Projects and energy: foreign firms in South Korea

Allen & Overy LLP Foreign Legal Consultant Office

Henry Sohn and Tokyo-based partner Matthias Voss together head up the projects, energy, natural resources, mining and infrastructure department at Allen & Overy LLP Foreign Legal Consultant Office. Much of the team's practice centres on representing Korean lenders and sponsors on the financing of projects in other jurisdictions. The firm advises on a wide range of projects including those involving oil and gas, petrochemicals, hydropower, transportation and infrastructure. Forging strong relationships with Korean export credit agencies is a key strategy of the group, which often acts as counsel to the likes of Korea Eximbank and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation. Counsel Kyu Bang boasts almost 30 years’ experience in this practice area.

Practice head(s):

Matthias Voss; Henry Sohn

Other key lawyers:

Kyu Bang

Testimonials

The firm has a strong presence across all the regions involved in our financing so the team fully appreciated the nuances of doing business at a multi-jurisdictional level. The strong relationship between these offices led to a seamless and consistent quality of service‘.

The team is very approachable. Practitioners are able to articulate even the most complex issues in layman’s terms. They struck the right balance between being taking forward discussions with the opposite side independently and contacting us when necessary‘.

Henry Sohn is very approachable, able to grasp issues quickly and to provide a response to the questions raised.  He worked extremely well with our lead Financial Adviser and pulled in resources from the wider A&O team when required.  He had a strong appreciation of the commercial drivers of our project and how to ensure the documentation accounted for these’.

Key clients

Korea Eximbank (KEXIM)

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-sure)

SK E&S

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)

Daelim Industrial

Samsung C&T

Deutsche Bank

Citibank

ING Korea

Korea Development Bank (KDB)

GS E&C

Korea Water Resources Corporation

Prostar Capital

Siilvertown

Work highlights

  • Advising SK E&S on the development, construction and financing of an offshore FSRU/ pipeline infrastructure (LNG import terminal) in Sri Lanka.
  • Advised the EBL lenders in relation to financing of the 1760MW Jawa-1 Gas-fired power plant in Indonesia; this is Asia’s first LNG-to-power project and one of the largest LNG-powered plants in Southeast Asia.
  • Advising prospective ECA and Lenders in relation to the proposed multi-billion dollar Rovuma LNG Project in Mozambique.
  • Advising KEPCO and Marubeni as joint Japanese and Korean sponsors and developers on the development and financing of the 1,200MW Nghi Son 2 BOT (build-operate-transfer) coal-fired power plant project in Vietnam.
  • Advising the ECAs (including KEXIM) and commercial lenders in connection with the financing to be provided to Bapco on its expansion of the Sitra oil refinery in Bahrain.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Following the departure of former Tokyo-based practice head Lewis McDonald, Dongho Lee stepped up to lead the energy practice group at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. Lee is a corporate and M&A specialist who regularly represents clients on projects and energy related transactions. Elsewhere, the team also handles project financing arrangements and contentious work arising from the sector. Mandates involving oil and gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), mining and metals, power and renewable assets are an area of particular strength. Senior associate Ken Nam boasts over 12 years of experience in the field and remains a key contact at the practice; he is highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Dongho Lee

Other key lawyers:

Ken Nam

Key clients

Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS)

Samsung C&T

POSCO

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)

Daelim Energy Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised KOGAS on the multi-billion dollar Rovuma Basin gas and LNG project in Mozambique, including the 9 party arrangements for the joint development of giant gas fields straddling the Area 1 and Area 4 blocks and on all aspects of the US$11 billion Coral floating LNG project.
  • Advised Samsung C&T in relation to the subcontracting and management of the principal EPC contract for the Roy Hill project in Australia (with a value of around A$10 billion, this is the biggest contract in the world at present).
  • Advised a Korean financial buyer on various M&A and equity investment transactions including its acquisition of infrastructure assets in the Middle East.
  • Advised a Samsung Group entity in relation to infrastructure related financing in Europe.
  • Advised Korean sponsors in relation to their investment and proposed development of 2 x 500MW gas fired IPPs in Iran.

Linklaters

Following the relocation of Stephen Le Vesconte to Linklaters' Paris office in 2018, Joo Hee Lee stepped up to lead the projects, energy and infrastructure offering from the firm's Seoul office. Le Vesconte maintains his relationship with Korean corporate entities, export credit agencies and banks operating in this space, including the likes of Korea Trade Insurance Corporation and Korea Development Bank. Recent mandates handled by the firm spanned projects involving oil and gas, LNG, renewable power, petrochemical and infrastructure. Lee handles a broad range of project work but boasts particular expertise in the renewable energy space, and in offshore wind specifically. The team also has a track record of acting on large energy transactions involving the financing of major state-owned corporations by export credit agencies.

Practice head(s):

Joo Hee Lee

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Le Vesconte

Testimonials

‘The greatest strength of Linklater LLP is that they always find a good solution on lenders’ part with their the diverse experiences of PF deals to protect our securities legally. I have seen many cases which some legal advisers were reluctant to insist on the lenders’ position strongly in order to keep their reputation. However, Linklaters LLC always focuses on our stance and try to back with legitimate grounds. I have been satisfied with the results of every project they were involved in.’

‘Joo Hee Lee(Partner). One of her great merits as a lawyer is her ability to maintain an open mind on a question. She has never trivialized things that lenders inquired. Rather, She always endeavours to get any problem against lenders settled. She always tries to do her best on every project. Some lawyers are bothered from trivial questions. But she is enthusiastic about everything she does for lenders.’

Key clients

KEXIM (The Export-Import Bank of Korea)

Korea Midland Power (KOMIPO)

K-sure (Korea Trade Insurance Corporation)

KDB (Korea Development Bank)

Samsung C&T (Samsung C&T Corporation)

POSCO (formerly Pohang Iron and Steel Company)

KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation)

KNOC (Korea National Oil Corporation)

KOSPO (Korean Southern Power Company)

KOGAS (Korea Gas Corporation)

LG Chem (LG Chem Ltd.)

POSCO Daewoo

GS Energy

Deutsche Bank (Hong Kong and Seoul)

Standard Chartered Bank (Seoul)

ING Bank (Seoul, London)

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (Seoul)

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (Seoul, Hong Kong, Paris)

BNP Paribas (Seoul)

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (Seoul, London)

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (Seoul)

Mizuho Bank Ltd. (Seoul)

Work highlights

  • We advised KEXIM and K-sure on the financing facilities for Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company K.S.C. (KIPIC) in respect of an LNG import facility in Kuwait.
  • A UKEF export credit financing for Türksat Uydu Haberlesme Kablo TV Ve Isletme A.S. (“Turksat”) as borrower, The Republic of Turkey acting through the Ministry of Treasury and Finance as the guarantor and Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank as agent, arranger and lender.
  • CACIB corporate financing for PEKER YÜZEY TASARIMLARI SANAYİ VE TİCARET A. Ş. as borrower as a condition for Lotte’s acquisition of the borrower.

Clifford Chance

Singapore-based partner Nicholas Wong is a key contact for the pan-Asian projects and energy team at Clifford Chance. The relocation of counsel Bong-Sang Cho to the firm's Seoul office from London in January 2019 has further bolstered it's relationship with Korean export credit agencies and banks such as The Export-Import Bank of Korea and Korea Development Bank. Cho boasts prior experience of a years' secondment to the former company and was involved as a lead practitioner on many of the firm's recent highlights. Outbound project finance is a core focus of the group, which handles mandates involving projects in coal-generated power, solar power, transportation, hydropower and petrochemicals.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Wong; Bong-Sang Cho

Key clients

The Export-Import Bank of Korea

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation

Korea Development Bank

Korea Electric Power Corporation

Samsung C&T Corporation

Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd.

SK E&C Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised KEXIM, JBIC and the other Lenders in relation to the financing of a 1200MW coal-fired IPP in Nghi Son, Vietnam, sponsored by KEPCO and Marubeni.
  • Advised the lenders in respect of the financing of the design, construction, operation, maintenance and repair of the Kınalı-Odayeri and Kurtköy-Akyazı sections (including access roads) of the Northern Marmara Motorway procured by the General Directorate of Highways of Turkey under the build-operate-transfer model.
  • Advised the Lenders to the consortium (KEPCO, EDF and Alawi) in relation to their bid submission for the development of the 100MW Amin Solar PV IPP Plant in Oman.
  • Advised the Lenders to the consortium (KEPCO, EDF and Alawi) in relation to their bid submission for the development of the 500MW Ibri II Solar PV IPP Plant in Oman.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP is a first port of call for the largest and most active sponsors and lenders in Korea and further afield in Asia, for whom it handles their largest and most complex project finance transactions, as well as development work.  Its international reach makes it a strong choice for multijurisdictional mandates. Seoul office managing partner Joseph Bevash has more than 25 years of experience of project finance transactions in Asia. Working with practitioners in the London office, Bevash is assisting the sponsors (including Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Mitsui & Co) with the development and financing of a groundbreaking integrated upstream and midstream gas and LNG project in the Republic of Mozambique. In another matter, Bevash and Sungjin Kang acted for the lenders in relation to the Duqm Refinery Project in Oman.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Bevash

Other key lawyers:

Sungjin Kang

Key clients

The Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM)

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-sure)

Korea Midland Power Company Ltd.

Samtan Co. Ltd

Daelim Energy Co., Ltd

Korea Southern Power Co. Ltd

Korea Development Bank

Asian Development Bank

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation

Mitsui & Co

Marubeni

JERA

PT Pertamina (Persero)

Work highlights

  • Acted as lenders’ counsel on the project financing for the Rantau Dedap Geothermal Power Project, a 98.4-MW power facility in South Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • Advising PT Pertamina (Persero) on the upgrade and expansion of the Cilacap, Balongan, Plaju, Dumai and Balikpapan refineries in Indonesia
  • Acting for Korea Midland Power Company, Ltd (KOMIPO) on the development and financing of a large-scale solar power project in Nevada, US

Milbank

'Experienced and efficient' is how one client describes the projects, energy and infrastructure finance department at Milbank. Since the relocation of David Gartside from the Singapore office to Seoul in January 2019, the firm boasts a more robust and partner-led presence on the ground in South Korea. Gartside is supported by three strong non-partner practitioners, including 'caring and reliable' senior associate Brian Youn. Youn was involved in numerous recent work highlights, with a client list comprising South Korean export credit agencies, sponsors and investment advisors. The team assists such entities with their investment into projects covering a range of sectors including metals and mining, petrochemicals, as well as oils and gas. Young Joon Kim has retired.

Practice head(s):

David Gartside

Other key lawyers:

Brian Youn

Key clients

Lotte Chemical Corporation

Korean Air Lines

Asiana Airlines

KEXIM

K-sure

Shearman & Sterling LLP

February 2019 saw Shearman & Sterling LLP open an office in Seoul, with Anna Chung acting as practice head. The new South Korean offering focuses on advising Korean clients on a broad range of projects work across the power, LNG, oil and gas and petrochemical sectors. Chung works with counsel Scott Baggett and associate Brian Park on the ground, while drawing further support from the resources of the firm's Singapore and London offices. Singapore-based partner Ben Shorten is one such source of support. Based in the firm's Singapore office before her move to Seoul, Chung boasts extensive experience of handling major multi-sourced project financing across Asia.

Practice head(s):

Anna Chung; Ben Shorten

Other key lawyers:

Scott Baggett; Brian Park

Key clients

Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM)

Posco Energy

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure)

Korea Development Bank (KDB)

Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd.

SK Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised the successful consortium comprising Pertamina, Marubeni and Sojitz in connection with the development and financing of the US$1.7 billion integrated LNG-to-power project located in West Java Province, Indonesia
  • Acting as legal advisor to BAPCO on all aspects of the US$6 billion BAPCO Modernisation Program in Bahrain.
  • Advised Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd, Limak İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., SK Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd. and Yapi Merkezi İnşaat ve Sanayi A. Ş.)on the Malkara – Çanakkale Motorway Project in Turkey.
  • Advising the Lenders including the K-ECAs in connection with its financing of the proposed 216MW Upper Trishuli-1 Hydropower Project to be located in the Rasuwa district of Central Development Region of Nepal.
  • Acting as lenders’ international legal counsel on the development and financing of the 1,320MW Balkhash coal-fired thermal power plant in Kazakhstan.

White & Case LLP (Foreign Legal Consultant Office)

White & Case LLP (Foreign Legal Consultant Office) welcomed project financing expert and counsel Sarah Park to Seoul, where she relocated from Shearman & Sterling LLP's Singapore office. Park now co-leads the Korean project development and financing practice alongside key practitioner Ji Hoon Hong, having established a strong record of representing major Korean ECAs and banks in this space. Besides regular instructions from such clients, the group is beginning to attract a growing client base of private equity houses and private equity funds. Recent highlights saw the firm advise Korean parties on outbound investments into oil & gas projects in the middle east and Asia and power projects in Asia and Africa.

Practice head(s):

Ji Hoon Hong; Sarah Park

Key clients

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure)

The Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM)

Work highlights

  • Advising the lenders, including K-SURE and K-EXIM, on the ground-breaking US$3.6 billion financing of the Oltin Yo’l GTL Plant in Uzbekistan.
  • Advised Saudi Aramco on its acquisition of a 50% equity interest in Petronas’s Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) in the southern Malaysian state of Johor and continues to advise Saudi Aramco on the development and financing of the project.
  • Advising an international developer on an offshore wind development project in Korea.