Solicitors governing body: Law Society of Singapore
Competition authority: Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS)
Financial regulator: Monetary Authority of Singapore
IFLR1000 ranking categories:
Energy and infrastructure (published June) – Energy and infrastructure
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets, M&A, Project finance, Restructuring and insolvency
As one of the world’s financial centres, Singapore is home to some of the most business-friendly regulations in the world and is ranked at the top of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. Its strong government is ranked fifth in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and the city-state has enjoyed a triple-A rated economy for years.
Despite some restrictions, the legal market is open to foreign players. Since 2008, global law firms have been able to apply for Qualifying Foreign Law Practice licences (QFLPs) and can employ Singapore admitted lawyers to practice Singapore law in corporate and commercial areas. This development initially allowed six international law firms to practice in the country.
Four among the six were UK based firms, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills and Norton Rose Fulbright, largely because the legal system in Singapore is rooted in English law and the country has strong ties with the UK as a commonwealth country.
Other law firms that followed suit included Linklaters, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Sidley Austin, Jones Day, DLA Piper, Ashurst and Berwin Leighton Paisner. Others like US firm Morgan Lewis adopted strategies such as joint law ventures and foreign law alliances. It soon merged with local outfit Stamford Law Corporation to form Morgan Lewis Stamford.
The overcrowded legal market has traditionally also included the four largest domestic firms: Allen & Gledhill, Drew & Napier, Rajah & Tann and WongPartnership, as well as other key local players such as Colin Ng & Partners, Shook Lin & Bok and TSMP Law Corporation.
The market is very competitive not only among the major international law firms opening offices in the city-state, but among the ‘Big Four’ domestic law firms that are expanding across the region and competing with each other and western law firms for new clients in emerging markets.
To further consolidate its position as a legal hub in the region, the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) both opened in 2014 to expand the range of dispute resolution services available and attract more high-value disputes.
Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific
Allen & Gledhill has more than 20 specialist lawyers with expertise in energy and infrastructure. In the past 12 months, the firm acted as counsel in a number of infrastructure projects in the energy, resources and petrochemical sectors across Singapore and south-east Asia.
"The partners have shown innovation when advising us on the formulation of the relevant regulatory framework and supporting documentation," a client from the transport sector said.
Key projects include work for Jewel Changi Airport Trustee on the development of Jewel - a mixed used development at the airport.
In projects and infrastructure, Berwin Leighton Paisner has a proven track record in energy, transport and infrastructure deals particularly in emerging markets such as Indonesia and Myanmar. During the research period the team lost partner Alistar Duffield to Withers.
Key work includes advising a power sector client company with the development of a geothermal power plant in Indonesia.
Colin Ng & Partners’ energy practice focuses on oil and gas, corporate, finance, joint ventures and litigation.
In the energy and infrastructure area Rodyk & Davidson’s is a strong regional firm for finance. It has a good reputation acting for clients in Indonesia.
The firm has been involved in key projects in the hydroelectric, gas and coal sectors in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Mongolia and China.
Highlights include advising Chinese state-owned enterprise Huadian Natural Gas Singapore on the purchase of LNG for a term of 20 years; and acting for an Asian offshore oil and gas company on a dispute that involves designing, engineering and fabrication of two offshore gas platforms.
Drew & Napier has been busy in the past 12 months on a number of infrastructure and energy-related deals across the south-east Asia region.
Its dispute resolution team works closely with the project, energy and infrastructure practice in relation to the financing and implementation of projects. Clients include DBS Bank, SK Engineering & Construction, Essar Group and Novartis International.
The firm’s key work in the research period include a number of acquisitions in the mining and natural resources sectors.
With partner David Zemans heading the Asian practice, Milbank has advised on some of the project finance industry’s most important deals involving regional markets like Indonesia and the Philippines. It regularly advises international financial institutions and power companies.
For example, the firm advised Sarulla Operations in the $1.6 billion project financing of the 330MW geothermal power project in Indonesia, the Sarulla project is the largest geothermal power project to date in the country.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s energy team has been active in the past 12 months advising domestic and international players on their inbound and outbound projects.
Vincent Dwyer joined the team from Sydney as the Asia-Pacific head of energy early last year, he works closely with Nick Merritt, the global head of Infrastructure, mining and commodities to head the 37-member team in Singapore. In addition Nick Dingemans relocated from Moscow and Nicky Davies was promoted in May 2015.
The firm acts on projects in areas such as infrastructure, oil and gas and energy. It has a strong relationship with global financial institutions and regularly acts for clients such as RBS, HSBC, Asian Development Bank and the IFC.
During the research period the firm acted on a $2 billion offshore construction project by Hess Corporation in Malaysia’s North Malay Basin; and advised Pelabuhan Indonesia ll (Persero) on the New Priok (Kalibaru) Port Project, which is expected to become Indonesia's largest industrial port.
Rajah & Tann’s energy and infrastructure practice is active in the oil and gas, mining, energy and infrastructure areas and is one of the leading practices in Singapore and in the south east Asia region with a focus on corporate, M&A, finance, regulatory and dispute work.
The firm also has offices in China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and affiliate firms in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Last year the firm saw the departure of partner Lam Wei Yaw
The firm has strong relationships with regional clients including the Government of Myanmar, 1MDB Real Estate, Jurong Town Council, Energy Market Authority of Singapore, Obayashi Corporation, Schroders and CITIC.
Apart from a number of confidential mandates in Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore, the firm also advised the Energy Market Company on the introduction of demand response in the Singapore electricity markets.
Partner Mei Lin Goh heads the office of Watson Farley & Williams - Asia Practice (WFWAP) in its finance group. Key partners related to the firm’s energy and infrastructure work include finance lawyers Andrew Nimmo and Mehraab Nazir, corporate partners Ivan Chia and Chris Kilburn, and in its litigation partners Dan Thompson and Marcus Gordon.
The firm’s strength lies in maritime, port and shipping work. With it comes a stream of offshore oil and gas, transport, and energy work.
In a multi-jurisdiction deal valued at $1.6 billion, which spans across three continents, WFWAP advised Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise in relation to a deep water port in Ibeju Lekki, in Lagos, Nigeria.
In energy, the firm was involved in the Jambaran Tiung-Biru Gas Processing Facility Project in Indonesia. WFWAP also advised as Singapore counsel to Fred Olsen Energy ASA group pertaining to its $2 billion refinancing of the company’s subsidiary Dolphin International.
WongPartnership’s energy practice is strong in oil and gas while infrastructure work spans areas including wastewater, district cooling, social infrastructure, transportation, telecommunications networks and marine industries. The firm’s clients include Keppel Corporation, SembCorp, Singapore Power, Hyflux, United engineers, Changi Airport Group and Resorts World Sentosa.
Sitting at a strategic location in Singapore, the domestic firm has reached out to nearby regions and opened overseas offices in Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Beijing and Myanmar and has formed an association with a law firm in Malaysia.
Highlights include acting for Hyflux and Mitsubishi Heavy industries Asia Pacific in their bid for a public-private partnership (PPP) project with the National Environment Agency of Singapore (NEA) to build and operate a waste-to-energy plant; and acting for the syndicate of lenders on the Singapore Sports Hub project.
Akin Gump has acted on a number of cross-border transactions, and also advised on some of the largest and most complex international energy projects in the past. To further bolster the firm’s energy practice across Asia, Akin Gump added Paul Greening as the firm’s energy partner based in Singapore.
In banking and finance, the firm advised a client in its capacity as general partner of an SPV acting as a potential lender under a senior mezzanine facility; represented an energy company in connection with its hydro project in Ghana; and advised a leading maritime group in connection with the negotiation of charter agreements for LNG volumes to be shipped from the Sabine Pass facility in the Gulf of Mexico.
On the M&A side, Akin Grump represented a buyer company in its acquisition of a minority interest in another corporate.
Allen & Gledhill has developed a network of associated firm across the Asia-Pacific region and is well-placed to advise clients on their business interests in Singapore and beyond.
Clients’ praise the firm’s “attention to detail in documentation as well as its fine advice on broader issues like tactical and strategy considerations”. Another says, “Whenever providing a job to Allen & Gledhill, you will have the peace of mind that they will do the job well for you. Your interest will be aligned and taken care off. They are commercial and, knowledgeable and understand the banker’s train of thoughts as well.”
Deal highlights for the banking and finance team include advising the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, DBS, HSBC, Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as lenders on the loan and bank guarantee facilities to Resorts World at Sentosa. The firm also advised on the term loan and swing line facilities to Singapore Services.
In the capital markets highlights include work for DBS Bank on the establishment of $10 billion global covered bond programme and a subsequent $1 billion issue. The firm also advised on the issue of €1.1 billion notes by Temasek Financial under its $15 billion guaranteed GMTN programme.
In M&A, the firm advised on the $27 billion acquisition of Broadcom Corporation by Avago Technologies; and advised Neptune Orient Lines on a $2.4 billion pre-condition voluntary conditional cash offer for the company.
In the restructuring and insolvency space, the firm advised the lenders and security agent in the restructuring of the $2.5 billion project financing of the Jurong Aromatics Project. The firm was also involved in the restructuring of Berlian Laju Tanker and its subsidiaries.
Allen & Overy has been in Singapore for over 20 years and was one of the first international firms to obtain a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP).
One client says: “Allen & Overy is quite experienced in project finance including acting on ECA related deals.” Another says the firm has “deep technical knowledge and yet is cognizant of commercial realities, providing relevant and useful advice and solutions.”
In project finance, the firm has been busy handling LNG project work in recent years and acts on many of the majority of the recent Indonesia power deals. Highlights include work for the Asian Development Bank, the Japan Bank and a number of international lenders in connection with the project financing of the third stage of the Tangguh LNG development.
The capital markets team has a particular strength in Islamic finance. Examples include work for the Indonesian national airline, Garuda Indonesia, on its inaugural $500 million sukuk (Islamic bond) issue in the international capital markets, which won the IFLR debt and equity-linked deal of the year. Elsewhere, the firm advised CapitaLand on the issue of bonds convertible into new shares, with the proceeds used to refinance existing debt.
In M&A, the firm advised Tenaga Nasional, the Malaysian state-owned power company, on its $243 million acquisition of a 30% interest in Gama Enerji, and joint venture with Gama Holding, IFC and IFC Global Infrastructure Fund. It also advised Axiata Group on a transformational merger in the Bangladeshi telecommunications industry making the group the second largest mobile telecommunications company in the country.
Ashurst has strengthened its capacity in the research period by hiring a number of partners in different practice areas, including Kunal Kapoor and Andrew Digges in project finance, as well as Shaun Lascelles and Jon Ornolfsson in M&A.
Clients have been satisfied with the firm’s service, and one says: “In terms of technical knowledge, drafting, commercial sensibility, negotiation skills and general client demeanor and accessibility. It has consistently outperformed magic circle firms by a mile.”
Keith McGuire, who leads the firm’s corporate team, is praised as “having substantial experience and commercial understanding of the issues involved and this was clearly demonstrated throughout the process”.
The corporate and M&A team acts across South East Asia in countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and India. It advised tidal wave power specialist Atlantis Resources on the sale of a minority interest in its Scottish tidal development company Tidal Power Scotland. In a separate matter, it also advised Dyas in relation to its acquisition of working interests in three Malaysian PSCs under farm-in agreements entered into with Lundin Petroleum.
In capital markets, the firm was the international transaction counsel to the underwriter for RHB Investment Bank in connection with the special purpose acquisition company IPO of Red Sena F&B. It was also international transaction counsel to Anabatic Technologies, an Indonesian IT solutions provider, in connection with its proposed IPO and listing on the Indonesian Stock Exchange.
In project finance, the firm advised the sponsors on the financing of a petroleum products storage terminal with capacity of around 23,000m3 located in South Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Elsewhere in banking, the firm acted as English law and international counsel to Credit Suisse as sole original lender, facility agent, security agent and account bank in connection with a $40 million loan to a BVI-incorporated subsidiary of an Indonesian company, for the purposes of acquiring an investment in an Indonesian project.
Whereas in restructuring and insolvency, the firm advised Niko Resources in the restructuring and sale of Niko's Indonesia operations, simultaneously negotiating with creditors and assisting the company with the sale of assets and exit from the jurisdiction.
International firm Baker & McKenzie Wong & Leow has a strong domestic presence working locally for Singapore market players and investors. Staffing changes saw the firm hire finance lawyer Pallavi Gopinath Aney from Linklaters, the project finance team added Prashanth Venkatesh from legacy Amarchand Mangaldas and Martin David from Ince & Co, while the M&A team hired Min-tze Lean from Stamford Law Corporation.
One client says: “I only have good words about the service received from the firm about the corporate matters that required their expertise. The heavy international restructuring of our structure has been carried out in a very consistent way, in line with our planning, without ever compromising on attention to detail.” Another says: “The work was fast, correct and detailed.” Yet another says: “The firm has a competent team of lawyers on whom we could rely. The quality of work is excellent and we have received timely personal attention to our matters.”
Deal highlights in the banking and finance space includes work on the $1.55 billion financing of Port Qasim Coal Power Plant in Pakistan; work on the financing of Singha’s acquisition of Masan; and work for the lenders on the real estate financing of the Battersea power station development. The firm also advised the lenders on the financing of the acquisition, conversion, refurbishment and operation of a floating production storage and offloading vessel by Yinson Production.
In the capital markets, the team advised Mitra Keluarga Karyasehat on its IPO; the underwriters on the IPO of Café Coffee Day on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange of India (NSE); and Yuexiu Property in connection with its proposed delisting from the Singapore Exchange.
In M&A, the firm advised Gaw Capital Partners on its S$203 million acquisition of Singapore's Big Hotel, a 308-room property located at 200 Middle Road; advised Shaw Kwei & Partners on the voluntary conditional cash offer by its wholly-owned SPV, Southshore for Chosen Holdings; advised EQT Partners as investment adviser to EQT Greater China II Fund on its sale of Classic Fine Foods, to German retailer Metro; and advised Sephora on its acquisition of beauty e-commerce site Luxola.
Bird & Bird ATMD is a leading Singapore law firm associated with international firm Bird & Bird with 28 offices across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East to offer local expertise within a global context.
In the past 12 months, the firm acted as legal advisors to Eindec Corporation in its listing on the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange.
In was also involved in the acquisition by Mirait Singapore of all the issued and paid-up ordinary shares in the capital of Lantrovision by way of a scheme of arrangement in accordance with section 210 of the Companies Act of Singapore.
Elsewhere, the firm advised Weiye Holdings in relation to its proposed dual listing by way of introduction on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
BlackOak is a boutique firm specialising in corporate restructuring and insolvency. It was founded in April 2016 by Ashok Kumar and Darius Tay who both left TSMP Law Corporation to establish the firm.
The team represents and works with multinational corporations, and corporate advisory firms that often act as advisers, liquidators or judicial managers of distressed companies and various international law practices.
It advised the committee of noteholders of Bumi Investment and Bumi Capital on the restructuring of Bumi Resources for approximately $4 billion.
It was also local counsel to K&E, international counsel for Lehman, in relation to the global dissolution of Lehman’s subsidiaries and related entities worldwide.
Elsewhere, the firm acted for PwC, the liquidator of PSS, against Suntech Power Investment for the recovery of a sum in excess of $197 million in intercompany loans and share transfers.
Clifford Chance represents one of the top legal advisors in Singapore and its work is widely appreciated by clients. “Accessible, friendly, technically market leading, connected,” says one, while another client says: “Excellent, the project structure was very complex with different triggers and cure mechanisms and Clifford Chance aced this assignment.”
In banking, the firm acted for ANZ in connection with the $2.2 billion credit facilities extended to the Trafigura Group; and advised Barclays Bank as documentation bank in connection with the loan facilities provided to Reliance Industries.
The projects group has had an outstanding year and highlights include work on the financing of the $1.75 billion Vinh Tan 1 coal-fired power project in Vietnam, and on hydropower projects in Cambodia, Nepal and the Philippines.
In M&A, the team has advised a broad client base spanning sectors such as banks and financial institutions, consumer goods, energy and resources and private equity. Highlights include work for Metro Group on its $328 million acquisition of the Classic Fine Foods Group from private equity firm EQT; work for Mitsubishi Corporation on its acquisition of a strategic stake in Singapore-listed Olam International; and work for ACE on the Asian aspects of its acquisition of Chubb.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm was involved in the restructuring of a facility for Continental Chemical Corporation through a court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement.
Colin Ng & Partners is headed by managing partners Lisa Theng and Tan Min-Li. The firm saw the departure of partner Gregory Chan at its corporate finance practice, but the firm continued to strengthen its regional reach into Myanmar, Indonesia and Indochina.
One client praised the firm saying that it was “good value for money, timely and responsive”.
In M&A, the firm was involved in the $96 million transfer of listing status from Eratat Lifestyle to Mogul Coal Holdings. Elsewhere in a $600 million transaction, the firm advised UPL Lao in relation to the joint venture between clients to build, develop and operate an integrated resort in the Dongphosy Specific Economic Zone (DSEZ) in Vientiane, Laos.
In capital markets, the firm acted for UOB Kay Hian as the issue manager, underwriter and placement agent, in the listing of Eindec on the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange.
Dentons Rodyk & Davidson boosted its strength last year by linking up with Australia's Gadens and US firm Dentons, which became the world's biggest firm when it joined forces with China's largest law firm, Dacheng. Singapore’s oldest firm was renamed from Rodyk & Davidson into Dentons Rodyk & Davidson.
Clients say that lawyers at the firm “are responsive and provide fast turnaround of documents”.
In M&A, the firm acted as Singapore counsel for Archer Daniels Midland in the divestment of its global cocoa business to Olam International with a deal value of $1.2 billion. It also acted for Grand Apex Holdings in the voluntary conditional cash offer by CIMB Bank for Grand Apex Holdings to acquire all the issued and paid-up ordinary shares in Popular Holdings.
In banking and finance, the firm was counsel to the finance parties in its respective capacities as bookrunners, arrangers, original lenders, agent and security agent, in the grant of facilities of more than $1.5 billion to CMA CGM, part of the CMA CGM Group, a global container shipping company.
While in capital markets, the firm acted for DBS Trustee, as trustee of OUE Commercial REIT, in the acquisition of an indirect effective interest of 67.95% in One Raffles Place for a purchase consideration of S$1.1 billion. Elsewhere it acted for GSH Corporation, as issuer and guarantor, in the establishment of its S$800 million multicurrency medium term note programme, which was one of the largest MTN programmes established by an SGX listed issuer in recent years.
In project finance, the firm advised Huadian Natural Gas Singapore in its purchase of an annual quantity of LNG of up to 52 millionMMBtu for a term of 20 years.
Finally, in restructuring and insolvency, the firm advised on the placing of MC into a creditors’ voluntary liquidation when it became clear that MC was unable to pay its debts when they fell due.
Drew & Napier is a Singaporean firm strong in a number of financial and corporate expertise, particularly public M&A.
One client praises the firm for its “good knowledge and acumen”. Another client says: “The partner that I work with primarily is Farhana Siddique. She is always responsive and commercial.”
In banking and finance, the firm advised JCET in relation to a $890 million bridge financing for STATS ChipPAC, following a takeover offer, for the purpose of refinancing existing debt.
In the capital markets deal highlights include work for a confidential issuer on its $425 million 8.5% senior secured notes issue.
Deal highlights for the M&A team include advising on the acquisition of General Electric Capital’s consumer lending business in Australia and New Zealand for the consideration of A$8.2 billion, making it one of the largest private equity deals in the region. The firm also acted for Manhattan Resources in its proposed acquisition of the entire issued and paid-up share capital of Singxin Resources.
In restructuring and insolvency, Drew & Napier acted as lead counsel to Berlian, on one of the largest restructuring exercises in the region.
Corporate and securities has been the core focus of Equity Law since its establishment in 2004. Last year, Chu Leng Hock left the firm to join Hi-P International as senior legal counsel.
The team has been constantly engaged by issuers in the capital markets over the past 12 months. On the debt side, highlights saw Equity Law acting for Dyan-Mac Holdings in its consent solicitation exercise to seek the approval of the holders under the S$300 million ($220 million) multicurrency medium term note programme; acting for Atlantic Navigation Holdings (Singapore) in its issue of $13 million convertible loan with option to subscribe (in a single tranche) for shares at a total consideration of $8 million; and advising WE Holdings in its renounceable non-underwritten rights warrants issue of S$10.1 million ($7.4 million).
In M&A, the firm acted for ZhongHong Holding, a Shenzhen-listed PRC company, in its S$226 million ($166 million) placement of Asiatravel.com Holdings’ controlling shares; and it advised China Bearing (Singapore) in its disposal of existing business through the sale of the entire issued and paid-up share capital of Linyi Kaiyuan Bearing for a consideration of S$15 million ($11 million).
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has a respected and active energy law practice in Singapore headed by partners Brad Roach, Saptak Santra and Jamie Thomas.
In the past 12 months, it advised the consortium in its bid to become the developer of the Jawa 1 Project, a LNG-fired power plant project with a nominal capacity of 1600MW in West Java.
It also represented Medco E&P Tomori Sulawesi in respect of a $200 million pre-production secured, cross border financing for its investment in the development of the Senoro gas fields in Indonesia.
The firm also won a new client, Ramba Energy, in respect of a pre-production secured, cross border financing from Mercuria related to its investments in developing new oil fields in Indonesia in the Lemang region of Indonesia.
Harry Elias’ corporate M&A practice is headed by Claudia Teo who handles local, regional and international transactions in industries across dental, infrastructure, recycling plant and materials and healthcare. Its key clients include Barito, China International Holdings, Longcheer Holdings, Asia-Pacific Medical Group, and CSC Holdings.
Last year, the firm advised Eveready Manufacturing in selling its interest in the company to Ravago Group for a consideration of $15 million.
It represented Creative Elite Holdings, the offeror, in its mandatory unconditional cash offer to acquire all the issued and paid-up ordinary shares in the capital of Jacks International.It also represented Natural Cool Holdings in its disposal of its switchgear business, through the disposal of Gathergates Group to Nitto Kogyo Corporation.
Herbert Smith Freehills’ practice in Singapore mainly focuses on project finance and covers sectors including oil and gas, power, nuclear, renewables, water and waste, rail, airports, ports, roads, telecommunications, defence and social infrastructure.
During the research period the firm advised HSBC, Bank of Communication, Standard Chartered Bank and Societe Generale on a $250 million loan to Sino-American Energy for the development of its Panzhuang concessions in Qinshui Basin in China's Shanxi Province.
In a separate matter, the firm advised Japanese telecommunications and Internet Corporation SoftBank on a $250 million investment in GrabTaxi Holdings, the largest mobile taxi booking app provider in Southeast Asia.
Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee has a strong reputation for structuring and executing complex cross-border transactions around the region and globally.
One client says: “We are satisfied with its work when considering its responsiveness, professionalism and knowledge of our LBO deal, and considering the time sensitive nature of the acquisition.”
Staff changes include the recruitment of partner Kent Phillips and Noor Meurling as well as the departure of partner Jonathan Leach.The firm advised a lending syndicate in connection with a $500 million syndicated term loan facility to BOC Aviation and the lending syndicate related to the term loan facility to Khmer Brewery, a corporate based in Cambodia.
In capital markets, the firm advised Vicinity Centres in its role as issuer in relation to the establishment of its €2 billion Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme and the debut issuance thereunder of £350 million fixed rate notes due 2026.
King & Spalding added partners Richard Nelson, Simon Cowled and Emerson Holmes to its project finance, energy and global disputes practices.
One client says: “We are just starting to engage it in financial and corporate matters, but from the early meeting we had with King and Spalding, it will be a good choice to handle financial and corporate matters. Its fees are more fair and transparent when compared to other law firms that had made an offer.”
The firm has particular focus in the LNG, oil and gas, and power sectors. It advised Sarawak Energy of on all aspects of the development, implementation and financing of the Sarawak Corridor Renewable Energy Programme.
It was also the international counsel during the development, financing and construction of Phase 1 of the 400MW Shuakhevi Hydropower Project located on the Adjaristqali River in Georgia.
Elsewhere, it advised on all aspects of the development, construction and financing of the $700 million expansion of its 630MW Masinloc coal-fired power plant in the province of Zambales in Philippines.
King & Wood Mallesons has made a number of internal transfers of lawyers to its corporate M&A practice, with names including Tian Xu, Ying Xu, Jacqueline Field, Kimberley Lewis and Suzanne Gibson.
From three lawyers at the time of establishment less than a year ago, the team has expanded to eight lawyers, including partners John Sullivan and Michael Lawson from Australia, and Xuhua Huang from Hong Kong.
Corporate M&A is the firm’s core practice in Singapore; it advised Telstra on its divestment of Pacnet internet service provider business in Asia.
Latham & Watkins’s strength, like other international law firms, lies in their cross-border expertise on US, English and Singapore law, as well as providing on-the-ground expertise to advise on local transactions.
One client says: “We have worked with Latham on numerous capital markets deals in the recent past. They are generally very active in India having advised on IPOs and other deals in the last 12-24 months. Rajiv Gupta is the partner in charge and easily the most qualified and experienced US securities lawyers advising on India deals.”
In banking the team advised DBS Bank on the refinancing of Miclyn Express Offshore. In project finance, the firm advised Pertamina in the development and project financing of the Donggi-Senoro LNG project in Indonesia. Elsewhere, it also advised the San Miguel Corporation as sponsors in the financing for the Limay Power Project, a 300MW coal-fired generating facility in Limay, Bataan.
In the capital markets, the firm advised SP Power Assets on its offer of 3.25% notes under its S$8 billion GMTN programme; and advised STATS ChipPAC on its $425 million offer of 8.5% senior notes.
In M&A, the firm has advised on nearly 40 M&A transactions with a combined value of over $14 billion since the beginning of 2015. Highlights include advising energy and infrastructure company Dian Swastatika Sentosa on the sale of its 67% stake in Golden Energy Mines to United Fiber System for S$1.88 billion. The firm also advised STATS ChipPAC on its sale to a consortium of PRC investors led by Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology.
Managing partner Loo Choon Chiaw is the key contact of Loo & Partners. The firm saw the departure of partner Andrew Mak Yen-Chen last year and hired partner Yau Khai Ling from Morgan Lewis Stamford earlier this year.
The firm assisted Declout in acquiring a 49% shareholding interest in a joint venture company, which involves amending a joint venture agreement and facilitating the exercise of a call option to acquire the remaining shareholding interests.
It also assisted Gobi Ventures by advising on the deal structure, and reviewing the transaction documentation in relation to its investment into a startup travel company.
In banking, the firm assisted Interasia Lines Singapore, in connection to a term loan facility from the lender for the financing of the acquisition of shipping containers.
Mayer Brown JSM hired partners Rod Brown and Pieter de Ridder last year to enhance its practice in Singapore.
One client says: “It has excellent knowledge of the energy market and the regulatory framework, as well as the contractual and bankability requirements in the different jurisdictions.” Another client adds that the firm provides “good support for an important M&A transaction that has been completed”.
In M&A, the firm advised Redwood Investment Company on its all-stock merger transaction with e-Shang Cayman, backed by global private equity house, Warburg Pincus. It also advised Daelim Energy, the winning bidder, on the acquisition of an equity interest in two 50MW wind power generation assets in Pakistan.
Elsewhere in project finance, the firm advised the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as A, B and C loan investor into the $830 million development of a green-field PAU Ammonia Project in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The firm is also advising the lenders to Sembcorp, a leading energy, water and marine group, in regards to Sembcorp's mandate to develop and operate the Myingyan 225MW gas-fired IPP, Myanmar’s first internationally competitively tendered power project.
Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy has been very busy in the past 12 months across all of the financial and corporate practice areas. The banking and project finance team is the firm's largest and most highly active in the region and advised the lenders in the financing of the Bhimasena Power Indonesia 2,000MW coal-fired power plant in Indonesia. Elsewhere in the Philippines, the firm represented the project company and the sponsors in the development and financing of the GNPower Dinginin coal-fired power plant in Bataan.
In banking the firm represented the senior lenders in the financing of the acquisition of the Martabe Gold Mine in North Sumatra. The Martabe mine is one of the largest gold mines in Indonesia and in the world.
In the capital markets, the firm represented the dealers and underwriters on the establishment of a $15 billion GMTN programme; advised on a $5 billion offering of bonds and sukuk (Islamic bond) certificates by Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company, Petroliam Nasional; and acted for the international underwriters in the $288.75 million high yield issue by Delhi International Airport. The firm also advised the members of a co-ordinating committee of bondholders in the restructuring of $155 million of bonds issued by BLD Investments.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm represented the secured parties under Berlian Laju Tanker’s $650 million senior secured MLA credit facility in connection with the establishment of a collective holding company to hold assets retrieved from the $2 billion restructuring of the company’s debt.
Morrison & Foerster’s Singapore office has been expanding in the past few years with its M&A practice now containing a sizable team of 10 attorneys. In the last 12 months, the team advised on four high-profile transactions totaling over $16 billion in deal value out of the Singapore office.
It advised Global Logistic Properties (GLP), the leading global provider of modern logistics facilities, in completing its acquisition of a $4.55 billion logistics portfolio from Industrial Income Trust.
Elsewhere it advised Axiata Group, on its acquisition of Nepal’s number one mobile operator, Ncell. Post-acquisition, Axiata will have a contiguous presence and reach five key countries across South Asia.
The firm also advised Cordlife Group on its sale to Golden Meditech Holdings of over 7 million ordinary shares in China Cord Blood Corporation, and a 7% senior unsecured convertible note due 3 October 2017 issued by CCBC to Cordlife.
Norton Rose Fulbright is one of the few international firms with a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) license, which allows the firm to advice on issue of Singapore law.
In banking, deal highlights include work for a syndicate of lenders on the financing of the construction of more than 2000 telecom towers by Irrawaddy Tower Assets Holding and Irrawaddy Green Towers Company. In Indonesia, the firm advised the lenders including Export-Import Bank of Korea on the financing of Medco and POSCO’s bid for the Sumsel 9 600MW mine-mouth project in Sumatera. In project finance, the firm acted for Edra Global Energy in relation to the Alor Gajah cycle gas turbine power plant.
The capital markets team has been involved in developments in the region relating to green bonds, Masala bonds and infrastructure bonds. Highlights include work for The Bank of New York Mellon in its role as delegate trustee for Petronas’ $1.25 billion sukuk (Islamic bond) offering.
In M&A, the firm advised AXA Asia as a shareholder of Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corporation in relation to the acquisition by AXA Philippines of 100% of Charter Ping An Insurance Corporation from GT Capital.
Oon & Bazul has an office in Singapore and Malaysia. The firm hired Lam Shiao Ning as corporate partner from Drew & Napier earlier this year. The team advised on high-value insolvency cases which are confidential, and it is experienced in advising non-institutional clients in a wide range of sectors including trade and shipping, transport and logistics, commodities and pharmaceuticals on debt restructuring. It also has a strong reputation with financial institutions in Singapore.
In a series of confidential banking and finance transactions, the team was instructed to act in a $50 million multiple on-sale and leaseback financing structure between Singaporean companies and a Japanese entity. It also advised on term loan and derivatives facilities syndicated and secured by various guarantees; and acted as Singapore counsel in a $13 million cross-border credit facilities dispute.
Providence Law Asia is a boutique dispute resolution practice providing independent counsel services. It was engaged in a handful of high-value matters, ranging from the hundred-millions to billion claims in the past, most of which concerned some cross-border elements.
The team has been instructed on a number of sizeable insolvency, bankruptcy, and company restructuring cases in the past 12 months. Many of the cases are on-going and confidential.
The firm is an established niche boutique practice with a focus on banking and finance, ranging from acquisition financing and project financing to regulatory and advisory work. Its key clients include Hong Leong Group, Mapletree Group, Ascott Group, Kajima Megaworld, United Overseas Bank, Bank UOB Indonesia and the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ.
In the banking area, the team acted as transaction counsel to DBS Trustee in the capacity as trustee of Ascott Residence Trust, the borrower, in the $20 million multicurrency revolving credit facility granted by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC). Elsewhere among a series of confidential banking transactions, the firm was active in advising local as well as overseas lenders, arrangers, trustees, and borrowers. The jurisdictions involved in many of the transactions cover Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, China, Mauritius, and Indonesia.
In the M&A space, the team was engaged in some significant cross-border acquisition deals where Susan Kong, joint director of the firm’s M&A and corporate practice, was heavily involved. During the research period, the M&A transactions covered the fund management business, computer software business, and joint ventures.
Rajah & Tann is a strong regional legal player with offices in China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar and associate offices in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia and this puts the firm in competition with international firms in the region.
Clients praise the firm for its “superb knowledge and commercial sense in providing solutions, the partners are easily accessible, they are good value for money, provide high quality work and are responsive to client needs”.
In banking and project finance, most of the firm’s key work is confidential. Public mandates, include work for the mandated lead arrangers in relation to the S$1.76 billion facilities granted to the borrower UT Singapore Service to finance the acquisition of its business and assets of its parent.
In the capital markets, the firm acted for BNP Paribas, DBS Bank and Credit Suisse as the joint lead managers and underwriters, in relation to the renounceable underwritten rights issue of securities by the OUE Hospitality Trust.
In M&A, the firm advised China Merchants Property Development, in its merger with its controlling shareholder, China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Holdings. Elsewhere, the firm acted for Abacus Pacific in the sale of its 66% shares in Jacks International to Creative Elite Holdings.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm acted for the liquidators of DOT, after DOT's parent company, OW Bunker group went into liquidation. In a separate matter, the firm also assisted the liquidators of MF Global Singapore on the recovery of customers’ proprietary funds.
Reed Smith has positioned itself in Singapore as a platform for businesses looking to enter into emerging Asian markets, particularly India, China, Indonesia and other markets across South East Asia.
One client described the firm as having “good industry knowledge”, where “advice was very commercial” and “good value for money”.
The banking and finance practice works for banks, funds and trading houses, and span a range of industries, with a particular focus on the energy and natural resources sector.
Its corporate M&A practice continued to advise on a steady flow of cross-border transactions. In one highlight over the last 12 months, the firm acted in the sale of 100% of the shares of Hong Kong based online media broker, Pixels.
In capital markets, the firm advised Malaysian telecoms company Aries in relation to its IPO on London’s AIM market and associated placing.
It also advised Davictus in relation to its IPO on the standard segment of the London Main Market and associated placing.
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s banking and finance practice hired partner Ow Kim Kit from the Monetary Authority of Singapore and saw the departure of partner Vernon Loh earlier this year. The firm handles a wide variety of domestic and international loan financings, and acts for financiers, borrowers and security providers.
It was involved in the redemption of syndicated loan facilities of up to S$556 million granted by the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation, Malayan Banking, United Overseas Bank and HSBC.
In M&A, the firm advised Smartflex Holdings on its disposal of the entire issued share capital of Smartflex Technology and Smartflex Innovation for a cash consideration of up to $26 million.
It also acted for Chasen Holdings on its renounceable non-underwritten rights cum warrants issue. The new shares and warrants were listed and quoted on the official list of the Singapore Exchange.
Shearman & Sterling has had a strong year, particularly in the capital markets where its team handled a number of IPOs and follow-on offerings and debt offerings. One client says its work was “great, very responsive, with good associates and partners on the team”.
The firm represented the underwriters in the offering of $225 million 6.75% senior unsecured notes due 2020 by Global Prime Capital, unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by Bumi Serpong Damai and certain of its subsidiaries.
In M&A, the firm advised General Electric Capital Corporation on the proposed sale of its commercial lending and leasing business in India, to a consortium of former GE Capital management backed by AION Capital Partners.
It also advised Goldman Sachs on its investment, alongside a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund and other investors, in independent power producer ReNew Power in India.
In projects, the firm advised a consortium in relation to all aspects of the development of the CHP5 IPP, a greenfield coal-fired combined heat and power plant in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia with an electrical capacity of up to 450MWe and heat capacity up to 517MWt.
Shook Lin & Bok’s financial and corporate practices have an outstanding track record and were involved in many noteworthy deals in Singapore.
Corporate and M&A lawyer Ying Ming is referenced by clients: “The firm also really pushed to make sure that there was nothing missed on our side materially or in deadlines, Ying Ming and his team worked through weekends and holidays and also outside office hours. The firm also assisted us with Singaporean regulatory compliance, which is a big plus as I don't live in Singapore.”
Another M&A Partner David Chong also received praise: “He is very knowledgeable of our industry and is well versed in the investment laws in the Asia region.”
In banking and finance, the firm acted for the lead arrangers in relation to the financing of the $37 billion leveraged acquisition of Broadcom Corporation by Singapore‐incorporated Avago Technologies to form Broadcom.
In the capital markets, the firm handles structured note programmes and advises on a wide range of securitisations and structured finance transactions. It also has a particular strength in handling IPOs for Chinese companies on the Singapore Exchange. During the research period the firm acted for Aspial Corporation on the maiden retail bond issued by Aspial Treasury.
In corporate and M&A, the team advised French hotel group Accor in its $2.9 billion acquisition and takeover of FRHI Holdings, the company that owns three global luxury hotel brands: Fairmont, Swissôtel and Raffles.
In restructuring and insolvency, deal highlights include work for a creditor and a major shareholder of the operator of one of the world's largest petrochemical plants, on its debt restructuring and receivership.
It has been a strong year for Sidley Austin’s Singapore team across various practice areas. “Sidley is very professional and organised. They have multiple experts in multiple locations that can pull together strategically to help clients resolve more complex issues and questions when necessary. Their strength is extensive knowledge and flexibility.” Another client says: “Accessible, responsive and to-the-point responses to, often complicated, queries”
The M&A team had its capabilities significantly strengthened during the research period with the hire of four M&A lawyers including partner Charlie Wilson. The firm also strengthened its energy capability through the addition of David Gartside, while the capital markets team added the India focused Manoj Bhargava from Jones Day.
In the capital markets, the team acted for the underwriters on Syngene International’s IPO.
In M&A the firm advised on the year’s record largest single-asset and office transaction in the Asia-Pacific region, acting for BlackRock Real Estate Private Equity on the sale of Asia Square Tower 1 for $2.45 billion to Qatar Investment Authority's sovereign wealth fund. Elsewhere the firm advised Thailand’s Boon Rawd Brewery on the acquisition of a 25% interest in Vietnamese food company Masan Consumer Holdings as well as an acquisition of a 33% interest in Masan Brewer. The firm also acted on a $1.3 billion joint venture transaction between Aboitiz Equity Ventures and a unit of Irish building materials company CRH to increase their stake in Lafarge Philippines cements and aggregates business.
Skadden's Singapore corporate practice is not the largest in the market in terms of the number of lawyers it has on the ground, but the firm advises on many significant Singapore corporate transactions.
It represented Citigroup as financial advisor to Neptune Orient Lines in its proposed, unsolicited $2.4 billion acquisition by CMA CGM. Elsewhere, the team represented Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation in its strategic sale of a 20% minority stake to Cathay Life Insurance of Taiwan.
In capital markets, the firm advised Mitra Keluarga Karyasehat in its $340 million IPO and listing on the Indonesian Stock Exchange. The IPO is one of the largest recent Indonesian IPOs.
One of the unique key capabilities of Straits Law Practice is its India practice. An Indian client from the banking sector says: “We have always been engaging this law firm for corporate matters. It is very cooperative and we are very satisfied with its work. It responded in the shortest possible time; always gave the correct legal advice; and always followed the deadline it gave. It would also call us for the latest development of the Singapore law and make us aware of the updates in the Singapore legal market.”
In the banking area, the firm is on the retainer and preferred panel of lawyers for banks and entities such as State Bank of India, ICICI, Societe Generale, Nordea Bank, and Singapore Corporation of rehabilitative enterprise.
In the M&A space, highlight deals include advising Wentworth Insurance Company on structuring the S$7.45 million ($5.47 million) acquisition of the shares in Cosmic Insurance Corporation; advising Texchem-Pack Holdings on its directed delisting from the official list of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading and the exit offer made by Texchem Resources in respect of issued shares of Texchem-Pack Holdings other than those held by Texchem Resources; and advising Europtronic Group on its entire equity interest in Europtronic (Suzhou).
Tan Kok Quan is well-regarded in the insolvency space, both on domestic and cross-border cases. Eddee Ng, joint managing partner, is a member of INSOL and PAS. Notable clients of the firm include UOB, Ernst & Young, PWC, Nexia TS, and Adval.
Apart from a number of highly confidential insolvency cases, the firm acted for the liquidators of Dovechem Holdings (in compulsory liquidation) in one of the most-heavily contested applications for the taxation of the liquidators’ fees; another landmark legal case saw the firm acting for UOB in a creditor’s action against the judicial receivers in the Poh Lian Constructionmatter, which concerned the law on fixed and floating charges in Singapore.
In 2015, TSMP has been active in banking and finance acting for both international and local financial institutions. The firm also welcomed director Wun Wen-na to its corporate practice.
Highlights include acting for the treasury companies of a leading real estate development, investment and capital management conglomerate headquartered in Singapore in the grant of various multi-currency revolving credit facilities amounting to approximately $670 million.
It also acted for an international bank in the grant of A$50 million to a Singapore listed REIT to part finance its acquisition of industrial property in Australia.
Elsewhere in M&A, the firm was involved in the S$175million investment by US private equity firm TPG, and two others in real estate portal, PropertyGuru.
Asia Practice operates in a joint venture with Watson Farley & Williams through a vehicle known as Watson Farley & Williams Asia Practice.
It is ranked among the leading finance practices in Asia and continues to retain its strong reputation in project finance, particularly in the offshore oil and gas and energy sectors.
Led by Leon Low, the firm focuses on corporate, finance and dispute resolution matters spanning across industries like maritime, oil and gas, power and energy, natural resources, commodities, real estate and aviation. Last year, it hired partner Aaron Kok who acted for DNB Bank as well as affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and York Capital as the secured parties of Berlian Laju Tanker in the $650 million senior secured MLA credit facility debt restructuring. It was the largest debt restructuring transaction in Indonesia last year. In a separate sizable transaction, the firm advised a German KG house for closed-end funds in shipping and transport logistics equipment with an €2.3 billion investment portfolio for a container lease asset-backed securitisation exercise.
One clients says that the firm is “competent and responsive”, and another says that the lawyers are “highly responsive and focused on the client's needs. Chris Kilburn in particular makes himself available 24/7 and provides accurate advice succinctly”.
“Asia Practice has provided quick and reliable service when closing deals with a difficult and unreasonable borrower,” one client says. Another client says: “It was very detailed, proactive and easy to work with.”
The firm, in banking and finance, advised the borrowers and the sponsors on the financing of three pipe-lay support vessels pursuant to multi-tranche loan facility with aggregate facilities amounting to $780million.
In M&A, it advised M3nergy on the share purchase agreement with Lundin, under which an M3nergy group company will acquire the entire issued share capital of LSL.
The firm also has a strong dispute resolution practice led by Mark Tan. One highlight of the team includes a $3.6 billion claim by former employees of RBS Singapore in defending allegations of fraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy, breach of duty and breach of contract.
WongPartnership is recognised as a strong name in the domestic legal market, and this year has been no exception. “The firm provides sound legal advice with a good grasp of commercial issues, very professional and can be relied upon for good client care even after the transaction is closed.” says one client. Another client says: “The partners who were working on our case were very attentive to our situation and provided comprehensive advice to help resolve our legal matter.”
In banking and finance deal highlights include work on the S$2.12 billion financing for a development in Sims Avenue, Singapore; the $2 billion financing relating to TPG Capital-led consortium's acquisition of Cushman & Wakefield; and the $1.65 billion financing relating to the world's third largest container ship operator, CMA CGM group's acquisition of Neptune Orient Lines.
In equity capital markets, the firm was involved in a number of IPOs including those of the Secura group, iX Biopharma and BHG Retail REIT. On the debt side, the firm advised CITIC Envirotech on its establishment of a $750 million multicurrency perpetual securities issuance programme; and advised on MC Finance & Consulting Asia's establishment of a multicurrency MTN programme.
In M&A, the firm advised Beijing CITIC Investment Centre on its acquisition of Biosensors; advised Singapore Airlines’ on its proposed acquisition of Tiger Airways; and advised on proposed privatisation of XinRen.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm acted for TT International in relation to its consensual restructuring process; and advised Deutsche Bank on the restructuring of Bilcare Singapore.