Antitrust and competition: local firms in South Korea

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC's antitrust practice is particularly in demand among many domestic and international e-commerce clients, such as music streaming service providers and online travel agencies; the team's prominent clients in this area include Google and Expedia. Key areas of activity for the firm include advising on merger controls, abuse of dominance issues, damages actions and unfair trade practices, all of which are regularly undertaken by practice head Keumseok Oh. Administrative litigation is a notable area of expertise for Seong Un Yun, who largely focuses on the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. Also recommended is senior foreign attorney Sanghoon Shin, who specialises in advising foreign clients on the Korean antitrust regulatory environment.

Practice head(s):

Keumseok Oh

Testimonials

Keumseok Oh is very experienced and achieves good results.

The team is made up of former officials of the FTC, former judges and lawyers with extensive experience in fair trade cases.

Key clients

Google Korea

Harim Corporation

Hotels.com/Expedia

HSBC

Hyundai Mobis

Hyundai Oilbank

KT

LG Electronics

LG Uplus

Tesla Korea

Work highlights

  • Represented HSBC in the KFTC investigation into the alleged foreign exchange swap collusion.
  • Advised DSME and KDB on multijurisdictional merger filings for Hyundai Heavy Industries’ acquisition of DSME.
  • Represented LG Electronics in the lawsuit filed by Qualcomm to appeal against the KFTC’s antitrust fine.

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang's antitrust team includes numerous former KFTC officials, in-house economists and forensic accountants. It frequently advises industry leaders and major companies on a wide variety of regulatory issues and matters involving allegations of competition law breaches. The firm is also very active in high-profile litigation arising from a wide variety of issues, including abuses of dominance and unfair trade practices. Practice head Youngjin Jung has particular experience of cartel matters, having previously been a member of the cartel advisory board of the KFTC. The key contact for all work relating to contested merger filings is Tae-Kyu Kang. Also recommended are Min-Ho LeeGene-Oh (Gene) Kim, merger control specialist Jung-Won Hyun and former judge Hyun Gyu Lee. The recent arrival of Kyoung Yeon (Kay) Kim from Yulchon has further strengthened the firm's offering to its clients from the semiconductor, IT, automobile, aerospace and retail distribution industries.

Testimonials

The Kim & Chang team has an excellent group of experts.

They can provide a one-stop shop of experts and professionals for comprehensive solutions.

Key clients

Audi Volkswagen Korea Ltd.

Hyundai Motors

Walt Disney

Oracle

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd

Siemens

BMW

Visa

IBM

Yuhan Kimberley

Work highlights

  • Assisted IBM and open-source software company Red Hat with obtaining unconditional clearance from the KFTC for IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat.
  • Assisted Danaher Corporation with the Korean merger filing for its acquisition of GE’s Healthcare Life Sciences Biopharma business.
  • Representing Siemens in an appeal seeking reversal of the KFTC’s administrative sanctions regarding alleged abuse of market dominance under the FTL.

Lee & Ko

Notable strengths of Lee & Ko's practice include cartel investigations, merger control and antitrust litigation. The firm's expertise in the latter of these areas is particularly strengthened by the presence of numerous practitioners with experience of serving as former prosecutors, as well as former judges of the Supreme Court of Korea and the Seoul District Courts. On a related note, Jang Woo Park, who formerly worked at the Seoul High Prosecutors Office, was a recent arrival. Elsewhere, the practice is also strengthening its investigations offering, particularly in relation to unfair trade practices. Suruyn Kim is a key contact for complex merger review cases. Other key figures in the group are managing partner Yong Seok Ahn and senior associate Jung Won Kwon. The practice is led by Hwan Jeong, who provides 'insightful and effective advice'.

Practice head(s):

Hwan Jeong

Testimonials

Due to its amicable relationship with the KFTC and great communication skills, Lee & Ko’s Antitrust & Competition Group can ease the tension that may arise during a KFTC investigation.

Hwan Jeong gives insightful and effective advice when responding to any KFTC action.

The group has substantial experience and provides in-depth analyses when obtaining antitrust clearance for Korean and international matters.

Jung Won Kwon not only reviewed a vast amount of materials and conducted swift and accurate fact-finding, but also helped to make decisions in a direction that would minimise the risks while maximising the benefits.

Key clients

Saudi Arabian Oil Company

SK Telecom Co., Ltd., SK Broadband Co., Ltd.

SKC Co., Ltd.

General Electric Company

Jeju Air, Eastar Jet

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, Eukor Car Carriers Inc.

Hanwha Systems, Co., Ltd.

NAVER Corporation

Mirae Asset Consulting, Mirae Asset Daewoo, Mirae Asset Life Insurance

Dong-A Pharmaceutical

Work highlights

  • Advised SKT and SKB on their joint acquisition of systems operator T-Broad, as well as on the merger of SKT’s and SKB’s OTT streaming service divisions.
  • Successfully represented the chairman of NAVER in a criminal prosecution regarding the intentional omission to report corporate affiliates.
  • Represented the Mirae Asset Financial Group in the KFTC’s investigation into unfair intra-group transactions, resulting in significantly reduced fines.

Shin & Kim

At 'outstanding firmShin & Kim, abuses of dominance and collusion cases form a key part of the antitrust practice. The team is representing Qualcomm in its appeal against the decision in favour of the KFTC, concerning allegations of abuse of market dominance and unfair trade practices. Young Chul Yim brings his many years of experience at the KFTC to his role as the practice head, and continues to define the antitrust landscape by leading high-profile cases involving untested issues. Yim is supported at the firm by merger filing expert Sangdon LeeMoon Sung Lee and Mi-Ri Kim both made partner in March 2020.

Practice head(s):

Young Chul Yim

Other key lawyers:

Sangdon Lee; Mi-Ri Kim; Moon Sung Lee

Testimonials

Shin & Kim is an outstanding firm.

They are almost oracle-like in their ability to predict the outcome of the matter, which is always important for the client.

Super-responsive, smart and diligent.

Key clients

Qualcomm Inc.

Mercedes-Benz Korea Ltd.

SK Telecom Co., Ltd. (“SKT”)

SK Broadband Co., Ltd. (“SKB”)

KEB Hana Bank

CJ OliveNetworks Co., Ltd.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.

Lotte GRS Co., Ltd.

SK Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd.

KCC Corporation, Wonik QnC Corporation and SJL Partners

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

SK Global Chemical Co., Ltd.

Lotte Chemical Corporation (“Lotte”)

GS EnergyCorporation (“GSE”)

SKC Co., Ltd.

Merck KGaA (“Merck”)

Work highlights

  • Representing Qualcomm on appeal against an allegation of abuse of market dominance and unfair trade practices.
  • Advised SKB on its merger with rival company T-Broad.
  • Represented KEB Hana Bank in the KFTC’s investigation into unfair trade practices in the process of purchasing ATMs.

Yoon & Yang LLC

The 'well-rounded legal team' at Yoon & Yang LLC has a strong profile among domestic and global companies from a wide range of industries, particularly technology and aerospace. It provides regulatory advice on matters such as abuses of market dominance, cartels, resale price maintenance and unfair business practices. Chul Ho Kim, who recently became the joint head of the practice alongside Hoil Yoon, acts for notable clients such as Qualcomm, Nike and Bosch. Kim has particular experience of the pharmaceutical and communications fields. Song Ryu's expertise includes corporate leniency programmes, merger reviews, criminal prosecutions, private damages claims and administrative appeals.

Practice head(s):

Hoil Yoon; Chul Ho Kim

Other key lawyers:

Song Ryu; Seong-Sig Kim

Testimonials

Yoon & Yang has excellent expertise in the field of antitrust and competition, and has experience handling numerous cases.

Chul Ho Kim has rich experience and expertise in competition law.

They have a well-rounded legal team with great support and knowledge on all aspects in Korea and elsewhere.

Key clients

Microsoft

Qualcomm

Samsung Electronics

Cathay Pacific Airways

Oriental Brewery Company (Korean subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev)

United Technologies Corporation

British American Tobacco Korea

Hanwha Corp.

Coupang Corp.

Work highlights

  • Successfully assisted United Technologies Corporation with the multi-jurisdictional merger clearance required for its acquisition of Raytheon Company.
  • Represented Cathay Pacific Airways in a private damages lawsuit, which followed on from an air cargo cartel case previously investigated by the KFTC.
  • Representing 19 Taekwang Group affiliate companies in an administrative lawsuit seeking annulment of administrative fines imposed by the KFTC.

Yulchon

Yulchon's 'commercially astute and technically first-rate' antitrust and competition team includes many ex-KFTC officials, among them non-legal senior officials, lawyers and senior economists. Practice head Sung Bom Park is regularly instructed by notable domestic clients from the telecommunications, energy, petrochemical, healthcare and aviation industries. He has significant expertise in all matters involving cartels and abuses of dominance, as well as merger reviews. For international work, Cecil Saehoon Chung is the name to note for advice on consumer protection, trade regulation litigation and anti-corruption matters.

Practice head(s):

Sung Bom Park

Other key lawyers:

Cecil Saehoon Chung

Testimonials

Provide excellent advice and service, as well as being commercially astute and technically first rate.

Cecil Chung is practical, smart and strategic.

A strong group of competition practitioners with a good international perspective.

Key clients

Qualcomm

Schaeffler AG

Continental AG

Delta Air Lines

Praxair (renamed as Linde plc)

SK Telecom

Hanjin Transportation

GIC

Hitachi Automotive Systems

Woowa Brothers

KT

Thermo Fisher Scientific

ELNA

Hanwha

Itochu

Work highlights

  • Defending Qualcomm against the KFTC’s abuse of dominance allegations, where the KFTC’s imposition of a $920m administrative fine is on appeal before the Korean Supreme Court.
  • Advising Thermo Fisher Scientific on Korean merger control issues in its $11.5bn cash tender offer acquisition of Qiagen.
  • Advising Korea’s largest online food delivery platform company, Woowa Brothers, on Korean merger control issues in its $4bn sale of the company to Germany’s Delivery Hero.

Jipyong

Jipyong's team consists of practitioners from diverse backgrounds, including former judges, prosecutors and KFTC officials. It also includes individuals who formerly practised at international law firms. The group is therefore well-versed in KFTC investigations and administrative court proceedings. Practice head Gee Hong Kim is frequently instructed by corporate clients in their most complex and challenging first instance and appellate cases. In addition to handling international cartel cases, Byung Joo Lee also regularly assists with merger filings arising from global M&A.

Practice head(s):

Gee Hong Kim

Other key lawyers:

Byung Joo Lee; Poom Jang

Key clients

Intel Corporation (US)

Naver Corporation

SK Holdings

AU Optronics Corporation (Taiwan)

Chairperson and the largest shareholder of Kakao

Korea TV Homeshopping Association

SeAH Steel Corporation

Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC)

Han Express

Daewoo E&C

NH Financial Group

Work highlights

  • Represented Intel Corporation, an interested third party, in the case brought by the KFTC against Qualcomm for alleged abuse of market dominance.
  • Representing Naver Corporation, Korea’s largest search engine, in connection with the KFTC’s investigation into its suspected abuse of market dominance.
  • Acting for SK Holdings, and its Chairman Tae-Won Chey, in the KFTC’s investigation into their joint acquisition of 70.6% and 29.4% respectively of SK Siltron’s shares.