Firm Profile > Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison > Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
12/F HONG KONG CLUB BUILDING, 3A CHATER ROAD
CENTRAL
HONG KONG
Hong Kong

Private equity Tier 1

Benefiting from a longstanding presence in Hong Kong and the PRC, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison's five-partner Greater China private equity offering has been a key resource for many of the firm's leading global private equity clients (including KKR and Carlyle) on their strategic investments in the region. As well as her work for international sponsors, Betty Yap has an excellent reputation for numerous regional investors, including Hillhouse Capital, which she regularly advises on its investments/divestments across a range of sectors including TMT. Alongside Jack Lange, another pivotal member of the team, Yap recently advised Hillhouse on the $1.68bn sale of Magento Commerce to Adobe.

Practice head(s):

Jack Lange, Betty Yap and Jeanette Chan

Other key lawyers:

Edwin Chan

Key clients

KKR

Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia

The Carlyle Group

PAG

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Apollo Global Management

Hillhouse Capital

DCP Fund

ShawKwei & Partners

IDG Capital

Corporate (including M&A) Tier 3

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison's standing in the corporate arena is reflected by its high-end work for the largest and most active market participants in the Asia-Pacific region. Its practice has built up a premier reputation in relation to domestic and cross-border M&A, public and private acquisitions and divestments, private equity investments, joint ventures, and growth capital and pre-IPO investments. The firm particularly stands out in challenging deals involving the TMT and sports sectors, although its portfolio of work is broader, and also includes matters connected with the food and beverage, insurance and retail industries, among others. Betty Yap and Judie Ng Shortell are particularly strong in handling Hong Kong/China-related inbound and outbound investments. Yap co-heads the team with Jack LangeJeanette Chan has joined Airwallex as its chief legal and compliance officer.

Practice head(s):

Jack Lange; Betty Yap

Other key lawyers:

Hans-Günther Herrmann; Edwin Chan

Key clients

Tencent

Baidu

Didi Chuxing

Microsoft Corporation

Naspers

Dalian Wanda Group

Hearst Corporation

State Grid Corporation

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Universal Parks & Resorts

TMT Tier 3

Leveraging the firm's market-leading private equity offering, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison is regularly at the forefront of the most significant TMT-related M&A mandates in the market. Jeanette Chan handles a considerable amount of transactional work for China-based tech conglomerate Tencent, including on its recent acquisition of a majority stake in Grinding Gear Games, the New Zealand-based gaming company that developed the popular online role-playing game, Path of Exile.

Practice head(s):

Betty Yap and Jeanette Chan

Key clients

Tencent

Baidu

Didi Chuxing

Microsoft Corporation

Naspers

Dalian Wanda Group

Hearst Corporation

State Grid Corporation

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Universal Parks & Resorts

Betty Yap, Managing Partner – China Practice

Managing Partner Betty Yap describes how the firm adds value to serve its clients

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

I am proud to have built one of the strongest private equity practices in the legal market. In doing so, we have supported some of the most ambitious clients in some of their most impactful strategic moves in the market and nurtured a group of young but talented attorneys. I am proud to see our work has helped some of our clients to become the shakers and movers in the private equity market and has built a team with probably the strongest bench depth in this market.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

In China, we are 100% committed to M&A and private equity work and our partners are very hands-on. This level of concentration has given us a competitive edge in supporting our clients. Our level of speciality has put us in good stead to advise our clients in developing structures and solutions to achieve their goals, in understanding what the market practice is and where the boundaries can be pushed, and in navigating heavily regulated industries. Running a lean and specialized team also means we are extremely effective in delivering results, often in very tight timetables and demanding circumstances.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Constantly taking a step back and looking at the big picture.

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

The competitive auction is increasingly used by the sell-side and nowadays is not necessarily dominated by pricing decisions anymore. There have been many instances where the sell-side would retain a minority interest after the sale for future upside and the sellers would look for the best strategic alignment and future direction of the business.

We were involved in a prominent auction sale where we have helped our client prevail. Aside from delivering top quality legal advice and documentation, we understood what the sell-side wanted from a strategic and business perspective and delivered a bid package which was responsive to their needs whilst protecting our client on the key aspects of the deal. Instead of being overly aggressive which can be of the fault of many attorneys, we worked collaboratively with all advisors in the deal and added value by finding structures and solutions to address both sides’ needs and facilitating the deal. Our value-add was that we recognized the best outcome was to make all parties win and to deliver the deal – and we worked hard to make that happen.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

The biggest challenge would be dealing with the aftershock of COVID-19. The aftershock of COVID-19 may affect consumer behaviour in a more structural way and therefore the sectors and the types of deals to focus on for private equity investors. In the short-term, COVID-19 will present a valuation gap which may be challenging to bridge between the sell-side and the buy-side.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Our firm’s strategy is to focus on the top-tier market where we are able to deliver top quality advice to clients who are market leaders in their fields. I do not think that this strategy will change. I believe this is also compatible with our clients are looking for from us.

Clients do want some stability from their law firms. Our firm offers this, with our core values and focus remaining unchanged. Our team is also the trusted advisors of a number of market leading clients. To them, we offer continuity, with a good mix of experience, judgement and energy from attorneys of different seniority within the client teams.

Jack Lange, Partner

Partner Jack Lange discusses his strategy in running the firm and advising clients

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

Professionally, I am proud to have helped to build what we consider to be the premier private equity practice in greater China, and to have had a strong influence on the development of the private equity market in this region from a legal perspective.

Personally, my greatest accomplishment is my children. (Definitely not my tennis game.) But I have also been proud of my role, as Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, in representing the views and interests of American business here.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

Our approach involves very hands-on partner involvement, with an obsession for quality. We have a very focused practice, and don’t take on matters unless we are confident that we can add value more than commensurate with our fees. We are also very committed to simplicity and user-friendliness in the legal documentation we produce. It is possible to draft even the most complex and sophisticated concepts in language that is straightforward and easy to understand, if you develop the right skills.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Work harder on your Chinese!

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

Most of our deals involve some pretty complex financial structuring. For example, valuation gaps between parties to a transaction are often bridged by elaborate adjustments and preferences covering various scenarios. A lot of lawyers shy away from numbers and formulas – the attitude is “if I could do math, I would have become a banker”. We often add the most value by embracing the role of ensuring that the financial engineering encompasses all the contingencies that could arise; that it is faithfully translated into comprehensible documentation; and that the formulas work and all the pieces fit together. I can’t count the number of times that this approach has resulted in us finding and filling holes through which a lot of our clients’ money might have spilled.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

The U.S.-China trade war – which has developed into something much bigger than that – and the progressive decoupling of these two giant economies that is flowing from it have presented major uncertainties and challenges for our clients. Many of them have built their business models around cross-border investments and acquisitions. Eventually they will adapt and find opportunities that this new environment will offer. But we are in a period of transition.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Clients have a lot of choices for law firms. But they tend to want a relatively small number of relationships with firms – and, especially, individual lawyers – whom they trust. They are not particularly concerned about your firm’s overall strategic direction, as long as you maintain your edge in the areas where they rely on you.

Our strategy in Asia has been to operate in a limited number of areas where we can be at the top tier in the market and really add value, and to build our practice around long term, core clients who are also market leaders and recognize the value of our services. I don’t think that will change.