Firms To Watch: Corporate and M&A: local firms

LAB PARTNERS is an up and coming boutique that offers expertise across the entire lifecycle of the investments from structuring to exit. M&A, spin-off, foreign investments, restructuring and venture capital are its key areas of work. Drawing on its multidisciplinary expertise, the group, led by Jinho Kim, is also able to assist with incorporation of subsidiaries, government filings and competition matters. 

Corporate and M&A: local firms in South Korea

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC‘s expertise ranges from M&A, investments, business transfers and divestures, through to fund formation, management of portfolio companies and exit strategies. Transactions involving a Chinese and South-East Asian nexus are a distinguishing factor for the firm. Sky Yang is mandated by financial institutions on inbound and outbound private equity and corporate transactions. Other key partners include Byoung Ki Lee , Sung Jo Yun and Kyungseok Kim.

Practice head(s):

Sky Yang

Other key lawyers:

Byoung Ki Lee; Sung Jo YUN; Kyungseok (KS) KIM

Key clients

Affinity Equity Partners

Anchor Equity Partners

The Carlyle Group

Hanwha Solutions

Hyundai Heavy Industries

KT Corp.

LG Chem

Macquarie PE

Posco

SoftBank Group Corp.

Work highlights

  • Advised E-Mart, a subsidiary of Korea’s leading retail conglomerate Shinsegae Group, on its acquisition of eBay Korea from eBay Inc.
  • Advised Hanwha Solutions Corporation on its acquisition of RES Méditerranée S.A.S, a French renewable energy company.
  • Advised SoftBank Group on its investment in Yanolja, which was SoftBank Vision Fund’s second-largest investment in a Korean company.

Kim & Chang

Described as ‘undeniably the best law firm in Korea‘ the Kim & Chang practice is led by the highly esteemed senior partner, Kyung Taek Jung who holds over 40 years experience advising on corporate aspects of domestic and cross-border landmark M&A transactions, restructurings, private equity and joint venture transactions. Jong-Koo Park , Jong Hyun Park , Young Man Huh  and Young Jay Ro maintain their reputation as top-tier corporate and private equity transactional lawyers.

Practice head(s):

Kyung-Taek Jung

Other key lawyers:

Jong Koo Park; Young Jay Ro; Young Man Huh; Jong Hyun Park

Testimonials

‘Kim & Chang is undeniably the best law firm in Korea. As the private equity house, Kim & Chang’s service is very valuable as it always offers very informative and decisive advices whenever we need to decide in every process including investments, portfolio managements and exits.’

‘K&C is well equipped to address all the clients’ requests. Based on experience of completing multiple transactions, expertise in all relevant practice areas, and high understanding of clients’ needs with a thoughtful attitude, K&C’s practice is one of the best and significantly contributed to the successful closing of many deals.’

‘K&C’s long history in the Korean market and experience executing M&A transactions gives us more reassurance and confidence comparing with other peer law firms. They provide very good, detailed and client-driven solutions.’

Key clients

SK Hynix Inc.

Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd.

eBay lnc.

MBK Partners

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.

Yanolja Co., Ltd.

IMM (IMM Private Equity, Inc, IMM Credit Solutions Inc., IMM Investment Corp.)

Starbucks Coffee International, Inc.

HYBE Co., Ltd. (formerly named Big Hit Entertainment Co., Ltd.)

Work highlights

  • Advised on SK HYNIX INC.’s acquisition of Intel’s NAND SSD business, NAND component and wafer business and the Dalian NAND memory manufacturing facility in China.
  • Advised eBay Inc. on a KRW 3.5 trillion sale of 80.01% equity interest in eBay Korea LLC to an SPC formed by E-mart Inc.
  • Advised on Hyundai Motor Group’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics.

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko is distinguished by ‘its ability to draw out the best possible results, abundant experience and excellent performance at a reasonable price.’ Jointly led by Hyun Tae Kim , Sang Gon Kim and Hyeong Gun Lee , the practice maintains top-tier capabilities across the full range of M&A, investments and joint venture projects, with many instructions including an international component. Its practice also includes Ho Joon Moon and Kyungchun Kim , particularly noted for international investments for Korean corporations, with colleague Yong Joon Yoon acting for foreign companies in global M&A deals. Sung Min Kim is experienced in M&A for financial institutions and start-up companies, and Daehoon Koo is recommended for M&A transactions for companies involving semiconductors and electric vehicles, in addition to financial institutions.

Practice head(s):

Hyun Tae Kim; Sang Gon Kim; Hyeong Gun Lee

Other key lawyers:

Ho Joon Moon; Yong Joon Yoon; Kyungchun Kim; Sung Min Kim; Daehoon Koo

Testimonials

‘The team has a good knowledge in corporate law within Korea and US, and are also top level experts in M&A. ‘

‘Among the best law firms in Korea. Known for its ability to draw out the best possible results desired by clients based on its abundant experience and human resources. Excellent performance at a reasonable price.’

‘They have deep and wide-ranging expertise, allowing clients to reach the best possible conclusion, solve even the hardest of problems, all with assistance from multiple advisors with various skill-sets and experience.’

Key clients

E-mart

GS Retail

Permira Fund

Netmarble

Biogen Therapeutics

Jungheung Civil Engineering & Construction

Kakao Entertainment

S&I Corporation

Aeon Group

SK Group

Work highlights

  • Advised on E-Mart’s acquisition of US$ 1.175 billion Starbucks Korea from Starbucks Coffee International.
  • Advised Permira Fund and GS Retail’s KRW 1.5 trillion acquisition of Delivery Hero Korea LLC  (operating company of ‘Yogiyo’ food delivery service).
  • Advised on Netmarble’s US$ 2.2 billion acquisition of Leonardo Interactive Holdings Limited (parent company of SpinX Games).

Shin & Kim

With an ‘abundant experience in M&A’, Shin & Kim is instructed on outbound investments, joint ventures, spin-offs, restructuring and private equity deals, many incorporating an international element. For outbound M&A, Myong-Hyon (Brandon) Ryu , Chaewon Kang, Joongil Cho and Byung Tae Kim are highly recommended, particularly for mandates involving financial institutions, media/broadcasting and listed companies. For leveraged buyouts, private equity work and corporate governance, Hae Sung Jeong is a key advisor, as is Jiwon Kang . The department is collectively led by Jae Woo Im , Chris Chang-Hyun Song, Tong-Gun Lee and Jae Young Chang .

Practice head(s):

Jae Woo Im; Chris Chang-Hyun Song; Tong-Gun Lee; Jae Young Chang

Other key lawyers:

Myong-Hyon (Brandon) Ryu; Jiwon Kang; Byung Tae Kim; Hae Sung Jeong; Chaewon Kang; Joongil Cho

Testimonials

‘Deep understanding of the client’s business and industry. Works efficiently with minimum time charge with excellent results.’

‘Hae Sung Jeong has been a trusted adviser for my company for a long time. With his wide experience in corporate law and M&A practice, his advice always has helped us to navigate in complex M&A negotiations.’

‘Shin & Kim’s M&A practice is based on the abundant experience and the exact understanding of relevant laws. The team is very eager to understand the situation of client and trying to be proactive in order to find the solutions.’

‘S&K is very cost effective comparing with a few other law firms in Korea.’

‘Mr. Joongil Cho, a partner at S&K is a real asset to the S&K team. Being very proactive, he is always trying to provide the best advice based on the exact understanding of client’s situation. He is also a very well-balanced lawyer, and he does not hesitate about proposing the client to change his viewpoint if the client is not fairly judging the situation.’

‘Chaewon Kang, as a junior partner, is very good at attentions to details and always checking every single item under the relentless pressures. She is also very proficient at negotiating with the counterparty.’

Key clients

SK Group

Kakao Corporation

MBK Partners

Korea Development Bank

IMM Private Equity

KT Corporation

CJ Group

Shinhan Financial Group

Work highlights

  • Co-counsel to Chubb Ltd on its acquisition of LINA Life Insurance of Korea, Cigna Korea and LINA Financial Service.
  • Advised on SKC’s sale of spun-off PET film business to Hahn & Co.
  • Advised GIC (Singapore sovereign wealth fund) on divesture of its JV stake of 50% in Starbucks Coffee Korea Co, Ltd. to its existing JV partner, E-Mart (17.5%) and incoming new shareholder, GIC (32.5%) respectively, in the total amount of US$ 1.175 billion. As result of the transaction, E-Mart became the largest shareholder with 67.5%, with GIC holding the remaining 32.5% stake.

Yulchon

Lauded for its ‘outstanding and exceptionally well experienced’ group of corporate specialists, Yulchon is a favourite among Korean conglomerates, banks, and major private equity houses for M&A, joint ventures, hostile takeovers and regulatory work. Jae Hyun Park is a well-respected counsel for Korean clients on outbound investments, private equity and restructuring. Hyung Ki Lee is ‘commercially shrewd’, while foreign lawyer Tehyok Daniel Yi and Kyu Sang Hwang are considered ‘exceptionally sharp, well-experienced and talented’. Young Su Shin and Sung Wook Eun are the other significant figures in the team.

Practice head(s):

Young Su Shin; Sung Wook Eun

Other key lawyers:

Jae Hyun Park; Hyung Ki Lee; Tehyok Daniel Yi; Kyu Sang Hwang

Testimonials

‘The team is just outstanding, exceptionally well experienced and equipped with helpful practical knowledge and dedicating attitude.’

‘Kyu Sang Hwang and Tehyok Daniel Lee are a good pair of partners. They are exceptionally sharp, well-experienced, and talented. Provide excellent service.’

‘Yulchon’s corporate practice has a deep bench with extensive experience in our industry. Very efficient service in both cost and quality-wise.’

‘Hyung Ki Lee provides pragmatic and commercially savvy legal support’

‘Our preferred lawyer at Yulchon is Hyung Ki Lee. Hyung Ki is commercially shrewd, always trying to offer workable solutions.’

‘Hyung Ki Lee, partner of Yulchon, is our main point of contact. He has a great understanding of our business and provides very practical and useful advice.’

‘Jin Kook Lee and Daniel Tehyok Yi were excellent on our M&A transaction. They were responsive, commercial, friendly, and very easy to work with. Outstanding lawyers from whom you can receive a top-tier service at reasonable billing rates.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the sellers, Hillhouse Capital Management, Altos Ventures and GS PIA in the sale of their 87.3% equity stake in Woowa Brothers.
  • Advised CJ ENM on the  acquisition of 4,990 shares of Million Volt from existing shareholders at KRW 5,560,955,800 and acquisition of newly issued 9,266 shares at KRW.
  • Represented Carlyle Group in its acquisition of 10% shareholding of Hyundai Glovis Co., Ltd. from Honorary Chairman Mong-Koo Chung and Chairman Eui Sun Chung of Hyundai Motor Group.

Jipyong

At Jipyong, practice head Tae Hyun Lee‘s expertise covers working with Korean companies on conversion to holding companies, foreign investments, company share acquisitions, M&A transactions and general corporate matters. Elsewhere, Cheol Jeong (a member of the Myanmar and China desks) advises domestic and foreign clients in the energy and finance sectors, real estate, and the food and beverage sectors on investments and cross-border M&A throughout East and Central Asia, Russia and Latin America.

Practice head(s):

Tae Hyun Lee

Other key lawyers:

Cheol Jeong

Key clients

SK Chemicals Co., Ltd.

SK Materials Co

Hanwha Solutions

KCC Glass

Naver Co., Ltd.

the New Technology Venture Capital Fund managed by Shinhan

the New Technology Venture Capital Fund managed by KB Securities

a PEF managed by Aarden Partners and Woori Private Equity Asset Management

Work highlights

  • Advised SK Materials Co., Ltd. on its physical division and merger into SK Inc.
  • Advised SK Innovation Co., Ltd. on the split-off of its battery and E&P business divisions into SK On and SK Earthon, respectively.
  • Advised STIC Investments on its merger into DPC, its listed parent company.

KL Partners

Continuing to be involved in the Korean burgeoning private equity market, corporate boutique KL Partners ‘provide not only superb legal knowledge but also share valuable wisdom’. Practice head Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi frequently acts on behalf of Korean corporations and private equity houses on significant acquisitions. Jisun Hwang and Audrey Lee provide crucial corporate support.

Practice head(s):

Seong Hoon (Sean) Yi

Other key lawyers:

Jisun Hwang; Audrey Lee

Testimonials

‘K& L Partners provide not only superb legal knowledge but also share valuable wisdom and make the utmost effort to understand the clients business and solve the matter.’

‘Mr. Seong Hoon Yi(Sean) has been very responsive and provided alternatives to solve the problems with his experience and insight.’

‘The team consisted of well balanced lawyers. The head of the team was well experienced and showed a good negotiation skill to reach a compromise on key issues. The other member showed excellent expertise in M&A and worked with passion.’

‘’Seong Hoon Yi’ was the main contact and leading lawyer. He was well experienced and showed a good negotiation skill to reach a compromise on key issues.

‘Jisun Hwang is another up and coming lawyer. She worked with passion and was equipped with lots of M&A experience and knowledge.’

‘Audrey Lee is distinguished for her work international experience, both in global law firms and corporations, giving her great unique insight into those businesses and a useful asset for corporate/investment related matters’

Key clients

W Value-up Limited (SPC established by JKL Partners)

T map Mobility Co., Ltd.

SK Telecom

Medici Investment

KH Investment

GS Energy

CJ ENM

GS Construction and Xi S&D

VTI Partners

MQ Growth Partner

Work highlights

  • Represented GS Energy in connection of its sale of 49% stakes in GS Power to SPC established by Cretos (PEF operated by IMM ).
  • Acted for S&D (a subsidiary of GS Construction and KOSPI listed company) as they entered into an acquisition agreement with S&I Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Corp., the “Target”) to acquire the controlling shares in S&I Construction.
  • Advised SKT in the equity issuance of T Mobi to private equity investors in an aggregate deal value of KRW 400 billion.

Yoon & Yang LLC

Yoon & Yang LLC is well-equipped to handle all manner of corporate, commercial and private equity transactions in its key sectors of aviation, energy, and heavy industries. It also reports an uptick in instruction in the emerging fields of ESG management. Sung-Jin Kim  is highlighted for his ‘remarkable expertise in a diverse range of corporate issues.’ Sangman Kim is recommended for joint ventures establishment, domestic and overseas investment. Additional assistance is provided by Kayoung Kim, Hyerim Kang and associate Jae Young Yu.

Practice head(s):

Sung-Jin Kim

Other key lawyers:

Sangman Kim; Kayoung Kim; Hyerim Kang; Jae Young Yu

Testimonials

‘Yoon & Yang has many great lawyers. Good cooperation between departments, effective and clear in communication and provides useful practical tailor-made advice.’

‘Sangman Kim is not only very experienced and knowledgeable on corporate and M&A legal matters, but also very honest and reliable on the assessment of the issues and finding solutions. Very trustworthy and a safe pair of hands for difficult legal challenges.’

‘Ms. Kayoung Kim is a diligent, intelligent and brilliant lawyer. I am impressed by her work ethic and her priority for clients. She is incredibly responsive, and her answers are not complicated, but simple and efficient.’

‘Sung-Jin Kim is the most trustworthy partner whom I can always count on. He has abundant experience in various types of M&A transactions and remarkable expertise in diverse corporate issues.’ 

‘Hyerim Kang is another leading figure that I can rely on in overseas M&As. She is capable of dealing with every detail of the issues and absorbing new information very quickly but accurately. A very professional negotiator.’

‘Jae Young Yu is the diligent associate of the Team. She has a good memory and even pays attention to the most trivial part of every piece of work. Her active personality makes her grow fast, rapidly gaining experience in various areas, which makes her a promising lawyer.’

Key clients

Hanssem

Hanwha Life Insurance

Korean Air

Hanjin KAL

UAMCO

Dongbu Corporation consortium

SK Ecoplant (formerly SK Engineering & Construction)

NAVER Webtoon

Premier Partners

Metanet Mplatform

Work highlights

  • Advised Hanssem, the Korea’s largest furniture company on the KRW 1.45 trillion sales of its shares and management rights to IMM Private Equity.
  • Advised United Asset Management Company  on its KRW 657 billion acquisition of STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, a major Korean shipbuilding company.
  • Advised Hanjin KAL, a holding company of South Korea’s air transportation conglomerate Hanjin Group in its sales of shares in Jin Air, a group’s low cost carrier to Korean Air.