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.
Allen & Gledhill is one of Singapore’s foremost domestic law firms and is highly ranked in a wide range of practice areas.
In the banking and finance area, highlights include work done by Kok Chee Wai for Singapore LNG Corporation as it borrowed S$1.11 billion ($792 million) through a syndicated term loan facility made available by a consortium of banks. The proceeds of the facility will be used to refinance the construction of the Singapore LNG Terminal on Jurong Island. The firm advised the same client as it refinanced and restructured the financing of the Tuaspring Desalination plant.
The capital markets practice is led by three partners, Margaret Chin who is head of the debt capital markets, Jerry Koh who acts on REIT related transactions, and Tan Tze-Gay who heads the equity capital markets team. The team was legal counsel to Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) in its S$3.34 billion renounceable underwritten rights issue, which is the second largest rights issue in Singapore till date. Elsewhere, the firm advised Israel Corporation in its assets sale to Kenon and the subsequent dual listing of Kenon shares on both the New York and Tel-Aviv stock exchanges.
Headed by partners Andrew Lim and Lim Mei, the M&A team continues to act on substantial matters including Lim’s work for Keppel Corporation on the voluntary unconditional cash offer made by DBS and Credit Suisse, which has a uniquely tiered two-pricing structure in place.
In restructuring and insolvency, highlight transactions include work for secured bank creditors in connection with claims totalling up to $2.3 billion in relation to the restructuring of PT Berlian Laju Tanker and its subsidiaries spread across various jurisdictions. This complex restructuring deal involved legal proceedings to take place in Singapore, Indonesia and the United States. Elsewhere, the firm advised Glory Wealth Shipping in its $1 billion restructuring and insolvency proceedings.
Allen & Overy is one of the leading international firms in the Singapore market and this is reflected in the Tier 1 rankings it picks up across the board. Supported by offices across Asia-Pacific, the firm’s commitment to the market is clear.
A client who worked with the capital markets team says: “We [dealt] with A&O on the establishment of both a conventional and sukuk EMTN programme. Raj Sankaran, Aloysius Tan and Jeremy Stoupas have given us a very good impression especially Raj, we appreciate his commitment when dealing on our issuances. The overall impression of the firm is a high standard of professionalism. What is so impressive is their legal knowledge that is always up to date.”
In banking and finance, highlights include Jason Humphreys’ work on the largest Islamic financing facility to date in Malaysia worth $2.3 billion extended by Maybank Investment Bank to SapuraKencana Petroleum. In 2014 the team also acted for Maybank and CIMB Bank on a $5.5 billion refinancing of SapuraKencana. Elsewhere Gautam Narasimhan advised Standard Chartered Bank and First Gulf Bank in a $500 million financing deal for Twin Star Mauritius which became the first Islamic financing transaction brought to market by a major Indian corporation. Closer to home in Singapore, John Richards advised ING Bank in relation to a $536 million facility extended to Gunvor Singapore.
In project finance, a clear highlight was Scott Neilson and Adam Stapledon’s work on the Donggi-Senoro LNG project – a landmark $2.8 billion LNG project in Indonesia. In neighbouring Malaysia, the firm with partner Roger Lui leading the team is representing Pertama Ferroalloys on a manganese smelting plant development in the Sarawak region. This is the first large-scale of its kind project in Malaysia with a value of $400 million.
In the capital markets, the firm has been focused largely on debt matters. Jeremy Stoupas has advised on the first ever “Tiger Emas” bond issue in 2014 on behalf of Cagamas Global, Stoupas also acted for BOC Aviation on converting its EMTN programme to GMTN. Elsewhere in Indonesia, the team under Walter Son advised ANZ, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered Bank on the first global bond issue by an Indonesia port company, Pelindo III raising $500 million. The firm also advised the Indonesian government in relation to a GMTN programme valued up to $30 billion.
In M&A highlights include Lock Yin Mei, Chris Moore, Brendan Hannigan and Alan Ewins work for Société Générale on the $220 million sale of its private banking business in Hong Kong, Singapore and partly in Dubai to DBS Bank. Lock was also legal counsel to HSBC (Singapore branch) in a deal wherein the bank acted as advisor to Neptune Orient Lines in the disposal of its logistics business to Kintetsu World Express for an aggregated sale price of $1.2 billion. Another highlight deal for the team was Chris Moore, Alun Evans and Nicole Rondy‘s advice to Emperador on its acquisition of the Whyte & Mackay Group from United Spirits for £430 million.
Ashurst has grown in strength and numbers with the hire of restructuring specialists Bertie Mehigan and Joel Hogarth along with banking and finance partners Kate Allchurch and Chen Chin Chuan.
The finance team has had a strong year advising on complex financing transactions in Indonesia. In one example, the team advised Nomura Singapore and Indonesia Eximbank as lead arrangers in relation to the secured loan facility made available to Sumatra Copper & Gold’s wholly-owned subsidiary PT Dwinad Nusa Sejahtera for the development of the Tembang gold project in Indonesia.
In addition the firm has been at the forefront of the development of the project bond market in Europe. In a cross border transaction, Singapore partner Matthew Bubb led the team representing Japan Bank for International Cooperation and other lenders in relation to the $622 million financing of a power project in Thailand by Khanom Electricity Generating Company. Elsewhere in Malaysia, the firm advised Trans Thai Malaysia Provision on the provision of secured project funding for phase 3 of the development.
In China with Chin Chuan in the lead, the firm advised China Development Bank and Bank of China on the phase 2 $2.5 billion financing of the Kazakh Beineu-Shymkent Gas Pipeline.
In the capital markets, the firm has been active on IPOs in Indonesia. In one transaction with Hong Kong partner Stuart Rubin in the lead, the firm acted as international legal counsel to Nomura Singapore and AAA Securities in connection with the Indonesian IPO of the largest steel pipe manufacturer in Indonesia.
In M&A, the firm has been extremely active in Indonesia and the region advising on some of Asia's major mandates. In one significant transaction, lead partners Daniel Reinbott and Keith McGuire advised the Indonesian state-owned oil and gas company, Pertamina in relation to its $2 billion acquisition of 30% of Murphy Malaysia. This is the largest Malaysian upstream oil and gas acquisition in history and the largest in South East Asia in recent years.
Elsewhere, Joel Hogarth acted for QSR Indoburger, an investment entity established by Everstone Capital Partners, on the acquisition of a substantial stake of the shares of PT Sari Burger Indonesia who own and operate the Burger King franchise in Indonesia.
In the past 12 months, the restructuring team has been very active in Indonesia with Hogarth in the lead. In 2014, Hogarth advised on the restructuring of PT Bumi Resources liabilities to its parent company China Investment Corporation. He also led on the restructuring of Indonesian operations for oil and gas exploration and production company Niko Resources and acted for PT Bakrie Telecom on the restructuring of its high yield New York-law governed notes.
Asia Practice is a Singapore law firm with a banking and finance focus, its six-partner team covers the full spectrum of transactional and advisory work.
The firm is highly regarded by clients, as one says: “The firm has a good international network and is able to provide prompt and current legal advice on legal matters, even for jurisdictions that are not familiar to us e.g. Mexico and Africa.”
Another client says: “The bank has worked with Asia Practice for many years now and has been very satisfied with their service quality and efficiency. Every time we have a financing query, we will refer to them for advice. In addition to handling our financial transactions, we also approach them for advice in relation to potential disputes. We have worked with Lee Chien Herr, Jin Ng, Jonathan Tan and Leon Low, and we find them extremely approachable and knowledgeable. We have been very impressed with their ability to handle cross-border transactions and especially their ability to suggest appropriate solutions when parties are in a deadlock.”
One of the banking team’s highlight deals in recent times involved acting on a loan portfolio transfer valued at $2 billion for a leading European bank from its Labuan to its Singaporean branch. The firm has also worked on deals in the real estate and shipping industries.
Baker & McKenzie Wong & Leow has strength across both finance and corporate and is often involved on deals across the table from the ‘magic circle’ firms. Staffing changes last year include the addition of finance partner Prashanth Venkatesh who was hired to further enhance the firm’s strengths in India-related financing work. The firm also added M&A lawyers Chen Yih Pong from WongPartnership and Min-Tze Lean from the now merged Morgan Lewis Stamford. Clients describe Lean as having “excellent command of M&A Compliance with SGX [and has] very good relations with SGX to deliver approvals”.
In banking and finance the firm mainly acts for the lenders. Recent highlights include Chew Chin and Mark Lim acting for a syndicate of banks to part finance a construction project to enable transportation of natural gas within the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Development Area. Elsewhere Emmanuel Hadjidakis advised on the £1.35 billion financing for the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station in London. Another real estate deal saw James Huang, Komkrit Kietduriyakul and Chris Hughes advise offshore lender Siam Commercial Bank and a local Myanmar bank on the Kempinski Hotel redevelopment project in Myanmar.
In the capital markets in the past year the firm has mainly advised on equity work including Ashok Lalwani’s work on the listing of an Indian television services company and, separately, the IPO of a food and drinks company.
In M&A the team has a strong focus in certain industry sectors such as energy and natural resources, technology, media and communications, real estate, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, food and beverage, and automotive. Recent highlights include advising global property and insurance company Allied World on the acquisition of the Singapore and Hong Kong operations of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance. The team is also advising a leading private equity firm in its disposal in the foodservice business in Asia. Domestically, the firm is advising in several ongoing confidential transactions in the healthcare and metals industries.
ATMD Bird & Bird focuses on sectors including energy, utilities, real estate, manufacturing, food and beverage and aerospace. Following the departure of Joanna Teng, Partner Ken Cheung joined the firm in April 2015. Other key partners in the firm are Tay Beng Chai and Marcus Chow. Chow has been described as “well-versed in the expertise needed for the project and know exactly the needs of the clients”.
Highlights for this year include Chow advising QT Vascular in its IPO on the Catalist Board of the Singapore Exchange. This is the first listing of a Californian based start-up in the medtech sector.
In M&A, Chow represented Koshidaka Holdings, a company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and engaged in the karaoke business, in its acquisition of Karaoke chain K Box Entertainment Group in Singapore. Elsewhere, the firm was also involved in a reverse takeover in Singapore involving Chinese SOEs.
Like its UK ‘magic circle’ peers Clifford Chance is one of the leading international firms in the Singapore market and this is reflected through its top tier rankings across the finance and M&A areas.
In banking and finance it has been a steady year with partner Andrew Brereton advising the arrangers in connection with the separate $1 billion and $500 million credit facility agreements for Reliance Jio Infocomm, each guaranteed by Reliance Industries. Other highlight deals include advising Next Creation Trading as borrower in relation to the $1.6 billion advance payment financing for Alok Industries. Head of banking Andrew Gambarini also advised Energy Equity Epic (Sengkang) as borrower on the refinancing and upgrade of its existing facility to $125 million in respect of their petroleum operations.
The relocation of Nicholas Wong, head of the projects practice, to Singapore in early 2015 underlines the firm’s commitment to project finance. Highlights from the past year include work for the lenders on the $916 million financing of a hydroelectric power project in Laos. The transaction represents the first time Japan Bank for International Cooperation has participated in a Lao project financing and the first time Asian Development Bank has provided Thai Baht facilities to a non-Thai project. Elsewhere Geraint Hughes and Matthew Buchanan advised wholly foreign-owned entity Vung Ro Petroleum Company on the development of the Vung Ro Refinery Project in Vietnam. The team also represented PSA International, one of the world's largest port operators, on its joint venture with Mitsui & Co and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha for the construction of a terminal in Indonesia.
In the capital markets, highlights include Raymond Tong’s work for JPMorgan and DBS Bank as joint lead managers and joint bookrunners on the debut issuance of perpetual securities by Singapore-listed REIT Ascott Residence Trust. Tong also advised Deutsche Bank as the sole bookrunner on the placement of shares by Philippine company First Gen Corporation, raising $168 million.
In M&A, highlight deals include partner Lee Taylor acting for Sime Darby Plantation on its $1.74 billion acquisition of New Britain Palm Oil, a Papua New Guinea company. Simon Clinton, relocating to London this year, also advised on the largest M&A deal to date in Vietnam in the consumer goods and retail sector, acting for category-leading snacks business Mondelēz International on its proposed acquisition of 80% stake in Kinh Do Corporation for $370 million.
The restructuring and insolvency practice is a cross-practice team drawn from the finance, dispute resolution, capital markets and corporate practices. Highlights include Andrew Brereton and Nish Shetty’s work for the liquidators of OW Bunker Far East. The firm also acted for the lenders on the reprofiling of the debt obligations of PT Bukit Makmur Mandiri Utama (BUMA), the second largest Indonesian mining services company.
Colin Ng & Partners is praised by clients for its efficiency: “It is proficient in providing quality advisory work and is meticulous in the due diligence process. The overall level is excellent,” says one client.
In 2014, the banking team led by Bill Jamieson advised Spruson & Ferguson, a patent attorney firm in Australia, on a pre-IPO restructuring deal for its Singapore subsidiary. Earlier in the year, the firm represented DBS Bank in connection with a S$75 million ($52 million) revolving credit facility deal to NV Multi Corporation in Singapore.
Another client describes the firm as “approachable, open, and constructive. Not bureaucratic, and culturally very sensitive, which is important for SME (small and medium enterprises). They were competent in drafting contracts and project follow up”.
In the past year, one of the firm’s highlight deals in the capital markets was its involvement in the listing of MM2 Asia on the Catalist board of the Singapore stock exchange at the end of the year. They team also represented United Overseas Bank who sponsored IPS Securex in its listing also on the Catalist board.
In M&A the firm has been quite active in China, Indonesia and Myanmar. Gregory Chan and his team advised Brooke Asia in a proposed acquisition of China Star Food and its subsidiaries for an amount up to S$168 million. In another deal with managing partner Tan Min-Li and partner Stephen Soh at the helm, the firm represented Memstar Technology in its acquisition of Longmen Group and subsidiaries by way of a reverse take-over worth $420 million.
One client singles out Chan for praise: “Gregory Chan has gone the extra mile to carefully analyse the work of the due diligence and many times threw out questions and suggestions in relation to potential risk areas during the acquisition process.”
The restructuring and insolvency team saw the departure of partner Gerald Yee who specialises in admiralty and shipping matters in November 2014, two months after gaining partner Sean La-Brooy. Previously with Wee Tay & Lim, La-Brooy is a dispute resolution and professional liability and insurance expert.
In a series of confidential transactions, the team has worked on drafting documentation and provided advice on voluntary liquidation and winding up.
Rodyk & Davidson advises on matters in a wide range of sectors including oil and gas, energy, shipping, telecommunications and technology, mining, airports, utilities, water, rail, paper and real estate.
Highlight deals for the banking team include advising a syndicate of banks in their loan to a joint venture company to finance the acquisition of Prudential Tower. Elsewhere, the firm advised DBS in granting a loan to a confidential client for the purpose of buying and developing two government land sale sites at Choa Chu Kang Grove in Singapore.
Elsewhere the team at Rodyk advised Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation on a $250 million loan to Indofood Agri Resources. Furthermore, the group was also legal counsel to DBS, Standard Chartered Bank and The Royal Bank of Scotland (Singapore) in relation to the pre-IPO financing for Keppel DC REIT.
Finance partner Doreen Sim advised on all the major finance transactions at the firm. He has been described by a bank manager as “effective and has commercial acumen” and is “proactive in following up”.
The capital markets team has been active this year working on IPOs involving Singapore-based issuers. In one example the firm acted on behalf of Daiwa Securities, which acted as manager in the IPO of Accordia Golf Trust on the Mainboard of the Singapore Stock Exchange Securities Trading (SGX-ST). This is said to be the largest IPO on the SGX-ST in 2014, raising close to S$758 million ($533 million). Corporate partners Ng Eng Leng and Nicholas Chong advised on the deal. Chong also advised on the proposed IPO of a Korean REIT valued at S$1.3 billion.
On the debt side, Chong was also involved as the firm advised on the update of CMT MNT’s MTN programmes worth $3 billion, by advising HSBC Institution Trust Services (Singapore) as trustee of CapitaMall Trust.
“The team at Rodyk & Davidson led by Evelyn Ang have been stellar and highly competent in their work. Their client service and attention to detail is impressive and we will continue to engage the team for future work” one client says. Kenneth Cheow was added to the team at the beginning of 2015.
In a $740 million deal in 2014 Justin Tan advised Huntsman Europe BVBA on its investment into three new plants in the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park. Elsewhere, Nicholas Chong was legal counsel to HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Singapore) as trustee in the acquisition of Lippo Mall Kemang in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chong also advised HSBC on the acquisition of Optus Centre in Australia.
Overseeing the restructuring practice is litigation expert Herman Jeremiah and restructuring specialists Lek Siang Pheng and Foo Maw Shen.
In one case, the restructuring and insolvency group advised on the liquidation of Alpine Bau (Singapore branch) with litigation and arbitration partner Paul Wong in the lead. Jeremiah also advised Koch Refining International in the OW Bunker liquidation.
DLA Piper has had a busy year with the hire of banking & finance partner Timothy Tan from O'Melveny & Myers in January 2014. Additionally, the firm has continued to build its offering in Singapore with the hire of corporate partners John Viverito and Myles Hankin from Gibson Dunn, and Joe Bauerschmidt from Jones Day early this year.
Timothy Tan is based in Singapore and Thailand and remains very active in the region. In 2014 he advised the lender group funding a $235 million mezzanine facility arranged for Rajawali to finance the acquisition of certain palm oil assets in Indonesia.
Elsewhere in Indonesia, Tan advised a subsidiary of PT MNC Investama, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates, in respect of its $250 million syndicated capex and working capital facility arranged by Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.
In restructuring, one highlight completed at the end of 2014 saw Tan advise in the subsequent restructuring in connection with a public rights issuance and merger regarding a $235 million mezzanine facility arranged for Rajawal.
“Drew & Napier is one of the best law firms that I have the privilege to work with especially in relation to complicated financial transactions. Not only can they identify the key issues arising from the transactions, but also provides the clients with innovative solutions to address those issues” stated one client. M&A and restructuring are recognised as Drew and Napier’s key strengths within the Singapore market.
“I deal a lot with Julian Kwek and his team. I am very impressed with Julian's commitment and professionalism. The team is not there only to provide legal advice, but more importantly they can always come out with an outside the box solution to address those risks and concerns that the clients might have” says another client. Another client says Kwek is regarded as “very knowledgeable in legal aspects in Singapore as well as the Indonesian legal environment. He is always responsive and able to provide advice and opinion that combines legal and commercial”.
“We have been using Drew & Napier as our main legal counsel for more than 10 years now and have always found the firm to be thoroughly professional and the staff members assigned to us knowledgeable both in the legal aspects as well as able to advise on the commercial impact and ramifications,” yet another client says.
In the banking and finance area, highlights include the Valerie Kwok and Pauline Chong’s work for CIMB Bank in connection with the pushdown of a facility of $62 million first granted to AGP Asia Holding in relation to the proposed acquisition and delisting of Armstrong Industrial.
In the capital markets Farhana Siddiqui advised OUE in the reconstitution of its $3 billion multicurrency note programme programme to a multicurrency debt issuance programme. Siddiqui was also involved in the establishment of $1 billion EMTN programme by OUE Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust.
In M&A highlights include Ralph Lim and his team acting as counsel to RBS Group in its sale of the international private banking business of Coutts to Union Bancaire Privée. Siddiqui and Sandy Foo also advised Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology On its acquisition of semiconductor producer STATS ChipPAC. Elsewhere, Sin Boon Ann and Grace Lai acted for Manhattan Resources in its proposed S$1 billion acquisition of Singxin Resources’ entire share capital, including exploration permits in concession areas in Xinjiang, China. Ann and Su Jen Jen also represented China Mining International on its proposed acquisition of mine owner CME.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm acted for the provisional liquidators of China Metal Recycling (CMR) and Central Steel in obtaining freezing and disclosure orders for assets. Elsewhere Julian Kwek and Aaron Kwok, who has now left the firm, acted for FJ Benjamin Ltd and PT Sukses Mitra Persada in their strategic restructuring and divestment of a stake to Saratoga Capital in Indonesia.
Leon Yee is head of Duane Morris & Selvam's banking and finance practice group and is one of its most active partners. In one example transaction, he advised one of Japan’s leading banks on a syndicated loan to be granted to a Singapore-listed REIT. Elsewhere he advised one of Korea’s largest banks on a loan agreement for a Myanmar joint venture.
Yee also advised on the Singapore law aspects of an investment and project finance loan in China as well as on the structured financing for trading commodities.
The firm has been active in capital markets work including Jamie Benson advising on the proposed sale of shares in a power generation company in an IPO in India. Beyond Singapore, Benson advised on an offering by First Myanmar Investment on the Yangon Stock Exchange.
The M&A practice has been busy this year and has worked in the construction, real estate and services industries. In one transaction in the telecoms industry, lead partner Krishna Ramachandra gave advice to Vigilant Assets in relation to a bid to Myanmar Post and Telecommunication for the building of a fibre optic network.
Equity Law specialises in corporate and securities offerings and its offering was enhanced when an established and experienced team joined the firm at the beginning of 2014 from RHTLaw TaylorWessing. Lawrence Wong Chee Meng and Billy Lau Yan Wai were hired as head of corporate practice and partner respectively. At the same time in early 2014, the firm entered into an association with Han & Partners, a boutique corporate firm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The firm has been active in IPOs and advising listed clients on their corporate actions and regulatory compliance. In 2014, highlights include acting for mainboard listed Dyna-Mac Holdings in its establishment of a S$300 million ($211 million) multicurrency MTN programme and its issue of S$50 million 4.25% notes under it.
In 2015, the team advised Canaccord Genuity Singapore in connection with NH Ceramic’s acquisition of Blackgold Asia Resources and Blackgold Energy in a reverse take-over exercise. At the same time, the firm also acted for UOB Kay Hian Private and Canaccord Genuity as joint underwriters and joint placement agents for the placement of 86 million new ordinary shares. Lawrence Wong and Billy Lau led the transaction. Elsewhere, the firm advised mainboard-listed Yamada Green Resources in its placement of 35 million new ordinary shares in the capital of the company, which raised about S$5.7 million.
Elsewhere Lawrence Wonga and Billy Lau acted for Jubilee Industries Holdings in its acquisition of WE Components from WE Holdings.
The capital markets team at Freshfields is led by Stephen Revell and Arun Balasubramanian, and has advised on many high profile transactions in the region in the last 12 months. In one transaction, Revell and Balasubramanian advised on the international private placement by PT Link Net, a leading broadband internet and cable TV provider in Indonesia, as well as advising CVC Capital Partners and PT First Media as selling shareholders.
Despite market conditions and a decrease in M&A activity, the corporate team at Freshfields continues to attract significant deals throughout 2014. In the research period managing partner Revell became Asia head of corporate, and with the energy and natural resources specialists under the leadership of Gavin MacLaren advising on key M&A deals, the firm moves up the rankings to Tier 2.
In the energy and oil and gas industries, the team acted for Blackstone on the $800 million establishment of its Singapore based Tamarind Energy partnership. The firm also represented Petrofac on its Singapore headquartered and South-East Asian focused $1.25 billion energy infrastructure agreement with First Reserve.
In another landmark case, the team advised Hutchison Whampoa in connection with the establishment of a strategic alliance between its subsidiary AS Watson and Temasek, culminating in the $5.6 billion acquisition by Temasek of a 24.95% stake in AS Watson.
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s banking and financing practice handles a lot of project finance transactions and is most active in Indonesia and India in addition to other emerging markets like Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Recently this year the firm bolstered its practice with the hire of partner Jamie Thomas.
In one transaction highlight, Thomas advised UBS as arranger, and a consortium of Philippine and foreign banks as lenders, on a syndicated loan to Alsons Consolidated Resources, a Philippine Stock Exchange-listed company, to fund power projects.
The M&A practice has grown this year with significant transactions in the region and the arrival of M&A partner Robson Lee from Shook Lin & Bok.
In one transaction example, the firm advised Murphy Oil on the $2 billion divestment of its energy assets in Malaysia to Indonesian state-owned oil and gas company, PT Pertamina (Persero). This was the largest energy M&A deal in Southeast Asia in 2014 and the largest disposal of assets in Malaysia’s offshore industry. In another prominent deal in early 2014, the firm acted in the sale of India’s largest ATM services company Prizm Payment Services to Japanese electronics giant Hitachi with Jai Pathak at the helm.
Elsewhere in India, the firm advised Spice Global Group, an Indian conglomerate headquartered in Singapore, on the sale of its Indian healthcare and hospital assets. Separately, the firm also represented a subsidiary of the Spice Global Group, a telecommunications company known as Si2i, on the sale of their Malaysian assets.
The firm is also active in restructuring, as the team continues to work on the corporate aspects of a restructuring of a joint venture in 2012 between American footwear manufacturer Wolverine World Wide and giant Indian conglomerate Tata International.
Herbert Smith Freehills in Singapore is best known for its project development and finance practice, particularly in the infrastructure sector, but the firm is also strong in banking and M&A. Staffing changes last year include projects partner Matthew Osborne relocating from the Melbourne office in 2014, while energy and natural resources specialist David Clinch will be joining the office from Hong Kong.
In the banking and finance space, highlights this year include advising the lenders along with law firms Prolegis and Zaid Ibrahim & Co in connection with a $132 million financing provided to Ophir Production for the development and production of petroleum from the Ophir Field. In a confidential transaction, the firm advised on a refinancing in connection to an ammonia plant in Indonesia.
In projects the team advised Brunei Economic Development Board and Berakas Power Management Company on the development of the Pulau Muara Besar Island which includes the development a greenfield petrochemical plant as well as power and desalination facilities. Elsewhere in the Philippines, the team advised First Gen Corporation in relation to the tendering, implementation and delivery of the San Gabriel Avion aero-derivative gas fired power station project.
In the capital markets, Siddhartha Sivaramakrishnan advised the Government of India as vendor in connection with the $3.6 billion offer for sale of shares in India-listed Coal India, the world's largest coal miner. This was India's third largest ever equity markets deal. The team also acted for Australia’s second largest airline group Virgin on its $300 million debut issue of unsecured notes.
In M&A highlights include Brian Scott and Mark Robinson’s work for Axiata Digital Advertising, a subsidiary of Axiata Group, on its joint venture with US-based digital advertising company, Adknowledge – a leading online network. In a separate transaction, Robinson advised Japanese telecoms and Internet Corporation SoftBank on a $250 million investment in GrabTaxi Holdings, the largest mobile taxi booking app provider in Southeast Asia. Elsewhere Michael Walter and Nicola Yeomans advised Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology on the offer to buy out outstanding shares in STATS ChipPAC.
With Alexander McMyn at the helm, the banking team has been up and running for close to three years now and has thrived in that short space of time resulting in a Tier 2 ranking. The firm has been described as “professional, responsive, solution oriented” and is active in the market particularly in the India and Indonesia markets.
In one transaction, McMyn advised the lead arrangers, PT Bank ANZ Indonesia, BTMU, PT Bank Sumitomo Mitsui Indonesia, HSBC and Citibank on the committed syndicated term loan facility to the largest natural gas transportation and distribution company in Indonesia, PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (Persero).
Stephanie Keen is the Singapore managing partner and heads the corporate practice in South East Asia. The team has previously worked with Navis Capital Partners, Hawksford Holdings and Koch Industries, advised on acquisitions in the technology and manufacturing sectors and worked on a joint venture with a large petroleum company.
The restructuring team has hit a period of rapid growth with hire of specialist Shaun Langhorne who is spearheading and co-ordinating the team at Hogan Lovells in Singapore. He also works quite closely with other recent hires Mark Cooper and Alex Cull.
Highlights include advising the lender on the restructuring of a loan to an Indonesian company in the coal mining industry. Elsewhere Langhorne advised the lender on its exit from all investments in Asia.
Sushma Jobanputra leads the banking team at Jones Day and she is singled out for praise, as one client says: “Simply outstanding. Sushma has a rare combination of technical expertise, market knowledge and commercial savvy. Sushma is a strong advocate for her client’s positions, but is able to advise clients on what points ought to be given up in the give-and-take of negotiations.”
In 2014, the firm represented global private equity firm The Riverside Company in its acquisition financing of chemical distributor Drex-Chem and DCM Personal Care in the form of two term loans. In 2015 Jobanputra acted for MTI and its Singapore subsidiary Micron Semiconductor Asia in a receivable financing transaction valued at $750 million. Associate Vinay Kurien is described as a “very capable fellow [and] is a partner-calibre, capable of representing the client’s position and of resolving disagreements in an acceptable way”.
The firm also represented Asian Development Bank on its $100 million loan to the second largest private commercial bank in the country Hatton National Bank for infrastructure projects in the most underdeveloped regions in Sri Lanka.
Joe Bauerschmidt departed the capital markets team at the beginning of the year and most recently, the firm hired partner Elizabeth Cole to strengthen its regional cross-border practice.
Manoj Bhargava heads the India practice for the firm and the firm has been busy in transactions with Indian companies. In 2014, Jones Day advised numerous parties as placement agents on the largest ever qualified institutional placement (QIP) in India for a non-state owned company Reliance Communications. Bhargava also advised Reliance Communications on its $300 million offering. In another issuance, the firm represented Indian company Lodha Developers in connection with its $200 million Reg S offering.
King & Wood Mallesons was granted a foreign law practice license in Singapore in early 2015 followed by the launch of an office in June, which further strengthened the firm’s global capability and its Asian connections. Partners John Sullivan, Xuhua Huang and Michael Lawson who relocated from the firm’s Australia and China offices established the Singapore practice.
The firm will initially focus on corporate M&A work with an emphasis on the real estate, infrastructure, private equity, funds, energy, natural resources and TMT sectors, as well as China inbound and outbound work.
In Australia, lead partner Sullivan advised Singapore sovereign wealth fund Macquarie Capital and GIC on their joint venture to acquire a majority interest in student accommodation group developer Iglu.
US firm Latham & Watkins has an impressive practice in Singapore with top tier rankings in areas such as M&A and project finance and most notably in its key area of strength, capital markets.
In banking, one of the firm’s highlight deals saw Clarinda Tjia-Dharmadi advise Indonesian state-owned energy company, PT Pertamina’s on the financing of its acquisition of a 30% stake in Murphy Oil Corp’s Malaysian oil and natural gas assets. Stephen McWilliams also advised the lenders on the refinancing of Laos’ largest hydropower project valued at up to $262 million.
In project finance McWilliams and Joseph Bevash also teamed up to advise Hancock Prospecting as borrower on the Roy Hill 1 iron ore project, said to be the world’s largest mine financing at $7.74 billion. In another large-scale project financing deal, Tjia-Dharmadi, Bevash and Andrew Roche advised a consortium of lenders on the $1.17 billion financing of the Sarulla geothermal power project in Indonesia. Elsewhere Tjia-Dharmadi and McWilliams advised Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and PT Smelting as borrower on a $300 million debt refinancing facility for the Gresik Copper Smelter and Refinery project in Indonesia.
The capital markets team is particularly strong on debt matters and highlights from the past year include Timothy Hia k’s work for a group of banks including Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Bank and HSBC in relation to specialist finance company, Clifford Capital’s $1 billion EMTN programme update. Elsewhere, Michael Sturrock acted for Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC on KrisEnergy’s S$500 million ($357 million) global MTN programme.
In Malaysia, Sturrock and Sharon Lau in Singapore advised a group of banks on 7-Eleven’s IPO on Bursa Malaysia raising $225 million.
Lee & Lee saw the departure of Lau Sok Hiang last year, but the team did recruit Eunice Sia in May 2015. The banking team deals with a broad spectrum of domestic and international transactions, including acquisition financing, real estate development financing, REIT financing, structured financing, project financing, loan syndications, debt restructuring and other general banking matters.
One deal highlight saw the firm act for a business REIT on the financing of an acquisition in the service industry.
Linklaters, like its ‘magic circle’ contemporaries is a long established presence in the Singapore market and one of the leading international practices. Ably supported by its other Asian offices the firm is held in particularly high regard for its banking, capital markets and M&A work.
Christopher Bradley, who heads the projects team is singled out by clients who say he has “in-depth understanding of the legal and regulatory issues; very responsive; sensible and commercial advice; excellent turn around; one particularly impressive personality”.
Kevin Wong is also referenced and is described by one client as “excellent, consistently strong and clearly the best in SE Asia.” Another client described him as: “Simply excellent. Kevin has incredible product knowledge and a deep understanding of the commercial reasons why the product features are structured as they are. He has worked on practically all significant deals in the region for many years and has a phenomenal amount of historical information. This is coupled with very strong client and transaction management skills.”
The banking and financing team is led by partner Philip Badge. The firm is very active in the region working alongside alliance firms Talwar Thakore & Associates in India, Widyawan & Partners in Indonesia and Allens in Vietnam and Australia. Highlights include advising Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as arranger on the $108 million financing for a special purpose subsidiary of UTAC Holding in relation to its acquisition of three Asian semiconductor assembly subsidiaries of Panasonic Corporation in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
In project finance the team advised on various multi-jurisdictional LNG projects in Indonesia and Russia. Other cross border transaction highlights include the construction of a greenfield refinery plant and a coal fired power project.
In the capital markets, prominent transactions include Kevin Wong advising joint lead managers and bookrunners on the exchangeable $500 million sukuk (Islamic bond) offering of Tenaga Nasional Berhad. In another bond issuance, Wong advised on a substantial debt offering by an Indian company in 2014.
In M&A, the firm has had a busy year including advising Advent International Corporation on its acquisition of The Learning Lab, a Singapore-based academic enrichment business; J Trust Co’s $373 million acquisition of all of the Indonesia Deposit Insurance Corporation's interest in PT Bank Mutiara; and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Asseyts investment in a coal-fired power generating facility partnership in the Philippines.
Elsewhere in Singapore, partner Sophie Mathur advised J Trust Asia on the S$93 million ($66 million) acquisition of approximately 29.5% of the issued share capital of Singapore listed company LCD Global Investments.
Managing partner Loo Choon Chiaw who has been active in all the firm’s key transactions over the past year leads the banking practice at Loo & Partners. The firm was recently bolstered with the addition of Andrew Mak Yen-Chen last May who handles a full range of work in all practice areas.
Many have praised the firm this year: “Loo & Partners has always been very professional and highly efficient in handling all of our legal matters. The partners of the firm are very experienced, providing not just legal advice, but very practical and relevant business insights that is very helpful,” says one client.
The firm is also one of the few firms in Singapore with expertise in niche areas such as aircraft and ship finance and acts for banks such as Mega International Commercial Bank, one of the leading banks in Taiwan. In one transaction, the firm advised the bank as lender on a loan facility to enable the borrower to finance the construction costs of a ship.
The capital markets team has been praised for being “articulate in their work” and “always go the extra mile for clients”. It is seen as a “boutique law firm brand but delivering big law firm work”.
Over the past year the firm has been working on enquiries for proposed IPOs such as that of Chi Tien International Holdings’ listing on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
Loo Choon Chiaw is praised for “always allocating ample resources for the work” and for his “excellent attitude” which “provides solutions to issues”, by one client. Another says: “Loo Choon Chiaw is one of the most business-minded lawyers that we have worked with. His vast experience in both the legal and business worlds proved to be invaluable time and again. Mr Loo possessed the breadth of experience to give problems a context and the depth of experience and technical expertise to frame a solution efficiently. His insights are both sharp and precise, and he guides through and warns of upcoming pitfalls five steps ahead of time.”
Despite the unfavourable market conditions over the past year, the firm has been quite active in M&A, particularly in the PRC. In one example, Choon Chiaw advised Raffles Medical Group, a leading regional medical services provider intending to set up a hospital in Shenzhen by way of joint venture with an acquisition from China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone, a stated-owned conglomerate.
Mayer Brown is known for its energy work, with extensive experience in LNG shipping, M&A, and petrochemicals. In 2014, the team advised the lenders, led by the IFC, on the $800 million green-field PAU Ammonia Project in Indonesia. Elsewhere in Asia, the team represented a major Japanese trading house on the divestment of a power asset in Thailand; and advised Marubeni Corporation on the acquisition of a stake in a power generation and transmission business in Cambodia, making it the first Japanese investment in the Cambodian power market.
The team has been active in Myanmar’s power sector. In one transaction, lead partner Benjamin Thompson advised the lenders to Sembcorp on the financing of the development of the Myingyan gas-fired power project, Myanmar’s first internationally competitively tendered power project. In other transactions in Myanmar, the team advised Advising Toyo-Thai on the development of a coal-fired power project and coal importation facility – the largest of its kind in Myanmar.
US firm Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy is perhaps best known for its work in the project finance sector where it picks up roles on some of Asia’s largest projects. M&A is another area of strength and the firm’s banking and capital markets team are also well respected.
In banking and finance, the firm has been active in cross border banking transactions with a substantial increase in acting for the borrowers. Highlights this year include David Zemans with James Orme advising the lenders on a $1.75 billion syndicated loan facility to Pertamina; representing Indonesia's second largest thermal coal producer Adaro as borrower in a $1 billion loan facility; and advising Pontiac Land, one of Singapore's largest property developers, on the financing of its proposed $1.4 billion real estate development.
The team also advised PAMEL, a leading independent provider of telecommunications infrastructure in Myanmar, in the first ever non-recourse, cross-border financing in the country
In project finance, James Murray advised Sarulla Operations in the $1.6 billion financing of a geothermal power project in Indonesia. Murray has also been advising GNPower, one of the leading developers and operators of power generation projects in Asia, on coal-fired power plants in the Philippines.
In the capital markets, highlights include work for the joint bookrunners in the market-transforming $5 billion bond offering by Petronas in March 2015. The deal includes both Islamic and conventional structures and is the second largest corporate dollar bond issue ever done in Asia. Other highlights include representing Delhi International Airport Private in its first ever bond offering; acting for SriLankan Airlines in the first offering of a corporate bond by a non-financial institution in Sri Lanka; and advice to Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia, one of the two largest providers of telecoms towers in that country, in its first international bond issue.
The team has been active in large M&A transactions, including Jacqueline Chan’s work on a significant deal in the healthcare sector, work in the drinks sector relating to investments made in a Philippines company; and advising on the incorporation of a joint venture in the oil and gas industry. Other highlights include advising Saratoga Power, part of Saratoga Capital, in its acquisition of 51% of Medco Power Indonesia, who controls the rights to develop a project in the Sarulla geothermal field.
In restructuring and insolvency Chan advised Indonesian coal producer, Bukit Makmur Utama (BUMA) in the restructuring of a $800 million senior secured facility. Other transactions include representing CarVal Investors in the acquisition and restructuring of certain loan interests and the restructuring of $155 million of bonds issued by an investment company.
In April 2015, Stamford Law merged with US law firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, the largest law firm in the USA and was renamed Morgan Lewis Stamford. This integration is the first full internationalisation of a Singapore law firm and establishes Stamford Law as a key regional hub of an established global powerhouse.
In the past year, Zhi Chao Chor joined the firm as associate director from Clifford Chance focusing on local and international financing while partner Min-tze Lean departed.
In banking and finance, highlights transactions include the firm’s work for Archroma, a global leader in specialty chemicals for the textile, paper and emulsions sectors in a $515 million refinancing of its global credit facility.
In the capital markets, it has been a busy year as the firm advised on a number of substantial transactions, including Bernard Lui’s work for iFAST Corporation on its IPO and subsequent listing in Singapore. Elsewhere Sin Teck Lim represented Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation as sole arranger and dealer in the establishment of S$300 million ($214 million) multicurrency MTN program by Century Sunshine Group Holdings. Elsewhere Yap Lian Seng acted for Singapore listed Global Invacom Group, a satellite communications technology supplier, in its admission to trading on the AIM Market of the LSE.
In M&A, Lee Suet-Fern, Seng and Elizabeth Kong advised United Fiber System (UFS) in the S$1.88 billion reverse takeover transaction by which UFS acquired 67% of Golden Energy Mines, Indonesia based coal mining company, from Dian Swastatika Sentosa. Suet-Fern also advised Infosys, the India-headquartered consulting and IT firm, on its S$120 million acquisition of digital e-commerce services provider, Kallidus.
In the restructuring and insolvency area Suet-Fern and head of restructuring and insolvency Justin Yip advised the receivers and managers of Singapore Flyer in the S$140 million sale to Straco Leisure of its business and assets, including well-known giant observation wheel “Singapore Flyer”. The firm also acted for Deloitte & Touche, the judicial managers of Singapore construction firm Poh Lian on matters related to the company’s liquidation.
Morrison & Foerster’s (MoFo) team was bolstered with the addition of Saori Nakamura, a highly regarded bengoshi corporate M&A partner who relocated from the Tokyo office in March this year. This new Japan-focused capability will allow the firm to better service Japanese clients doing business in Singapore and the region.
It has been an excellent year as the firm advised Global Logistic Properties (GLP) in its $8.1 billion acquisition, together with GIC, of one of the largest US logistics real estate portfolios from The Blackstone Group. Managing partner Eric Piesner and Shirin Tang led the transaction.
“MoFo has impressed us with their ability to harness the knowledge of their overseas offices in providing some remarkable advice and taking care of our cross jurisdictional needs. In particular Shirin Tang's focus and clarity of thought has added value in the company decision making. Execution is remarkable and efficient,” says one client.
Partner Adam Summerly is also praised: “Strong commercial understanding, he and the team deliver high quality services on time, and with an understanding of the underlying commercial issues that is to our satisfaction.”
Norton Rose Fulbright has well regarded teams in banking, capital markets and project finance. In the latter area, energy and natural resources are sector specialities and the firm can draw upon its regional expertise. Staffing changes last year include the departure of Alex Cull and the promotion of finance lawyers Kate Sherrard and Nicky Davies to partner. Vicky Jones was also promoted in the capital markets team. In M&A Nick Dingemans relocated from the Moscow office to lead the corporate team in Singapore. Head of energy in the Asia Pacific region Vincent Dwyer also relocated, while the firm also hired M&A lawyer Stella Cramer from Standard Chartered Bank.
In banking and finance, recent highlights include Yu-En Ong advising a syndicate of banks on a first of its kind corporate loan to PAMEL to support its mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Myanmar. In a separate transaction, the firm advised United Overseas Bank and a syndicate of lenders on a $1 billion unsecured term loan to the PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure.
In project finance, the firm has been active in the energy and natural resources sector in a series of cross border confidential transactions. Last November, the team led by partner Nick Merritt advised IFC and ADB as lenders on the facilities provided to ACME Solar Energy for the development of solar power plants located in India. Elsewhere Jeff Smith also advised PT Pelabuhan Indonesia ll (Persero) in respect of its $1 billion term loan facility provided by a syndicate of banks for the development and enhancement of its port facilities in Indonesia.
In the capital markets, the firm advised Emirates on a $913 million sukuk (Islamic bond) issue guaranteed by UK Export Finance. The transaction stands as the first ever sukuk for an ECA-backed aviation deal and the biggest capital markets ECA-backed deal at the time. Elsewhere, Vicky Jones also advised HKSAR Government on its inaugural $1 billion sukuk under the Government Bond Programme.
In M&A, recent highlights include Stephen Woods advising Singapore-based company Samco Shipholding on the sale to DHT Tankers, a NYSE-listed crude oil tanker company.
The firm specialises in the offshore and shipping sectors and with the recent downturn in the shipping industry and the rapid decline of oil prices, the firm has been quite busy with a number of restructurings, including those of PT Arpeni and Berlian Laju Tankers – Indonesia’s largest shipping companies. Elsewhere, the firm also advised a syndicate of lenders in relation to issues relating to the loan to OSX-1 arising in connection with the restructuring of the EBX group in Brazil, the largest corporate insolvency in Latin American history.
QED Law Corporation undertakes a broad spectrum of banking and financing transactions ranging from acquisition financing and project financing to regulatory and advisory work. The banking team hired partner Linda Cai in 2014.
In one transaction, Cai advised the borrower Ascott Residence Trust regarding a revolving credit facility of up to $25 million and term loan facility. In other confidential transactions, the firm advised on refinancing and the take out of new revolving credit facilities in the real estate sector.
One client says that Marilyn Goh is “excellent” and had the “ability to recommend compromises that are acceptable to clients without compromising the bank’s position, as well as managing cross border counsels.”
In M&A, Susan Kong has been described by one client as: “An effective negotiator and extremely efficient, she is very experienced in M&A and corporate structuring and helped with useful suggestions on moving things forward.” In one highlight, Kong advised AEP Investment Management on the sale of its business to its joint venture partner, Keppel DC REIT Management in connection with the listing of Keppel DC REIT on the Singapore Exchange.
Rajah & Tann has strength across the board but is particularly well known for its restructuring work. Significant deals in the past year results in the firm moving up to Tier 1 in the banking and finance rankings. Staffing changes this year include the hire of Marae Ciantar as head of energy and resources.
Head of banking and finance Angela Lim acted on several highlight deals in 2014 including the $2.1 billion loan facilities to Singtel Group on behalf of a syndicate of banks. Also, the team advised Panca Amara Utama on the $800 million financing facility for the development of a greenfield ammonia production plant, the largest of its kind to be built in Indonesia. The team advised Resorts World at Sentosa on the takeout of $2.27 billion in senior secured credit facilities.
In the capital markets Evelyn Wee and Teo Yi Jing advised on the IPO of Japfa on the Singapore stock exchange that raised S$1.38 billion. In another IPO deal worth $1.1 billion of Accordia Golf Trust, the firm acted for Citigroup Global Markets Singapore and Daiwa Capital Markets Singapore.
In M&A, noteworthy deals in 2014 saw Goh Kian Hwee and Lawrence Tan acting for Goodpack on its acquisition by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Elsewhere, Hwee, Cynthia Goh and Cheng Yoke Ping advised Lee Latex, Selat and Singapore Investments in the sale of their entire shareholding interests in Anson Company.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm continues to advise MF Global Singapore in its insolvency, said to be the most high-profile in the financial industry since Lehman Brothers. Elsewhere in the shipping industry, the team represented Dynamic Oil Trading (Singapore) in its liquidation as part of OW Bunker group’s global collapse. And in debt restructuring, the firm advised Bumi Resources and its Singapore Subsidiaries in its $5 billion worth of debt restructuring and in Singapore more specifically, the restructuring of bonds and notes of up to $1 billion.
There was change in the banking team at Reed Smith last year with the departure of Philip Antcliffe and the hire of banking and restructuring partner Troy Doyle from DLA Piper. The firm has a focus on the energy and natural resources sectors. The hire of partner Matthew Gorman and counsel Gerald Licnachan further strengthened the firm’s South East Asian transactional capabilities.
In the capital markets, Gorman advised Malaysian telecoms company Aries in relation to its IPO on London’s AIM market and associated placing.
One client praised the firm’s cross border offering: “Typically we work with Tolegen Myrzabayev in the Astana office, although we also worked with Vladimir Schuster prior to his leaving the firm. We have always had a good experience with the team. In Singapore, we are very well supported by people like Simon Jones, Gerald Licnachan and Matthew Gorman as well as by the senior partner Gautam Bhattacharyya.”
The M&A team this year has been advising on many joint ventures and acquisitions in India, Malaysia and Singapore. Elsewhere, the global team has been active in Kazakhstan in the energy sector.
New hire Troy Doyle now heads the restructuring practice and has extensive experience advising on financial restructuring, corporate restructuring, distressed M&A, distressed debt trading (both portfolio and single asset deals), insolvency proceedings and special situation transactions.
The firm is particularly known in the market as an expert in shipping including finance, litigation and ship arrests. One example saw Doyle advising the lender, and its financial advisor, on the $500 million restructuring of a shipping company in Indonesia. Elsewhere in Singapore, he also advised a financial advisory firm in relation to the $179 million restructuring of a shipping company.
In the mining industry, Beijing partner Michael Fosh and Doyle advised a coking coal trading and logistics company on its debt and equity restructuring in China and Hong Kong.
Since its merger with Taylor Wessing in 2012, the firm has grown considerably with the addition of partners Vernon Loh to its banking practice as well as Anthony Chey, Vernon Voon, Chua Eng Hui and Ng Hwee Chong who joined the restructuring/litigation team.
The banking and finance practice has handled a variety of domestic and international loan financings, acting for lenders, borrowers and security providers. In 2014, the firm acted for Tembusu Partners in the grant to Param Mitra Coal Resources of an Islamic murabaha (deferred sale) facility of $7.5 million investment out of the $20 million investment underwritten in January 2014 by The Islamic Bank of Asia. Tan Choon Leng and Sherroy Ong led the transaction.
Richard Tan left the capital markets team in 2014, but the firm welcomed Chong Eng Wee who joined the capital markets and corporate practice along with Moira Khaw.
The practice provides legal advice on both equity and debt transactions and advises on a broad range of corporate matters. Highlights in the past year include Ch’ng Li-Ling acting for Hong Leong Finance as the counsel for the sponsors in mm2 Asia’s IPO. Li-Ling along with managing partner Tan Chong Huat also acted as legal counsel to Overseas Education in a bond issue listed on the Singapore Exchange.
In M&A, at the end of 2014, Tan Choon Leng advised NIPSEA Group, a joint venture between Wuthelam Holdings and Nippon Paint, regarding Wuthelam Group’s acquisition of significant minority stake in Nippon Paint. In another cross border deal, the firm acted for Partners Group, a global private markets investment management firm, on its acquisition of a controlling stake from private investors who had been part of a previous acquisition of Dynacast in 2011. Elsewhere the firm advised Esterline Corporation on the acquisition of Barco NV’s defence and aerospace division.
Premier Law is experienced in litigation, arbitration and corporate work. In the past year the firm has been active in Indonesia especially in the mining and agricultural sectors.
In project finance, in 2014 Tandip Singh advised PT Atlas Resources on its joint investment with Noble Resources International into its subsidiary PT Sriwijaya Bara Logistik to acquire more coalmines and mining concessions in the Musi Banyuasin regency. Elsewhere, Singh advised PT Hanson Energy in its joint bid with Global Power Generation, SAU and Toyota Tsusho Corporation for the development of a mine mouth coal-fired power plant in Indonesia.
In a separate transaction, the firm advised PT Selaras Indah Pratama who, along with Noble Resources International, entered into certain arrangements to govern their investment into certain fuel storage, supply and distribution facilities located in Indonesia.
Singh’s expertise in debt restructuring work has given the firm a solid reputation as far as Indonesia related transactions go. The team handles receiverships, liquidations, judicial managements, as well as rescue and rehabilitation plans. Highlights this year include advising Red Dragon Group on the restructuring of bonds into shares of PT Central Proteinaprima.
In finance Shearman & Sterling acted on significant international project financings, most recently focusing on the upstream oil and gas sector with deals in the past year including advising Bumi Armada Berhad in connection with the Kraken FPSO project in the North Sea which is one of the biggest subsea heavy-oil field projects under development.
Other high profile transactions include advising Petronas in respect of the development of its $28 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) petrochemicals project in Malaysia involving refinery, cracker, and multiple downstream joint venture projects in Malaysia.
The firm has also advised on several Indonesian power projects including advising a consortium including GDF Suez, Itochu Corporation, Kansai and Baramulti in relation to the development of the Sumsel 9/10 mine-mouth project in Indonesia which would be the first mine-mouth IPP in Indonesia.
In the capital markets over the past 12 months, despite the global economic slowdown, the team has successfully completed a number of IPOs and follow-on offerings and debt offerings. Highlights include Andrew Schleider representing Citigroup, Credit Suisse, DBS and Bualuang Securities in connection with the Regulation S IPO of Bangkok Airways.
Elsewhere, in India, the firm represented Greenko Group and Greenko Dutch in connection with a high yield bond issuance by Greenko Dutch unconditionally guaranteed by Greenko Group.
With the recent relocation of M&A and private equity partner Sidharth Bhasin to Singapore, alongside oil and gas specialist Anthony Patten, the firm has been particularly active on private equity transactions in South East Asia. In a cross-border transaction with Bhasin in the lead, the firm advised a consortium of financial investors led by Capital Square Partners and CX Partners on their LBO of the global BPO business of Aditya Birla Minacs, which is one of the most significant private equity transactions in the Indian BPO space in recent years.
Elsewhere, in Thailand, the firm represented Wise Thai Company, an investment company controlled by The Rohatyn Group, on the sale of its stake in leading skincare treatment clinic chain Wuttisak to medical supplier company E for L in Thailand.
Shook Lin & Bok has a well balanced team with capacity across the financial and corporate areas.
“The lawyers I worked with have excellent business acumen, are professional, prompt in reply, have deep and up to date knowledge on my business and industry, and always go the extra mile to advise me” one client says about the finance team. A client who worked with the restructuring team says: “The restructuring and insolvency team at Shook Lin & Bok is responsive and commercial. They provide sound and practical advice to clients and are very much in tune with client needs.”
There is individual praise for M&A lawyer Michelle Phang: “Michelle is very diligent and capable. She gets things done in a timely and efficient manner. She is enjoyable to work with” says one client, while another says: “Very happy with the level of service provided. Key issues and questions are resolved efficiently. Advice rendered is always of high technical quality, and importantly, complemented with a good dose of practicality and common sense.” Capital markets lawyer Andrea Chee is seen by one client to be “professional [and] has excellent business acumen and work ethics and is extremely prompt in her reply. She has deep insight and knowledge and I feel that I can trust her in any of my business' legal needs.”
In banking and finance the team has acted mostly for the lenders in the past 12 months. The team acted for the lender in the refinancing for an acquisition in Indonesia to joint venture companies with Singapore and Swiss incorporated shareholders.
In the capital markets Marilyn See and Lian Shueh Min acted for International Healthway Corporation (IHC) on the establishment of a S$500 million ($356 million) multicurrency MTN programme while See and Gwendolyn Gn advised Yanlord Land Group on its S$400 million fixed rate senior notes issue on the Singapore stock exchange. On the equity side, Chee advised Sheng Siong Group in its proposed private placement of shares which raised gross proceeds of approximately S$80.4 million.
In M&A David Chong and Ho Ying Ming acted for United Envirotech which was acquired by CKM. Chong and Ho also advised Felda Global Ventures in its proposed acquisition of Asian Plantations. Gwendolyn Gn also advised Singapore eDevelopment on the sale of HotApps International to Fragmented Industry Exchange. Michelle Phang also advised Elkem, on its proposed acquisition of the entire business of REC Solar ASA.
In restructuring and insolvency David Chan is acting for the liquidators of Hycarbex Asia and elsewhere Chan and partner Probin Dass acted for the liquidators of Humpuss Sea Transport. A client of the team states “Debby is a responsive and commercially minded insolvency and restructuring lawyer. Her user friendly advice is spot on and takes into account the practical considerations of a transaction. She comes highly recommended.”
Sidley Austin’s capital markets team has been active in both debt and equity capital markets in the India, Indonesia and Philippine markets.
In one of the firm’s largest deals in 2014, the debt capital markets team led by Singapore-based partner Prabhat Mehta advised a group of banks as joint lead managers and bookrunners on the $2 billion notes issue by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) under its $10 billion GMTN programme. The team spearheaded by Mehta was also part of a Renminbi high-yield bond offering by ITNL International acting for Barclays and CLSA as underwriters. On the equity side, Mehta advised OCBC and other underwriters in the $300 million IPO and listing of PACC Offshore Services on the Singapore Stock Exchange Securities Trading (SGX-ST).
Charlie Wilson has joined the M&A team as a partner and is said by clients to give “excellent advice, regional experience and fantastic contacts and a good understanding of the Indonesia and Singapore markets.”
One highlight for the M&A team was advice provided to China Merchants Union on its equity investment in privatising the Port of Newcastle, one of the world’s largest coal port terminals, for A$1.75 billion ($1.2 billion). Singapore-based partner Nicholas Grambas advised and one client describes him as “the best lawyer I have ever worked with across 35 years of employment”.
Elsewhere Gerard Hekker advised Indonesian mobile telecommunications operator, XL Axiata, on its $865 million acquisition of Axis Telekom Indonesia from Saudi Telecom Company. Hekker also acted for Solusi Tunas Pratama (STP) on its acquisition of 3,500 telecom towers from XL Axiata for $460 million.
In project finance, the firm was senior lenders counsel to Goldman Sachs, Apollo Global Management, Asia Research & Capital Management, and the IFC on the senior secured loan facility provided to Niko Resources. Elsewhere, the team comprising of Grambas, and Singapore-based partner Gregory Salathe and counsel Joel Seow acted for Equis Fund Group as investor and sponsor in the $720 million investment in Japan Solar.
The restructuring team has a track record of being frequently engaged as debtor’s counsel or lead counsel to the senior debt syndicate typically involving the restructuring matters of large corporations. In one transaction, the firm advised on the restructuring and amendment of a $340 million loan facility made to Niko Resources.
Jason Valoti, a partner at the Singapore office who relocated from Simmons & Simmons’ London office, heads up the capital markets practice in the Asia Pacific region. He is described as “very experienced and knowledgeable” by clients. “He keeps a close eye on his matters and is very responsive. He is particularly good at dealing with any difficult issues and proposing solutions that will be acceptable to all concerned parties,” says one.
The firm advises clients on a full range of structured products and derivatives. In addition to its Singapore office, the firm is able to provide deep Singapore expertise and local market knowledge through its ‘best friend’ relationship with JWS Asia Law Corporation (a boutique Singapore law practice). In one transaction, Valoti advised Dymon Asia Capital on a review of its trading documents.
A banking client says: “I have worked with Simmons & Simmons (in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore) on, principally, repackaging programmes, but also other structured finance transactions, for almost 20 years. They are one of the leading firms in this area and are always very responsive and knowledgeable. They are also commercial and adept at dealing with problems. They are a pleasure to deal with.”
Skadden has been active in the region covering a variety of industries, including financial services and banking, energy and natural resources, real estate, media and telecommunications, and consumer goods.
In the capital markets, highlight transactions this year include representing MOL Global as issuer’s council in its $169 million IPO and listing on Nasdaq. This is the first Malaysia-based company to list in the US, and also the first Southeast Asian technology IPO on Nasdaq in over a decade. Hong Kong partner Jonathan Stone and Singapore partner Rajeev Duggal led the transaction. Elsewhere in Indonesia, the pair also represented Indonesia's largest private multi-specialty hospital Mitra Keluarga Karyasehat in connection with its $340 million IPO and listing on the Indonesian Stock Exchange.
The firm holds on to its Tier 3 position in M&A and acts on many high profile transactions. The team represented Citigroup in connection with the sale by Neptune Orient Lines of APL Logistics for $1.2 billion to Japan’s Kintetsu World Express. Elsewhere, the firm also acted on the largest US real estate transaction of 2014 and one of the largest sales of industrial property ever advising sovereign wealth fund Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), in its co-investment with Global Logistic Properties to acquire IndCor Properties from Blackstone Real Estate Advisors for $8.1 billion.
In a cross border transaction, the firm acted for one of the largest banks in Philippines, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, in its sale of a 20% minority stake to Cathay Life Insurance of Taiwan. Hong Kong partner Jonathan Stone and Singapore partners Rajeev Duggal led the transaction.
One of Straits Law Practice’s unique capabilities lies in its India practice. Rajaram leads the practice and has been able to provide comprehensive and quality legal support to Indian companies venturing into Singapore and acting for many of the Indian banks located in Singapore.
In recent years, the firm has had a strong focus advising the Singapore branches of foreign companies, banks and local quasi-governmental and governmental authorities.
In 2014, TSMP continued to support Singapore banks in their financing transactions in the real estate sectors in Japan, the UK and Singapore.
Jennifer Chia heads the banking and finance practice and in one transaction she acted as Singapore counsel in a term loan financing of £150 million to a Singapore listed developer for its property acquisitions of freehold prime office, retail and residential properties in the business district of London.
In the local market, the firm acted for a syndication of local lenders in a loan to a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sun Venture group in its purchase of Straits Trading Building, a high end office building in the heart of Singapore's Central Business District.
The firm’s expertise in ship finance has also given it a solid reputation acting for local banks. In one cross border transaction, lead partner Chua Choon King acted as counsel to DBS Bank in a $250 million loan to Kreuz Subsea Group in a refinancing transaction following the acquisition of Kreuz Holdings from the Swiber Group.
The equity capital markets in Singapore have been quiet in the past year but the market is slowly recovering as indicated by the firm’s current involvement in eight IPOs of companies ranging from metal galvanizing and real estate to technology service companies. In the post-listing market, the firm continues to be active in transactions involving business trusts and REITs.
In M&A, some recent complex multi-jurisdictional acquisitions include acting for St James Holdings on the S$1.56 billion ($1 billion) reverse take-over of a suite of Chinese and Singapore real estate properties and a listed business trust Perennial Real Estate Holdings into St James Holdings. Another transaction saw Thio advising on the S$400 million take-over and privatisation of Forterra Trust, a listed business trust in Singapore, by Hong Kong’s well-established real estate conglomerate, Nan Fung Group.
The past year has also seen an increase of acquisitions in the technology sector as the firm recently represented PropertyGuru Group in the S$175 million pre-IPO fund raising for an online real estate company.
In the past year, the restructuring team has advised on matters in the shipping, construction restructuring, and natural resources sectors. Ashok Kumar led many of the transactions including advising Bilcare Research in the corporate restructuring and acquisition of assets of Bilcare Singapore which is currently in judicial management. The firm is also advising a number of noteholders in relation to bonds issued by Bumi Investment and Bumi Capital in the restructuring of PT Bumi Resources and its subsidiaries and affiliates.
In one other significant transaction, TSMP is advising Glencore, BP, and SK in the restructuring of Jurong Aromatics Corporation which was planned to be one of the largest aromatics plant in the world when completed, but fell into financial distress due to market conditions.
The Watson Farley & Williams banking team is led by Mei Lin Goh and is regarded as “highly professional” by one client. The firm has had a strong year dealing in complex and highly-structured transactions and focusing on key sectors particularly offshore oil and gas, transport, aviation and energy.
Highlights include lead partner Goh advising Fred Olsen Energy in relation to the $2 billion refinancing of its subsidiary Dolphin International for the financing of the drillship Bolette Dolphin and for Dolphin’s general corporate purposes.
The firm has also been active on banking and finance deals in the offshore oil and gas sector in Malaysia. Early this year, Andrew Nimmo advised on the Islamic refinancing of a portion of the acquisition finance facilities provided to SapuraKencana Petroleum for the acquisition of new oil and gas assets. Elsewhere, in Brunei, lead partner Simon Petch advised Brunei Gas Carriers on the financing of its fourth A-class LNG carriers which was arranged through a long-term Islamic financing structure.
The firm bolstered its capital markets and corporate finance practice last year with the addition of Aaron Kok. Highlights include Chris Kilburn advising Sumatra Copper & Gold’s wholly owned subsidiary, PT Dwinad Nusa Sejahtera, Nomura Singapore and Indonesia Eximbank on its fundraising for the Tembang gold project located in Sumatra, Indonesia. Elsewhere, the firm advised Ekuiti on its bridge loan financing and investment in Australasia listed Octanex.
In M&A in the past year, the firm advised SapuraKencana, Malaysia’s largest oil and gas services firm, on the acquisition of Petronas’ entire interest in three oil and gas projects offshore of Vietnam worth $400 million. Kilburn led the transaction, which marked SapuraKencana’s first acquisition of oil and gas producing assets in Vietnam.
US firm White & Case is best known in Singapore for its capital markets and M&A practices and is also picked out for project finance.
In banking and finance the firm has been particularly active on cross-border, syndicated financings out of the Philippines in 2014. Guan Feng Chen advised the lenders in a $73.5 million syndicated loan to Alsons Consolidated Resources and the team also acted for the lenders in a £210 million loan for the partial acquisition of UK-based Whyte & Mackay by Emperador International. The team also advised on one of the largest loan transaction in Vietnam in recent years acting for the lenders on the $280 million financing facility to PetroVietnam Gas Joint Stock Corporation.
In project finance, one of the firm’s high value deals saw the banking team represent PacificLight Power on the refinancing of its 800MW combined-cycle gas turbine power plant on Jurong Island.
In the capital markets, highlights include Kaya Proudian’s work for Jasmine International on the Jasmine Broadband Internet Infrastructure Fund (JASIF) IPO and listing on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. On the debt side Proudian and Shibeer Ahmed advised HSBC, CIMB Investment Bank, Emirates NBD Capital and Standard Chartered Bank as dealers and arrangers on the $1.5 billion global sukuk (Islamic bond) offering of the Republic of Indonesia.
In restructuring and insolvency the team in Singapore advised a leading Indonesian-listed coal producer on an on-going restructuring of its loan facilities. Elsewhere, the team advised a bank on the restructuring of existing financing provided to various groups in the energy sector.
The firm provides a comprehensive range of legal services to both international and local clients. The team focuses primarily on banking and finance and M&A.
The banking team has acted on several significant transactions such as acting for an Indonesian plantation and commodity group in relation to credit facilities up to $300 million to be granted by a syndicate of banks; representing a Chinese bank respect of a $200 million term loan facility to be granted to one of the largest emerging manufacturers of telecommunication devices in the world; and advising an international bank in Singapore in connection with a receivables purchase facility of$100 million to be granted to one of the largest commodity trading companies in the world.
The firm has acted for several Singapore listed companies in several industries such as the proposed disposal of the company’s existing water treatment business and in a proposed reverse take-over involving an acquisition of an energy and coal related company in Australia. Elsewhere, the firm has also acted for an Indonesian conglomerate in the sale of one of its divisions to a Chinese energy company for $70 million.
WongPartnership is one of the preeminent domestic firms in the Singapore market and is ranked in Tier 1 across nearly all of our financial and corporate ranking tables.
There is individual praise for capital markets partner Rachel Eng from clients: “Very professional and able to see things from the client's perspective – takes a practical approach to resolving issues,” says one. M&A specialist Chan Sing Yee meanwhile is said to give “practical advice and is responsive in requests and understanding the specific situation of the cases”.
Colin Ong is also praised highly by another client. “Colin has been an asset to our deals. He is always responsible and diligent, working hard to meet all our deadlines. He has always provided us with good advice and I would recommend him to anyone.” Ong and fellow partner Karen Yeoh are seen as “strong partners, very responsive and gave prompt and thoughtful legal advice. Colin has a strong reputation on the debt side so always happy to find him and he is always helpful even on ad hoc matters. Karen was a senior associate and now is a partner so she continues to be very communicative, has solid grounding in ECM and IPOs and has a pleasant demeanour. Also very responsive and always gives commercially minded advice as well as technical advice.”
2014 has proven to be a strong year for the firm’s banking and finance practice. Highlights include Susan Wong and Tan Li Wen’s advice to Frasers Amethyst on the financing granted by the banks for the acquisition of the Australand Property Group. Elsewhere the firm advised the lenders on a S$368 million ($262 million) loan facility granted to Harmony Convention.
In project finance, the firm acted for a group of lenders regarding a $1.1 billion financing facility to Singapore LNG Corporation for the repayment of government loans to the company in its development of the first LNG Terminal in Singapore.
In the capital markets, on the equity side, Rachel Eng and Colin Ong acted for a group of banks in relation to the S$513 million IPO of Keppel DC REIT, which is the first real estate investment trust listed in Asia and also the largest IPO in its sector on the Singapore exchange in 2014. The firm has also been legal counsel to a consortium of banks in connection with Frasers Hospitality Trust’s (FHT) IPO valued at around S$368 million.
On the debt side, the team acted for City Developments’ on the issue of profit participation securities (PPS) by Sunbright Holdings. The firm also advised Tata Steel on the issue of a guaranteed $1.5 billion dual tranche bond by ABJA Investment.
In M&A the team advised JTC Corporation and Temasek, in relation to a merger with four operating subsidiaries. Ng Wai King, Low Kah Keong and Tan Sue-Lynn also advised Keppel Land on its S$3.59 billion acquisition by Keppel Corporation.
In restructuring and insolvency, in an ongoing deal, the firm represented Jones the Grocer International, a food and beverage outlet operator in Singapore, in connection with obtaining an interim judicial management order and other matters.