Investment funds: foreign firms in Singapore

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow has an established sponsor and investor driven practice focused on real estate, venture capital and private equity. The firm has made additional headway in Variable Capital Company structures and has landed a series of new GP clients, along with a number of family office clients on the LP side. Kelvin Poa leads the Singapore funds team and heads the Asia Pacific private equity practice; he is particularly known for his longstanding work in the Southeast Asia venture capital space. Derek Kwan co-heads the Singapore funds group and has a strong profile in real estate funds across South Asia and Southeast Asia. Senior associate Jens Carle is highly rated by clients.

Practice head(s):

Kelvin Poa; Derek Kwan

Other key lawyers:

Jens Carle

Testimonials

‘The team is personalised and is willing to go the extra mile to help with solutioning / structuring for investor issues.’

‘The team offers their vast wealth of experience which is very valuable for fund managers and LPs at various stages of this fund business. Collectively, they are able to provide practicable solutions and pragmatic advice. They are also very approachable and easily accessible. All in, I found their service top notch.’

‘Derek Kwan – provides visible steer and leadership.’

‘Derek Kwan – he is always able to tap on his vast wealth of experience and knowledge to offer very good advice to clients.’ 

‘Jens Carle – very dedicated & always available; has seen enough structures to be able to help solution creatively.’

‘Jens Carle – he is able to offer at the operational level the detailed considerations to clients who can then pre-empt to avoid prolonged discussions with stakeholders in the fund.’

Key clients

Adams Street Partners

ARDIAN

Eastbridge Partners

Equinix

ESR

Gateway Partners

Godrej Fund Management

Keppel Capital / Alpha Investment Partners

KWAP (Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan))

Muang Thai Life Assurance (Fuchsia Venture Capital Company)

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB10X)

Singapore Institute of Technology

Vertex Ventures

Vickers Venture Partners

500 Startups

Work highlights

  • Advised Vickers Venture Partners on the formation of a global venture capital fund.
  • Advised Godrej Fund Management on the formation of an India focused private equity real estate investment platform.
  • Advised Alpha Investment Partners on the formation of a Vietnam focused real estate fund and sidecar.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance has an outstanding reputation in the investment funds segment, leading the field in high-value and international fundraisings; the Singapore team advised Prologis on the formation of its $1.7bn open-ended Prologis China Core Logistics Fund. The firm is at the forefront of real estate, infrastructure and private equity funds, with Singapore managing partner Kai-Niklas Schneider leading the group; it also features emerging talent Daryl Liu, who now leads many of the team’s headline engagements. Financial services regulation specialist Lena Ng and senior associate Luke Chen are also key members of the department. The group is making further headway in ESG and sustainability-linked funds, the secondary market, and boasts a number of Singapore-qualified lawyers.

Practice head(s):

Kai-Niklas Schneider

Other key lawyers:

Daryl Liu; Lena NgLuke Chen

Testimonials

‘They are highly skilled and knowledgeable, with a commercial mindset and can-do attitude. They are fast to turn drafts around and execute. Even though the staff is highly experienced, billing is not high compared to other firms as they listen to the clients needs very well and try not to reinvent the wheel unnecessarily but instead find simple but efficient solutions. People I have worked with are diverse in gender and ethnicity terms. I have worked and am still working with top law firms all across my career and CC (Singapore) is by far the best. It is an utmost pleasure to work with them. ’

‘Smarter, more commercial, knowledgeable, can-do attitude, work ethic and discipline, respect for colleagues and clients.’

‘Fund formation team, provide advisory and documentation on private real estate fund formation.’

‘Excellent technical skills and highly responsive. Everything you expect from the Magic Circle.’

‘Market-leading funds practice, global clients, outstanding market knowledge. Proficient technically.’

Excellent knowledge, responsiveness, client care and market knowledge.’

‘Luke Chen – very responsive and thinks ahead to anticipate our needs.’

Key clients

Prologis

Pierfront Capital Fund Management Pte. Ltd.

Berkeley Energy

CLSA Real Estate (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (CLSA RE)

Various leading international asset managers – Schroders, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, PIMCO, State Street, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Quilter Investors, Optimas, BNY Mellon and UBS

Sarvatra Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised Berkeley Energy on the formation of Africa Renewable Energy Fund II (AREF II), a $500m fund investing in clean and renewable energy projects, assets and project developers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Advised Prologis on the formation of its $1.7bn open-ended China core fund, Prologis China Core Logistics Fund, LP.
  • Advised Pierfront Capital Fund Management on the formation of a real asset private credit fund to mark the commencement of a strategic partnership between Keppel Capital and Pierfront Capital.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is principally focused on private equity funds, operating both on the GP and LP sides. It has a strong connection to sovereign investors in the Middle East. Olivia Chung is one of few US-qualified investment funds specialists in Singapore and also has a background with open-ended funds when she previously practised in New York. Her experience has made the team well suited to growth in the credit funds segment, often working alongside colleagues in Hong Kong. Senior Counsel Divya Thakur is an India funds specialist, who frequently works alongside London partner John Holton . Former Singapore partner Robert Griffin has relocated to Dallas.

Practice head(s):

Olivia Chung; Robert Griffin; Prakash Mehta; Stephen Vine

Other key lawyers:

Divya Thakur; Juliana Widjaja

Testimonials

‘The team at Akin Gump is flexible, knowledgeable and always able to deliver sound advice that is practical and useful. Clients value the deep knowledge of the team – a unique feature of the team is its ability to seamlessly work with partners/lawyers from its other worldwide offices to serve the Asian based clients.’

Local Singapore presence, knowledge of US law.’

‘Excellent provision of service for funds being raised for India.’

‘Olivia Chung – a good lawyer with a good understanding of the needs of the client, is client-centric and always being able to work with clients with differing needs.’

‘Special mentions to Olivia Chung, Divya Thakur and Juliana Widjaja.’

Dechert

Dechert‘s longstanding presence in Singapore, which includes the senior figure Dean Collins, has enabled the firm to carve out an impressive market share in private equity, private credit, tech funds (including venture capital funds) and fund secondaries. The team also represents a number of institutional investors. The practice has made a particular impression in the tech space, in growth capital and venture capital, and is at the forefront of the credit fund segment. Zachary Oswald is an experienced senior associate, as is Thomas Kim, who is ‘organised, responsive and commercial.’

Practice head(s):

Dean Collins

Other key lawyers:

Zachary Oswald; Thomas Kim

Testimonials

‘Very experienced team that knows the subject matter well, problem solver, committed, excellent service.’

‘Very knowledgeable in the funds’ space and always a pleasure to work with.’

‘Thomas Kim has been excellent to work with and is organised, responsive and commercial.’

‘Responsive; understand the market and provide commercial solutions.’

‘We have a long history of working engagements with Dechert. That is reflected in our transactions, where they work seamlessly with various stakeholders within my firm. This is a people business, and the associates of Dechert are intelligent and driven.’

‘Thomas Kim reflects the characteristics you want from a top-notch external counsel. He is vested to look out for his client’s interest, and able to articulate his arguments clearly. He goes beyond the call of duty (eg. working over public holidays and weekends) to drive the legal workstream during a short-fused deal. Intelligent, driven and integrity. These are the key values that resonate with Thomas Kim and we view he has a long runway ahead of him.’

‘Dechert has offered us a well-constructed core team and access to specialist advice in all relevant areas. Their advice is clear and constructive, balancing legal necessities against market realities and extending beyond strictly legal matters to helpful market insights and efficient and effective coordination of the broader advisor group. The one-stop shop offering, well-coordinated as it is through a single principal point of contact, is extremely helpful.’

‘We are working closely with Zachary Oswald, Senior Associate: he is an absolute superstar. He is extremely knowledgeable in his subject area – on both technical legal matters and relevant market practice and expectations; aware of and able to access other resources within the firm when necessary; always responsive in prompt, patient & positive ways; a delight to work with – in both his demeanour and the confidence he inspires in his advice – in all respects, Zack is a fully effective transaction leader. I would certainly welcome the opportunity to have Zack lead our team again on future transactions.’

Key clients

Primavera Capital

EFA Group

Genesis Alternative Ventures

Indies Capital Partners

CDIB Capital International Corporation

Openspace Ventures

JI Capital Partners

The Norinchukin Bank

SilkRoad Property Partners

Work highlights

  • Served as lead counsel to The Sylvan Group on the formation of its first fund, Sylvan Asia Growth Fund I, a private equity fund focused on growth capital/buyouts investments in mid-market companies in Asia Pacific.
  • Appointed as lead international counsel to Indies Capital Partners on the formation of Indies Special Opportunities III, L.P., a $250m private credit and private equity fund focused on mezzanine, private credit and private equity opportunities across Southeast Asia.
  • Acted as lead counsel for Openspace Ventures (OSV) in the formation of its third venture technology companies based in Southeast Asia.

Jones Day

Jones Day has a substantial funds team in Singapore, comprised of both locally and internationally qualified professionals. The group is recognised for its work in real estate funds across Asia Pacific, representing some of the biggest fund managers and investors in the market; in this segment department head Dennis Barsky is particularly high profile. Ben Witherall is another emerging talent, having been promoted to partner in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Dennis Barsky; Ben Witherall

Testimonials

‘With Jones Day’s global network, we can easily access regulation related advice in other markets without having to engage local counsel in most cases. As potential investors of the fund can be located anywhere in the world, having such access is really helpful.’

‘Very strong legal knowledge. Highly practical. Provide commercially focused real-world advice.’

‘Knowledgeable, responsive, client focused.’

Key clients

Ancora Capital Management Pte Ltd

ARA Asset Management Limited

Asia Capital Real Estate Limited

CBRE Global Investment Partners

Greystar Real Estate Partners, LLC

LaSalle Investment Management Limited

Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc.

OMERS Administration Corporation

Oxford Properties Group Limited

PAG Asia Capital

Petronas

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ)

CMS

CMS is primarily recognised for its standing in real estate and venture capital funds. The Singapore team has achieved a strong presence in VCCs, and is a developing force in blockchain and crypto asset matters. The group advises a long list of asset managers and institutional investors. Matthew Nortcliff has practiced as a funds lawyer in Singapore since 2010, and is at the forefront of institutional-grade Singapore VCCs and the digitalisation of funds (including tokenisation); he advised Play Ventures on the establishment of Play Ventures Fund II, a $135m gaming focused venture capital fund established as a Singapore VCC.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Nortcliff

Key clients

Play Ventures (Singapore/Finland)

UBS Asset Management AG (Switzerland)

Aberdeen Standard Investments (UK)

InvestaX (Singapore)

LaSalle Global Partner Solutions (US)

Fairway Capital (UK) Fairway Capital is a real estate fund management firm based in London

SBI Ven Capital (Singapore)

Ship Street Advisors (Hong Kong)

Frasers Logistics & Commercial Trust (Singapore)

Boston & Alexander LLP (UK / Luxembourg)

LuneX Ventures (Singapore)

Aldar Properties PJSC (UAE)

Makers Fund (Hong Kong)

Arkblu Capital (Indonesia)

Eurazeo (France)

Oryx Real Estate Partners (UK)

Atos UK Pension Scheme (UK)

Tsao Family Office (Singapore)

Knight Frank Capital Advisory LLP (UK)

Azimuth Global Partners (Malaysia)

BAA Pension Scheme (UK)

Taylor Wimpey Pension Scheme (UK) Pension Scheme for Taylor Wimpey employees. Taylor Wimpey is one of the

Patrizia AG

AP Power (Indonesia)

Global Student Accommodation Group (UAE)

Janson Green Pension Scheme (UK)

 

Work highlights

  • Advised Play Ventures on the establishment of Play Ventures Fund II, a $135m gaming focused VC fund established as a Singapore VCC.
  • Advised UBS Asset Management on in excess of $1bn of investments into Asian and US real estate funds.
  • Advised SBI Ven Capital on the establishment of the SBI-NTU-RVC Digital Innovation Fund VCC, a $75m fintech VC fund.

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons is noted for real estate and infrastructure funds, including those focused on China-related investments. Department head Will McCosker previously spent three years in the firm’s Shanghai office, specialising in Chinese and pan-Asian structures and investments; he led the team that advised ARA Asset Management on the launch of an ASEAN Belt and Road focused infrastructure fund. The team assists a variety of international and Asia Pacific asset managers, with former Singapore partner John Sullivan remaining actively involved in the practice from Sydney.

Practice head(s):

Will McCosker; John Sullivan

Testimonials

‘This is a very strong team – technically strong with a good understanding of commercial drivers. The team members work really well with each other and are very knowledgeable. They are very easy to work with and are very responsive.’

‘Great team with a strong positive culture. Always helpful. Very knowledgeable. Always willing to accommodate my ideas but will tell me if I am on the wrong track.’

‘Will McCosker is excellent. He can be relied on to solve tricky issues. He is our go-to person for investment funds related work.’

‘Will McCosker has worked with us for many years and is extremely reliable, knowledgeable and responsive. He is excellent at managing his team as well as other firms that work jointly with us on transactions. Will has a great memory for the issues that are important to us and brings that depth of history to new deals which means we hit the road running. We very much feel like he is on our side but he doesn’t take a confrontational approach to negotiations when it’s not warranted; instead, he will advise us on discerning which points are commercially material. We enjoy working with Will; we have a lot of faith in him and value his advice.’

Key clients

ARA Asset Management

Resource Capital Funds

QIC

Adamantem Capital Management Pty Ltd

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA)

Dragon Capital

SunSuper

New Forests Asset Management Pty Ltd

ChinaAMC

Mercury Capital

Ascott

Taurus Funds Management

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead counsel to ARA Infrastructure on the establishment of an ASEAN Belt and Road focused infrastructure fund.
  • Advised QIC on a major restructure of QIC Global Infrastructure Fund (QGIF) which was undertaken to facilitate a second fundraise with an additional aggregate committed capital of up to A$1bn.
  • Advised Taurus Fund Management on the establishment and fundraising of the client’s second fund targeting financing opportunities for global metals and mining project development and acquisition.

Morrison Foerster (Singapore)

Morrison Foerster (Singapore) gained considerable market share in the investment funds field since Jason Nelms transferred to the Singapore office from Hong Kong in 2019. Linking up with private equity real estate expert Shirin Tang, the team has landed a series of major clients and engagements in the private equity, real estate and venture capital segments. More recently, it has experienced further growth in instructions from logistics and data centre-focused funds but remains best known for private equity real estate funds. The group represents a variety of international and Singapore-based GPs and LPs.

Practice head(s):

Jason Nelms; Shirin Tang; Lip Kian Ang; Paul Davis

Testimonials

‘Team is excellent. Tonnes of past experience that the client can leverage.’

‘Client service is exceptional, professional, accurate and timely with strong commercial acumen. As a client, I feel my time is valued by just simply focusing on the key issues and resting the details for them to handle. Moreover, they would initiate to offer professional training and update which are value adding (such as SPAC update and development).’

‘The group is commercial-minded and practical. They are always responsive at any hour of the day and move quickly to meet difficult deadlines.’

‘Strong communication skills with extremely rapid response time without compromising attention to detail.’

Jason Nelms – he has a range of expertise in various fund mandates with actionable advice and clear prioritisation for the key issues in complex situations. He is not only interpreting regulations, but he is also commercially savvy.’

‘Jason Nelms – strong communication skills with extremely rapid response time without compromising attention to detail, very clear and concise substantive analysis with actionable insights and commercially minded mindset, transparent and fair billing practices that put clients first.’

‘MoFo has a strong reputation for fund formation work in Asia, as well as in the types of technology-focused portfolio investments we often look at. Jason Nelms and his team, in particular, are as experienced as anyone in Asia, and always work through projects quickly and efficiently with us.’

‘Jason Nelms has been our lead contact. He is very commercial-minded and focused on solving issues quickly. He has been proactive in identifying areas for us to focus on and helping to steer the transaction to a successful closing. He is great at balancing the commercial and legal issues.’

Key clients

GLP Pte Ltd

Savills Investment Management

East Ventures

E15 VC

European Climate Foundation

Ibaera Capital Advisers Pty Ltd.

Taurus Funds Management

Touchstone Capital Partners

Vectr Ventures Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised GLP Pte. Ltd. on the formation of Japan’s largest private open-ended logistics real estate income fund (JIF).
  • Advised Savills Investment Management on the formation of Savills Investment Management Japan Residential Fund II, LP.
  • Advised European Climate Foundation, an international non-profit organization focused on the promotion of climate and energy policies to mitigate climate change, on its lead LP investment in Southeast Asia Clean Energy Facility, LP.

Simmons & Simmons

Simmons & Simmons has a substantial investment funds team that offers a strong Singapore law capability alongside international expertise. It is well versed in onshore and offshore funds, covering a range of private equity, infrastructure, real estate and venture capital funds, along with extensive expertise in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) including those authorised under Singapore’s VCC regime. The team led by Jek-Aun Long is also noted for its Singapore regulatory expertise.

Practice head(s):

Jek-Aun Long

Other key lawyers:

Dax Lim; Sun Zixiang

Testimonials

‘The team is professional and knowledgeable and often provides good advice especially in the area of fund setup in the fund management industry.’

‘They are very knowledgeable and think of solutions for clients. The Navigator is a very good tool, and I use it often to do quick checks on Marketing Restrictions for our funds. I also appreciate the many seminars they had organised. They bring together experts across different jurisdictions.’

‘Jek-Aun Long is very responsive, commercial and, importantly, very well-versed in a spectrum of fund structures and asset classes as well as the fund management regulatory regime. He is always looking to help find the most optimal solutions for clients and is most easy to work with. Highly esteemed in his field and a veteran with many years of experience he is the go-to lawyer in Singapore for investment funds.’

‘I work closely with Sun Zixiang from Simmons & Simmons and I would like to give special mention and credit to Zixiang. Zixiang has a flexible working style, is easily reachable and is always ready to listen to what the clients need/want before proposing a solution for them. He often more than meet deadlines and provide excellent work.’

Key clients

BlackRock Global Funds

BlackRock Strategic Funds

BlackRock Funds I ICAV

BNY Mellon Global Funds, plc

Investec Global Strategy Fund

Lion Global Investors Limited

Foord Asset Management (Singapore) Pte. Limited

CSOP Asset Management Pte. Ltd.

Phillip Capital Management (S) Ltd

BlackRock Singapore Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted BlackRock with the registration of the landmark Multi-Theme Equity Fund and the ESG Fixed Income Global Opportunities Fund by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for a public retail offer in Singapore and the annual relodgement of the fund.  
  • Assisted BNY Mellon Global Funds with the registration of the BNY Mellon US Municipal Infrastructure Debt Fund by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for public retail offer.
  • Assisted Lion Global Investors with the registration of the Lion-GreatEastern Prestige Income Fund and the LionGlobal Asia High Dividend Equity Fund by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for public retail offer.