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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Singapore > Corporate and M&A > Corporate and M&A – Foreign firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A – Foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Allen & Overy is praised for its financial institutions M&A expertise, in addition to its track record in technology, consumer goods and retail deals, most notably in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand. The firm is also growing its presence in private equity and financial sponsor deals. Highlights included advising Tokopedia, Indonesia’s leading online marketplace, on its $1.1bn series E fundraising from Alibaba and a number of major private equity and venture funds, and advising Aviva on its buyout of a 51% stake in an existing life insurance joint venture with Vietinbank, the state-owned Vietnamese bank. Chris Moore is an 'excellent professional' who is 'very collaborative' and 'really wants to get the deal done'. Brendan Hannigan is 'a brilliant lawyer and very solutions-oriented', and is noted for his expertise in technology-sector deals. Other key figures include Alun Evans, who has an outstanding record in the Philippines, Yin Mei Lock, who leads the Singapore law practice, and newly promoted partner James Mythen, who 'understands internal business requirements and tailors responses appropriately'.

Clifford Chance is praised for its 'long-term investment' in Singapore, and for its 'great bench-strength';  it 'is definitely the go-to firm for M&A in the region' according to one client and is 'particularly strong in understanding the markets it operates in'. The practice has maintained its standing despite the departure of leading practitioner Lee Taylor to King & Spalding LLP in 2018, continuing to act at the forefront of energy, private equity, financial institutions and consumer goods deals with an especially impressive record in Indonesia. Highlights included advising a consortium led by Global Infrastructure Partners on its $5bn acquisition of Equis Energy's renewable assets in Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan. Melissa Ng is 'commercial', 'very measured, sharp and knowledgeable', 'has in-depth experience on Indonesian M&A' and 'is able to help clients navigate the legal and regulatory landscape very well'. Valerie Kong 'is always available to provide sound commercial advice and a first-class service'. Newly elected partner Satbir Walia is 'very easy to deal with, hands on, calm and measured'. Senior associate Alice Ho  is praised for her 'intellect, professionalism and commercial-mindedness'.

Linklaters' department continues to focus on big-ticket transactions and is gaining further traction with local and regional financial sponsors and private equity houses thanks to the efforts of Parthiv Rishi. Highlights included advising Temasek on its $100m investment into an Indonesian ride-hailing and on-demand services company, and acting for ANZ on the sale of its retail and wealth management businesses in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan to DBS Bank. English and Singapore qualified Sophie Mathur is 'outstanding' and 'a quality lawyer', while Niranjan Arasaratnam has had a key role in building the firm's standing in the TMT sector. William Kirschner retired from the firm in 2017. Managing associate Chaiyee Oh is also singled out.

Noted for its ‘fantastic private equity practice’, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP has experienced a notable uptick in buy and sell-side engagements from parties involved in contested auctions. The firm has achieved particular prominence in tech and renewable energy sector deals, in key jurisdictions such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Singapore managing partner David Zemans is widely noted for his extensive experience in the region, particularly in Indonesia, and recently advised  a group of global financial institutions on a multibillion-dollar acquisition of geothermal assets in West Java, Indonesia. The 'excellent' Jacqueline Chan handles major M&A and private equity transactions and big-ticket corporate restructurings. Former special counsel Pablo Malay has moved to an in-house position.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow has 'deep M&A experience', particularly in multi-jurisdictional deals. The Singapore team has an especially strong record in financial institutions, consumer goods and retail deals, and is a growing presence in the energy sector, thanks to the presence of principal Sze Shing Tan. Highlights included advising Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company on its acquisition of First Capital Insurance, Singapore’s largest commercial property and casualty insurer, from Fairfax Asia. Andrew Martin 'knows how to get a deal done in Asia', is 'very commercial and pragmatic'; he has particular expertise in consumer goods and retail, and recently advised Unilever on a joint venture with Europe & Asia Commercial Company in Myanmar. Min-tze Lean, Kelvin Poa and Stephanie Magnus are all notable partners.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's Singapore team has a solid mix of strategic M&A and private equity transactions. It has experienced an uptick in inbound investments by US corporates and continues to have a strong emphasis on energy M&A. Clients include Starbucks, Blackstone and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Recent highlights include advising advising BW Offshore on ICBC Financial Leasing's $275m preference share equity investment into a subsidiary owned by the client, and acting for PT Astra International on its acquisition of a $150m stake in GO-JEK Group, the Indonesian technology platform. Nigel Gleeson was promoted to partner and is experienced in strategic M&A and private equity transactions, while Charlotte Evans was elevated to counsel. Arun Balasubramanian provides further senior level expertise in India and South Asia M&A, and Philip Morgan is another experienced counsel within the team. Gavin MacLaren joined Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is undertaking a greater flow of big-ticket transactions, particularly in the TMT and real estate space; energy and renewables, infrastructure and private equity are also key areas of strength for the Singapore team, which is also handling mandates arising from Chinese and Japanese investment coming into South East Asia. Highlights included advising Temasek on Singapore consortium arrangements with Hosen Capital and New Hope for the S$1bn acquisition of VIP Petfoods from Quadrant Private Equity. Nicola Yeomans heads the South East Asia corporate practice, which includes Mark Robinson, who is noted for his TMT expertise and advised on headline deals such as Softbank's investment in Grab, the South East Asia online transportation and payments platform. Other key figures include the 'very client-focused' Austin Sweeney, Brian Scott, who is recommended for deals in Indonesia, and David Clinch, who is a leading energy sector specialist.

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee has broad geographic and industry coverage, and attracts praise for its  'outstanding customer service', 'consistent high-quality advice', and 'comprehensive and seamless transactional assistance'.  The firm has experienced particular growth in the TMT, e-commerce, consumer, and power and renewables sectors, in addition to being noted for its mid-market private equity credentials. Singapore, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and China are amongst the firm's key focus jurisdictions. Highlights included advising Philippines Renewable Energy Holdings on its $1.3bn acquisition of a minority stake in Energy Development Corporation, the listed renewable energy company. Stephanie Keen 'is one of the best private equity practitioners in the region', is 'razor-sharp, solutions-oriented and responsive' and 'committed in getting the best results for her clients'. Mark Cooper is noted for power and renewables, consumer and tech deals, and has 'a commercial understanding of the important issues on major transactions'. Associate Ally Smith  'is a rising star and one to watch'.

Jones Day's team has experienced notable growth in outbound transactions into the US for Singapore and India-based clients, and is increasingly being recognised for its experience in private equity transactions, including leveraged buyouts and minority investments, and real estate private equity deals. The team represents a number of local and regional private equity houses; recent highlights include advising PAG, one of Asia's largest alternative asset management firms, on an investment from the Blackstone Strategic Capital Holdings Fund. It also represented Park Place Technologies on its acquisition of Axentel Technologies' businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. China outbound transactions are also at the heart of the practice, thanks in part to the presence of Elizabeth ColeDennis Barsky is a 'sophisticated lawyer' who is 'rated as one of the most technical practitioners out there'. Ben Witherall was promoted to of counsel and is noted for his M&A expertise. Darren Murphy transferred to Melbourne.

Latham & Watkins LLP is better known for capital markets work, but in partners Sharon Lau and Michael Sturrock it has a wealth of M&A and private equity transactions experience. Working in concert with the Hong Kong office, the Singapore team has upped its standing in private equity; in a recent highlight, practitioners from both offices advised Techcombank on a proposed $373m investment from Warburg Pincus. Other clients include Fullerton Healthcare, Broadcom, IntApp, GIC and Partners Group. M&A and private equity specialist Marcus Lee was elevated to the partnership in 2018.

Norton Rose Fulbright is a leading player in financial institutions (including insurance), shipping and transport, mining and commodities, and private equity transactions. India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos and Vietnam are key markets for the team, which is praised for its 'innovation' and 'global reach'. Sheela Moorthy leads the team, which includes the 'very personable and approachable' Craig LovelessAnna Tipping is also recommended for insurance-sector deals.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP handles a high market share of big-ticket M&A transactions in the region. The Singapore team works closely with the Hong Kong office, recently advising on headline deals such as Nesta Holdings' $11.7bn going-private acquisition of Global Logistic Properties (Singapore); head of the Singapore office Rajeev Duggal was one of the lead partners on the deal. The Singapore department also had a pivotal role in advising Equis Funds Group (Singapore) on its $5bn sale of Equis Energy (Singapore) to Global Infrastructure Partners and co-investors; this was the largest renewable energy acquisition in history. The Hong Kong based Jonathan Stone has a significant focus on South East Asia and regularly works from the Singapore office

White & Case Pte. Ltd. has an increasingly regional practice, building on its impressive track record in Indonesia-related deals. Clients include CBRE Global Investors, CVC Capital Partners, Equis Energy, Saudi Aramco, Puma Energy and Trafigura. The firm advised e-Shang Redwood on a series of transactions, involving investments into its managed funds and its parent holding company. It also represented Chiyoda on the restructuring of its investment in EMAS Chiyoda Subsea, a joint venture company owned by Chiyoda Corporation, NYK Shipping Lines and Ezra Holdings Ltd. Jonathan Olier is 'a class act', 'a very smart guy', 'strong from a technical perspective' and 'has great humanity', while Jon Bowden is 'very hands-on and responsive'. Counsel Tabitha Saw is noted for private equity real estate transactions.

HFW Singapore LLP's Brian Gordon heads the global corporate practice and has an especially strong record in mining and resources. The firm's presence in this sector was further enhanced by the launch of a Jakarta presence in November 2017. Moreover the firm recruited energy and resources specialist Alistair Duffield, formerly the managing partner of Berwin Leighton Paisner's South East Asia practice. The Singapore team advised Stratex International, the AIM-quoted gold exploration and development company, on the potential acquisition of ASX-listed Crusader Resources. Of counsel Aaron Kok is 'a tremendous asset' with 'good legal knowledge and operational understanding'.

King & Spalding LLP further strengthened its energy M&A credentials with the hire of mainstream M&A and private equity specialist and 'quality operator' Lee Taylor from Clifford Chance in January 2018. Taylor's arrival has also added significant capabilities in financial services, consumer goods, retail and transport M&A. The wider Singapore team has extensive energy M&A experience; recent highlights include advising AES on the $1.05bn auction sale of its majority holding in its business in the Philippines to SMC Global Power Holdings. It also represented SEB, the public power utility in Sarawak (Malaysia), on the acquisition of the 2,400MW Bakun hydropower project. Kelly Malone, Simon Cowled, Merrick White and Richard Nelson provide extensive energy sector M&A experience.

Morrison & Foerster (Singapore) LLP has an impressive record in big-ticket transactions, most notably in the real estate, technology, financial institutions and private equity spaces, acting for a number of regional players, Japanese clients and US corporates. The practice acted for JT International on its $936m acquisition of tobacco business assets of Mighty Corporation, the second largest manufacturer and distributor of cigarettes in the Philippines. Jake Robson is praised for 'his out of the box solutions and practicality' and Shirin Tang is 'proactive, experienced and efficient, has commercial sense and is able to flag up the key issues'. Of counsel Maria Steeples provides further senior-level gravitas.

Shearman & Sterling LLP is heavily focused on private equity and has a strong record in energy M&A. Clients include Goldman Sachs, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Temasek, Capital Square Partners, Petronas and Marubeni. The practice advised Petronas on the completion of a $8bn investment by Saudi Aramco in PETRONAS’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Johor State, Malaysia. It also advised Capital Square Partners, the Singapore-based private equity house on its acquisition of ESM Holdings.  Sidharth Bhasin is 'commercial, creative in problem solving and highly responsive'. Counsel James Clayton-Payne is also recommended, as is partner Anthony Patten, who provides additional energy sector expertise.

Stephenson Harwood LLP's 'very client-focused', 'responsive' and 'pragmatic' team has a strong reputation for technology, telecoms, pharmaceuticals and healthcare transactions, and is making an impression in private equity and venture capital deals. The practice operates across Southeast Asia with a particular emphasis on key jurisdictions such as Myanmar and Vietnam, and is praised for delivering 'high-quality, tailored work to an international standard'. Recent highlights include advising Chemopharm, the Malaysian medical devices distribution group, on the sale of a majority stake to the Everstone Group via its platform Everlife. It also advised Singapore Technologies Aerospace on its divestment of a 5% equity stake in ST Aerospace (Guangzhou) Aviation Services Company, a joint venture with Guangdong Airport Authority, to Japan Airlines. Key figures include Tom Platts, who is 'very smart and solutions driven'; George Cyriac, who is 'a safe pair of hands' and noted for his private equity expertise; of counsel Helen Rhind-Hufnagel; and associate Mark Stephens, who 'understands his clients and is very commercial'.

Ashurst LLP's corporate practice has a strong focus on energy, resources and infrastructure, most notably in Indonesia. Clients include Vale International, Mayur Resources, GPC Asia Pacific and The Silanna Group. Department head Simon Brown led the team advising Mayur Resources, a Singapore-based company with indirect mining operations in Papua New Guinea, on its listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. He and the team are praised for 'high levels of efficiency', 'good response times', 'good industry knowledge', 'an ability to find alternative solutions' and a 'business-oriented' approach. Jon Ornolfsson and Daniel Reinbott are recommended for oil and gas M&A.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is continue to build its standing in Myanmar-related transactions, with recent work including advice to a group of vendors including YOMA Strategic Holdings and First Myanmar Investment Company on a reorganisation, spin-off and listing of their tourism-related assets through the reverse takeover of Catalist-listed SHC Capital Asia. The team is 'responsive and practical' and 'works hard to meet super tight timelines'. Manoj Purush attracts praise for his 'approachability' and 'patience when dealing with difficult counterparties'.

Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore is noted for its insurance-driven practice, which is particularly active for Chinese insurers; hospitality and leisure is another growth segment for the firm. The Singapore team advised Shenzhen Qianhai Financial and Shenzhen Investment Holdings, the joint owners of Asia Investment Capital Holdings, on its proposed acquisition of ACR Capital Holdings. It also acted for Chubb in its 15-year regional general insurance distribution arrangement with DBS Bank. Team leader Ian Stewart has plenty of big-ticket deal experience, while Benjamin Hirasawa is noted for hospitality transactions and Justin Tan for energy and commodities deals. Thomas Choo was promoted to partner in May 2018.

CMS' Singapore office remains at the forefront of TMT and venture capital deals, despite the departure of Andrew Stott, who launched Stott Advisory. Toby Grainger is now leading the practice, which has achieved prominence through its advice on a number of venture capital funding rounds. Highlights included advising a gaming startup on a seed funding round led by a consortium of investors. While Indonesia continues to be a key jurisdiction for Grainger and the team, Myanmar is becoming increasingly important: the firm advised Myanmar Strategic Holdings on its joint venture with Auston Institute of Management to establish and operate a higher education college in Yangon.

DLA Piper has a strong regional profile with a notable record in energy, oil and gas, and commodities. Recent highlights include advising PT Karya Dibya Mahardhika, the Indonesian tobacco company, on its $677m sale to Japan Tobacco International. Joe Bauerschmidt  is recognised for his expertise in Thailand deals, though he has an impressive record across the region. Heng Loong Cheong splits his time between Singapore and Hong Kong, and is recommended for his coordination of multi-jurisdictional transactions.

Duane Morris & Selvam LLP has a growing track record in the tech (including fintech) and telecoms sectors, most notably in Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Vietnam. It advised PT Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Protelindo) on its acquisition of PT Komet Infra Nusantara, the Indonesian telecommunications tower company. In addition to handling traditional M&A mandates, it has experienced a significant rise in venture capital work. Energy, hospitality and pharmaceuticals are additional areas of strength for the Singapore team, which has built a loyal following among Chinese and Japanese clients. Krishna Ramachandra, Leon Yee, Gerard HekkerMark Wong and Ramiro Rodriguez comprise a potent senior bench.

Gibson Dunn has an established Singapore presence and a particularly strong record in India deals. It advised Kimberly-Clark on its purchase of Hindustan Unilever's 50% stake in Kimberly Clark Lever, a joint venture between the client and Hindustan Unilever. Key figures include Jai Pathak, the head of the Singapore office, and Brad Roach, who is recommended for energy sector transactions.

K&L Gates has a strong focus on technology, including fintech, medtech and social media. It primarily operates in the small to mid-cap space. The team is 'excellent', 'very responsive', 'able to deliver high-quality legal advice and innovative commercial solutions' and 'brings significant value to the table'. It advised Nova Satra, the Singapore-based molecular diagnostics company, on an $8m investment from the Genting Group.  Nicholas Hanna leads the team, which includes Mark Tan, who is 'technically excellent, possesses impressive intellectual capability' and  'acts as a caretaker of the transaction as if it were his own'.

Mayer Brown's Singapore office continues to leverage the firm's potent Asia Pacific platform. The team has a fine record in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and is increasingly active in India, following the arrival of a prominent banking and finance team led by Kayal Sachi from Allen & Overy. That new team has also given the corporate practice even greater credibility in private equity; the corporate department has worked on a series of mid-market deals for TPG Capital and other financial sponsors. Singapore partner Rod Brown was part of a cross-office team that advised TPG Capital on its on its proposed $150m acquisition of majority stake in a Vietnamese educational institution. Beyond private equity, the firm is active in strategic M&A for a range of multinationals, including Japanese trading houses. It also advised PT CT Corpora, the Indonesian conglomerate, on the disposal of shares held by its subsidiary PT Mega Corpora in PT Asuransi Jiwa Mega Indonesia to Prudential US.

Reed Smith LLP has a particularly strong track record in energy and resources mandates, and is 'commercially savvy', 'good value for money', 'committed' and delivers 'good turnaround times'. Matthew Gorman is 'professional, persistent and confident', 'a very seasoned lawyer' who 'combines technical capability with a commercial approach'. Kohe Hasan, a fluent Malay and Bahasa Indonesia speaker, is noted for energy deals in Indonesia and Malaysia.

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