As an ever-growing number of financial institutions and blue-chip corporates look to escape Hong Kong’s stifling Covid-19 rules and diminishing political freedom, Singapore’s status as Asia’s pre-eminent legal and financial hub has only solidified further. Its ascension cannot, however, be wholly attributed to the recent turbulence afflicting the special administrative region. Anchored in economic and political stability, Singapore has long positioned itself as an attractive venue for activities such as wealth planning and fund management. A transparent legal framework, skilled workforce, developed infrastructure, reliable tax system and successful management of the pandemic have enabled the city-state to become a premier destination for investment in Asia.Looking back over 2021, M&A activity in Singapore experienced a resurgence following a predictable slowdown in 2020. Despite ongoing geopolitical turmoil, deal activity in many Southeast Asian countries is projected to continue its upward trajectory throughout 2022.On the capital markets front, 2022 opened with a three-fold increase in the number of initial public offerings and a 70% growth in funds raised compared to the first semester of 2021. Lawyers reported an upturn in the number of foreign corporates seeking to list or spin-off part of their assets for listing in Singapore, Asia’s largest global REIT and Trusts platform. Furthermore, the soon-to-be implemented rules by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that could allow it to delist foreign stocks for failure to meet audit requirements have led many Chinese companies listed in the US to consider alternative secondary listing avenues, including in ASEAN where they see opportunities to grow their businesses.As regulators, investors and consumers pay heightened attention to the ESG credentials of businesses, green finance and sustainability-linked loans grow in importance, with countries stepping up demands for greater ESG disclosure. Singapore is no exception; SGX has recently issued a consultation paper with proposals to move towards mandatory climate-related disclosures in sustainability reporting.The jurisdiction – which has successfully established itself as a global fintech hub, given its strong corporate governance, regulatory and risk-management capabilities- has also recently tightened rules for cryptocurrency providers via the issuance of trading guidelines, and the introduction of the Payment Services Act 2019 (PSA) and Payment Services Regulations. White-collar crimes are also expected to surge and become more complex as the city-state expands and emerges as a main global financial centre.Turning to Singapore’s legal scene, the market is divided between foreign and domestic firms, though increasing integration has led to a more fused profession. Though international law firms are prohibited from providing advice on Singapore law, these restrictions are stripped back for Qualifying Foreign Law Practices (QFLP)- a foreign firm with a high percentage of Singapore qualified lawyers and designed to support the growth of the Singapore profession and Singapore law itself- or joint law ventures (JLV)- a financially integrated entity between a local and international firm. A Formal Law Alliance (FLA) also enables foreign and local firms to collaborate but remain operationally and financially distinct. Singapore has a robust independent local legal profession exemplified by firms such as Allen & Gledhill LLP, Drew & Napier LLC, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, WongPartnership LLP and Shook Lin & Bok LLP, all sizeable outfits that combine bench strength with broad practice area expertise.
Firms in the Spotlight Legal market overview
Gateway Law Corporation
Gateway’s Intellectual Property Practice Group encompasses both contentious and non-contentious aspects of intellectual property law, including:View Profile...