Banking and finance in Sri Lanka

D. L. & F. De Saram

D. L. & F. De Saram has a particular focus on domestic and cross-border banking and project finance transactions, routinely acting as local counsel on complex multi-jurisdictional matters alongside international law firms. Under the leadership of Savantha De Saram; Prabash De Saram and Aloka Nandasena , the team has substantial experience in asset and project financing and routinely handles structured finance transactions in a broad range of sectors such as energy, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals. In addition the nimble team is adept at advising on exchange control laws as well as trade financing transactions. Aruni Marcelline also plays a pivotal role on major deals. Hansi Abayaratne was recently promoted to the partnership.  Clients are predominantly blue-chip companies, multinational corporations and financial institutions.

Other key lawyers:

Aruni Marcelline ; Hansi Abayaratne

Key clients

Pan Asia Banking Corporation

HSBC Bank PLC

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Sri Lanka

Citibank, N.A., Singapore Branch

Standard Chartered Bank – Sri Lanka

Capital Alliance Group

Work highlights

  • Advised the banking syndicate on the acquisition financing of $360m that was provided to PGP Glass Private Limited, India acquiring the business undertaking of an Indian entity, having a listed subsidiary in Sri Lanka (namely, Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC)
  • Advised Pan Asia Banking Corporation (PABC) and Symbiotics SA on the $7.75m Green Bond.
  • Advised the lender in relation to the term loan facility aggregating to a sum of $10,750,000 to Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC.

Julius & Creasy

Julius & Creasy acts as local legal counsel for a sizeable number of foreign lenders on a broad spectrum of issues such as syndicated loans, leveraged financing and trade financing as well as regulatory matters. It also has substantial expertise in sub-custodianship issues. The team is vastly experienced in advising on local laws and issuing legal opinions on large loan transactions, including work with notable local financial institutions. Under the leadership of Janaki Kumaraguru and Priya Sivagananathan, the  group advises banks, investment banks and fund managers that are based outside Sri Lanka on trading in derivatives and on market access to products in the country. Aircraft leasing is a specialist area of expertise.

Key clients

Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

Work highlights

  • Advised Norton Rose Fulbright LLP on the laws that are applicable to guarantees in Sri Lanka

Nithya Partners

Nithya Partners has a strong banking and finance practice that continues to be active in a number of large transactions. The group is particularly skilled at handling international loan transactions and debt issuances by corporate entities and the Government of Sri Lanka. Naomal Goonewardena leads the department, which regularly advises overseas banking entities on their debt financing and on their proposals to enter the local market.  n addition the group is recommended for its experience in international bond offerings and other areas such as syndicated loans, derivatives and asset backed financing as well as regulatory and compliance issues.  It also garners praise for its work on Islamic financing. Newly-promoted partner Peshala Attygalle is another known name for her work on cross-border debt transactions, project financing and banking regulatory issues.

Practice head(s):

Naomal Goonewardena

Other key lawyers:

Peshala Attygalle

Testimonials

‘Solutions are provided in a flexible manner while complying with the court of law requirements. The partners of the firm are efficient in providing solutions for international advisory services for cross-border agreements as well’.

‘Peshala Attygalle has good communication skills. She is a very good listener, able to orally articulate very good responses, also has very good written communication skills. She understands the situation well by listening, has the ability to draw reasonable and logical conclusions from the limited information that is provided. She has very good analytical skills, the ability to research information quickly and efficiently while preparing solutions for us. She is also able to understand the head office and the Sri Lankan law requirements and recommend solutions to meet all parties on a best effort basis’.

 

Key clients

Citibank N.A.

Sampath Bank PLC

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

Standard Chartered Bank

Bank of China Limited

China Development Bank

Seylan Bank PLC

DFCC Bank PLC

Citizens Development Finance PLC

Softlogic Finance PLC

Commercial Leasing and Finance PLC

Work highlights

  • Acted as the legal counsel for the syndicated lenders in connection with a syndicated loan of Sri Lankan Rupees 6bn that was granted to Nations Trust Bank PLC with Hatton National Bank PLC acting as Agent.
  • Acted as the local legal counsel to China Development Bank in relation to a Renminbi 2bn  term loan facility to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka represented by The Ministry of Finance, Economic and Policy Development.
  • Reviewing and updating the legal documentation for SAARC Development Fund for lending into Sri Lanka.

F. J. & G. De Saram

F. J. & G. De Saram advises various international banks, other financial institutions and development organisations as well as local banks and microfinance institutions. In addition, the team frequently advises local corporates on borrower-side work. Ayomi Aluwihare-Gunawardene and Himali Mudadeniya co-head the department, which deals with a broad array of issues from regulatory matters to jurisdictional opinions and receives a regular stream of instructions from some major international law firms. The group is growing its fintech practice too and is experienced in advising on Islamic financing.

Other key lawyers:

Tilani Ford

Testimonials

‘Very much inclined to explain any of their remarks and provide extended memos (for no additional fee) when clients have difficulty handling some legal point, and very conscious of clients’ needs to understand better Sri Lankan law. With FJ&G de Saram we have a real collaboration, they get fully involved in their part of the transaction. ’

‘Tilani Ford is my usual contact. The team remains dedicated to handle our requests, even for their last mandate which was smaller than previous ones. We are fully satisfied’.

‘It has a knowledgeable and experienced legal team. The lawyers are easy to approach and provide appropriate solutions to your problem’.

Key clients

International Finance Corporation

Citibank N.A. (Colombo Branch)

Deutsche Bank AG (Colombo branch)

JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A (Colombo Branch)

Union Bank PLC

Capital Alliance Investments Limited

Nations Trust Bank PLC

Berendina Group

Lakjaya Microfinance Limited

Vision Fund Lanka

State Bank of India

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan)

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan) frequently advises numerous local and international banking syndicates on the financing arrangements for various infrastructure projects, particularly in the power space.  The team advises on a diverse range of matters from debt restructuring and loan arrangements to trade financing and banking regulations, as well as some Islamic finance matters. Pranavan Neelakandan and newly-promoted partner Janani Rajeswara co-lead the department that also acts for finance companies. Saravanan Neelakandan has left the firm.

Key clients

Standard Chartered Bank

Public Bank Berhad

National Savings Bank

First Capital PLC

Arpico Finance PLC

Shinhan Bank of Korea

World Bank

NXT Capital LLC

Credit Suisse (USA)

Qatar National Bank (Singapore)

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Work highlights

  • Instructed by Goldberg Kohn (USA) to advise  NXT Capital LLC / Credit Suisse (USA) on security documentation with local entities of the North Technology Group (USA) in relation to its $87.5m lending.
  • Continuing to advise First Capital PL on all its corporate and day to day activities, mergers and acquisitions and related documentation and also on regulatory matters involving the Central Bank.

Sudath Perera Associates

Sudath Perera Associates fields a team of experienced practitioners who often advise local and international banks on the full range of issues with particular expertise in advising on the recovery of non-performing loans.  Kaushalya Meedeniya  heads the department, which is well-equipped to advise on other areas of financing such as ship and aircraft financing and project and infrastructure financing.  Niluka Wickremesinghe  is also well-regarded for her work for lenders on a broad range of banking and contentious issues. Gamini Balasooriya  is another leading member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Kaushalya Meedeniya

Testimonials

‘Specialised knowledge in all banking and finance related areas. Attention to detail and close collaboration on all matters referred’.

 

Key clients

The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd

Standard Chartered Bank

National Development Bank PLC

Dialog Finance PLC

Prime Finance PLC

Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka

Orient Finance PLC

People’s Merchant Finance PLC

Tiruchelvam Associates

The banking and finance department at Tiruchelvam Associates is overseen by firm managing partner Ramani Muttettuwegama . The group advises on various local banking regulations and licensing requirements and regularly liaises with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Department of Foreign Exchange. It also boasts significant experience in e-commerce matters and has noticed increased work in the fintech on digital payments and data protection, as well as on cyber security issues. Other names to note include senior associate Nirosha Peiris.

Practice head(s):

Ramani Muttettuwegama

Other key lawyers:

Nirosha Peiris

Work highlights

  • Advised on several fin – tech products the client sought to launch from a Sri Lankan regulatory perspective. Provided general advice on digital payments and navigating the licensing and regulatory payment and settlement landscape in Sri Lanka.
  • Advised a bank on the limits of activities for the client’s representatives in Sri Lanka in the absence of a registered presence there. The advice also included an immigration component.
  • Assisted the client in making a complex special application to the Department of Foreign Exchange.