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Deacons

5TH FLOOR, ALEXANDRA HOUSE, 18 CHATER ROAD, CENTRAL, HONG KONG
Tel:
Work +852 2825 9211
Fax:
Fax +852 2810 0431
Email:
Web:
www.deacons.com.hk
Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai

Hong Kong

Antitrust and competition
Antitrust and competition - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

With the addition of a full-time competition lawyer following Peter Westerlind Wigstrom's arrival from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in August 2017, and the addition of an in-house competition economist following Sharon Pang's arrival in April 2018, Deacons now has a very credible offering and is able to provide 'exceptional service' across the gamut of issues including antitrust litigation (involving abuse of substantial market power, vertical restraints and cartel behaviour), merger reviews, investigations by the Hong Kong Competition Commission, advice on competition issues related to a wide variety of business practices, contractual provisions, and cross-border and domestic transactions. Praised for her 'pragmatism and responsiveness', Pang has been praised for being able to provide economic guidance for clients seeking compliance with the new Competition Ordinance, as well as in relation to advice on commercial arrangements. Praised for her 'outstanding leadership qualities', corporate partner Machiuanna Chu also has 'sound legal knowledge' of antitrust procedures.

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Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 4

Deacons

Independent Hong Kong law firm Deacons has a long history in the banking and finance sector, which has made it a first port of call for many multinationals (including a number of the largest companies based in Greater China) and financial institutions active in the Asia-Pacific region. On the transactional front, its team handles a varied workload spanning areas such as acquisition finance, structured trade finance, project finance, syndicated and bilateral lending. As a genuinely full-service banking practice, it also advises on anti-money laundering, data privacy, consumer protection and licensing (in relation to stored value facility providers, money brokers and money service operators), among other matters. The firm is also increasingly sought-after to advise on initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency issues. Team head Simon Deane, who has more than 30 years of legal experience, is a member of the Documentation Committee of the Asia Pacific Loan Markets Association (APLMA). Deane is also a member of the Hong Kong Law Society's Anti-Money Laundering Committee. Philip Gilligan and Teresa Lau are the other highly regarded partners in the group. In addition to generating standalone mandates, the firm's prominence in the market makes it a go-to for referral work from other firms, particularly where Hong Kong law expertise is required. Senior associate Farrah Lam is a name to note.

Leading individuals

Simon Deane - Deacons

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Construction
Construction - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

The ‚Äėdedicated‚Äô team at Deacons¬†is ‚Äėvery responsive‚Äô and provides ‚Äėpractical legal advice‚Äô. Contentious specialist Kwok Kit Cheung¬†leads the practice, which acts for major developers, contractors and subcontractors in construction projects, litigation and arbitration. Ching Lee Engineering and Mongolia Energy Corporation count among the team's clients. Joseph Chung¬†is another name to note.

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Corporate (including M&A)
Corporate (including M&A) - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

Pre-eminent independent law firm Deacons has a well-established reputation in Hong Kong for being a leading adviser on landmark and high-profile transactions for prestige clients based locally, in the PRC and elsewhere. The groups handles a comprehensive range of matters, including public takeovers, private M&A, private equity investments, and local and cross-border joint ventures. In addition to winning and leading on its own share of high-end matters, its team is trusted adviser to independent firms worldwide on complex mandates. The firm covers the Greater China market extensively, with the Hong Kong team working alongside practitioners in a network of offices in mainland China. Ronny Chow and Eugina Chan are joint heads of the corporate finance team; Cynthia Chung leads the corporate commercial team; and Machiuanna Chu heads the private M&A team. Complementing the firm's transactional capabilities is its ability to provide full-service support on related issues, such as banking and finance, capital markets and competition, among others. Illustrative of the firm's high-quality work, in 2017 Alexander Que and senior associates Veronica Hui and Canny Lau acted for Silver Starlight Limited as the offeror on its HK$11.9bn privatisation of Hong Kong Main Board listed company Goldin Properties Holdings. Also in the real estate sector, Chan and Hui were part of a cross-practice team that acted for Wheelock and Company on the HK$6.4bn acquisition by its wholly owned subsidiary of a residential development project at Kai Tak in Hong Kong. In the logistics arena, Que was the lead adviser to the shareholders of On Time Logistics Holdings on the sale of their shares for circa $1.04bn. Another highlight, connected with the gaming industry, saw Que and others act for New York Stock Exchange listed company 500.com on its acquisition of a controlling stake in GEM Board-listed company MelcoLot. Other sectors of activity include technology, food and beverages, financial services and technology. Myles Seto is another partner to note. So Yin Hui joined as a consultant from in-house at a luxury international hotel group and Icarus Yuen has been made partner.

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Insurance
Insurance - ranked: tier 2

Deacons

Alfred Tam¬†heads up the¬†practice at Deacons, leading a ‚Äėstrong team¬†that has vast experience and¬†knowledge and is capable of providing comprehensive legal opinions‚Äô.¬†Clients include AIG Insurance Hong Kong, Allied World Assurance and the Hong Kong Housing Authority. On the contentious side, Tam successfully defended¬†Well Born Real Estate Management against an employee compensation claim, and Yick Hing Construction Company in an injury claim arising from an accident.¬†Esther Lai¬†left to join ‚ÄéKwok Yih & Chan.

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Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 1

Deacons

Deeply entrenched in the local business community,¬†Deacons'¬†four-partner team is 'very strong across the IP spectrum, and provides outstanding and commercially astute advice'¬†to an impressive array of local, pan-Asian and international clients. The 'excellent'¬†Charmaine Koo¬†has been exceptionally busy on the litigation front: as well as recently acting for Gmedia in a patent litigation infringement case against Tencent Holdings, she continues to represent Ping An Insurance in a complex passing-off case against a similar Hong Kong-listed company that changed its name to something very similar.¬†Vivian Poon¬†spearheads the firm's efforts on the trade mark front, and, alongside the 'exceptional'¬†Rodney Goh¬†‚Äď who has 'very strong practical knowledge in the trade mark space' ‚Äď and the 'superb'¬†Patsy Lau, handles a plethora of IP work for many of the world's leading brands. Of the non-partners, senior associate¬†David Swain¬†has a flourishing transactional IP practice, and 'responsive, flexible and talented'¬†associate¬†Dawn Hui¬†is an 'excellent young IP lawyer with a sound grasp of IP matters'. Ian Liu¬†has been made partner.

Leading individuals

Charmaine Koo - Deacons

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Investment funds
Investment funds - ranked: tier 1

Deacons

Deacons is widely acknowledged as having one of the leading registered funds practices in Hong Kong, which is underlined by the fact that it acts for most of the leading fund managers in every aspect of their fund launches. Aberdeen Standard Investments, Invesco Hong Kong and Manulife are among the firm's clients in this area. Also notable is that in 2017, it advised six of the nine Hong Kong unit trust platforms that were approved by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) that year. In one example, Alwyn Li acted for Daiwa SB Investments (HK) on setting up a unit trust platform, with Brown Brothers Harriman acting as the trustee. The firm also handled mandates for EFG Asset Management (HK) and Nikko Asset Management. Elsewhere, Su Cheen Chuah and recently promoted senior associate Pinky Siu advised Mirae Asset Global Investments (Hong Kong) on obtaining regulatory approval for the delisting of seven exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Alternative investment funds are another bedrock of the firm's first-rate practice. In the hedge funds space, the team acts for more than half of the 25 largest hedge fund managers in Asia, including Value Partners, PAG and Greenwoods Asset Management. Taylor Hui heads this part of the funds practice, which covers areas such as long and short investments, Asian debt, macro, futures, currency trading, property, RMB and China funds, among others. On the private equity funds side, the team assists clients with managing every aspect of the funds life-cycle across a range of strategies, including real estate funds; Hui, Chuah and recently promoted partner Fiona Fong are names to note. Hybrid hedge and private equity funds are another area of expertise for the team. Jeremy Lam is the overall head of the investment funds practice. Senior associates Deepak Mahtani, Joyce Li, Ming Chiu Li and Joanna Fung are also recommended.

Leading individuals

Jeremy Lam - Deacons

Next generation lawyers

Deepak Mahtani - Deacons

Joanna Fung - Deacons

Ming Chiu Li - Deacons

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Labour and employment
Labour and employment - ranked: tier 2

Deacons

Deacons provides 'responsive and practical advice' to domestic companies as well as to international corporates with offices in Hong Kong. The scope of the firm's work covers the waterfront, from dismissal cases to advice on drafting employment contracts and staff handbooks, as well as M&A-related employment issues. 'Very efficient and professional' team head Cynthia Chung provides 'practical solutions' to local and multinational clients, and is a fluent speaker of English, Cantonese and Mandarin; she covers a range of contentious and non-contentious employment issues, including recently providing a significant amount of strategic advice to employers in the wake of a surge of sexual harassment claims following the #MeToo movement. Chung also has significant pensions expertise and recently assisted a major global financial services entity on the consolidation, restructuring and streamlining of its pension schemes. Recently promoted to partner, Elsie Chan has a flourishing reputation in the market and is a key member of the team, which also includes well-regarded associates Vickie Leung and Helen Liao; Liao's dual PRC and Hong Kong qualification enables her to be a very useful resource for mainland China clients.

Leading individuals

Cynthia Chung - Deacons

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Real estate
Real estate - ranked: tier 2

Deacons

Possessing ‚Äėoutstanding technical knowledge and market experience‚Äô, Lilian Chiang¬†heads up the team¬†at Deacons. Clients include MTR Corporation, Kowloon‚ÄďCanton Railway Corporation, Jardine Group and Wheelock Properties. The¬†team recently¬†advised¬†Wharf on¬†the spin-off of¬†subsidiary¬†Wharf REIC¬†for its‚ÄĮseparate listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.¬†Chiang also acted for¬†K11 Concepts¬†as landlord in the pre-leasing of a large-scale mixed-use development in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui district, comprising prime retail and office space.

Leading individuals

Lilian Chiang - Deacons

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Regulatory
Regulatory - ranked: tier 2

Deacons

At Deacons, Jane McBride heads up the firm’s dedicated SFC licensing, compliance and regulatory team, assisting clients in obtaining local securities licences for their business, or where possible avoiding the need for a local Hong Kong SFC licence. The firm also has a busy contentious regulatory practice led by Joseph Kwan, which includes Richard Hudson and Peter So. Key areas of work, among others, are representing clients in anti-money laundering related investigations, insider dealing investigations and issues related to mis-selling of financial products.

Leading individuals

Joseph Kwan - Deacons

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Restructuring and insolvency
Restructuring and insolvency - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

As the oldest and largest independent law firm in Hong Kong, Deacons has close ties with many IPs and funds, and also regularly receives referral work from foreign law firms with regard to the Hong Kong aspects of cross-border insolvencies. Particularly noted for his formal insolvency prowess, Richard Hudson is 'very competent and gets to grips with the key issues very quickly'. Hudson recently advised Rad Source Technologies in bringing winding up proceedings against its Hong Kong subsidiary in respect of unpaid debts. On the non-contentious front, Philip Gilligan regularly handles the Hong Kong aspects of international restructuring work and also has experience of handling debt trading and non-performing loan transactions.

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TMT
TMT - ranked: tier 4

Deacons

Leveraging the expertise of practitioners from the firm's IP, corporate, tax and employment teams, Deacons' cross-practice team handles a range of work for clients in the TMT sector. The 'very commercial'  Machiuanna Chu provides an 'engaging service' to TMT clients on M&A and other corporate transactions in the sector, including recently advising a health tech start-up on its fundraising and establishment of a joint venture. 'Experienced, friendly and very professional' IP practitioner Charmaine Koo has significant expertise in the commercialisation of technological inventions. Senior associate David Swaine is also praised for his 'professional, detailed and useful advice'.

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Tax and trusts
Tax and trusts - ranked: tier 4

Deacons

At Deacons, UK- and Hong Kong-qualified counsel Stefano Mariani has expertise across a range of Hong Kong and international tax and trusts law on behalf of a varied mix of listed companies, high-net-worth individuals, family offices and executives. Mariani is best-known for his litigation prowess, having been a barrister in the UK, and is representing a global financial institution in a closely watched case that will determine the stamp duty implications of mergers in Hong Kong. Mariani also regularly works alongside the office's corporate team to provide the tax structuring concomitant with M&A and restructuring activity handled by the firm.

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Hong Kong: Capital markets

Capital markets (debt)
Capital markets (debt) - ranked: tier 4

Deacons

Illustrative of Deacons' market profile, it has advised clients on sovereign RMB bond issuances by the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong since 2010; in 2017, Kevin Tong and senior associate Icarus Yuen acted for Bank of Communications on the RMB14bn issuance of sovereign bonds in two batches by the PRC's Ministry of Finance. The firm also undertakes a significant amount of work for The Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Tong and Yuen advised the client on the HK$3bn issuance of the second batch of Silver Bonds by Hong Kong residents aged 65 and above. Further reflective of the firm's high-quality work, Tong, Yuen and senior associate Christine Li acted for Wharf Real Estate Investment in the establishment of a $3bn medium-term note programme. Another highlight for the firm involved acting for the dealers and arrangers on the establishment of a $3bn medium-term note programme by CALC Bonds, which was guaranteed by China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings. Ronny Chow and Eugina Chan jointly lead the team. Gary Wong and Maynard Leung made partner.

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Capital markets (equity)
Capital markets (equity) - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

In terms of deal volume, Deacons is one of the most active firms in the market for Hong Kong offerings. Between 2013 and 2017, it handled 70 completed IPOs and new listings, with the work spanning industries such as gaming, construction, healthcare and oil and gas. Its longstanding first-rate reputation has also seen it become a destination firm for secondary offerings and regulatory advice. The firm's full-service offering and depth of expertise have enabled it to become a trusted adviser to multinational and domestic corporates, as well as Chinese and international sponsors and underwriters. In 2017, a team including Ronny Chow, Rhoda Yung and Maynard Leung acted for The Wharf, Wheelock (Wharf's holding company) and Wharf Real Estate Investment Company (Wharf REIC) in Wharf REIC's spin-off and HK$151.8bn Main Board listing. On the underwriter side, Chow and Leung advised BNP Paribas Securities (Asia) as sole global coordinator, bookrunner and underwriter on a circa HK$2bn one-for-three rights issuance by TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings. Chow co-heads the practice with Eugina Chan. Another name to note is Sabrina Fung, who has more than 18 years of corporate finance experience, and acted for Huajin Securities (International) as one of the placing agents in a HK$1.4bn top-up placing by Jiayuan International Group. Also recommended are newly promoted partner Gary Wong, senior associate Veronica Hui  and associate Doris Leung. Peter Cheng joined from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

Leading individuals

Ronny Chow - Deacons

Next generation lawyers

Doris Leung - Deacons

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Hong Kong: Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution: international arbitration
Dispute resolution: international arbitration - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

Deacons' team, led by Joseph Kwan, acted for a privately-owned PRC insurance company, to oppose an application by two major US corporations to set aside a $475m ICC arbitration award obtained by the client in Hong Kong, with the underlying arbitration involving a complex share purchase agreement. Clients also include Mongolia Energy Corporation. Joseph Chung is recommended for his 'thoughtful consideration, and good experience in construction’. Robert Clark has particular experience in media sector work, where he acts for several international publishers, as well as professional negligence matters. Carmen Ng was promoted to partner in January 2018.

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Dispute resolution: litigation
Dispute resolution: litigation - ranked: tier 3

Deacons

Joseph Kwan, ‚Äėa very competent and accomplished lawyer with a keen sense of the practicalities of a case‚Äô, heads up the team at Deacons. The team successfully defended¬†a law firm¬†against a $400m professional negligence claim brought by Greater Beijing Region Expressways.¬†Carmen Ng¬†has been promoted to partner in January 2018.¬†Clients include Google and South China Morning Post. Robert Clark¬†is also singled out and Justin Yuen¬†has been made partner.

Leading individuals

Robert Clark - Deacons

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