Restructuring and insolvency: foreign firms in Singapore

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance has expanded its restructuring and insolvency practice following the arrival of specialist partner Shaun Langhorne in 2020. His presence has sparked a notable increase in bondholder engagements, along mandates linked to private equity investments that have run into difficulties. He and the team are also noted for representing debtors and creditors, with additional expertise in contentious insolvency provided by Asia head of disputes Nish Shetty and Elan Krishna, who is a young partner at Cavenagh Law LLP, Clifford Chance‘s Formal Law Alliance in Singapore; the Cavenagh Law LLP team has proved pivotal on a series of court proceedings. The wider team has been especially active in the aviation sector, in the Indonesian textile industry and in international engagements using the new Singapore restructuring regime.

Practice head(s):

Nish Shetty; Shaun Langhorne

Other key lawyers:

Elan Krishna

Key clients

Gategroup Holding AG and Gategroup Guarantee Limited

Hyflux Ltd

Hyflux Membrane Manufacturing (S) Pte Ltd

Bank of China Limited, BNP Paribas, DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Natixis and MUFG Bank, Ltd

Garuda Indonesia

FTI Consulting

KPMG

Work highlights

  • Advised gategroup Holding AG and gategroup Guarantee Limited, as restructuring counsel in connection with the restructuring of its financial indebtedness by way of a restructuring plan under Part 26A of the UK Companies Act 2006.
  • Advised various syndicates as transaction counsel in connection with the business rehabilitation proceedings of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited and restructuring of the financing.
  • Acted for an ad hoc Committee of Certificate holders on the international aspects of the restructuring of Garuda Indonesia’s $500m sukuk.

Gibson Dunn

Gibson Dunn is the market leader in debtor/company representation, amongst the international firms in Singapore. It has landed a series of headline engagements, particularly Indonesian businesses; this includes the restructurings of PT Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex), the Duniatex Group, and the Singapore-listed Design Studio Group, which operates in eight jurisdictions. The Singapore team is particularly suited to multi-jurisdictional engagements, notably those that involve New York-law governed bonds, and English and Singapore law loans. The firm is one of few to have a genuine senior-level restructuring and insolvency specialist; Troy Doyle is co-chair of the global business restructuring and reorganisation group, and leads the Asia restructuring and insolvency practice from Singapore. Jamie Thomas is global co-chair of the finance group, and frequently works alongside Doyle on debt arrangements and documentation-related issues. The broader team also includes associates focused on Singapore-listing matters, litigation, and corporate issues.

Practice head(s):

Troy Doyle

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Thomas

Testimonials

‘The practice at Gibson Dunn has extensive experience in multiple jurisdictions which enables their team to deliver an excellent service on cross border transactions, particularly in relation to company side mandates. Their in-depth knowledge allows them to provide commercial solutions which can be implemented quickly and efficiently. In short, “they speak deal language” and help get the job done.’

‘In my view, Troy Doyle is a market leader for “bet-the-company” restructuring situations; he is strategic and technically excellent and remains in complete control of the restructuring process.’

‘Troy Doyle and his restructuring team are akin to a Formula One racing team; they are focused on excellence, perform flawlessly as a coordinated team, and consistently achieve results for clients in high-pressure situations to bring it home to the finishing line.’

‘Troy Doyle is the confidant every CEO needs in a “bet-the-company” restructuring. He is authentic, a sounding-board who listens, and he galvanises teams; all the while executing an integrated restructuring process across multiple jurisdictions.’

‘I have worked with Jamie Thomas for over 10 years now in Indonesia on large big-ticket complex finance restructurings. For borrower side big-ticket complex restructurings Gibson Dunn Singapore is the leader, having the combined knowledge of Troy Doyle for cross border insolvency-related strategy and Jamie Thomas with his deep finance knowledge and understanding of the Indonesia market and its cohort of creditors. The team led by Jamie Thomas is excellent, the leading financing and restructuring team for the borrower side by far. They are very creative, reliable, proactive and up to date on recent trends and case law. Jamie and Troy make an excellent team who are well organised with deep bench strength with their team, which Jamie ensures is very well coordinated across groups. He also is a great guy to work with as he has lots of energy and drive and is dependable and technically very strong.’

‘Jamie Thomas is a stalwart of the Indonesian market for big-ticket finance and restructuring-related matters. He runs a team that is highly sophisticated and are leaders in this field for complex multijurisdictional transactions requiring the implementation of cutting-edge financial products. In our view, his team dominates the market for complex finance and restructurings and Jamie does equally well on both loans and bonds and is unmatched with his deep knowledge of finance in Indonesia. Jamie is very knowledgeable and probably the best finance lawyer for cross border borrower side Indonesian deals. Whilst Jamie seamlessly implements the financial products, his colleague Troy Doyle works with us on the early stages of the complex cross border insolvency-related matters. Together they are a formidable team and best in the game.’

Key clients

AJ Capital Advisory

Sritex Group

Duniatex Group

SM Investments Pte Ltd (a consortium by the Salim Group and Medco Group)

Design Studio Group Ltd

Work highlights

    Milbank

    Milbank‘s highly-rated Singapore office has some of the top practitioners in the jurisdiction, several of which have significant experience in the restructuring field, particularly in the energy and oil and gas segments. The Singapore team has an impressive record in restructurings centred in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore itself. David Zemans and Jacqueline Chan are outstanding names in the market, both of which continue to work on a number of big-ticket restructurings, representing a range of debtors, creditors and bondholder committees.

    Practice head(s):

    David Zemans

    Other key lawyers:

    Jacqueline Chan; Giles Kennedy

    Testimonials

    ‘Milbank are market leaders in SE Asia for assisting corporate borrowers with both the issuance and restructuring of USD Bonds.’

    ‘Good communication and client management skills.’

    ‘Giles Kennedy is unrivalled in his experience and in particular, for his close and trusted relationships with corporate clients built over many years. His communication is clear and his advice is sought and acted upon. ’

    Work highlights

      Allen & Overy

      Allen & Overy is best known for lender-side engagements, including export credit agencies (ECAs) and commercial banks, particularly in relation to restructurings of Indonesian and Indian businesses. The Singapore team frequently works alongside colleagues in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney. Gautam Narasimhan and Chris Bishop are the senior banking and finance partners that are frequently engaged in big-ticket restructurings, alongside restructuring and insolvency specialist counsel Rishi Hindocha.

      Practice head(s):

      Gautam Narasimhan

      Other key lawyers:

      Chris Bishop; Rishi Hindocha; Jessica Lee

      Testimonials

      ‘A top notch restructuring and insolvency practice is part of A&O’s full service client offering in Asia. We have tried boutique restructuring firms but always come back to A&O. They know their business, give value-salvaging advice, and don’t let egos get in the way of solving critical problems. ’

      ‘Expertise on insolvency and restructurings and market knowledge / application in many jurisdictions; commercial sensible approach; great on the management of local law issues; positive approach to work and clients.’

      ‘Gautam Narasimhan is creative, commercially minded, focused on deal completion while still maintaining balance with respect to risks.’

      ‘Jessica Lee is great and in a good team. Great understanding of legal issues and market positions.’

      ‘The team coordinated well with all parties involved and kept everyone updated at all times. Provided timely and critical advise/opinions to the lender group. The members were also very easy to reach out to and have a conversation with. You can see there is dedication to achieving best results possible while recognising limitations and being able to convey this properly.’

      ‘Already mentioned, it was very easy to converse with the team members to seek advice and further clarifications. This made the transfer of information much easier which of course led to better decision making.’

      Key clients

      Keppel

      PT Garuda Indonesia (Persero) Tbk

       

      Work highlights

      • Advised KOM in connection with its exposure to Floatel International, one of the world’s largest offshore accommodation or “floatel” (floating hotel) providers.
      • Acted for a bank syndicate on the restructuring of PureCircle Group.

      Ashurst LLP

      Ashurst LLP has historically seen its banking and finance partners, notably Jean Woo, lead the Singapore offices restructuring and insolvency engagements. This has given the office more of a lender emphasis, though with the hire of Robert Child as a partner from Clifford Chance in July 2021, it now has a restructuring and insolvency specialist in the senior ranks giving the firm a broader outlook in this segment including acting for debtors, bondholders and distressed investors.

      Practice head(s):

      Jean Woo

      Other key lawyers:

      Robert Child

      Testimonials

      ‘Good understanding of the finance and business sector especially around trade finance.’

      ‘Jean Woo has a strong banking industry background.’

      Key clients

      Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)

      Bank of China

      China Development Bank

      Credit Suisse

      DBS

      Deutsche Bank

      Bank Mandiri

      Société Générale

      Maybank

      Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

      Herbert Smith Freehills LLP‘s substantial presence in Singapore provides it with a spread of expertise that is frequently applied to restructuring and insolvency situations. The team often works alongside other offices, particularly Hong Kong, on headline engagements, including a series of big-ticket matters in the aviation sector; the firm’s strong aviation finance practice in Singapore is a key factor. The team is led by Adrian Cheng, Siva Subramaniam who is a leading figure in aviation finance and has worked on a series of major airline restructurings, and Jamie McLaren who is noted for distressed M&A.

      Practice head(s):

      Jamie McLaren; Siva Subramaniam; Adrian Cheng

      Key clients

      AirAsia group

      Bain Capital

      Development Bank of Japan, Inc

      KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH

      The Chugoku Bank, Ltd.

      NTT TC Leasing Co., Ltd.

      Ultratech Cement Limited

      Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee

      Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee revamped its senior team with the hire of Nick Williams from K&L Gates Straits Law LLC in October 2020, this after the departure of Shaun Langhorne to Clifford Chance. Williams and the central team have deep Southeast Asia credentials, particularly on the creditor side, notably acting for the senior unsecured lenders in the headline restructuring of Singapore-listed Hyflux group. Carol Hartopp Hall continues to impress at senior associate level.

      Practice head(s):

      Nick Williams

      Other key lawyers:

      Carol Hartopp Hall

      Key clients

      Madison Pacific Trust Limited

      Kimura Commodity Trade Finance Fund Limited

      Aditum Structured Finance Fund

      JGC Corporation

      Allied Gold Corp

      Standard Chartered Bank

      Oaktree Capital Management

      Alverez & Marsal

      Borrelli Walsh

      FTI Consulting

      Shinhan Bank

      BNP Paribas

      Deutsche Bank

      CTBC Bank

      Work highlights

      • Acted for the senior unsecured bank lenders who represent approximately SG$900m of the debt in the high profile SG$3.5bn restructuring of the Hyflux group.
      • Continued to advise a syndicate of lenders, comprising Indian banks, international banks, and funds in relation to their exposure under a $470m million facility granted to a Singapore subsidiary of a large listed Indian conglomerate.
      • Acted for two lenders in connection with the restructuring of Antanium Resources.

      Linklaters

      Linklaters has made rapid progress in the restructuring and insolvency field since Andrew Payne joined the Singapore office in 2020. Payne is a genuine restructuring and insolvency specialist with a significant track record in Asia Pacific. He and the Singapore department also link up with a strong Hong Kong team led by James Warboys on major engagements. The firm has been active in aviation, shipping and energy, representing a variety of lenders and debtors. Managing associate Diantha Ho is another restructuring and insolvency specialist in Singapore.

      Practice head(s):

      Andrew Payne; James Warboys

      Other key lawyers:

      Diantha Ho

      Testimonials

      ‘The team led by Andrew Payne has immense experience and is very agile.’

      ‘In comparison to other firms, their turnaround times are exceptional.’

      ‘The team has a good mix of commercial and legal mindset and is great at advising clients on matters involving complex transactions.’

      ‘Andrew Payne is the core of what the team is today and his energy flows through the entire team. Very efficient and commercially astute – an asset for Linklaters.’

      ‘Andy Payne understands the commercial elements and the leverage that parties hold very well. His ability to review the documents and provide solutions in intractable situation makes him a pleasure to work with.’

      Key clients

      Bank of America, N.A.

      Standard Chartered Bank

      Arkkan Capital

      Value Partners Hong Kong Limited

      MBK Partners HK Limited

      LIM Asia Multi-Strategy Fund Inc.

      LIM Opportunistic Fund 3 LP

      Jindal Steel & Power Limited

      Jindal Steel and Power (Australia) Pty Ltd

      Wollongong Coal Limited

      Jindal Steel & Power (Mauritius) Limited

      Deutsche Bank

      HSBC

      Norton Rose Fulbright

      Norton Rose Fulbright is at the forefront of the shipping, commodities and offshore oil and gas sector, frequently representing creditors in major restructurings in these fields. The Singapore office often works alongside other international offices on cross-border and multinational restructurings. Through its Singapore alliance firm Ascendant Legal LLC, the Singapore team is able to manage and address court ordered schemes and obtain injunctions. Head of the Singapore office Yu-En Ong is a finance partner with a significant focus on restructurings. Sue Ann Gan has extensive experience in shipping-related restructurings and insolvencies. Kei Jin Chew leads on contentious matters.

      Practice head(s):

      Yu-En Ong

      Other key lawyers:

      Sue Ann Gan; Kei-Jin Chew

      Key clients

      ABN AMRO BANK

      Standard Chartered Bank

      DBS Trustees

      Work highlights

        Stephenson Harwood LLP

        Stephenson Harwood LLP‘s presence in the aviation and maritime sectors has brought it a string of major restructuring and insolvency engagements. In addition, the firm’s deep Singapore resources and commitment to Southeast Asia have been employed in a number of headline matters including acting for two major secured lenders in the collapse of Singapore oil trader Hin Leong Trading and advising on the restructuring of the Equinix Group. Gregg Johnston is a leader in ship finance and has worked on a series of major restructurings during the Covid pandemic.

        Practice head(s):

        Gregg Johnston

        Other key lawyers:

        Jeffrey Tanner; Matthew Seah

        Testimonials

        ‘Strong follow-up with local counsels and bankruptcy trustee. Provides good commercial suggestions on the way forward.’

        ‘They provide excellent services with deep and large knowledge in advising on offshore lending and borrowing in the shipping industry.’

        ‘Matthew Seah and Gregg Johnston – proactive, available, good commercial and legal approach.’

        ‘We worked with Jeffrey Tanner from SH Singapore. He worked with the best effort and highest responsibility that we could ever ask for. ’

        Key clients

        Standard Chartered Bank

        Syndicate of lenders for Hanjin

        KPMG

        Equinix Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd.

        Berge Bulk Shipping and other major creditors

        Work highlights

        • Advising two major secured lenders on the collapse of a well-known Singapore oil trader (Hin Leong Trading), its related vessel ownership group (Xihe Holdings) and its related bareboat charterer (Ocean Tankers), with an exposure of well over US$500m.
        • Advising the creditors of Agritrade International (Pte) Ltd in the judicial management of Agritrade International Pte Ltd, with a total debt of about US$1.55bn.
        • Advising Equinix Group on a S$7bn corporate and debt restructuring.

        Watson Farley & Williams LLP

        Watson Farley & Williams LLP has continued to land a number of major restructuring engagements in the maritime, offshore oil and gas, and aviation sectors. The Singapore office represents a variety of debtors, creditors and lessors. Goh Mei Lin is a leading name in the maritime space.

        Practice head(s):

        Goh Mei Lin

        Testimonials

        ‘WFW Singapore is experienced in all fields relating to ship finance, including insolvency practice. In particular, WFW Singapore contributed substantially in the development of the insolvency practice in Korea. To explain, as to the ship financing documents governed by English law, WFW Singapore worked closely with Kim & Chang for having the clients’ interests best represented under the Korean insolvency law regime.’

        ‘In Korea, Mei Lin Goh is recognised as one of the best lawyers in ship financing/insolvency.’

        Key clients

        ABN AMRO Bank N.V.

        Nordic Aviation Capital Group

        Wilmington Trust (London) Limited

        DVB Bank SE

        Precious Shipping Public Co., Ltd

        Bank of America NA

        Citibank N.A.

        National Australia Bank Limited

        Standard Chartered Bank

        Credit Agricole Asia Shipfinance Limited

        Development Bank of Japan

        Dorian LPG Ltd.

        DVB Bank SE Singapore Branch

        Grindrod Shipping Holdings Ltd.

        ING Bank N.V., Singapore Branch

        MUFG Bank

        Oversea- Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd

        Reliance Industries

        Teekay Offshore Partners L.P.

        Work highlights

          White & Case Pte. Ltd.

          White & Case Pte. Ltd. brings a great deal of experience to the restructuring market through banking partners Alexander McMyn and Charles McConnell, both of whom have lived through a number of economic cycles in Southeast Asia. This has enabled the team to land a series of major engagements, particularly those involving Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Through the firm’s QFLP, it has genuine Singapore law capabilities and the Singapore team is building its standing in Chapter 11 bankruptcies through additional collaboration with US colleagues. Debt trading, including engagements from credit funds, is another growth area for the group.

          Practice head(s):

          Alexander McMyn

          Other key lawyers:

          Charles McConnell

          Key clients

          Utico FZC

          Work highlights

          • Advised Utico FZC, the UAE’s leading private water and power utility provider, in the approximate S$2.7bn restructuring of the Hyflux group.