D. L. & F. De Saram fields a first-class team that advises on an array of domestic and cross-border corporate and commercial law matters. The department continues to act as local counsel on several cross-border matters alongside major international law firms. Recent work highlights include advising on several multi-jurisdictional restructuring transactions, as well as numerous domestic capital markets instructions. The department, which is headed by Savantha De Saram and Aloka Nandasena, also garners praise for its work on compliance and regulatory matters. Hansi Abayaratne was recently promoted to the partnership.
Corporate and M&A in Sri Lanka
‘I believe the client-centric approach, flexibility and reachability have to be commended bearing in mind the whole transaction took place during a pandemic and the majority of the matters were communicated using virtual and digital means. Special mention on being very reasonable with their billing considering the quality of service and the time they spent on our behalf which is highly commendable about D.L.&F‘.
‘The lead partner was Aloka Nandasena and associate Inshira Hanifa. I already have and will definitely recommend Aloka without any doubt in the future for anybody who needs M&A legal advice‘.
‘They have one of the best legal teams. They understand the requirements of the client very well. The team has a positive mind set. Excellent in making their deliverables on time. Our work is mostly handled by Aloka Nandasena and Hansi Abayartne. Two excellent individuals. Their knowledge on renewable energy is phenomenal. They both are hardworking and make their deliverables well in advance. Also very pleasant to work with‘.
SBI VEN Holdings Pte Ltd
JF & I Packaging (Private) Limited
Akbar Brothers (Private) Limited
SS Equity Holdings (Private) Limited
Inchcape Shipping Services
Sysco Corporation, USA
DirectFN KSA and Saudi National Technology Group
Asia Capital PLC
Frontier Capital Partners Limited
Volta INTL SAS
MTD Capital Bhd
- Advised WindForce PLC on its IPO by way of an Offer for Subscription amounting to LKR 3.2bn and obtaining a listing on the Main Board of the Colombo Stock Exchange.
- Advised SBI VEN Holdings Pte Ltd on its investment in Watawala Dairy Limited, a subsidiary of Watawala Plantations PLC (a listed plantation company) for a consideration of $2m.
- Advised on the sale of JF & I Packaging (Private) Limited, a printing and packaging company, to Technomedics International (Private) Limited and a consortium of buyers for a consideration of LKR 4.3bn.
Julius & Creasy advises a significant number of local and foreign businesses and private clients on a broad array of corporate and commercial matters, often working with prestigious foreign law firms. Its first-rate team routinely advises on foreign direct investments, foreign exchange regulations as well as on the restructuring of conglomerates. Other strengths lie in advising on data protection issues on major cross-border deals. In addition it receives plaudits for its work in other areas such as advising most of the leading global telecommunications and social media companies on local regulatory compliance requirements. Team heads Amila Fernando and Anandhiy Gunawardhana lead the experienced team, which also has considerable expertise in carrying out compliance checks on listed companies and in other areas such as advising on depositary receipts.
Other key lawyers:
‘The greatest asset is its staff for their technical knowledge and availability even at a partner level to discuss matters at short notice’.
‘Anandhiy Gunawardhana definitely stands out for her amazing technical knowledge, ability to understand practical requirements of a business and provide legal advice that is practical and her humility and personality is just fantastic’.
‘Very professional. They have the expertise of the corporate law. Very friendly and helpful team‘.
‘Anandhiy Gunawardena is very professional and friendly. She has a vast knowledge about corporate issues including drafting corporate agreements. I am very satisfied with the way that she is handling the matters‘.
Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC
Corporate Managers & Secretaries (Pvt) Ltd
Vetrivel Group Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, London
- Chevron Lubricants was contemplating on holding a virtual AGM for the year 2020 for which they retained Julius and Creasy to obtain legal advice on the formalities to be implemented for the said AGM and confirmation that they were in line with the applicable laws.
- Conducted a company search on a target company in which the client was to acquire the majority stake. It also advised the client on the pre-requisites that the sellers of the shares as well as the target company ought to comply with, prior to its client acquiring a majority stake, to safeguard the interests of all the stakeholders.
Nithya Partners fields a knowledgeable and a 'strong M&A' team that handles the full range of corporate and commercial matters. It also garners praise for its equity capital markets expertise, frequently advising on IPOs, rights issues and the issuance of debentures. Under the joint leadership of Arittha R Wikramanayake and Nirusha Ranjitkumar Ratnatunga , the dynamic practice handles a diverse range of financial transactions and large mergers and acquisitions. In addition it is skilled at advising clients on foreign direct investment and exchange control matters. The group has a diverse portfolio of local and international clients including some of Sri Lanka's largest businesses.
Other key lawyers:
‘A dynamic and capable team at Nithya Partners provides excellent support, adds value and provides a responsive service to our company. They have significant market penetration on behalf of domestic and international corporates which it advises on day-to-day operational commercial needs and on M&A transactions. The firm strives to ensure that its clients’ legal needs receive their due attention and timely advice‘.
‘Arittha Wikramanayake has participated in an advisory and representative capacity in drafting company agreements, contracts and advice on Securities Exchange. Also good at advising on all aspects of law relating to immovable property, litigation & dispute resolution and all forms of investments. Also I would like to mention Nirusha Ratnatunga who has delivered excellent support services‘.
‘Nithya Partners is by far the best in corporate M&A in Sri Lanka. The practice headed by Arittha Wickramanayake does a phenomenal job in doing so‘.
‘Arittha Wickramanayake – always gives fantastic advice for his clients which is extremely non-biased. Furthermore, the advice given is always in the best interests in the client. Dathika Wickramanayake – has excellent attention to detail with his work and is always extremely prompt with his responses. Furthermore, his analytical ability to solve a problem is much appreciated‘.
‘The partners and associates are very thorough and quick, always having the best interest of the client. Further, they are easily accessible which is most important.’
The Blackstone Group
Hirdaramani Investments Holdings (Private) Limited
Softlogic Holdings PLC
Orel Corporation (Private) Limited
Digital Mobility Solutions Lanka (Private) Limited
Union Bank of Colombo PLC
Renuka Capital PLC
Sunshine Holdings PLC
CIC Holdings PLC
D Samson Industries (Private) Limited
Ideal Industries (Private) Limited
Tempest P E Partners (Private) Limited
Ironwood Capital Partners
Hemas Holdings PLC
Moot Investment (Private) Limited
Capital Alliance Limited
- Acted as local advisors to the Blackstone Group on its acquisition of a majority stake in Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC through an SPV, PGP Glass Private Limited, as part of its global acquisition of the Piramal Group. This involved conducting a legal due diligence audit into Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC, advising the client on structuring the transaction in accordance with local securities laws and, thereafter, on conducting its open offer process under and in compliance with the Company’s Takeover and Mergers Code as well as liaising with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Colombo Stock Exchange on its behalf.
- Advised Hirdaramani Investments Holdings (Private) Limited on the sale of an IT company, H One (Private) Limited to Dialog Broadband Networks (Private) Limited. The transaction was important for the reason that it was a sale of a subsidiary of the client, which is primarily a family-owned company, to a large investor in the country. Hence, being advisors to the seller, the team was required to guide the client through all aspects of the sale, providing them with detailed assurances on the transactional documentation.
- Advised Sunshine Holdings PLC on the restructuring of its operations in the pharmaceutical business with another leading player in the said business, i.e. Akbar Pharmaceutical (Private) Limited. The restructure involved a merger of the two entities by an exchange of shares and a partial cash payment. The transaction was preceded by due diligences and other pre-transactional processes for which the firm was the sole legal advisor.
Tiruchelvam Associates has extensive experience of advising local and foreign clients (both individuals and corporates) on a variety of deals such as capital market transactions and cross-border M&As. It is also recommended for its restructuring work and for its advice on foreign exchange transactions. ‘The team working with us is like an extended part of our own team ’ say clients. Asanka Abeysekera and Laila Nasry co-lead the team that is strong in the not-for-profits and start-up arenas as well. The group enjoys a close working relationship with the various local regulators such as the Registry of Companies and the Department of Foreign Exchange of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
‘Key capabilities include sound subject knowledge and the fact that they can be relied upon to provide the appropriate advice at all times. As our company secretaries, we appreciate the fact that they have specialised partners/teams to handle any legal matter that arises. Their flexibility and availability outside office hours for urgent matters or simply for a bit of advice is much appreciated’.
‘Nirosha Peiris provides sound legal advice on a variety of matters and keeps track of our legal compliances as per Sri Lankan law. Her flexibility, friendliness, and availability is very much appreciated. She is very pleasant to work with and her opinion is very much respected and trusted. She certainly has our best interests at heart’.
‘Any team is as great as the people who make up the team. We have been very impressed by the personal commitment shown by all who we engaged with at TA. Nirosha Peiris has been most helpful, prompt and professional in all her dealings with our network in executing any work on our behalf ‘.
‘Very thorough. You always feel safe and that you are taken care of. Very knowledgeable. Positive and attentive . A very proactive and personable team who is extremely easy to work with’.
‘We are glad that we went to Tiruchelvam Associates as the complexity level of our requirement was very high and as a result, it needed expertise and research. We’ve found the expertise and professionalism at Tiruchelvam Associates to be exceptional. They always maintained clarity, paid personal attention to all details and walked the extra mile for us. We worked closely with Laila Nasry, Partner and Nirosha Peiris, Senior Associate in our matters. They both have strong eye for detail and maintain excellent documentation practices as well’.
‘ Nirosha and Adheeba are doing everything to make things possible and it is very pleasant to work with them. We are working together on collaborative documents and I am very satisfied with the final documents that have been created and submitted to the authorities for validation’.
‘The team has been very supportive and responsive. Plus, the relationship has been smooth and effective. Assigned individuals know the company and history and are very friendly, supportive and flexible. Namely, Heshika has been very supportive throughout’.
‘Efficiency and competency. Tiruchelvam Associates took over our corporate secretarial and legal matters about a year ago. Our regulatory compliance and governance have shown remarkable improvement since then. Robustness, accuracy, and clarity in their response. Nirosha Peiris and Laila are the lawyers with whom I work closely, and more with the former. She’s a no-nonsense lawyer’.
Galadari Hotels (Lanka) PLC
Galadari Brothers LLC
Takeda Group of Companies
Sarvodaya Group of Companies
Global Payments Asia-Pacific Limited/ Global Payments Inc.
Novo Nordisk A/S
Heineken Lanka Limited
Cisco Systems Management B.V.
Industry Sector Councils
Women’s Fund Asia
- Advising Takeda Group of Companies on entry into Sri Lanka’s heavily regulated pharma industry including setting up a presence in Sri Lanka subject to the restrictions on foreign ownership in the pharmaceuticals, on risks of being a minority shareholder and on minority protection rights.
- Advised on a joint venture with one of Sri Lanka’s logistics companies and a Singapore based Shipping Agency.
- Represented Dahnay Logistics Lanka (Private) Limited at the Department of Foreign Exchange to regularise the foreign shareholders’ investment in respect of shares in the client.
F. J. & G. De Saram has an agile team that is well-equipped to handle multiple corporate and M&A transactions at the same time. The strong practice advises on international mergers and acquisitions that impact on subsidiaries in Sri Lanka and on the merger and acquisitions of local companies and other entities. It has substantial sector expertise in various areas including insurance broking; e-commerce, education as well as banks and financial companies. Ayomi Aluwihare-Gunawardene; Shehara Varia and Anjali Fernando are among the primary contacts at the firm. Buwaneka Basnayake and Shanaka Gunasekara are also well-regarded.
‘The team is efficient, diligent and has been very conversant about the subject. It has also been a very personable experience to engage with the team who has stepped above and beyond to fulfill its responsibilities’.
‘Shehara Varia is a very knowledgeable and competent professional who is totally conversant on the subject of M and A. Her counsel has been invaluable to our endeavour. Her efficiency was also an asset to help expedite this sale for us. She engaged with all parties concerned, accessed the required resources and helped to ensure a successful conclusion of the transaction’.
‘The senior partners’ exceptional subject knowledge, skills and experience. Ayomi Aluwihare – Exceptional knowledge/skills/experience in subject matter. Shanaka Gunasekera – Very good knowledge/skills. Buwaneka Basnayake – Very good knowledge/skills’.
‘The lawyers have a great ear to the ground and are used to dealing with large global clients. Shanaka Gunasekara has been prompt, responsive, and client-friendly‘.
‘The team at FJ and G de Sarams, especially the firm’s partner, Buwaneka Basnayake, reflects exceptional professionalism, diligence and efficiency in performing their services in corporate/commercial matters. Buwaneka is extremely helpful, efficient and professional in his approach to work. His knowledge in corporate legal matters is exceptional and has always been our ‘go -to’ legal authority whenever faced with complex legal hurdles in the day to day operations of the business‘.
‘Its wide ranging experience in the field of corporate law. Mr. Buwaneka Basnayake, partner for his ability to grasp the intricacies of the clients’ issues quickly and being able to advise accordingly. Also for being very approachable’.
Colombo International Container Terminals (Private) Limited
China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited
Colombo Stock Exchange
Pearson Lanka (Private) Limited
Shangri-La Hotel, Sri Lanka
Unilever Sri Lanka Limited
Piramal Glass of India
Dialog Axiata PLC
Sunshine Holdings Limited
Ceylon Biscuits Limited
Hela Clothing Group of Companies
Tata Steel Limited
Khaitan & Co (Rabindra Jhunjhunwala, Partner)
D L A Piper (Singapore) (Meraj Noor, Partner)
Eversheds (UK) (Paramjit Singh, Partner)
Allen and Overy
Baker and McKenzie
- Advised a development financial institution as local law counsel on the legal feasibility of the development of a renewable energy park in the Pooneryn Peninsula, in Northern Province that generates electricity (using solar power and wind power) .
- Advised China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited (“CMPort”) from a local law perspective on a sale of 23.5% of its shares in Gainpro Resources Limited.
- Advising Dialog Broadband Networks (Private) Limited (“DBN”) on the acquisition of shares in the largest reseller of Microsoft enterprise solutions in Sri Lanka.
The corporate and commercial department at Sudath Perera Associates specialises in inbound foreign direct investments, public-private partnerships, mergers and acquisitions and compliance matters. With Dushyantha Perera at the helm the team also excels at advising on corporate restructurings and on advising Sri Lankan companies on various cross-border matters. The group frequently works with some leading international law firms on a range of complex and high-value matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘A unique feature that I see at Sudath Perera Associates is the preparation of comprehensive legal strategy for any matter that we seek advice on. It contains risks, mitigation actions and possible next steps that helps business sustainability. They also have a very experienced team to advise on any matters, eg litigation, labour, tax etc. Their team is very flexible and is ready to advise whenever the client needs it‘.
‘Dushyantha Perera – brings international experience to commercial matters‘.
‘The team is very knowledgeable and responsive as well as appropriately proactive. The work is of the highest quality and very reasonably priced. Dushyantha Perera provides excellent client service. He is very engaged and always up to date with the most recent developments in law and practice. Jinathma Siriwardana is an excellent associate, very responsive and knowledgeable’.
‘A team with diverse expertise who work together for client solutions. Personalised approach, customised solutions and specialised knowledge‘.
People’s Merchant Finance PLC
MAGA Engineering (Pvt) Ltd
The Bolton Remote group
Toyota Lanka (Private) Limited
Fonterra Brands Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
Bennet and Company
The Essilor Group
The Esquel Group
- Advised Navara Meditech (Private) Limited, which is a member of the Navara Capital Group, on the acquisition of the entire share capital of Prestige Pharma International (Private) Limited (a leading pharmaceutical trading company).
- Advised People’s Merchant Finance PLC on the regulatory and compliance aspects regarding a corporate restructuring exercise.
- Assisted MAGA Engineering (Pvt) Ltd on a corporate restructuring exercise for its subsidiary ‘Clear Point Residencies’ (which is a 171-unit, 47 floor luxury residential development).
Varners has a busy corporate and commercial practice that acts for domestic clients as well as international investors. A number of key international investors have retained the firm to assist them on setting up their operations and local offices in Sri Lanka. Raj Selvaskandan and Mahinda Haradasa head the department that advises on a broad spectrum of issues from corporate financing and capital markets transactions to conducting due diligence on deals and drafting agreements. Other strengths lie in infrastructure projects. Rahal Gunaratne joined the group and regularly advises on foreign direct investments, regulatory compliance, project development and joint ventures. It has also been adding to its ranks at associate level.
‘Focus on solving the client’s problem, risk management solutions, practical guidance for foreign clients on working under Sri Lankan legal environment. Flexibility to meet schedules of foreign clients, focus on risk management, broad focus beyond a particular issue to assure client understands all practical implications, long-term relationship focus. Specifically would like to mention Vinothini Amarasekara’.
‘A world-class team which is well versed working in internationally accepted standards. The individuals at Varners think and act global. Their subject knowledge and out of the box thinking is something which no other law firm in Sri Lanka has ever had’.
‘They always find solutions to the client’s problem. They are innovative, very friendly and always ready to help at any time‘.
‘Mahinda Haradasa has a wealth of experience in M&A matters, infrastructure projects and high-scale development. He finds legal solutions to all kinds of problems that are very helpful to the clients. He is approachable and his advice is unique and he goes the extra mile for the client. While other law firms were unable to find solutions to our problems he was able to assist us immediately‘.
‘Krishanth Rajasooriyar is a senior associate at Varners and has always tried to find time to respond to our questions whenever we request. He is very helpful to clients and provides immediate solutions to our problems. His drafting skills of agreements are talented and professional. He is a very good negotiator, polite and diplomatic‘.
Bank of China Limited
Titanium Sands Limited
Colombo City Centre Partners (Private) Limited
Commercial Credit and Finance PLC
First Graphene Ltd
Capital Metals PLC
LAUGFS Holdings Limited
Cargills Bank Limited
CHEC Port City Colombo (Private) Limited
- Advising Colombo City Centre Partners (Private) Limited (CCCP) on a transaction that includes advising it on the management and financing of a hotel under the “Marriot Courtyard” brand.
- Retained as Sri Lankan legal advisors in connection with the proposed listing of a company by way of a reverse takeover on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.
- Retained by First Graphene Ltd to advise on various matters such as the regulatory framework and legal structure in relation to exploration and mining activities in Sri Lanka.
John Wilson Partners is adept at handling large corporate matters. It is skilled at conducting legal due diligence exercises and negotiating share purchase agreements. Other strengths include drafting the constitutional documents for companies and helping foreign enterprises to invest in the country by obtaining the necessary approvals and providing company secretarial support. John Wilson leads the team, which regularly advises on complex commercial agreements such as franchise and distribution agreements. Mohan Rupesinghe is another prominent member of the team.
Other key lawyers:
T Choithram and Sons LLC
Prof. Jane Evans
Ernst & Young LLP
Sagittarius Digital Engineering
Cisco Systems (India) Private Ltd.
Allen & Overy
Diana & Bradley Shaw
Legal Action Worldwide
Stephenson Harwood LLP
Discovery Communications India
Citibank Hong Kong
Ancestry.com UK Ltd.
New Horizons Adoption Agency Inc.
Capespan South Africa (Pty) Ltd
- Advised The Association of Business Executives with regard to a money recovery matter.
- Did an opinion for Deutsche Welle Kurt-Schumacher regarding the recoverability of customs duties and levies paid by them on the importation of goods to Sri Lanka pursuant to various agreements that they entered into with the Sri Lanka Broad Casting Corporation relating to the construction and operation by Deutsche Well of a relay station in Sri Lanka.
- Provided Daihatsu Motor Corporation with a legal opinion and advice regarding a commercial agency and distribution matter with a local distributor in Sri Lanka.
LegalBase continues to work with a number of multinational companies. It has a diverse portfolio of clients that operate in various sectors such as luxury goods, energy, technology, financial services as well as in real estate development. Ali Tyebkhan leads the department, which is skilled at advising private equity houses and venture capital firms on a whole host of corporate and commercial matters such as acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures and group restructurings and reorganisations. Sudath Perera and Natasha Burhan are among the other names to note.
‘The team is highly professional, easy to work with and very knowledgeable. Legalbase has no hidden fees and always provides outstanding work products. Our legal requirements are met seamlessly even during the Covid19 pandemic‘.
‘LegalBase has handled our corporate and commercial legal work for almost 10 years. They assist us with all manner of contracts, agreements and with strategic legal advice on an ongoing basis. The team is great to work with; always meets our usually very tight meet deadlines, is knowledgeable and great technically –the quality is on a par with top UK and international firms. They just have “can do” attitude to everything’.
‘Ali Tyebkhan is just outstanding. Sharp, excellent commercially and a real strategic thinker’.
‘There are two individuals who stand out from the LegalBase team. Ali Tyebkhan who is a genius problem solver and gives the best strategic advice out there. He is focused and does not waste your time. Natasha Burhan is another asset at Legalbase, sharp, proactive and goes out of her way to assist us‘.
‘Cost certainty is really important for us and they provide fixed fees for most things. Costs are significantly lower vs comparable law firms. They handle all legal work across all jurisdictions for us and also manage other external counsel multi-jurisdictionally. They consistently come up with very creative solutions and cutting edge ways to solve the most complex legal challenges‘.
‘Ali Tyebkhan is simply outstanding. Excellent technically and a great commercial mind-set that sets him apart from other lawyers. He is our go-to lawyer for all things strategic. Natasha Burhan is a top rate senior associate. ’
Al Dahbashi Gray
The Smarty Train Limited
GMG Middle East Services
Maltras International (Pvt) Limited (www.tealiateas.com) and
K10 Apprenticeships Limited
Broker Back Office Limited
Mithril Asset Management
George Petch International UK
W Food Group Pty Ltd
Broker Back Office Limited
- Provides M Advocates with ongoing corporate, commercial & M&A expertise across a vast range of corporate and transactional matters for which M Advocates does not have inhouse expertise or needs additional legal resources for work and projects.
- GMG and LegalBase started collaborating in January 2021. Over the last 6 months LegalBase has worked very closely with GMG and provided legal support on projects where GMG required assistance.
- Provides ADG with ongoing services in connection with a number of varied corporate and transactional matters for which ADG does not have inhouse expertise or provides additional legal resources and support for work and projects which ADG requires additional resources.
Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan)
Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan) advises many foreign clients on the formation of joint venture companies and offshore companies in Sri Lanka. Clients also include some listed companies and it frequently acts as local counsel on a number of multi-jurisdictional matters alongside international law firms. Newly promoted partner Janani Rajeswara and Pranavan Neelakandan co-head the department that is also recommended for its work on complex commercial agreements. Saravanan Neelakandan has left the firm.
First Capital PLC
Dunamis Capital PLC
Autogrill Espana S.A
Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC
United Tractor & Equipment (Private) Limited
The Design Group Five International (Private) Limited
VFS Lanka (Private) Limited
Lanka Hotels & Residencies (Private) Limited
Tata Communications Group
Samsung C&T Corporation
ODLO International AG
Smith & Nephew PLC
Usha International Limited
Maersk Lanka (Private) Limited
Findmyfare (Private) Limited
Kohler India Corporation (Private) Limited
- VFS Lanka (Private) Limited is part of the VFS Global Group and provides the British High Commission, Australian High Commission and other key embassies with Visa Application Centre outsourcing services. The firm advises the client on its day to day operations, contract documentation and general corporate advice.
- Lanka Hotels & Residencies (Private) Limited is the developer of the Sheraton Hotel in Colombo, the firm continues to advise the Client on its corporate matters, contract documentation and handles the company secretarial work and provides advice in relation to share issues and on the foreign ownership of shares.
- Continues to advise First Capital PLC on all its corporate and day to day activities, mergers and acquisitions and related documentation and also on regulatory matters involving the Central Bank.