andrew Hutchins, who is 'very commercial, gets things done and is a calm head when things become tense'; and newly promoted partner Thomas England, who is 'very hardworking and really passionate about getting deals over the line'. Isabella Mashru is 'one of the strongest senior associates' in the market. Andrew Brereton has joined King & Spalding LLP.

Linklaters' outstanding team has gained further traction in funds finance, with India and Indonesia primary drivers of a practice that is increasingly active in leveraged financings. The 'great team' attracts praise for its 'good understanding of mezzanine finance' and 'understanding of the nuances from both sides'. It advised the mandated lead arrangers on a $297m and IDR3.85tr facility for the refinancing of PT Solusi Tunas Pratama’s existing dollar and Indonesian rupiah facility agreements and existing bond issuance. Philip Badge  is 'technically very good and also commercially sensible and reliable'. Christopher Bradley is 'knowledgeable, experienced, responsive, a great coordinator, smooth and technical'. Counsel Charles McConnell is 'very experienced, very knowledgeable, supremely hardworking and responsive'.

Ashurst LLP's five-partner finance team in Singapore is 'responsive, friendly and knowledgeable', 'professional' and 'good for complex and structured transactions'; 'quality service is always guaranteed' and is 'on par with the Magic Circle firms' according to clients. In May 2018, the firm hired Alfred Ng from Shearman & Sterling LLP to reinforce the team's project finance capabilities. It continues to be at the forefront of China's Belt and Road initiative through key partner Chin Chuan Chen's connections to Chinese lenders such as China Development Bank. Energy, resources and infrastructure are key areas of focus for the firm worldwide and this is very much in evidence in Singapore where the team has advised on a series of headline deals, most notably in Indonesia. The firm advised China Development Bank on a $4.5bn facility to finance the the Jakarta-Bandung high speed rail project in Indonesia; it is the largest ever infrastructure project in Indonesian history and the first high speed railway project in Indonesia. It also advised Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and The Export-Import Bank of China on the $1.5bn financing of the construction of the proposed 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydroelectric power station in Zambia. Acquisition and leveraged finance specialist Kate Allchurch is 'sharp, has a good legal mind and is solutions oriented'. Trade and commodities finance expert Jean Woo is 'friendly, approachable and able to give good advice', a 'committed partner' who  'always provides face time on and off transactions' and is ' highly regarded in the industry'. Edwin Yow is recommended for structured finance and derivatives.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow has a prominent reputation in Singapore for acquisition finance, project finance, real estate finance, trade and receivables financings, Islamic finance and restructurings. The team in Singapore is able to leverage the firm's sizeable Southeast Asia platform, which includes offices in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and elsewhere. The firm is also at the forefront of China's Belt and Road initiative, leading to key engagements such as advising PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) on the development and financing of Indonesia’s first high-speed railway project connecting Jakarta and Bandung. Other highlights included advising on the banking aspects of LGT’s acquisition of ABN AMRO’s private banking business in Asia and the Middle East. James Huang acts for a number of regional borrowers and lenders, and is praised for 'going above and beyond expectations'. Emmanuel Hadjidakis acts for a number of key international lenders such as Standard Chartered and 'is extremely commercial and takes a very balanced and even approach'. Andrew Zaw has joined from Linklaters to bolster the firm's bank-side relationships, especially on the project finance side. Local principal Kenneth Chuah and associate principal Prashanth Venkatesh are also recommended.

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee continues to develop its standing in Singapore, especially with major banks and credit funds. The practice's expertise covers a range of areas, including corporate lending, leveraged finance, commodity finance and restructurings. India and Indonesia are the team's primary focus jurisdictions. Highlights included advising a division of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and a GIC-led consortium on the financing of its $1.3bn acquisition of a 32% share in Energy Development Corporation, the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines. Alexander McMyn  is 'extremely commercial and responsive in approach' and 'highly experienced in cross-border financings'. Charles Clayton-Payne was promoted to of counsel in January 2018 and is  ‘client-centric’, 'responsive', 'a trusted adviser' and 'has a good commercial approach'.

Latham & Watkins LLP is recognised for its expertise in acquisition finance, especially for private equity sponsors such as Warburg Pincus and Partners Group. Lead partner Timothy Hia is noted for his experience across banking and finance products and capital markets transactions, including advising clients on various financing options. He was a key partner in the firm's advice to the lenders on the debt restructuring of PT Bumi Resources.  Clarinda Tjia-Dharmadi is recommended for Indonesia transactions, while Stephen McWilliams is a leader in project finance.

Mayer Brown has significantly enhanced its standing in the banking and finance sector through a series of lateral hires. Acquisition and leveraged finance, and corporate lending specialists Kayal Sachi and Ian Roebuck, and counsel Pierre Dzakpasu have joined from Allen & Overy; Sachi has over 30 years of practice experience and has a particularly fine record in India and Southeast Asia. This follows the arrivals of trade and structured finance experts Angelia Chia and Ben Sandstad from senior positions at international banks; Sandstad is 'extremely well-versed and a foremost expert in receivables, securitisation and financial asset transfers of all types and across jurisdictions'. The new team 'ticks all boxes', provides 'great industry knowledge, value for money, top quality and timely services and lawyers who deliver solutions on their feet and are extremely goal oriented'. It is gaining traction in private equity-related leveraged finance and is becoming a leading name in trade and commodity finance, especially deals involving securitisation technology. Clients include Asian Development Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), the Bank of Nova Scotia, Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation and United Overseas Bank.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP has gained considerable traction in the leveraged finance space, most notably in Indonesia and Australia. It is also building its profile in structured loans, including in Vietnam and the Philippines. It has a mighty lender client base of names such as BTMU, Maybank and BNP Paribas and is frequently engaged by big-ticket corporate borrowers and private equity houses. It advised the global lenders on the $2.25bn financing for the acquisition of the Kestrel coking and thermal-coal mine in Queensland, Australia; the mine was acquired by a joint venture between Adaro Energy and EMR Capital. Jacqueline Chan is praised for 'zeroing in on the main points in a deal'. Singapore managing partner David Zemans has a huge amount of experience in the region, most notably in Indonesia. James Murray is best known for power and infrastructure financings, and has an established record in leveraged finance. James Orme is a leading senior associate.

Norton Rose Fulbright is noted for its track record in trade and commodity finance, leveraged finance, telecoms finance, and cross-border real estate finance, and increasingly advises debt funds and alternative lenders. The firm has worked on a series of landmark commodity finance transactions and has a high market share of big-ticket telecoms financings in Myanmar and Indonesia. Amongst a number of headline deals, the Singapore office advised a syndicate of banks on a cross-border non-recourse financing to Kia Motors India for the construction of Kia Motors' $1.1bn automobile manufacturing facility in Andhra Pradesh, India. Team head Yu-En Ong is 'hands on, has good understanding of the commodity industry and can tap into a lot of experience'. Stephen Begley and Nick Merritt are recommended for energy and infrastructure financings, while of counsel Janelene Chen is noted for her ability to 'manage a deal end-to-end'.

White & Case Pte. Ltd.'s team features a number of Mandarin speakers and has made considerable headway with Chinese banks that are increasingly active in South East Asia. The firm advised China CITIC Bank International on a S$435m term loan facility to Five Seasons XXII in 2018. The Singapore team is also handling a growing number of refinancings and restructurings, frequently working alongside restructuring colleagues in the US. Indonesia-related financings also remain a forte of the team, which advises a high proportion of the top conglomerates in the jurisdiction. It advised the borrowers on the refinancing consisting of a $275m conventional facility to PT Meares Soputan Mining, PT Tambang Tondano Nusajaya and PT Archi Indonesia and a $125m murabahah facility to PT Meares Soputan Mining and PT Tambang Tondano Nusajaya. Guan Feng Chen has 'immense knowledge and experience in financing and financial restructuring' and has a particularly strong record in Indonesia financings. John Shum (key to the team's Chinese bank relationships) 'has strong expertise in project finance area, is committed and very approachable'.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP maintains strong links to senior lenders, corporate borrowers and is building its standing amongst alternative lenders. The firm has an especially impressive record in Indonesia and has made considerable headway in other jurisdictions such as Myanmar. Energy, natural resources, infrastructure and TMT are key industries for the practice. The Singapore team advised the mandated lead arrangers on the $360m financing to PT Medco E&P Melaka, for the development of the Block A Aceh PSC gas fields in Sumatra, Indonesia. It also represented a US-based investment bank and  a Hong Kong-based private equity house on the mezzanine financing of a Myanmar telecommunication tower infrastructure company. Adrian Cheng remains a big name in reserve-based lending in the oil and gas sector. Katie Gray is recommended for mining and oil and gas sector financings.

Jones Day's substantial Singapore team is building its standing in Chinese outbound acquisition finance, project finance and structured financings into India, Indonesia and Singapore, among other jurisdictions. The firm has an impressive client portfolio including Chinese banks, international multilateral agencies and development banks, funds and multinational corporate borrowers. The firm is also at the forefront of Chapter 11-style restructurings. It advised Standard Chartered on the restructuring of a term loan facility provided to a Singaporean shipping conglomerate, which was in Chapter 11 proceedings. Sushma Jobanputra  is an experienced banking and finance practitioner with an exceptional record in acquisition and leveraged finance. Bruce Schulberg has a strong background with Chinese lenders and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Karthik Kumar  is known for his project finance capabilities, particularly in the renewable energy segment. Of counsel Vinay Kurien is also recommended for restructurings.

Simmons & Simmons' Singapore team is principally known for its structured trade and commodity finance expertise, and has experienced an uptick in margin loans, bridge financings for projects and fund financing. The group advised Standard Chartered as arranger and a syndicate of lenders on an uncommitted secured borrowing base facility to Phoenix, a global agricultural and food company, for the expansion of its rice business portfolio in India, Asia and Africa. It also represented Gunvor on its Asian syndicated committed revolving loan facilities, involving 38 syndicate banks. Calvin Tan, Dan Marjanovic  and Matthew Cox are the key partners in the team.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP is best known for asset finance, though its large and versatile team is frequently engaged on a range of financing transactions. It advised ING Bank on a financing of up to $470m for ECOM Agroindustrial Asia  and ECOM Agroindustrial Corp's working capital and general corporate purposes. Goh Mei Lin, Mehraab Nazir, Shawn Er and Simon Petch are key partners.

Gibson Dunn has an excellent record in energy sector financings, particularly in Indonesia. The Singapore team advised PT Medco E&P Malaka and PT Medco Energi Internasional on a $360m secured reserve-based project financing loan for the development of Aceh Block A gas fields in Sumatra, Indonesia. Jamie Thomas is the principal finance partner in Singapore.

Morrison & Foerster (Singapore) LLP has moved towards a debt and credit fund driven practice, though it retains a healthy pipeline of bank lender and corporate borrower engagements. Leveraged and acquisition finance deals are key areas of strength for the team, which is rated by clients for its 'knowledge of financing trends and structures in key markets', 'value for money' and 'reliability'. Singapore-based Yemi Tépé, who spends part of her time in Hong Kong, is 'a highly effective negotiator' with 'good commercial skills'. She and a multi-office team advised BlackRock on the acquisition financing of two blocks of grade-A office buildings at Waterfront Place, Shanghai from PGIM Real Estate. This was one of a number of China-related deals that the team has worked on, though it also continues to be active in Southeast Asia.

Reed Smith LLP is prominent in structured trade and commodity finance, along with bilateral and syndicated loans. The firm advises a range of banks, funds and trading houses, and has a particular emphasis on the energy and natural resources sectors. Peter Zaman specialises in commodity finance with a strong focus on derivatives and structured products. Jessica Kenworthy is an expert structured trade financings and pre-export, prepayment and limited recourse structures.

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