Watson Farley & Williams > Hong Kong, Hong Kong > Firm Profile

Watson Farley & Williams
UNITS 1703-1707
ONE PACIFIC PLACE, 88 QUEENSWAY
HONG KONG
Hong Kong

Hong Kong > Asset finance (including aviation and shipping finance)

Praised for its ‘world-class reputation’, Watson Farley & Williams acts for creditor, debtor, and investor clients in leasing and finance transactions across a diverse range of transportation assets. Splitting her time between Hong Kong and Singapore, Madeline Leong leads the team and serves as a go-to debt restructuring adviser for a roster of leading banks, leasing companies, and other financial institutions, particularly within the transportation, natural resources, and energy sectors. Christoforos Bisbikos, who acts for Chinese lessors, is commended for his ‘deep knowledge of the market and commercial mindset’. Other notable figures in the team include Guan Jian, who frequently advises major banks, financial institutions, and leasing companies, covering a wide spectrum of financing matters within the shipping sector. Assisting the team is counsel Valerie Lee, who specialises in handling financings involving prominent export credit agencies in Asia. Jackson Chow maintains a strong presence in the aviation market, frequently representing various multinational finance and leasing deals.

Practice head(s):

Madeline Leong; Jackson Chow

Testimonials

‘Strong legal advice but always commercially orientated. Fast response and reliable time schedules.’

‘Christoforos Bisbikos is an excellent legal expert with deep knowledge of the market and a commercial mindset.’

‘In recent years, the law firm has strengthened its asset financing team, providing Asian clients with more diverse and comprehensive office coverage options.’

‘Jackson Chow has very rich experience and years of practice in the industry.’

‘WFW boasts the largest asset finance practice of any law firm internationally, with asset finance specialists and English law capabilities. WFW’s aviation team is at the forefront of the industry and has a world-class reputation and comprises leading lawyers. They can advise on many of the industry’s high-profile transactions.’

‘Jackson Chow has extensive experience in dealing with PRC-related aircraft leasing and financing deals.’

‘The team has extensive experience in aviation financing and is good at dealing with more complex and difficult projects and arrangements.’

Key clients

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing

CALC

CCB Financial Leasing

CDB Aviation Lease Finance DAC

CMB Financial Leasing

The Export Import Bank of China

ICBC Financial Leasing

Greater Bay Airlines

Bank of America, N.A.

Minsheng Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

CITIC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised SPDB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. on two sale and leaseback transactions involving the acquisition from, and bareboat charter back to Ciner Shipping group of eight bulk carriers.
  • Advised CITIC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. on US$700m+ operating lease for three newbuilding 7000CEU dual fuel Pure Car and Truck Carriers, three newbuilding 8600 CEU dual fuel PCTCs and four 7200DWT General Cargo Carriers.
  • Advised CMB Financial Leasing (Ireland) Limited in relation to a combined Lessor supported predelivery payment financing and sale and leaseback transaction of seven (7) Airbus A320 family aircraft involving Volaris Airlines.

Hong Kong > Projects and energy Tier 3

With a ‘thorough understanding of the market’, Watson Farley & Williams's projects and energy team is highly reputed for its ability to advise on renewable energy deals, and it is particularly active in matters regarding project development and financing in Vietnam and China. Splitting her time between Hong Kong and Hanoi, the ‘extremely reliable and commercial’ Linh Doan leads the team, regularly acting for government entities, sponsors, lenders, and investors on a number of power plant developments. Matt Lorimer has extensive experience in structuring and financing international investments in emerging markets across all industry sectors.

Practice head(s):

Linh Doan

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘We continue to have a very good working relationship with the WFW team and our experience working with them is very positive.’

‘Linh Doan leads a strong team of lawyers who are very capable and their coverage across the globe, particularly Asia, together with their thorough understanding of the market environment in Vietnam has been valuable when advising on complex matters.’

‘During the implementation of the above projects last year, many difficult legal issues came up and we completely relied on Linh Doan and her team to propose solutions to deal with very sophisticated matters.’

‘Throughout these years working with Linh Doan, her knowledge of the market truly impresses me. She is a standout lawyer who we rely on for advice on many of our matters. She is one of few lawyers that we fully trust, and we appreciate her solution-based approach to unprecedented issues, especially on projects where she ensures that our interests are protected.’

‘Linh Doan is extremely reliable and knowledgeable in her area of expertise, and her advice is not limited to just those from a legal perspective, but she is also commercial.’

‘We have benefited from Linh Doan’s detailed approach to each project where she is able to identify key points and details for our consideration. She fully understands how various agencies in Vietnam work, which makes a difference with other players in the market.’

‘Linh Doan’s innovative and commercial legal solutions have guided us through all the projects she has worked on for us. I would highly recommend Linh to any organisation seeking legal advice for projects.’

Key clients

Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam

Asian Development Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising EVN on the Monsoon wind energy project in Laos (600MW) and working with EVN on the power purchase agreement which is the first of its kind for wind projects in Vietnam and may be used as precedent for offshore wind projects in the future.
  • Advising EDF Renewables on two significant wind energy projects in the province of Daklak, Vietnam, which includes advising on the development of two onshore wind projects Alpha (20MW) and Beta (50MW) and Long Thanh Wind Power Plant Projects.
  • Advising Iberdrola on the on-going acquisition of 1,020 MW onshore wind portfolio in Vietnam.

Hong Kong > Shipping Tier 3

Underpinned by a network of offices in the key shipping hubs, Watson Farley & Williams's Hong Kong office has a wide-ranging shipping practice, acting for many international and Chinese banks, leasing houses, export credit agencies, insurance companies, and investment funds. The group is jointly headed by Christoforos Bisbikos, cross-border shipping finance deals specialist and Marcus Gordon, an experienced litigator and arbitrator. Other key names include Madeline Leong, who has particular experience in the transportation, natural resources, and energy sectors, and Guan Jian, a specialist in financing transactions across the maritime and energy sectors.

Practice head(s):

Christoforos Bisbikos; Marcus Gordon

 

Other key lawyers:

Madeline Leong; Guan Jian; Dora Ying; Valerie Lee; Sylvia Shi

Key clients

CMB Financial Leasing

Minsheng Financial Leasing

ICBC Financial Leasing

China Merchants Commerce Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

SPDB Financial Leasing Co Ltd

China Huarong Shipping Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

Jiangsu Financial Leasing

CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Company Limited

AVIC International Leasing Co Ltd

CCB Financial Leasing Corporation Limited

Minsheng Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

CITIC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised SPDB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. on two sale and leaseback transactions involving the acquisition from, and bareboat charter back to Ciner Shipping group of eight bulk carriers.
  • Advised CITIC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. on US$700m operating lease for three new building 7000CEU dual-fuel Pure Car and Truck Carriers, three new building 8600 CEU dual fuel PCTCs, and four 7200DWT General Cargo Carriers.
  • Advised ENN LNG (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. on its international tender for the construction and long-term chartering of six 174,000-cbm LNG carriers, where the LNGCs will be constructed in Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co. Ltd. in China for two consortiums of international LNGC operators and chartered to ENN upon the LNGCs’ delivery.

China > Banking and finance: foreign firms Tier 5

Watson Farley & Williams‘ ‘clients are deeply impressed by the professionalism and efficiency of the firm’s team members‘. The finance practice predominantly focuses on the firm’s specialist sectors, namely maritime, transport, natural resources and energy. Working from both Hong Kong and Singapore, Madeline Leong heads the firm’s Asia assets and structured finance group.

Practice head(s):

Madeline Leong

Other key lawyers:

Christoforos Bisbikos; Guan Jian; Jackson Chow; Simon Collins; William Ho; Dora Ying; Valerie Lee

Testimonials

Clients are deeply impressed by the professionalism and efficiency of the firm’s team members. Their expertise and opinions give clients peace of mind.’

‘Guan Jian efficiently provides legal advice – he is very responsible and will do his best to protect the interests of clients.’

‘Huge team and strong levels of service.’

‘Dora Ying is efficient, precise and fast.’

Key clients

BNP Paribas

The Export Import Bank of China

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing

CALC

CCB Financial Leasing

CDB Aviation Lease Finance DAC

CMB Financial Leasing

ICBC Financial Leasing

Bank of America

Work highlights

  • Advised BNP Paribas on large-value JOLCOs (backed by Chinese ECA Sinosure and arranged for Seaspan Corporation).

Germany > Corporate and M&A > M&A Tier 5

Watson Farley & Williams LLP has a strong focus on advising transport and energy clients on both traditional M&A deals as well as increasingly on private equity transactions; the team is well equipped for cross-border transactions due to its cooperation with the firm's international offices. In May 2022, shipping expert Christian Finnern took over the practice management from Marcus Bechtel, who focuses on the energy, infrastructure and real estate sectors and advises companies on M&A and private equity deals as well as project developments. Dirk Janssen primarily assists with leveraged buyouts.

Practice head(s):

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘The WFW practice around partner Dr. Marcus Bechtel works extremely professionally, is a strong team and has an excellent “deal-driven” approach.’

‘Dr. Marcus Bechtel is characterized in particular by his calm and mediating manner. In contract negotiations, the “points” of clients are argued, while the arguments of the other side are equally included through a change of perspective.’

‘Excellent negotiation skills, good communication and process management.’

Key clients

NeXtwind Management GmbH

DIF

Perpetua Holding GmbH

Alpina Capital Partners LLP

Commerz Real AG

Findos Investor GmbH

Gemeinde Kirchweidach

HQ Equita

NWG

Tentamus Group GmbH

Genus plc

The Renewable Infrastructure Group Limited und der niederländische Pensionsinvestor APG

Work highlights

  • Advising NeXtwind Management GmbH and subsidiaries of NeXtwind Capital Ltd. on the acquisition of several onshore wind farms with a total capacity of 82 MW.
  • Advice to Perpetua Holding GmbH on the acquisition of a majority stake in Artemed care centers – in the future operating under ArteCare – from Artemed SE.
  • Advising a consortium consisting of The Renewable Infrastructure Group Limited and Dutch pension investor APG on the acquisition of German offshore wind farm Merkur from a consortium consisting of Partners Group, InfraRed Capital Partners, DEME Concessions, GE Energy Financial Services and ADEME.

South Korea > Shipping: foreign firms

Watson Farley & Williams LLP fields a ‘highly specialised’ shipping practice, with particular expertise in restructurings involving shipping companies, and shipping disputes. The practice is co-headed by Ricky Kim, who oversees the assets and structured finance side, and Philip Do Youn Kim who is in charge of dispute resolution. The team also includes Madeline Leong, who is highly knowledgeable in finance matters relating to the maritime sector, and Christoforos Bisbikos, another ship finance specialist with experience in  a wide range of shipping projects, such as acquisitions of fleets and joint ventures in the maritime space.

Practice head(s):

Ricky Kim; Philip Do Youn Kim

Testimonials

‘Watson Farley & Williams LLP has a strong presence in shipping finance in multiple maritime centers in Asia, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Seoul. The people are all more experienced than other firms and highly specialised, which leads to high efficiency in deal executions and in general communication with industry players.’

‘Madeline Leong, Christoforos Bisbikos and Ricky Kim are all outstanding lawyers with many years experience in shipping. They are great listeners, have wide networks on both the finance and client side, and are very responsive in addressing queries or comments.’

Key clients

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Singapore Branch

Korea Development Bank

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation on the financing of a 174,000 cubic metre newbuild LNG carrier.
  • Advised The Korea Development Bank, Seoul Branch, on the refinancing of two large gas carriers.
  • Advised Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on the financing of two newbuild LPG carriers for SK Shipping.

Japan > Banking and finance: International firms and joint ventures

Watson Farley & Williams (Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho)‘s asset and structured finance department, which is particularly experienced in cross-border asset, structured finance, and leasing transactions in the aviation field,  benefited from the 2022 recruitment of Keisuke Imon, Simon Collins, Shusuke Fukunaga, and senior associate Christian Orton, who moved to the practice from White & Case LLP - White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association). Imon leads the team alongside Collins; duo add expertise in commercial shipping transactions and Japanese operating leases.

Practice head(s):

Keisuke Imon; Simon Collins

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘WFW are excellent in terms of professionalism as well as efficiency.

Key clients

Financial Partners Group

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

Bank of America

Sirius Aviation Capital

Vietnam > Projects and energy

Watson Farley & Williams LLP acts on a range of M&A and financing mandates for an impressive array of global energy players, regional public bodies, and financial institutions. Linh Doan overseas the practice from Hong Kong, regularly engaging cross-border power projects and demonstrating notable expertise in financing and investment work and possessing close ties to the Vietnamese government and related bodies. Matt Lorimer is based in the Hanoi office and is recommended for his project financing and syndicated loans work.

Practice head(s):

Linh Doan; Matt Lorimer

Other key lawyers:

Tram Nguyen; Dzung Vu

Testimonials

‘The team is highly responsive and brings a commercial and pragmatic approach to their work for lenders in the energy and projects space in Vietnam and broader Asia Pacific. The team has a very strong appreciation of the priorities of cross-border lenders in the region and offers good value for money.’

‘Matt Lorimer is highly recommended.’

‘The team is very responsive to clients’ need for legal advice and well equipped with the knowledge required.’

‘Linh Doan is able to provide spot-on solutions.’

Key clients

Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam (MOIT)

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Work highlights

  • Advising EVN on the Monsoon wind energy project in Laos (600MW) and on a power purchase agreement which is the first of its kind for wind projects in Vietnam.
  • Advising EDF Renewables on two significant wind energy projects in the province of Daklak, Vietnam, which includes advising on the development of two onshore wind projects Alpha (20MW) and Beta (50MW).
  • Advising Iberdrola in relation to the acquisition of a 1,020MW onshore wind portfolio in Vietnam.

Dedicated to client care, industry focus and investment in our people
We are a sector specialist international law firm in the Energy, Infrastructure and Transport sectors advising on complex transactions and disputes through local knowledge and an integrated international network.

Our business exists to help our clients achieve their goals, partnering with them to meet the challenges they face today and will face tomorrow.

Our values rest on developing deep and long-lasting relationships externally and internally through respect, sharing, communication and integrity.

We strive for excellence in all that we do and view investment in our people as key to achieving our business goals and values.

Our teams are integrated across legal disciplines and offices delivering consistently high levels of service locally and in combination across borders.

History: Sector focus has been at the heart of our strategy since we opened for business in 1982.  Having started life as an asset finance boutique focussing on the maritime and aviation industries, our transport focus quickly expanded to other supply-chain led industries, most notably, renewable and conventional energy and infrastructure across these industries.

Through our offices around the world, we provide a full suite of services within our core sectors enabling us to deliver exceptional value to our clients.

Facts

  • Founded 1982
  • 200+ partners
  • 700+ lawyers
  • 19 offices

Senior Partner: George Paleokrassas
Managing Partner: Lindsey Keeble

Key Contacts
Aviation: Jim Bell, Charles Viggers
Energy: Malte Jordan, Henry Stewart
Infrastructure: Florian Kutzbach, Jose Maria Anarte
Maritime: George Macheras, George Paleokrassas
Mining & Commodities: Sumeet Malhotra, Jan Mellmann
Oil & Gas: Chris Kilburn

Photo Name Position Profile
Christoforos Bisbikos photo Christoforos Bisbikos Christoforos focusses on all types of cross-border asset and project financings (in…
Jackson Chow photo Jackson Chow Partner
Linh Doan photo Linh Doan Widely recognised as a leading adviser to the Asian power markets, Linh…
Marcus Gordon photo Marcus Gordon Marcus has represented many shipping companies, oil companies (including oil majors), aviation…
Jian Guan photo Jian Guan Partner of WFW Global LLP and a Foreign Legal Consultant (PRC) in…
Valerie Lee photo Valerie Lee Senior Registered Foreign Lawyer
Madeline Leong photo Madeline Leong Madeline Leong joined Watson Farley & Williams in 2004 as a consultant…
Christopher Lowe photo Christopher Lowe Chris has been with the firm since 1990 and specialises in asset,…
Rosa Ng photo Rosa Ng Rosa Ng is a partner in the Corporate Group, based in Hong…
Partners : 200+
Lawyers : 700+
Offices : 19
25+ languages

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