Solicitors governing body: All China Lawyers Association (ACLA)
Competition authority: Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets, Competition, Investment funds, M&A, Private equity, Project Development, Project finance
Buoyed by the state’s continuing encouragement of outbound investment—known as the Go Out Policy (走出去战略)—there has been an emerging ‘red circle’ of PRC firms making inroads into Hong Kong and overseas. Linguistic factors play a key role as PRC firms follow their clients and provide legal services to Chinese companies and enterprises setting up abroad. Chinese firms are also growing in sophistication as overseas trained lawyers return home in a rising pattern of reverse brain drain. Such firms though are likely to struggle with cross-border deals for some time still, so will use international firms especially in outbound transactional work.
It seems that China’s protectionist strategy establishing a quasi-closed system has underlined a long-term capacity-building strategy that appears to be paying off for its legal market. In the US, Japan, and the EU, Chinese law firms are generally able to establish offices, hire local lawyers, and engage in corporate law and litigation services. However, while foreign firms can open offices in mainland China, access to the legal market—excluding Hong Kong and Macau—is restricted. Foreign law firms cannot practice PRC law while PRC qualified lawyers employed by foreign law firms have their licenses suspended for the duration of their employment.
Global law firms can advise on home and international law but will need to turn to local law firms for domestic matters. Following China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001, foreign law firms were then allowed to open additional offices in mainland China, but need to wait three years between each opening.
Mergers or joint ventures with Chinese firms involving financial integration are not allowed either, but in recent years we have seen its legal market soften ever so slightly. Hitting the headlines this year, we saw Chinese firm Dacheng combine with Dentons to form the world's largest firm by headcount, which was only the second time ever a Chinese firm completed a substantial ‘merger’ with an international firm after Chinese firm King & Wood, Australian outfit Mallesons and the UK's SJ Berwin formed King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) in 2012.
The vehicle for such combinations in a restrictive environment is the Swiss verein, which has become a popular entry strategy for international firms into domestic markets. It is a form of voluntary association where members do not share commercial or professional liability for the debts or actions of other member firms and often do not share revenues or pool profits. The idea of large global brands operating under local rules inspired the adoption of the verein structure, which allows firms to overcome jurisdictional obstacles to international mergers.
Another initiative unveiled in September 2013 was the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone—the first free-trade zone in mainland China—being used as a testing ground for a number of economic and social reforms. In April 2015, Baker & McKenzie became the first foreign law firm to take advantage of this and enter into a joint operation with Beijing’s FenXun Partners. It is the only formal structure where global and PRC firms can work together to serve clients in China under the current regulatory framework.
Adam Majeed - Asia-Pacific Editor
Akin Gump focuses on M&A and restructuring advice. The firm has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong and offers cross-border advice through its global team.
During the research period deal highlights include advice to the noteholders of Winsway Enterprises on its restructuring through concurrent administrative procedures in Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands and the Southern District of New York; and work for the creditors of Emas Chiyoda Subsea on its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the US.
Allbright is a Chinese law firm offering corporate advice to domestic and international clients. The firm has multiple offices in PRC as well as one in Hong Kong. It also operates through the Sino-Global Legal Alliance.
The firm’s capital markets practice offers debt and equity services. On the debt side the firm advised state-owned Jiangxi Provincial Expressway Investment on a debt issue. On the equity side the firm advised Jiajiayue Group on its preparation for an IPO.
In structured finance and securitisation the firm has focused on ABS issues including work for Hua’neng Guicheng Trust and CITIC Securities.
In M&A highlights include work for CITIC Securities as financial advisor on Wuhan Iron & Steel’s merger with Baoshan Iron & Steel. It also advised Michigan-based KKS Holdings on the Chinese regulatory and transactional aspects of its merger with an American subsidiary of Shanghai-listed Joyson.
Li Wang joined the banking and finance practice area in March 2016.
Finance is Allen & Overy’s forte and the firm has a sturdy reputation acting for Chinese banks on outbound project financings, and large Asia regional and global project financings with a Chinese export credit agency‐backed component. Apart from this, the firm offers a mix of traditional lending products such as secured and unsecured bilateral and syndicated lending, acquisition financing, real estate financing and complex and innovative structured transactions, equity backed financings and fund financings. In debt capital markets the firm is at the forefront of China’s growing Panda bonds market.
Key sectors where the firm has been active include banking, technology, government and public policy, automotive, aviation and real estate.
Highlights include advising Poland’s ministry of finance in its issue of Rmb3 billion Panda bonds, which is the first time a European sovereign has issued Renminbi denominated bonds; and advising Sri Lanka on its $1.5 billion dual tranche 5.5-year and 10-year sovereign bond issuance. The firm was also admitted to the panel of China Datang this year and advised the company and its consortium partners on the 2 x 200 MW Meulaboh/Nagan Raya 3&4 coal‐fired power project in Indonesia.
In the research period the firm’s M&A department brought in partner Wayne Lee from Shearman & Sterling in Shanghai; and partners Jonathan Hsui and Lina Lee from Ashurst. Also Gary McClean retired and Vivian Yiu left for Morrison & Foerster.
Key clients of the firm include ICBC International, Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Silk Road Fund, China Datang Overseas Investment, The Export–Import Bank of China and China Shenhua Energy.
“The A&O team was again very responsive and supportive for all matters concerning the successful set up of a joint venture with Chinese partners as well as finalising all the subsequent sub agreements such as licence agreements, and manufacturing and distribution agreements. That A&O reaches out to their affiliates in China and elsewhere in the world is key and it uses it very effectively.” – M&A
“Lawyers from A&O are well trained with solid practice experience. The firm has a wide global network and is well positioned to serve our company's multi-jurisdictional legal needs. However, due to its broad client base, we may not always be able to engage them due to conflicts of interest.” – M&A
“It has deep interest and knowledge in the automotive business and a full understanding of the business and structure of the company.” - Competition
“It has pragmatic and commercial solutions for clients with the support of solid legal advice.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“Allen & Overy’s lawyers are responsive and have the ability to view situations from a commercial perspective. Its support and technical knowledge are outstanding.” – Competition
“The A&O team in HK and the PRC is very strong with a great mix of technical knowledge, experience and communication skills. Its best attribute is its ability to communicate the subtleties of local business culture and practice in a way that is easy to understand and is useful. As with all top tier firms in HK and PRC cost is always an issue, as its services are not cheap. But the A&O team has found innovative ways to reward loyalty, which we appreciate as a client.” Restructuring and insolvency
“I have worked with Allen & Overy extensively in the restructuring field. This work includes some of the cutting edge and high profile restructuring work in the region, including Vietnam Shipbuilding and Baha Mar. Allen & Overy has excellent technical ability and know how in this area, coupled with extensive experience. Both Richard and Ian also bring a very strong commercial understanding to deals. As well as technical excellence and experience, other strengths are resource, strength in depth and presence across multiple jurisdictions.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“Very efficient and right to the point. Timely response to our requests. Good strategy and practical advice, and therefore the cost/benefit was very good.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“A&O work with our bank in many deals and it is highly appreciated that A&O always put our instructions on high priority.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“It’s an excellent service overall. On top of the obvious high quality work, I particularly enjoy having one contact partner who coordinates all the files handled by the firm in the various jurisdictions where I use their services.” – Competition
“Victor is an excellent communicator with a deep understanding of the markets he works in and a passion for M&A transactions.”
“Very solid M&A lawyer that understands clients' needs well. He’s responsive and capable of providing practical advice.”
“He’s very knowledgeable and ready to seek alternative creative/innovative solutions to address issues. He’s a team player and very hard working.”
“He has continuing communication and great responsiveness, Francois always takes the time for the client to understand the business and the intricacies of its organisation and challenges. I am sure to get the best service I am looking for.”
“Francois Renard, apart from being a highly qualified competition lawyer, does a great job assisting me in coordinating the firm's resources in each market where I use their services. This allows me to have quick and efficient access to local advice I need, which is extremely valuable when one supervises lots of markets.”
“He’s brilliant in assessing and analysing the situation and formulating feasible solutions for clients. Providing concrete recommendations to facilitate clients' decisions on difficult matters.”
“An excellent, strong technical lawyer. Excellent technical expertise in restructuring work and strong commercial understanding.”
“Richard Woodworth is the go-to insolvency lawyer in Asia. A widely-acknowledged leader in his field, he provides incisive analysis, along with his excellent understanding of business needs, providing practical advice to his clients.”
“Richard is a restructuring lawyer that I work with on many occasions and he always demonstrated his commercial strength and flexibility in addressing complex situations.”
Legacy firms Arnold & Porter and Kaye Scholer combined in January 2017. The firm now has over 30 lawyers within its China practice group in Shanghai which offers banking, corporate and M&A, private equity and project development services.
One interesting matter during the research period saw the firm advise Shanghai Municipal Government Financial Services Office on applications to a pilot program to allow certain international hedge funds investing in overseas securities markets to raise funds in PRC.
In M&A the firm advised Singaporean-based Zeavion on its $127.5 million acquisition of Gymboree Play and Music.
Corporate and telecommunications partner Rob Bratby joined the firm from Olswang in February 2017.
Ashurst is becoming a fixture in Hong Kong’s legal landscape increasingly picking up larger mandates available to the market in the M&A, capital markets and projects space. The firm has invested heavily in developing its debt capital markets capability from investment grade to high yield issuances.
Sectors where the firm has been active of late include energy, entertainment, consumer goods and services, pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas.
Highlights include advising Studio City in a $1.2 billion senior secured notes offering, which was one of Asia's largest high-yield issues in 2016; and advising China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) in its £18 billion investment into the UK's first nuclear power station Hinkley Point C.
There have been changes in the firm in the past 12 months with partners Lina Lee and Jonathan Hsui leaving for Allen & Overy; project finance partner Matthias Schemuth leaving for DLA Piper; restructuring partner Bertie Mehigan leaving for Howse Williams Bowers; and finance partner Doo-Soon Choi leaving for Mayer Brown JSM. The firm did however bring in equity capital markets partner PH Chik from Linklaters.
This edition Ashurst has moved up a tier in debt capital markets and has entered the M&A rankings in Hong Kong.
Key clients of the firm include China General Nuclear Power Corporation, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Crown Resorts, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Development Bank.
“I have known the firm for many years to work on various areas of securitisation, derivatives and structured products mainly. It is very responsive and has deep industry knowledge and excellent lawyers.” – Structured finance and securitisation
“Ashurst has a strong structured finance and securitisation practice. It does not have the same breath of experience as some of its magic circle competitors, but it competes very well on price and client care. It has a real "client first" attitude which contrasts positively with certain other firms in this space and provides a lot of value-added services which means it is consistently one of our go-to firms.” – Structured finance and securitisation
“In Hong Kong Ashurst has a strong debt capital markets practice. Its deal list is impressive and it lends both experience and energy to transactions. As well as many DCM deals, the team also covers repackagings, structured note programmes and similar structured finance transactions.” – Capital markets
“It has very solid practice and sector knowledge with strong commercial sense, responsiveness and ability to meet tight timelines. The regional cooperation between offices from different locations is slightly less satisfactory.” – Structured finance and securitisation
“We have worked with Ashurst on several joint venture and fund investments transactions where Ashurst provided services related to documents review and drafting and due diligence. We have found them to perform at a high professional level, be responsive and sensitive to our needs. It is knowledgeable and has the required expertise, but also shows pragmatism when needed.” - M&A
“The team I am working with is highly responsible, devoted and experienced. It has quite concrete deal experience in the equity markets and is always willing to help and share its knowledge with us.” – Capital markets
“It delivers an excellent work product and some of the transactions we have worked on involved intricate and complex negotiations over a long time period. I’m impressed with its thoroughness and transaction coordination skills. It is also very easy to work with and commercial.” – M&A
“The breadth and depth of the team (including PRC expertise) is unparalleled in the market, save for Linklaters. The team can cover OTC derivatives, repackaging, structured notes and straight/high-yield issuances.” – Structured finance and securitisation
“It has a strong regulatory practice across finance and derivatives including regulatory advice and investigations” – Financial services regulatory
“The Ashurst Hong Kong team with whom I work with is comprised of a good balance of experienced professionals and junior lawyers. I am impressed by its depth of knowledge of the areas of law it advises on, and its responsiveness and collegiate manner in our transactions.” – Capital markets
“Demonstrates good breadth across all aspects of regulatory practice in finance.”
“Peter is the authority for cross-border ABS and covered bonds in Asia. He is second to none for Korean deals, and very strong in China too.”
“Peter is the authority for cross-border ABS and covered bonds in Asia. He is one of the best for Korean finance deals.”
“Very client focused and responsive, knowledgeable and pragmatic.”
“Dean has an excellent commercial understanding of the industry and is a pragmatic lawyer with high attention to detail”.
“Highly recommended. Patrick no doubt is a leading lawyer in derivatives and structured products in the HK and China market, particularly on cross-border transactions. He has solid regulatory and product knowledge and up-to-date commercial and market sense.”
“Nigel has such depth of experience that he really understands what is important on a deal and how to move a transaction smoothly to completion. He is an excellent practitioner.”
“Professional, strong technical knowledge and collegiate in his approach to running cross-border transactions.”
“Nigel Pridmore is my main contact, extremely strong, broad experience and an excellent deal lawyer with great capacity to think out of the box and to deliver in a timely manner.”
“Chris Whiteley is particularly worth mentioning due to his work and experience in Asia during the Asian Financial Crisis. Very few derivatives experts in private practice can claim to have this experience.”
“Chris Whiteley is the top derivatives lawyer in Asia. There are very few who have the depth of experience and knowledge like Chris.”
“Commercial and practical. Chris understands the pressure points and concerns of the legal function inside a bank.”
“Highly commercial, responsive, strong attention to detail, a safe pair of hands. Seamless ability to manage counsel across multiple jurisdictions. From a client's perspective, can be on cruise control. Strong on numbers and financials which is a huge bonus.”
“Chin is highly personable, very calm under pressure and commercial. He gets on well with clients. Please to see that he has been promoted to partner this year—very well deserved.”
In Hong Kong and China Baker McKenzie is known for its strength in M&A, real estate funds, and competition, which is further strengthened by the Baker & McKenzie FenXun (FTZ) Joint Operation Office in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone. The firm is also strong in aviation finance and other areas ranging from syndicated loans to project finance.
Key sectors that have been keeping the firm busy include real estate, banking, construction, social infrastructure and food and beverage.
Highlights include advising Post Holdings in its acquisition of Weetabix from Shanghai based state owned enterprise Bright Food Group and an investment fund advised by Barings Private Equity Asia; and advising Foxconn on its merger notification to MOFCOM for its acquisition of Sharp.
The firm’s M&A transactional practice brought in partner Rose Zhu from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, and lost David Smith who retired. Also the firm’s competition team brought in Bill Brown from CK Hutchison.
This year the firm moves up a tier in banking on account of its deep practice and diverse range of clients.
Key clients of the firm include Bank of China, Hang Seng Bank, United Overseas Bank, HNA Holding Group, Post Holdings, ARA Asset Management and FedEx.
“Baker McKenzie provides speedy responses and solid experience. It’s friendly to work with and willing to provide some free legal advice.” – Investment funds
“Generally, I find the Baker & McKenzie team I work with very responsive and reliable. As I cover an expansive and diverse region, I also depend on its geographical coverage when I handle issues in unfamiliar jurisdictions.” – M&A
“The firm mainly provides us with advice on investment business workflow and new product launchs from a financial regulatory perspective. Karen (Man) is very familiar with the regulatory requirements of investment business, especially the SFC Code of Conduct. She always provides professional advice that could meet the business needs practically for us to implement.”
“He has solid technical skills and good knowledge of a fledgling area in HK.”
“Karen Man has served our department for over 10 years and she is the one that impressed us so much. Karen is very familiar with the regulatory requirements of investment business especially SFC Code of Conduct.”
“Tracy is a seasoned lawyer who has substantial experience handling matters in multiple jurisdictions and industries. She is always responsive, dependable and highly resourceful. Over the years, Tracy has become one of the first outside counsels I would contact if I face a difficult issue in her areas of practice.”
Bird & Bird focuses on banking and finance and M&A within the financial and corporate space. The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong and an association in with Lawjay Partners.
In banking highlights include work for Huarong Overseas on the financing of Zhonghong Zhuoye Group’s acquisition of Abercrombie & Kent and work for Home Instead on an investment into a joint venture with its Chinese franchisee.
John Shi and Shan Lai joined the Beijing office in 2016.
“Highly competent, quick support, legal and practical advice.” – M&A
Broad & Bright PRC is a Chinese law firm offering a range of banking and finance, capital markets, competition, corporate and M&A, project development and restructuring and insolvency services.
The firm has offices in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, as well as an office in Hong Kong in association with CFN lawyers.
The firm’s M&A department advised on a range of domestic and international transactions including a number in the manufacturing industry.
New partner Yanjie Lian joined from Shanghai Xinhua Law Firm in April 2016, bringing expertise in corporate and M&A and restructuring and insolvency.
Partners Zhaohui Fu and Peter Neumann left the corporate and M&A team in July 2016 and March 2017 respectively.
Cathay Associates Kejie is a Chinese law firm offering services in banking and finance, capital markets and corporate and M&A. It is a member of Cathay Associates, a global legal network which it established in September 2015.
In the capital markets the firm advised Hong Kong-listed real estate investor Sino-Ocean on a Rmb4 billion bond issuance and a Rmb10 million MTN issue in May 2016 and March 2017 respectively.
in M&A a clear highlight saw the firm advise on Sino-Ocean’s HK$5.3 billion investment into China Huarong Asset Management.
Chance Bridge Partners is a Chinese law firm offering a full range of corporate services. It is a member of the Sino-Global Legal Alliance which includes international law firm Hogan Lovells and 19 regional Chinese firms.
Deal highlights during the research period include work for China SAM Group on its acquisition of Wolf Petroleum and work for Jinhui Liquor on its IPO.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advises on M&A, capital markets, project financing, restructuring and similar matters. The firm has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong and offers advice on US, English and Hong Kong law.
In the capital markets the firm assisted a number of firms with IPOs of shares, including advising Chinese pork company COFCO Meat.
On the debt side the firm advised Lenovo group on concurrent securities offerings on the Hong Kong and Singapore stock exchanges and also advised Lenovo Perpetual Securities on the reopening of a previous perpetual securities offering on the Singapore exchange.
In funds the firm advised on the formation of MBK Partners Fund IV and on Angelo Gordon’s third Asian real estate fund.
In M&A highlights include work for Hong Kong-listed clothing and footwear company Belle International on its sale to a private equity; work for China Life Insurance on its acquisition of Citigroup and IBM Credit’s stake in China Guangfa Bank and work for Shiji on its buy out of its Nasdaq- listed subsidiary eFuture.
In private equity the firm advised TPG Capital on its participation in the HK$9.5 billion acquisition of internet provider Wharf T&T.
Magic circle firm Clifford Chance is one of the strongest firms in Hong Kong, securing a top tier berth across many practice areas. It has strong relationships with many Chinese policy and commercials banks and enjoys high repute in finance with the largest banking team in Hong Kong. In the capital markets, the firm advised on a total of 10 HKSE IPOs which was more than any other non-PRC legal advisor, and it advised on the first green covered bonds issued out of China.
The firm has been highly active in sectors such as technology, banking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and services and oil and gas.
Highlights include advising the underwriters in Postal Savings Bank of China's $7.6 billion HKSE IPO; and advising the joint lead managers on Bank of China's issuance of $3 billion green bonds, the largest green bond issued by a Chinese entity in the international market.
In the past year the firm hired partner Frank Yuen to its equity capital markets practice from Woo Kwan Lee & Lo. Also restructuring and insolvency expert Mark Hyde retired from practice as did China manging partner Stephen Harder.
Key clients of the firm include China Development Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, China Resources Pharmaceutical Group, China Merchants Securities, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
“The China private equity practice is top notch. It has a high degree of local China knowledge and provides pragmatic legal advice.” – Private equity
“It is a very committed team delivering clients with efficient and high-quality work.” – M&A
“Clifford Chance is probably the best law firm in China related offshore acquisition finance in HK. I find its level much higher than any other firms in this area, due to its sound deal flow, solid technical knowledge and good negotiation skills.” – Banking and finance
“It’s very experienced, solid and trustworthy. CC understands clients’ needs well and are able to provide the best solutions.” – Banking and finance
“The quality of work delivered by this firm is excellent, and legal counsel there are generally very knowledgeable, and definitely good value for money.” – Banking
“The restructuring and insolvency team has great depth of knowledge and experience. It has highly motivated associates on all transactions and provides top quality advice and attention to detail.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“CC is excellent and one of the top tier firms in HK and the Asia-Pacific region generally. The team is extremely efficient and well-versed in both the technical and practical aspects of the funds industry, providing both intricate legal advice together with insights into general market practices and developments.” – Investment funds
“Clifford Chance ranks in the top tier for restructuring in Asia-Pacific, receiving roles on most of the highest profile matters. This has been boosted in recent years by Scott Bache's return to Hong Kong. The team has massive depth of both knowledge base and experience, providing advice that is highly technical, yet still commercial.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“It’s one of our "go to" firms in Asia. It has great technical knowledge in M&A and financing across a variety of jurisdictions in Asia. Very good guides to have next to you in difficult situations.” – M&A
“Clifford Chance combines strong advisory capabilities with a nuanced understanding of deal dynamics. We use CC heavily for transactions with entrepreneurs and family offices given its ability to draft and structure documents which protect private equity buyers without onerous and complex drafting. CC is also efficient and relative to American law firms is very effective in resolving a transaction quickly.” – Private equity
“The firm’s acquisition financing and HY loans offering is top notch. It is immediately accessible with full grasp of details, and the ability to quickly navigate to the crux of issues and potential solutions.” – Banking and finance
“Scott is excellent. He is extremely commercial, yet retains attention to detail that can be critical in contentious restructurings. He leads a committed team that has ample depth and expertise.”
“Scott was missed upon his move to Australia, but his return to Hong Kong over the last few years has been very beneficial to both ourselves and the market generally.”
“Scott is an experienced restructuring legal expert with strong commercial sense and not afraid of voice out his independent view in the best interest of the client.”
“Technically strong with a good nuanced understanding of deal dynamics. He’s really able to close the gap on difficult deals with other parties.”
“Diligent, responsive, organised, intelligent and a pleasure to work with.”
“Extremely clear and pragmatic advice with very good on the ground local knowledge. Fluent in mandarin which is necessary for China transactions.”
“Edith is probably the best acquisition finance lawyer in China related offshore acquisition finance in HK. I find her level is much higher than any other lawyers in this area, due to her sound deal flow, solid technical knowledge and good negotiation skills. She also offers the best advice from a commercial perspective simply because she has seen more deals than other lawyers in the street.”
“He’s very responsive; provides solid advice; good understanding of a client’s commercial context; and good communication skills.”
“He’s knowledgeable and always provides the best advice. He understands a client's needs and maintains client relationships very well.”
“Top class. He really pushes the envelope to deliver us the best results and our team the best service from his firm.”
“He’s one of our "go to" financing lawyers in Asia. Great skills, and the ability to master complex financing situations including in exotic jurisdictions.”
“Anthony is regarded as a ‘legend of the industry’ and he certainly deserves this honour. If you want to get a set of perfectly watertight finance documents, you should engage Anthony.”
CMS has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong which work independently of each other. It works with Rajah & Tann Asia across South East Asia including within China.
The firm provides cross-border M&A advice in a range of market sectors, with notable work relating to manufacturing companies. Highlights include work for Repsol on the €238 million sale of its UK offshore wind power operations to SDIC Power of China.
DaHui Lawyers is an independent Chinese law firm active in M&A, regulatory and project development. The firm has offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
In equity capital markets, the firm acted on IPOs and private placements with one example being work for Kaile Science and Technology on a private share placement.
In M&A, the firm demonstrated a particular depth of work in the TMT sector, including work for DMG Entertainment and Media on its $23 million acquisition of a controlling interest in Korean-listed Chorokbaem Media.
New partner Tian Liu joined from White & Case in April 2016 bringing expertise in capital markets, M&A, private equity and venture capital.
In Hong Kong and Beijing, Davis Polk & Wardwell is known for its market leading equity capital markets practice and also for its strength in financial services regulatory. The firm’s US, Hong Kong and English law transactional practice is also robust in private equity and M&A as evidenced by its work in the privatisation of Intime Retail and China Resources purchase of SABMiller's Snow stake from Anheuser-Busch InBev.
The firm is known for its focus on the technology sector, but has also been active of late in retail, financial services and food and beverage.
It is sure to be involved in the biggest IPOs available and advised Postal Savings Bank of China in its $7.4 billion HKSE IPO; and Orient Securities on its $876 million HKSE IPO.
There has been change in the firm’s practice in the past 12 months with capital markets partner Antony Dapiran leaving the firm amid a challenging IPO market.
Key clients of the firm include Tencent, Syngenta, Uber, China Cinda Asset Management, Aluminum Corporation of China, Ingram Micro, Huatai Securities and China Resources Beer.
De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek primarily offers corporate, M&A and compliance advice. It has an office in Shanghai and can also offer international legal services through its Singaporean office.
The primary function of the office is to help Dutch multinationals with their Asian investments but it offers similar assistance to firms from other European countries as well as helping Asian corporates interested in outbound investment.
For example, the firm helped Netherlands-based semiconductor business ASML acquire the Taiwanese E-beam inspection tool provider Hermes Microvision for €2.75 billion and helped Netherlands-based and NXP Semiconductors sell its standard products business Nexperia to JIC Group’s Beijing Jianguang Asset Management and global investment fund Wise Road Capital for $2.75 billion.
In a notable cross-border deal, it helped Japan’s Yokohama Rubber buy Alliance Tire Group from a group of investors including China’s KKR for $1.179 billion.
Debevoise & Plimpton focuses on capital markets, investment funds, M&A and private equity work.
The firm has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong which lead its work throughout Asia along with their counterparts in Tokyo.
In the funds space the firm advised on the formation of Hony Capital Fund VIII and Vogo International Fund III.
In private equity highlights include advising Capital Group on the acquisition of a stake in Indian pharmaceuticals business Intas in a competitive auction by seller ChrysCapital. It also helped technology developer and investor DE Shaw with the restructuring of Hong Kong-listed PRC real estate developer Kaisa.
DeHeng Law Offices is active across all areas of financial and corporate work. Its head office is in Beijing with an additional 25 offices across PRC and an associated law firm in Hong Kong.
The firm’s finance practice took on project and acquisition financing work as well as some restructuring and insolvency activity. China Development Bank and Citic Bank were repeat clients.
The firm’s corporate and M&A practice had a particular focus on the real estate and semiconductor sectors during the research period. It advised investor CITIC Guoan as part of the consortium buy-out of listed firm Quhoo 360 and advised Dalian Wanda Commercial Real Estate on its HK$34.45 billion delisting.
The banking practice added two counsel to its roster during the research period. Chen Feng joined from Simmons & Simmons in September 2016 and Sisi Shen joined from Global Law Office in January 2017.
“This firm is working hard to compete with other more internationally-known Chinese firms. Generally speaking, I am satisfied with their services.” – Banking and finance
“She is knowledgeable in the banking and finance work, and she frequently represents banks in the PRC.”
Dentons is active across banking and finance, capital markets, M&A and private equity. The firm has a head office in Beijing with an additional 44 offices across PRC and one in Hong Kong.
in finance a clear highlight saw the firm advise Standard Chartered Bank on the provision of a $500 million syndicated loan to the government of Zambia to finance infrastructure projects.
The firm’s capital markets team advised China Development Bank on its Rmb11.9 billion credit asset securitisation trust fourth round fundraising with China Jingu International Trust Co and assisted China Huarong Asset Management with a Rmb25 billion bond issue.
The firm’s M&A work includes work for Shanghai Power on its acquisition of German North Sea and work on a number of transactions involving investments by Chinese insurance companies in projects overseas.
In restructuring and insolvency the firm acted for creditors and as administrator in reorganisation and insolvency proceedings. It acted as administrator on the court-ordered reorganisation of state-run China Erzhong and acted as legal counsel to the bankruptcy administrator of Fengli Group on the troubled firm’s reorganisation and merger with Suzhou Port Group.
DLA Piper is strong in investment funds in Hong Kong—particularly in real estate and hedge funds—but it is also strong in restructuring and insolvency, while its projects and financial services regulatory practice (FSR) continue to gain traction. The firm’s FSR practice has a strong focus on technology and unique expertise in the technical aspects of clients’ ICT and outsourcing projects.
Key sectors where the firm has been engaged recently include banking, financial services, technology, media, pharmaceuticals and oil and gas.
The firm has made a number of hires in the past year mostly from O'Melveny & Myers by bringing in partners Qiang Li and Stewart Wang to its corporate team, and Nathan Bush to its competition team. The firm also brought in partner Andrew Payne from Clearwater Capital Partners, and finance partner Matthias Schemuth from Ashurst. The firm also lost Kit Kwok to China Ping An Insurance Overseas, and Stephen Peepels left for Hogan Lovells.
DLA Piper’s financial regulatory practice with its unique knowledge in technology has moved up a tier this year.
Key clients of the firm include Fosun International, Beijing Media Corporation, Aviva Real Estate Investors, China Everbright, Standard Chartered and Citic Capital Investment Management.
“It did an excellent job. It’s attentive to detail; has a commercial approach and is solutions-oriented.” – M&A
“I have a very good relationship with DLA Piper. It has a diverse practice group in Hong Kong and is able to provide banking, fund formation and other corporate finance related services to us. The level of fees it charges is also reasonable.” – Banking and finance
“The investment funds team has the gravitas, experience and expertise that many peers lack in the industry.” – Investment funds
“It’s very responsive, and working across time zones was not an issue. It dealt with all issues in a common sense and pragmatic way. Good value for money.” – M&A
“Luke Gannon at DLA Piper is the "go to" partner for funds formation work in private equity, real estate, venture capital and hedge funds. He is also highly regarded for HK regulatory work with the SFC and HK Exchange. Luke has 30 years’ experience, is always busy and quite expensive but that is because he is in demand and why we go to him with the most complex funds and regulatory matters.”
“Melody pays very good attention to details personally, has strong technical skills, and is quite hands-on in handling transactions. She’s also accessible and responsive.”
“She’s very responsive and working across time zones was not an issue. She dealt with all issues in a common sense and pragmatic way. Good value for money.”
“Jonathan Leitch is my first choice for restructuring assignments in Asia. He has the unique ability to distil complex legal issues into practical and commercial solutions. His engaging character and no nonsense approach coupled with practical and commercial advice is a great strength, especially in emerging markets. Jonathan is a one stop shop for advice given his time in the region and depth of experience across a variety of industries. Overall an extremely well respected restructuring practitioner in Asia.”
“He’s a very strong lawyer. His knowledge is second to none in the industry concerning asset based finance.”
East & Concord Partners PRC acts on banking and finance, M&A, capital markets, and project development work. It is headquartered in Beijing with an additional four offices across PRC.
The firm regularly advises regulated Chinese financial institutions such as banks, private funds and insurance companies including advisinfg CITIC Trust on an issue of asset-backed notes. Other clients include China CITIC Bank, Huaxia Bank, ICBC Financial Leasing Company and Kun Lun Financial Leasing Company.
In M&A the firm advised Homeinns Hotel Group on a two-part cross-border merger with BTG Hotels Group.
In funds the firm advised the Hubei Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial Government on its Yangtze River Economic Belt Industry Fund.
Eversheds Sutherland operates in both China and Hong Kong and is best known for its structured finance and securitisation and restructuring and insolvency work.
The firm advised on securitisations in the PRC, Hong Kong and overseas and counts Fitch Ratings as a repeat client.
The firm’s M&A practice advised Credit China FinTech on its investment in Vietnamese IT solutions provider Amigo Technologies. It also advised state-owned Datang Power sell its coal-to-chemical operations.
The firm advised on cross-border financial restructuring such as assisting liquidators JLA Asia to secure the assets of BVI-incorporated Thousand Jade. KPMG also sought its assistance in its role as Hong Kong liquidator for more than one firm, including its work on the Lehman Brothers case.
In February 2017 consultants Eugene Yeung and Jonty Lim joined the restructuring and insolvency practice from Mayer Brown JSM and KPMG respectively.
“A competent adviser that we have confidence in.”
EY Chen & Co PRC offers commercial law services in fields such as banking and finance, capital markets, M&A and restructuring and insolvency. It has a head office in Shanghai with additional offices in Beijing and Hong Kong.
The firm provides capital markets and fundraising advice relating to the PRC, including transactions relating to the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the main board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange as well as private placements. The firm advised Anxin Trust on its private placement of ordinary shares
In M&A the firm advised Zhongchang Marine on the acquisition of data marketing software and service provider Cube.
In restructuring and insolvency the firm advised CTS International Logistics on its restructuring through which it acquired China Special Article Logistics.
Strong in private equity Fangda Partners was one of the earliest entrants into the PRC fund formation market and its team has the dual capacity to advise on onshore Renminbi and offshore US dollar fund formation matters. Its finance practice is especially strong in acquisition finance and non-recourse or limited recourse project financing and infrastructure development projects, while M&A is one of the firm’s core practices.
The firm has strong industry expertise in technology media and telecommunications, but it has also been active in the healthcare, industrials and food and beverage industries.
Highlights include advising Xiaoju Kuaizhi in its acquisition of Uber China; acting for Goldman Sachs in China Petrochemical Corporation’s issuance of $3 billion in bonds; and advising Morgan Stanley on the structuring and formation of Hangzhou Champion Equity Investment Partnership, the second Rmb-denominated private equity fund under its management in China.
Fangda has made a few hires in the past year and brought in banking expert Eric Tan from Linklaters; competition specialist Vivian Cao from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; and structured finance and securitisation lawyer Yan Yan from Zhong Lun Law Firm.
Key clients of the firm include Citic Private Equity Funds, Warburg Pincus, Alibaba Group, Morgan Stanley, China Music Corporation, Shenzhen Energy Group, China Merchants Group, and Shanghai Electric.
Spanish firm Garrigues offers a range of corporate services from offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
The firm offers full-service advice relating to investments in PRC, noting its attractive positioning for Latin American investors in the country.
It can also assist with outbound investment, particularly to Spain and Portugal, and also with transactions in Latin America through its offices overseas.
Notable clients include Import-Export Bank of China, Bank of Shanghai, GESTAMP, Banco Santander and Bank of Beijing.
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher offers advice relating to capital markets, M&A, project development and financing, real estate and cross-border investment. The firm has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong which work closely together with their Singaporean counterparts.
In the capital markets the firm advised AP Renewables on the issue of a $225 million bond certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative.
In M&A, the firm advises on a range of high value and cross-border transactions for Chinese and international clients. It helped Ningbo Joyson acquire auto parts manufacturer Key Safety Systems and assisted First Pacific in the sale of its controlling stake in Singaporean-listed China Minzhong Food.
The firm has an active projects practice including work for Universal LRT on the financing and development of the “MRT-7” rail and road transportation terminal in Metro Manila.
Global Law Office is an independent Chinese law firm offering services related to banking and finance, capital markets, M&A and private equity, project financing and development and restructuring and insolvency. The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
In banking and finance the firm advised China CITIC Bank, China CITIC Bank International and The Export-Import Bank of China on the $3 billion acquisition finance provided to Apex-led investors to acquire printing and software business Lexmark.
In the capital markets the firm’s work spanned IPOs, securitisation and derivatives and included work related to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Examples include work for Shanghai Pudong Development Bank on the issue of asset-backed securities.
In M&A the firm represented Samsung’s wholly-owned subsidiary SSS on its Rmb3 billion investment in BYD
New partner Feiwen Wu joined the capital markets team from Guangdong Jun Yan during the research period.
“Well rounded and always in good hands. Not always the deepest bench compared to some other leading national firms.” – M&A
“Professionalism, promptly, friendly.” – Capital markets
“Thorough and responsive.”
“Professional, without delay, friendly.”
Grandall Law Firm offers services relating to banking and finance, capital markets, M&A and project finance and development. It has offices across the PRC (with one in Hong Kong), Madrid, Silicon Valley and Stockholm.
In banking on deal example saw the firm advise SAIC Motor on a 12-bank, Rmb20 billion syndicated loan.
The firm’s debt capital markets team advised Wansheng Economic Development Zone on the issue by a wholly-owned subsidiary of $3 billion issue of Singapore QDS bonds and advised a subsidiary of State Power Investment on a $1.2 billion international bond issue.
On the equity side the firm advised on Shanghai Bailian’s Rmb3.05 billion private placement.
In M&A the firm advised a Giant Group-led consortium of Chinese investors on its acquisition of gaming company Playtika from Caesars Interactive Entertainment. It also assisted Tensent with the privatisation of Bona Film Group.
In structured finance and securitisation the firm advised TEBON Innovation Capital on securitisations worth $300 million and $430 million respectively.
The firm’s competition and commercial work primarily relates to M&A but also includes regulatory work. It advised Yantai Donghai Aluminium Foil on an EC anti-dumping investigation into the Chinese export market and advised on restructuring and antitrust considerations related to Suzhou Thvow’s acquisition of a stake on China Sinogy Electric Engineering.
In M&A the firm advised a Giant Group-led consortium of Chinese investors on its acquisition of gaming company Playtika from Caesars Interactive Entertainment. It also assisted Tensent with the privatisation of Bona Film Group.
As well as traditional M&A, the firm undertakes corporate restructuring such as the integration of China Shipping and COSCO. It can also assist with backdoor listings and helped SFExpress with a reverse take-over through which it became listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, as well as helping Giant Interactive buy out Chongqing New Centre Cruise.
in the investment funds area the firm helped Shanghai International apply for its first fund product and helped Taikang Insurance establish the Taikang Insurance Private Fund.
The firm’s project finance and development portfolio is focused on project preparation and PPP bids. The firm provided advice on PPPs such as the Chengdu Metro Commuting Railway Line 9 (first phase); the Chengdu Direct Management Area of Sichuan Tianfu New Area, Urban Infrastructure Enterprise Investment Project; and The Core Area of Sichuan Tianfu New Area, Utility Tunnel & Urban Roads Project.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm helped Zhejiang Baodi Real Estate re-organise its financial risk and access new funds. It also helps creditors to protect their interests, assisting Zheshang Asset Management when Zhejiang Zhuangji Shipping filed for bankruptcy. It also acts as a court-appointed administrator, for example on the liquidation of previously state-owned Zosco and Taizhou Maritime.
Guantao Law Firm’s strongest practice areas are in private equity and competition where it is ranked highest. In competition it is experienced advising on merger filings in China, providing compliance advice, and assisting in investigations and inquiries by competition authorities; while in private equity it has built repute advising its PRC clients in their investments at home and overseas.
In the past year the firm has been busy working on matters in industries such as financial services, insurance, construction, automotive and technology.
The firm has boosted its restructuring and insolvency practice with the hires of partners Jianyue Zhu from Jin Tai Law Firm and Zhilong Cai from Shenda Partners; its M&A practice brought in partners Haixing Tian, Jun Shen, and Lai Jia from Shenda Partners; while its competition team hired Yue Guan from Tencent and Lei Zhang from Shenda Partners; and the banking and finance team brought in Hongli Zou from Shanghai Zhongmao Law Firm.
Key clients of the firm include China Development Bank, China Renaissance, Bank of Dalian, China Building Material Test & Certification Group, Xinhua Winshare Publishing and Media, China Minsheng Trust and Jianqiao Securities.
Haiwen & Partners is not the largest mainland Chinese firm, but it is one of the oldest in the market and has built itself a strong reputation in capital markets, M&A and private equity where it advises on fund formation, portfolio investments, managements and exits.
The firm is active in mandates in industries such as technology, financial services, mining, automotive, and oil and gas.
It advised Postal Savings Bank of China in its $7.4 billion HKSE IPO; Tianjin Tianhai Investment in Ingram Micro’s privatisation; and CICC in Jinan Diesel Engine’s acquisition of China Petroleum Capital from China National Petroleum Corporation.
Recently the firm opened up an office in Hong Kong and recruited former Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton associate Max Hua as partner. It had spun off capital markets partner Lu Guiping to start his own firm, Lu & Associates, with which the firm entered into an association. Wu Zuolong also joined as partner from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
Key clients of the firm include China International Capital Corporation, Temasek, Postal Savings Bank of China, Guotai Junan Securities, and Hentai Securities.
Investment funds and private equity are two key areas for Han Kun Law Offices where it is ranked highest. It completes around 100 Rmb and US dollar fund formation projects per year, and last year it closed over 500 venture capital and private equity funds mainly on the investor side. The firm also has a strong aviation team experienced in advising domestic and foreign aircraft leasing companies, commercial banks and domestic airlines in leasing and financing of aircraft and aviation equipment.
The firm has been highly active in the technology space, but has also done deals in the banking, aviation, mining, and media industries.
Highlights include advising China International Capital Corporation in establishment of an Rmb fund in Shanghai with a private equity buyout fund size of Rmb15 billion; advising bike-sharing platform OFO international in its $450 million series D round financing; and advising China Southern Airlines Company in its $1 billion financial leasing of nearly 20 aircraft from BOCOM Leasing, CMB Leasing, CIB Leasing and ABC Leasing.
There has been movement in the firm in the past year with Xiaoming Li, Jun Wan, James Miao, Chengyao Zhou, Wei Li, and Min Duan joining from White & Case, JPMorgan and Allbright Law Offices, Davis Polk & Wardwell, Global Law Offices and Morgan Lewis & Bockius respectively.
Key clients of the firm include Warburg Pincus, Standard Chartered Bank, The Export-Import Bank of China, CITIC Group, Baidu, Tencent and JD.com.
“It produces good quality work and has good communication skills.” - Competition
“He can deliver high quality work product within a time frame previously agreed.”
HHP Attorneys-At-Law advises on banking and finance, M&A, project development and finance and restructuring work. The firm provides cross-border advice through its membership of the Meritas network.
In M&A, the firm advised on transactions in diverse sectors with most details given on a confidential basis. One public matters saw the firm advise Linked-F Finance Training on two investment rounds.
During the research period, new attorney Jialing Liu joined the firm bringing M&A and corporate expertise.
Jia Yuan is known for its work in the capital markets, especially in IPOs where it captures a healthy portion of the A and H-share markets—including Asia’s largest healthcare IPO last year. It is also active in corporate restructuring, refinancing and M&A matters.
The firm has strong industry expertise in TMT, but it has also been active in the automotive, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and industrial and manufacturing sectors.
Highlights include advising China Resources Pharmaceutical Group on its HKSE IPO; advising CSD Water Services in its IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange; and advising on Chinese home appliance maker Midea Group's $4.5 billion acquisition of German robotics maker Kuka.
Key clients of the firm include China Railway Group, China Resources Pharmaceutical Group, Dadi Cinema Group, China Publishing & Media, Zhongtai Securities, Guangdong Wen's Foodstuffs Group, and Huagong Tech.
Jin Rui Law Offices is a boutique law firm focused primarily on the energy sector, including clean energy. The firm has headquarters in Beijing
In M&A, the firm works on energy sector acquisitions and investments such as China Power International’s acquisition of a 12.17% stake in Sichuan Energy Industry Investment, or Huadian Power International’s acquisition of Qingdao Huatuo Technology. It also helped on the acquisition of Fujian Qiantian Building by Huadian Fuxin Energy.
In project development, the firm has acted on the Zhuhai City Yuhai Natural Gas Cogeneration Project and on the China-EU Shenzhen International Low-carbon City project to build a new city with low carbon emissions.
“They are specialised in regulations and policies on land, real estate and construction, their work is effective and precise.” – M&A
“Because the transaction is time limited, we asked Jin Rui to finish the DD in the shortest time. They are brilliant in organising colleagues to meet our needs and thanks to their efficient job, the deal had perfect closure.” – M&A
“Jin Rui has a professional team led by Wang Huihong. They have the capacity and real attitude to complete the mission.” – Project finance
“Jin Rui have a good understanding of energy companies. They have a team with rich experience and capacity to provide feasible legal solution.” – Project finance
“Jin Rui did a good job in designing a practical trading model, enforcing it with the comprehensive due diligence and integrated contract text.” – M&A
“Jin Rui Lawyers have the ability to understand and meet our needs. They are specialised in project development and project finance, by providing corresponding measures, they solved a lot problems for us.” – Project development
“Jin Rui lawyers are a professional and efficient service team, able to understand the actual needs of energy enterprises, the actual problems.” – Project finance
“A shrewd negotiator, helping us to achieve all the main goals through principled but flexible negotiation.”
“Attorney Wang is trustworthy, did well in dispute resolution and biding.”
“Lawyer Wang is prudent and steady, helping us solve many legal problems, especially excellent in biding and dispute resolution.”
“Wang is passionate and professional, good at negotiation and transaction model designing.”
Jingtian & Gongcheng is known for its strength in equity capital markets and M&A. The firm is strong in Hong Kong listings, and has a lucrative overseas listing business in line with recent trends where overseas-listed companies return to the China A-Share market. M&A is a core area of the firm and its competition team is experienced acting for Chinese Internet companies in resolving special merger control issues involving the VIE structure.
The firm has been highly active in industries such as technology, pharmaceuticals, media, energy, and sports.
Highlights include advising Suning Holdings Group in its $290 million acquisition of majority shares in Inter Milan, which was the first time a Chinese enterprise took control of a renowned international football club; advising Datang Environment Industry in its HK$2 billion listing on the HKSE; and advising Bank of China on the first green covered bond issued by PRC banks.
In the research period the firm brought in funds partner Yuan Lizhi from Longan Law Firm, and strengthened its M&A team with Feng Jianjian from Longan Law Firm and Shen Ke from HHP Attorneys-at-Law.
Key clients of the firm include Wanda Group, New Hope Group, Yintai Resources, Meitu, JPMorgan Securities, Morgan Stanley, and China Overseas Holdings.
Jingtian & Gongcheng has a strategic alliance with international firm Mayer Brown JSM who are looking to expand its platform in China.
“It delivers solid work in a time-efficiency manner and is fully cooperative. The team has rich experience from its prior similar projects. Communication with clients is effective.” – Investment funds
“Jingtian & Gongcheng possesses in-depth knowledge about competition law. It knows very well about a client's background and needs, and assists it in resolving different types of problems in an efficient manner.” – Competition
“Mr Dai is very experienced and professional in the areas of M&A, reorganisation and corporate matters. He pays attention to detail and possesses commercial sense. He acts in the best interest of the client.”
“Mr Xie is very knowledgeable and honest to his clients. He is fully cooperative and solves problem on client's stance. His work is beyond our expectation.”
Jones Day advises on banking and finance, competition, investment funds and projects work. The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and has a Philippines desk and a Singapore desk.
The firm’s Chinese capital markets work is run by the Hong Kong office and the firm can advise on Hong Kong, UK and US law as well as assisting with PRC, Hong Kong and US capital markets. It assisted with the HKSE IPO of China Zheshang Bank, acting as underwriters’ counsel for CITIC CLSA and other banks.
In structured finance and securitisation the firm advised on securitisations for two different sets of clients, both backed by receivables from Korean Air Lines. It also advised on a $5 billion note programme arranged by Standard Chartered Bank.
In M&A it advised Fung Teng Enterprises on the acquisition of a stake in Hong Kong-listed Mastercraft International and subsequent buy-out offer.
In private equity the firm has a particular focus on real estate. It has expertise in American and Australian law and works across the Asia Pacific region. Repeat clients include Gaw Capital Partners, Ivanhoe Cambridge, Far East Global Group and Proprium Capital Partners.
In November 2016 Jeffrey Maddox joined the firm. Donna Healy and Julian Lin left the firm to move in-house during the research period.
JunHe is known for its finance, M&A, and private equity work. Its capital markets team is its largest practice group and it has a strong share of the IPO market. The firm was one of the first private law firms established in the PRC and it made project finance a core activity, but it is also highly active in take-private financing, leveraged acquisition finance, aviation finance, and shipping finance.
In the past year the firm has been busy in a number of matters in sectors such as technology, real estate, automotive, banking, transport, and oil and gas.
Highlights include advising the National Bank of Canada in the issuance of Rmb10 billion in panda bonds, which was the first foreign non-sovereign issuer of panda bonds by a public offering; advising Citic in the Rmb31 billion sale of its real estate businesses; and advising Tianjin Bank in its HK$6.4 billion IPO.
The firm’s competition team brought in partner Ziqing Zheng from King & Wood Mallesons, but it also lost private equity partners Li Xiaoyang and Han Yue to the same firm.
Key clients of the firm include Ping An Bank, Standard Charted Bank, China Gas Holdings, China Development Bank, Citic Group, Cosco Pacific and AssetMark Financial Holdings.
“A very professional team who always understand clients' businesses from a legal perspective and provide creative solutions to get problems solved.” – M&A
“Good industry sector knowledge. Can understand clients from legal perspective and deliver quality legal advice and documents.”
JunZeJun is an independent law firm offering services in banking and finance and capital markets. Headquartered in Beijing, the firm has a further six offices around in mainland China as well as one in Hong Kong in association with Nixon Peabody.
The firm’s banking and finance offering includes a range of financial sector services such as fund establishment and finance sector M&A.
The firm’s capital markets practice focuses on ABS work particularly on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
The firm provides project development advice on PPP projects such as the Wenjin Industrial New City PPP Project in the Xinzhou district of Wuhan City.
In March 2017 banking partner Qiang Ma joined from GuoFeng. Partner Bing Wang left in December 2016.
As the only international firm to practice PRC law, King & Wood Mallesons is well placed for capital markets work such as A-Share, H-Share, red chip offerings and panda bond transactions. The firm is also strong in private equity, finance, M&A, competition, and structured finance and securitisation—especially in Korean cross-border ABS deals, cross-border auto loan securitisations and retail structured products.
The firm has been busy in the past year in industries such as banking, energy, insurance, real estate, and pharmaceuticals.
Highlights include advising World Bank on its first SDR–denominated bond in the Chinese Inter-Bank Bond Market; advising Postal Savings Bank of China in its $7.4 billion HKSE IPO; and advising Apex Technology in its $4 billion acquisition of Lexmark International.
King & Wood Mallesons has strengthened its practice during the research period with the capital markets hires of Anthony Wan and John Baptist Chan from Llinks Law Offices and Clifford Chance. It also brought in Jianli Wen from Fenxun and Kaichang Yong from Baker & McKenzie. In investment funds the firm brought in Jia Liu, Jeff Zhang, and Rocky Lee from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Citic Securities and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
Key clients of the firm include Bank of China, the Bank of New York Mellon, China Resources Enterprise, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, Cheung Kong Property Holdings, China Pacific Life Insurance, China General Nuclear Power Corporation, and Ping An Life Insurance.
“The PRC team was extremely efficient, accurate and prompt. The quality of advice was high, while the charges were very reasonable. Reports were focused on the very essential points, and very comprehensible.” – M&A
“KWM acted on the formation of an Rmb fund in China and such an Rmb fund’s proposed investment into a US focused real estate fund established in the Cayman Islands. It has put huge efforts into this deal and is very professional and efficient.” – Investment funds
“It’s client-oriented and responsive. It has excellent subject matter knowledge especially with respect to cross border matters. It has good language capability and good value high quality advice.” – Banking and finance
“The strengths of the DCM team at King & Wood Mallesons are their flexibility in pricing, excellent country knowledge and good communication with issuers.” – Capital markets
“KWM’s team headed up by Neil Carabine provide strong practical support on transactional work. The firm is very responsive and works well to keep within fee estimates.” – Capital markets
“Time is always of the essence on our deals. On one occasion, the KWM team had to close a fund and the acquisition of various portfolios almost simultaneously. It had demonstrated a positive “can do” attitude and the capability to juggle multiple projects at once with tight deadlines. The KWM team has impressed us with its efficiency and consistent high level service. It offers good value for money.” – M&A
“It is very professional and the output is excellent.” – Capital markets
“It has good PRC knowledge and networks; it is value for money; and its legal counsel are knowledgeable and helpful.” - Banking and finance
“It’s very strong on the derivatives and regulatory side; has a commercial approach; is responsive and flexible on fees.” – Structured finance and securitisation
“It demonstrates excellent knowledge of the current market and issues, and is focused on solutions that are practicable. It has a strong practice in capital markets, derivatives and banking/finance generally including regulatory aspects.” – Structured finance and securitisation
“Neil provides high quality work which is practical and commercial; he is very responsible and efficient.”
“He’s very commercial; understands clients’ needs; can read a deal and get a deal done; and his service is above and beyond.”
“Helena is professional, has good industry and country knowledge, is responsive, and provides innovative advice.”
“I am particularly impressed by Helena’s capability to manage complex transactions within a tight timeline and deliver outstanding results. She has detailed knowledge of private equity funds and debt-focused funds, is well-versed in the trends and has a sharp mind. She has all I look for in a lawyer.”
“David is client-oriented and responsive. He has excellent subject matter knowledge, especially with respect to cross border matters. He has good language capability, high quality legal advice and is also good value for money.”
“Davis has good PRC knowledge, is friendly and helpful and creative.”
“He’s very professional and has a thorough understanding of our business.”
“He has excellent technical ability and is very responsive.”
“Richard has both extensive knowledge and experience and brings a commercial context to his work.”
“Daisy Shen is very knowledgeable in the area and instrumental in resolving challenges in the transaction. It is also very valuable for her to provide practical solutions in resolving issues.”
“Advice was always sharp and insightful; extremely efficient and responsive.”
“Zhou Hao's strengths are his flexibility in pricing, excellent country knowledge and good communication with issuers.”
“Stanley Zhou is one of the main lawyers we go to for PRC banking and finance work. He is technically excellent and has a very good commercial understanding of issues. He provides user-friendly and consistent advice.”
Kirkland & Ellis is primarily known for private equity, with 80% of its global corporate lawyers specialising in the practice. Acting for bondholders, companies and banks, its Asian restructuring and insolvency practice has settled, and the firm’s banking and finance practice focused on sponsors across products such as leveraged finance, syndicated lending and project financings continues to develop.
The firm has been busy of late in mandates across sectors such as technology and telecommunications, financial services, automotive, healthcare, media, entertainment and food and beverage.
Highlights include advising Citic and US private-equity firm Carlyle Group on its $1.7 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in the China and Hong Kong operations of McDonalds; advising Macanese leisure operator Studio City in refinancing its HK$10.8 billion senior secured term loan and revolving facilities agreement; and acting for the underwriters in the $1.4 billion NYSE IPO of ZTO Express.
The firm is still in growth mode in Asia and strengthened its corporate practice with Paula Liu from Clifford Chance. The practice also took partners Daniel Dusek and Jacqueline Tang from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom despite losing Frank Sun and Jami Quoc to Latham & Watkins and Meridian Capital. However, its capital markets practice was hit with the departures of partners Shawn Tai and Stephanie Lau—the latter who left for Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX).
Kirkland & Ellis’s Asia restructuring and insolvency practice was set up in 2014 and has since consolidated and settled earning itself a berth in the top tier this year.
Key clients of the firm include Carlyle Group, Bain Capital Private Equity, Ascendent Capital Partners, Citic Group, Warburg Pincus, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.
“It’s consistently excellent with high levels of service, commerciality and focus on outcomes. It’s not absolutely full-service, but an absolutely top-notch team in the areas we use them.” – Banking and finance
“It’s very commercial and combines this with great insights into the current state of terms for partnership agreements in the market. In a more complex tax, legal and regulatory environment it is also able to bring true global resource and perspectives.” – Investment funds
“KE's bench strength in restructuring and loan financing is impressive. Neil McDonald is legally impressive and commercially savvy. His expertise makes in-house counsel's life much easier in high stress situations. David Irvine is well known for his expertise in complex loan transactions.” – Restructuring and insolvency
“Always on top of detail and able to cut to the core of the matter in both a technical legal and commercial way. He’s also able to build a strong bench around him and an effective team.”
“He’s on top of his game. Technically and commercially superb. Not always fully engaged on every aspect of the transaction at all levels, but there when he needs to be.”
“Strong technical skills and advocacy ability. He has a formidable presence, and is assertive without being unrealistic. He has the ability to guide a client through complex situations with a sensible approach, after evaluating both technical legal matters and the practicality of a situation.”
Latham & Watkins strongest areas are in projects, M&A, and capital markets. The firm has also been building up its private equity practice on the back of an expansion of its leveraged finance capabilities. It has worked on five Hong Kong IPOs in the past 12 months and has 11 IPOs in the pipeline, and uniquely it is the only US law firm with a dedicated equity-linked and equity derivatives practice in Asia.
The firm has been busy on mandates in a variety of sectors that include technology, healthcare, aviation, real estate and entertainment.
Some key matters include advising American Airlines in its strategic cooperation arrangements with China Southern Airlines Company; advising Everbright Securities in its $1.1 billion HKSE IPO; and advising Indonesia’s Uber rival Go-Jek in relation to a strategic investment by Tencent.
The firm has strengthened its private equity practice in the research period with the hire of partner Frank Sun from Kirkland & Ellis. It has also made a string of counsel hires by bringing in counsel Manas Chandrashekar from White & Case, Terris Tang from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, and Simon Hawkins from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
The firm’s impressive list of clientele includes names such as Carlyle Asia Partners, MBK Partners, Baring Private Equity Asia, China Shenhua Energy, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and China National Chemical Corporation.
Linklaters has a very deep presence in China and Hong Kong, and has established itself as a market leader in finance and competition for quite some time. The firm is strong in leveraged and acquisition finance and has acted for arrangers on more private equity backed leveraged buy-outs than any other firm in the region. It is also at the forefront of the Chinese government’s ‘One belt, One road’ initiative, and has an established projects practice acting for sponsors and lenders.
In the past 12 months the firm has been busy acting on mandates in industries such as financial services, insurance, mining, transport, energy and food and beverage.
Highlights include advising China Yangtze Power Company on its US dollar and Euro Exchangeable Bonds issuance; advising BOC, CCB and CTBC on the facilities for the acquisition of McDonald's China and Hong Kong; and advising CLP on the development of an FSRU to power project in Hong Kong, which will include the development of a new FSRU project as well as the negotiation of gas supply arrangements between Hong Kong and China.
There have been changes in the firm in the past year as it strengthened its China capabilities with the hires of corporate partner Simon Meng from King & Wood Mallesons and Andrew Ruff from Shearman & Sterling. Crystal Chen also joined as counsel from Shearman & Sterling.
Key clients of the firm include China's Ministry of Finance, China Huarong Asset Management Company, Cinda Asset Management Company, China Light and Power, China Southern Grid, HSBC and UBS.
In other news the firm has decided to launch a spin off practice in the Shanghai free trade zone that will have a 'best friends' arrangement with Linklaters and the ability to practice Chinese law.
Private equity is a key area of focus for Llinks Law Offices and where it is ranked highest, banking and finance is also one of its core practice areas. The firm acts for issuers and underwriters in IPOs, and other equity and debt offerings. It also acts for over 60 fund managers in the raising and offering of mutual and private placement funds.
The firm has been busy in sectors such as banking, automotive, retail, technology, real estate, and food and beverage.
Key matters include advising Anhui Wanwei High-tech Materials and Guoxuan High-tech in the issuance of green bonds; and advising Jinzhou New China Dragon Molybdenum in the formation of a buyout fund and acquisition of Baidu’s game business.
The firm has strengthened its practice in the past 12 months and has hired David Pan from Huntsman Corporation and partners David Wu and Elyn Jiang from Boss & Young Attorneys-At-Law.
Key clients of the firm include Dalian Wanda Group, Shanghai Electric, Manulife Asset Management, Sinochem International Corporation, Pingan Real Estate and Jiangxi Synergy Pharmaceutical.
Llinks Law Offices operates a modified lock-step system that is rare among PRC firms.
Mayer Brown JSM is best known in Hong Kong for banking and work in restructuring and insolvency. Its debt capital markets practice is increasingly becoming more of a presence, with its strong high-yield practice and reputation for representing trustees on bond issuances.
Of late the firm has been active in sectors such as real estate, technology, energy, banking, and government and public policy.
Highlights include advising Mongolia in its issuance of $600 million 8.75% notes due 2024; and advising Maldives in its debut $200 million sovereign bond, which was the first ever US dollar bond issue by the Maldives.
The firm made some hires this year with banking partner Doos Choi joining from Ashurst, and private equity partner Robert Woll joining from Deacons. The firm however also lost corporate partner Jeremy Cunningham to RPC, and capital markets partner Phil Smith retired.
Key clients of the firm include Hang Seng Bank, HSBC, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Government of Mongolia, Jiayuan International Group, Credit Suisse, and China Merchant Bank.
“Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong is a leading law firm used by our group of companies for various transactions including IPO, M&A and corporate restructuring.” – M&A
“I have worked with Doos at JSM. He is very professional with deep experience in this area. He’s able to offer a wide range of solutions for me to choose from a commercial perspective.”
“He has in-depth knowledge of our group's business, culture, objectives and people, is proactive, very responsive and capable of providing concise and to the point legal advice.”
“Excellent response time and provides practical advice.”
Morgan Lewis & Bockius advises on banking and finance, M&A, projects, investment funds and more. The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong where it operates in association with Luk & Partners.
Much of the firm’s capital markets work relates to IPOs but it also took on privatisations and M&A transactions.
In M&A the firm advised China Life Investment on the acquisition of 280 American hotels by a multi-investor investment vehicle run by Starwood Capital.
In private equity Warburg Pincus is a repeat client, turning to the firm for investments in online tutoring service provider Yuanfudao, electric vehicle developer NextEV, bicycle-sharing service provider Mobike and automobile transaction data service provider Souche.
In January-February 2017 the firm hired nine partners from Orrick in Greater China including Edwin Luk and partners June Chan, Keith Cheung, Rosita Chu, Eli Gao, Mathew Lewis, Louise Liu, Billy Wong, Ning Zhang and Roger Zhu.
“The team is extremely professional and committed with good knowledge of the law. They will strive to fulfil their clients’ needs through negotiations and drafting of documentation.” – Capital markets: Equity
"I have known Edwin and his team for over 10 years. Working with them is like a partnership. We act as offshore legal adviser to the clients. They have partners specialising in capital markets listing in Hong Kong. We work together to support global and regional clients on a wide-ranging array of cross border corporate transactions.”
Equity capital markets, M&A and private equity are traditional core areas for the firm. Last year the firm closed four IPOs in what has been a tough market, and it’s progressing in the debt markets as China's green bonds market starts to develop. On the back of demand from its China, Asian and US clients, the firm started to build its fund formation expertise in Asia—especially in private equity and real estate funds.
Technology is a clear area of focus for the firm, but it has also been involved in deals across the media, insurance and pharmaceuticals sectors.
In the research period the firm hired funds partner Serena Tan from Debevoise & Plimpton; and corporate finance partner Vivian Yiu and counsel Jinghua Zou from Allen & Overy.
The firm has strong relationships with Chinese investment banks such as Cicc, Boci, Bocom and Haitong, and has increased its portfolio of Hong Kong listed companies. Other clients include Tencent, Wal-Mart Stores, and Intel Corporation.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s strong suit in Hong Kong is its competition practice, but it also has healthy banking, M&A and project finance practices. The firm is well placed representing as competition authorities worldwide increasingly join up in their approach, and in finance, apart from its strength in acquisition financing, Islamic finance, and export credit financing, the firm has a good balance between sponsor and lender roles on projects.
Active sectors of late for the firm include real estate, mining, aviation, media, and manufacturing.
In the research period the firm acted for TVB in its judicial challenge in the Hong Kong High Court against a decision by the Communications Authority under applicable competition rules, which was the first judgment rendered after the entry into force of the new Competition Ordinance. It also advised four different airlines in respect of the requirements under applicable competition laws in Hong Kong and China in respect of new joint ventures and alliance-type arrangements with relation to passenger and cargo transport.
In financial services regulatory the firm lost partner Wynne Mok who left to become the director of enforcement at the Securities and Futures Commission.
Key clients of the firm include Air China, American Express, BP, Cathay Pacific, China Development Bank, HSBC and Fosun International.
“We use the NRF team in HK as advisors on our M&A transactions. The team in Hong Kong has an enormous amount of experience, having worked with our team both in APAC and EMEA for the last 10 years. The team has good bench strength both in the Hong Kong office, as well as local connections across the other NRF offices in Asia who can assist as needed depending on the geography of the deal. Overall, the team provide us with commercial and targeted advice, which is relevant to the target business and jurisdictions and assists us to underwrite deals.” – M&A
“It has good analytical skills and good research skills.” – Banking and finance
“It’s able to demonstrate a very close relationship and communications within a team that is better than some other branded international law firms. The team as a whole is very responsive to requests and able to provide sound advice when needed.” – Banking and finance
“James is always extremely responsive. His experience with both W&I and deals in this region make him a useful sounding board when considering new issues. His advice is also well targeted and sensible when working together on deals.
“She’s dedicated and protects the interest of the client.”
“She’s a very seasoned and experienced legal practitioner in corporate finance. Given her established seniority both in the market and in the firm, I am positively amazed by her willingness to be so hands-on on deal supervision and execution, and how she makes herself accessible throughout an engagement. She is also very knowledgeable and resourceful in advising and resolving regulatory hurdles.”
O'Melveny & Myers is best known in Asia for its China and South East Asia private equity fund formation practice and secondaries market work. It is also active in M&A, capital markets, and financial services regulatory matters.
The firm’s sectors of focus in recent times include technology, real estate, media, entertainment, and healthcare.
Highlights include advising Zhongmei Healthcare Group in its $64 million pre-IPO investment by the Carlyle Group; advising a buyer consortium led by Seek and including FountainVest partners and Hillhouse Capital in connection with a proposed $1 billion acquisition of Zhaopin; and it also acts as investigation and prosecution counsel for the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers.
Its capital markets team hired Edwin Kwok from Paul Hastings but lost Gigi Woo to PwC Legal, while its M&A practice lost Qiang Li to DLA Piper.
Key clients for the firm include Abax Global Capital, Coller Capital, Zhongmei Healthcare Group, Seek, PAG Asia Capital, Warner Brothers, and Deloitte.
“We have always received excellent quality of service from the team at O'Melveny and it has been highly responsive to our needs.” – Financial services regulatory
“It has experienced and knowledgeable lawyers who achieve great results.” – M&A
“He’s very smart and a great problem-solver.”
“Kieran Humphrey deserves particular mention as a ‘rising star’ of the firm - his solutions-based approach to complex problems is greatly appreciated, as is his counsel and advice, which has always been very commercially-oriented.”
“Very responsive and client-oriented. Excellent subject matter knowledge. High quality legal advice which is also good value for money.”
Focused on Chinese state owned and private outbound M&A transactions, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe handled around 50 M&A and private equity investments last year at an aggregate of over $20 billion. The firm also lends on-the-ground support in relation to the formation and management of investment funds, and is active in the projects space from traditional energy sources to renewable energy.
The firm has a clear focus on technology—particularly in online/e-commerce matters—but has also been busy in financial services, energy, media, and entertainment.
Highlights include advising JD.com in its strategic alliance with NYSE-listed retailer Walmart; advising on first large Chinese-invested alumina refinery development and financing in Indonesia; and acting for The Hong Kong Jockey Club and its Charities Trust in its investments.
There has been a lot of change in the practice through the research period, with its capital markets, private equity and M&A teams taking a hit as nine partners—Edwin Luk, Maurice Hoo, Ning Zhang, June Chan, Keith Cheung, Connie Cheung, Louise Liu, Billy Wong, and Mathew Lewis—left for Morgan Lewis & Bockius. The firm began to rebuild more recently with the hires of investment funds partner Scott Peterman from Jones Day and former Davis Polk & Wardwell Hong Kong partner Mark Lehmkuhler.
Key clients of the firm include JD.com, Baidu, Pactera Technology, China Hongqiao Group, APC Fund Management, China Media Capital and CITIC Guoan.
Paul Hastings is known for its expertise in real estate, and no doubt real estate financing is a core focus of the firm. Also, in line with macro trends, China outbound financing is an area of growth for the firm, and in the capital markets the firm has a robust portion of the IPO market when compared to other international firms. It also has a healthy share of new fund formation mandates for real estate funds, with a strategy to represent the sponsor in raising funds and then continue to act for the client on an ongoing basis.
Apart from real estate, the firm is building itself a sturdy practice in technology and telecommunications, media, entertainment, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.
Highlights include advising Bank of Tianjin in its $948 million HKSE IPO; advising Ping An Fund in its $1.6 billion interest in AutoHome; and advising COSCO on its acquisition of 67% of Piraeus Port.
Key clients of the firm include Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Ping An Insurance, China Life, COSCO, Samsung Electronics, and Evergrande Real Estate Group.
Paul Weiss acts on banking and finance, capital markets, competition, investment funds, M&A and restructuring and insolvency work. The firm has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong and offers services in Chinese, Hong Kong and US law.
In M&A the firm advised on a joint venture between Universal Parks & Resorts and state-owned Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment relating to a proposed project to develop and run a resort in Beijing and advised Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia on an offer for Thailand-listed diaper producer DSG International (Thailand) and the acquisition of a stake in Chinese qualifications and training provider Coinage International.
Tencent was also a repeat client, engaging the firm on investments in Yixin Capital and Zhuan Zhuan.
In May 2016, partner Betty Yap joined as a private equity specialist while Judie Ng Shortell brought private equity and M&A expertise, both from Linklaters. In October 2016, counsel Andrew Lam joined from JPMorgan bringing expertise in M&A and private equity while counsel Po Ying Lo joined from Akin Gump Strauss as a private equity specialist. Counsel Spencer Park left the private equity practice in December 2016.
“Betty Yap is terrific. She is an excellent lawyer who provides very clear technical advice, is very responsive and just overall extremely pleasant to deal with. We followed her from Linklaters to Paul Weiss.”
Proskauer Rose PRC and Hong Kong focuses on M&A and private equity/ It has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong and can advise on the laws of Hong Kong, the PRC, the UK and the US.
In investment funds significant clients include Anbang Insurance Group and Adveq Management.
The firm’s M&A practice includes a significant focus on joint ventures such as a collaboration between AccorHotels and Banyan Tree Holdings to invest in a chain of hotels.
In private equity the firm advised Haitong International Securities on the financing provided to a consortium take-private offer for Concord Medical Services, and also advised on Haitong’s acquisition of a stake in the company and its restructuring.
“A strong team of lawyers. Professional and ethical.” - Regulatory
“Super high quality work - top of the top I have worked with.” – Asset finance
"Very solid team. Partners are very hands on in transactions.” – Private equity
"Proskauer is known for its strong investment fund practice. We have been working with one of its China partners Yong Ren and are impressed by the depth of his industry knowledge and commercial understanding of the fund formation market practice. He is very responsive to our requests and can promptly provide practical and constructive advice. The firm's Beijing team is currently still small. Hope to see it grow further." – Investment funds
“They have done excellent work for us. They are very helpful and responsive. They are capable of assisting us in completing our deal in an extremely tight timeline. They are flexible and can put together and mobilise a team of lawyers with the appropriate expertise to provide assistance to us in short notice.” – Private equity
“Excellent response time, possesses in-depth and up to date industry knowledge, very competitive pricing (as compared to other similarly situated law firms). PR has so far provided me with excellent service and it has been a pleasure re-engaging them time after time. They are one of my preferred firms for undertaking work for my business teams.” – Capital markets
“Highly competent and efficient. Always provides sound and commercial advice.” – M&A
“Proskauer demonstrated a total commitment to helping client achieve the commercial goal. They listened to our concerns and was quick in coming up with solutions which were both commercially and legally sound. The entire team was very responsive, diligent and easy to work with.” – M&A
"Strengths - ability to think seven moves ahead of competition.”
“Very hands on in transactions.”
“Jay has solid industry knowledge and is very experienced and can provide very practical advice. Jay’s language capability (fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English) also facilitate the negotiation process of the deal.”
“Jay is knowledgeable, thorough and is able to provide commercial advice. He also communicates very well with the business teams and is able to provide practical and novel solutions for bespoke financial products.”
“Jay is one of the best in private equity and M&A work. He is very experienced and has strong technical skills, but at the same time highly commercial and understands client's objectives.”
“I found Jay focusing on the legal technical aspect of the deal whilst still being very mindful on the commercial aspect.”
“Very solid fund formation lawyer. Responsive and practical.”
R&P China Lawyers is an independent law firm offering corporate legal services in PRC. It is headquartered in Shanghai and with an additional office in Beijing. The firm is a member of Ally Law and provides services internationally and in Hong Kong through its informal networks.
In M&A, the firm has a focus on investment into PRC with some work on domestic company restructuring. It advised American Vanguard on a joint venture with Agrochemical Company to enable technology collaborations and agrochemical product development.
“Quick replies; efficient; combines in depth local knowledge with a hands on attitude; not afraid to take a position; good understanding of local culture; solid legal quality.”
“Very happy with his feedback and the support of the rest of team.”
Reed Smith has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In mainland PRC it operates as Reed Smith and in Hong Kong it operates as Reed Smith Richards Butler.
The firm’s M&A practice in mainland China assists with inbound and outbound M&A while the practice situated in Hong Kong can assist with transactions on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, investment by Hong Kong-listed companies into Greater China and general inbound and outbound M&A.
The firm advised China Shipping Group on its merger with China Ocean Shipping Group covering 11 listed entities across four stock exchanges.
“The firm is a long standing firm servicing the many landmark transactions in our corporate history. It's very attentive to the business nuances of our industry and abreast of the latest developments in the legal field.”
“Ivy is always responsive to our urgent requests, often requiring her to do extensive research to look up a new area in law, but she is consistently able to deliver at our sometimes unreasonable demands.”
Ropes & Gray’s key area of focus is private equity where it focuses on the high-end market in the funds space and lately in take-privates and co-investment deals. Its finance team’s strength is in sponsor-side leveraged finance—and increasingly in real estate financing—while its small Hong Kong capital markets team also only focuses on the high end. The firm is also developing repute in advising bondholders on restructuring mandates, and is expanding its volume in handling China outbound M&A transactions.
The firm has had a busy year working in sectors such as real estate, education, technology, healthcare, and consumer goods and services.
Highlights include advising real estate company Kaisa Group on the restructuring of its offshore liabilities through schemes of arrangement in the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong, and Chapter 15 recognition in the US; and advising Bain Capital in the acquisition of a majority stake in Carver Korea.
There has been movement in the firm in the past 12 months with private equity partner Geoffrey Chan leaving for Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Also the firm was hit as managing partner Paul Boltz left alongside corporate partners Brian Schwarzwalder, Michael Nicklin, and Scott Jalowayski for Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
Key clients of the firm include China Oceanwide, Bain Capital, China Everbright, Baring Private Equity Asia, Goldman Sachs, Huanxi Media, and Kaisa.
SG & Co is an independent Chinese law firm offering capital markets and corporate legal services.
In capital markets the firm focused on asset-backed securitisations, notably advising Shanghai Provident Fund Management Center as main sponsor of the Shanghai Housing Fund 2016-2 Asset-Backed Securities issuance. It also advised China Construction Bank as main sponsor of the China Construction Bank "Jianyuan" 2017-4 Personal Housing Mortgage-Backed Securitisation issuance.
Shearman & Sterling’s core focus in Hong Kong and China is on the capital markets where it employs English, US and Hong Kong law capability to advise on equity, debt and high yield capital markets transactions across Asia.
The firm is strong in sectors such as banking, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, energy, media, and insurance.
Highlights include advising Taikang Insurance on its $1 billion joint venture with NorthStar Realty Finance to acquire assets in the US and UK; advising the underwriters in the IPO of WuXi Biologics; and advising on the $1.7 billion 720MW Karot hydropower plant in Pakistan as part of China’s $40 billion Silk Road Fund.
In the research period, the firm hired corporate partner Li Chen in Beijing from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, but lost projects partner Andrew Ruff to Linklaters in Shanghai.
The firm has an impressive list of clients that include Citi, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of Communications, Phoenix Healthcare, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Sanofi.
Sidley Austin’s strength in Hong Kong is in the debt capital markets and investment funds, particularly in hedge and private equity. In capital markets the firm completed eight HKSE listings and four new listings on the Gem board of HKEx, and it’s a strong choice as issuer counsel for Asia-Pacific high-yield bond transactions.
Active sectors for the firm in the past 12 months include real estate, banking, technology, pharmaceuticals, and technology.
Key deals include advising The Export-Import Bank of China in the establishment of a $27 billion MTN programme and $3 billion CP programme; and advising Morgan Stanley Real Estate in the establishment of a $1 billion Morgan Stanley Asia Core Real Estate Fund, an open-ended real estate fund which will be adopting an Asia-focused core investment strategy.
In one change during the research period, the firm’s capital markets team lost partner Janney Chong to Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC).
Key clients of the firm include the Export-Import Bank of China, China Evergrande Group, China Merchants Securities, Morgan Stanley, HNA Group, Blackrock Asset Management North Asia and Asia Investment Capital.
“Good all round practice in regulatory matters, and provides practical and sensible advice.” – Financial services regulatory
“We have an excellent relationship with Sidley Austin as it provides good quality legal services to us at a very reasonable price. Its lawyers generally work round the clock, are reachable and responsive, and able to deliver products to us within timetables which sometimes can be very short and demanding. The range of services it provides in Hong Kong is also very diverse, as we engage them on various corporate and regulatory matters.” – Banking and finance
“It’s professional, detail oriented and always thinks from a client's perspective.” – Capital markets
“Gloria is very efficient and detail oriented. We have an accelerated timetable and her team could match our speed. Her advice has always been very well thought out and it presented the analysis in a simple way for the client to understand. She’s very responsive and very diligent. She always thinks from the clients’ perspectives and stands on grounds to protect the client when the client is challenged by external parties.”
“Alan is incisive, detailed and practical.”
“Raymond has strong technical skills in a diverse range of practices, especially in corporate finance and banking. He is also quite commercial and is able to offer good advice and provide solutions to complex legal and commercial issues. He is very hard working and accessible even during holiday seasons. His team of lawyers also have good technical skills and they are always able to deliver good quality work products within a specified time, which sometimes can be very short and demanding.”
Private equity, equity capital markets and M&A are a clear focus for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (STB) in Hong Kong. The firm offers US and Hong Kong law capability and has one of the leading China fund formation practices in the market, while drawing attention to its leveraged and acquisition finance practice.
The firm is actively engaged in mandates in the technology sector, and also in pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage.
In the research period, STB acted for ChemChina in its $43 billion acquisition of Syngenta; it acted for Zhou Hei Ya International Holdings Company in its HK IPO and Rule 144A/Regulation S offering; and advised Yunfeng in the formation of Yunfeng Fund III, a China-focused fund expected to hit $2 billion in capital commitments.
Key clients of the firm include The Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Ant Financial Services Group, China National Chemical Corporation, Alibaba Group Holding, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Advantage Partners.
M&A and private equity is core to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and it routinely acts in big ticket deals, especially involving Chinese companies acquiring assets in the US and large deals in the TMT sector in China. The firm is also a go-to issuer counsel for US IPOs for Asian companies, having advised on over half of the US IPOs out of China since 2010.
Technology has been a key sector of focus for the firm, but it has also been active in mandates across the insurance, real estate and food and beverage industries.
Highlights include advising Didi Chuxing in its acquisition of UberChina from Uber Technologies; advising ZTO Express in its $1.4 billion NYSE IPO; and advising Ctrip.com International in its $1.7 billion acquisition of travel search website Skyscanner Holdings.
There has been movement in the firm’s practice with capital markets partner Alec Tracy leaving for Ascent Capital Advisors; and corporate experts Gregory Miao, James Venit, Michael Gisser, Jon Christianson, and Alan Schiffman all retiring, while Daniel Dusek left for Kirkland & Ellis. However, the firm did hire private equity partner Geoffrey Chan from Ropes & Gray.
The firm’s clientele includes big names such as AnBang Insurance, Citigroup, Ctrip.com, Baring Private Equity Asia, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, and Baidu.
Slaughter and May is best known for its work in M&A and the equity capital markets where it focuses on high-end mandates. It is a stable choice as the firm has no hourly or billing targets for its lawyers and takes a multi-specialist approach to develop well-rounded lawyers and a collegiate culture.
The firm has been busy of late working on mandates in sectors such as real estate, transport, technology, telecommunications, and food and beverage.
Highlights include advising Alibaba on the privatisation of Intime Retail; advising on the HK$706 million global offering and listing of Union Medical Healthcare on the HKSE; and advising MTR Corporation on its HK$25 billion term loan and revolving loan syndicated.
Key clients of the firm include MTR Corporation, China Resources, CICC, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, Swire Pacific, Alibaba, and HNA Group.
“There’s good partner participation throughout deals and it’s very responsive. The quality of senior associates is better than competitors, and the firm is perceptive and has a good understanding of commercial goals and intricacies.” – M&A
“I highly rate S&M's corporate practice in Hong Kong. It works with us as partners and has a good understanding of our business so can provide legal advice that really adds value. It has smart people and is a pleasure to work with.” – M&A
Sullivan & Cromwell provides US and Hong Kong law advice to clients across Greater China and Asia-Pacific. M&A and equity capital markets work is a clear focus for the firm. It has worked on over $300 billion M&A transactions involving Greater China companies, and 80% of its capital markets work handled by its Hong Kong and Beijing offices involved Chinese companies.
The firm has had a busy year acting in mandates in healthcare, insurance, technology and telecommunications, mining and food and beverage.
Highlights include advising Anheuser-Busch InBev in its sale of SABMiller 49% interest in China Resources Snow Breweries for $1.6 billion to China Resources Beer; and advising Taikang Insurance Group in its offering of $800 million 3.50% bonds due 2022.
Key clients of the firm include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Air China, China Minmetals, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom and Citic Group.
“Sullivan & Cromwell is very technical and most of the time provides accurate assessments on situations from a legal perspective. It is very creative in reaching solutions, and is very accessible and responsive.” – M&A
“Gwen knows the codes and rules inside out, and has very up to date knowledge on various aspects, especially on public takeovers.”
Sunshine Law Firm is an independent boutique specialising in projects work. It is part of the China BRIC Law Firms alliance.
The firm worked on energy sector M&A, project development and project finance during the research period, deriving significant workflow from Belt and Road Initiative outbound investment.
In capital markets the firm advised China Power New Energy Development Company on a bond issue.
In M&A the firm advised repeat client SPIC Shanghai Electric Power on its $ 2.8 billion investments in more than 20 energy projects in around five countries.
The firm advised clients from PRC and overseas on PPP and other development projects around the world, including advising repeat client China Export & Credit Corporation (Sinosure) on a coal-fired power project in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
The firm experience significant partner turnover in the research period. New arrivals included new partner and head of international practice (Beijing) Song Shen who joined from Dentons (Washington DC) in January 2016, bringing expertise in overseas M&A, energy project development and financing and LNG international trading.
New partner Xinsong Chen joined from Shanghai Gas Group bringing expertise in energy infrastructure investment, financing, construction and operation, gas concessions, trading, antitrust and compliance and new senior consultant Xiangming Xu joined from BP Amoco bringing expertise in project financing, M&A and dispute resolution, both in January 2017.
Partners Lingyun Li, Xiaohong Pan and Junan Xing left the company in the first quarter of 2017.
Tahota Law Firm is an independent corporate law firm offering a full range of legal services. The firm has ten offices including Beijing and Hong Kong and a member firm in Washington.
The firm’s banking and finance practice focuses on loan facilities and projects financing. It counts China Development Bank as a repeat client, working with a number of branches on facilities to overseas corporates and other borrowers. The firm helped the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China provide a dual-currency loan facility worth $2.5 billion to the Republic of Angola.
The firm’s capital markets practice advised on public M&A and listings as well as debt market issuances. It advised Liangshan State-owned Investment Development on a Rmb12 billion private bond issue and advised Shenzhen Jayne Creative Design on its proposed IPO.
The firm’s private equity and venture capital work includes state-funded project development work and joint ventures. It helped the Chongqing branch of Hua Xia Bank work with the government of Jiulongpo, Chongqing on an urbanisation development fund.
New partner Li Jinnan joined from Norton Rose Fulbright during the research period.
Tian Yuan Law Firm is an independent firm offering services in banking, asset management, capital markets, M&A, private equity, funds, projects and restructuring and insolvency.
Headquartered in Beijing, the firm also has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu.
In capital markets, the firm advises on domestic and foreign equity and bond offerings. The firm advised on a $2.1 billion private placement by BYD and advised China Yangtze Power on a dual currency exchangeable bond.
In competition, the industry association China Gas Association engaged the firm to draft new antitrust guidelines following a special enforcement action with consequences for thousands of public utilities companies.
“Huang Wei and his team have extensive experience in antitrust and completion. His team always thinks from the client's perspective and works highly efficiently. His team provides very valuable legal opinions regarding to trend of Chinese anti-trust law enforcement practice. Mr Huangwei personally is very good at communicating with clients and is currently the most famous lawyer in China in the area of antitrust. We have a good cooperation experience working with his team.”
Troutman Sanders offers services in banking and finance, capital markets, M&A and private equity. It has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
In capital markets, the firm assists with listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, including CMON’s offering on the GEM Board.
In M&A, the firm advised on cross-border transactions such as Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical’s $13 billion acquisition of an Indian company as well as smaller transactions.
Consultant Lynia Lau joined from Stephenson Harwood in February 2017, bringing expertise in project development and finance. Finance and private equity partner Olivia Lee left in August 2016.
Uría Menéndez’s Spanish and Latin American lawyers offer advice relating to inbound and outbound investment working with local law firms where necessary. Its office is based in Beijing.
In banking and finance, the firm’s advised Chinese and foreign clients on transactions relating to business in PRC and projects overseas. It advised 7.2% stakeholder Santander on the Bank of Shanghai’s IPO.
In M&A, the firm advised on cross-border transactions such as advising Spanish-listed international hotel chain NH Hotel Group on a Chinese joint venture with airlines and hospitality investor HNA following HNA’s acquisition of a 29% stake in NH. It also advised Shenzhen-listed Aier Hospital Group on a €150 million tender offer for Spanish-listed Clínica Baviera.
“Excellent in all respects.” - Corporate
“Uría Menéndez is a useful legal intermediary with local legal firms, helping in the interpretation of local concepts and processes, quite different, from time to time, from our own concepts and processes.” – Capital markets; Equity
“A responsive and dedicated team, understands Chinese client culture, understands value for money, able to deliver high quality work on time.” – Private equity
Francisco Martinez Boluda
“Excellent in all respects, responsive, detailed, offers alternatives, always available.”
"Fully involved in the work he is providing to client. China is not an easy country.”
“Good lawyer, is able to handle complex legal work.”
Vinson & Elkins advised on M&A and project development with an emphasis on energy and natural resources work. It has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong.
In M&A, the firm handles high-value transactions and inbound and outbound investments. Most of the details were given on a confidential basis.
In project development, it displayed a focus on energy projects and the oil and gas industry in particular, working on high-value projects in PRC and overseas. Most of the details were given on a confidential basis.
Watson Farley & Williams Hong Kong is a corporate law firm offering services relating to banking and finance, capital markets, M&A, private equity and financial restructurings. The firm’s office is in Hong Kong.
In banking and finance, the firm has a strong focus on the maritime industry. Most of its work is related to shipping and vessel financing arrangements including one transaction relating to a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) and one relating to a jack-up rig.
In capital markets, the firm advised on HKSE transactions. Clients included Da Sen Holdings, Keen Ocean and Nanchang Municipal Public Real Estate Group.
In project development, the firm displayed a strong focus on the energy industry and in particular coal-fired power projects. It worked with LVN on a1200MW coal-fired power project in Vietnam.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm often works for creditors to restructure the debt of troubled borrowers. It advised BNP Paribas, Commerzbank and other lenders on the restructuring of Rickmers’ debt facilities.
“I am quite satisfied with the service they have been providing. The strength is that they are very efficient in answering my questions and the fee is of good value of money. I don't find any weakness right now.” – M&A
“Responsive service from the engagement partner and her associates.” – M&A
“I have been extremely impressed by the efficient service and advice provided by the WFW team. The team are approachable, technically astute and client-centric and have addressed our needs throughout the project’s cycle. They provide pragmatic and commercially-minded advice which has proved invaluable in the success of this deal. I would not hesitate to instruct WFW on any future matters.” – Banking and finance
“Linh Doan is our key contact at WFW and is clearly an expert in the projects and energy market in Asia. Her knowledge and expertise have always been made readily available to us, as have her powerful negotiations skills. She understands the issues we face and provides timely and technically sound advice accordingly.”
“Strength: very detailed analysis of the questions facing the company.”
“Excellent trusted adviser.”
Weil Gotshal & Manges has a market leading private equity practice that targets high-end mandates with 60% of the firm’s Asia revenue coming from its private equity clients. Its private funds practice raised over $6 billion last year, and its finance team benefits from its corporate practice and acts as an Asian hub for Weil’s network engaging in leveraged financing for sponsors and lenders.
In the research period, the firm has been very active in industries such as banking, real estate, pharmaceuticals, technology, media, entertainment and consumer goods and services.
It advised HNA Group in its $6.5 billion acquisition of a 25% equity interest in Hilton Worldwide Holdings from Blackstone; it acted for Oaktree Capital Management in the merger of Fitness First Asia with Celebrity Fitness to create Evolution Wellness Holdings; and it acted for Boyu Capital in the formation of a China-focused private equity fund that raised $2 billion in capital.
In the past year the firm brought in private equity specialist William Hay from Baring Private Equity Asia.
Key clients of the firm include HNA Group, Citic Capital Partners, Hillhouse Capital, Baring Private Equity Asia and General Electric.
“Weil is commercial, technically extremely strong and was a great partner on our Korea transaction. It worked extremely well in partnership with local counsel allowing us to get the best out of Weil and the best out of the local team.” – M&A
“It’s technically solid and has good experience in private equity work.” – Private equity
“It’s an excellent firm. It worked for us on complex cross-border M&A and financing transactions involving multidisciplinary teams across multiple geographies. Weil teams were well staffed, highly professional and responsive. It has world class service on all the areas for which we needed legal advice, including M&A, US public market regulations, regulatory and acquisition financing.” – M&A
“A top M&A team with the best quality services. Asia Managing Partner Akiko Mikumo is highly recommended as lead counsel in the most complicated cross-border transactions in the US, China and Hong Kong.” – M&A
“Extremely commercial while maintaining high technical capabilities. Has a good feel for the deal dynamics and parties involved.”
“Excellent work. She is knowledgeable, available and delivered for the firm to ensure the best service was available.”
“One of the best counsel focusing on M&A transactions.”
Singapore firm WongPartnership has offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
In M&A the firm advised Singapore-listed GMG Global on Deutsche Bank Singapore’s S$536 million public offer for the company on behalf of Halcyon Agri. It also advised Shenzhen-listed Invengo Technology on the acquisition of a 10% share in Hong Kong-based labelling and packaging technology producer SML Group.
Partner Liang Weitan left the firm’s corporate and M&A practice in September 2016.
Woo Kwan Lee & Lo is an independent law firm focused on capital markets and corporate work.
In capital markets, the firm advised CC Land Holdings on two rights issues.
In M&A, the firm was active on a number of high-value cross border transactions such as advising a consortium led by Power Assets Holdings and Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings on its offer by way of a scheme of arrangement to acquire Australian-listed Duet Group. It also assisted with CC Land Holdings’ on its acquisition of the Leadenhall Building from British Land and Oxford Properties.
Firmly entrenched in the Chinese legal landscape Zhong Lun was one of the first PRC law firms to establish a banking and finance practice, and it excels in aviation and project finance. The firm is also strong in M&A and private equity, and its equity capital markets team advised Chinese companies on onshore and offshore offerings and listings of A-shares, B-shares, H-shares, red chips, and equity shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and many other exchanges across the world.
Like many in China the firm has been heavily focused on the technology industry, but it has also been working in deals in industries such as healthcare, real estate, energy, and government and public policy.
Highlights include advising ZTO Express in its $1.4 billion NYSE IPO; advising Poland’s state treasury on its Rmb6 billion Panda bonds programme, which was the first sovereign Panda bonds issued by a European country; and advising on the Changning-Baoshan Expressway PPP Project in Yunnan Province.
Key clients of the firm include JD.Com, Barclays Capital Asia, Biostime International Holdings, Credit Suisse, China International Capital Corporation, Goldman Sachs, and Warburg Pincus.
“I am satisfied with services provided by Zhong Lun law firm. The lawyer I worked with is highly efficient and well organised. The results delivered were professional.” – M&A
“Zhong Lun is an efficient and effective firm.” – M&A
“Gary is professional and efficient.”
“Audry is very responsive and attentive to client needs.”
Zhong Yin Law Firm is an independent firm advising on capital markets, competition, M&A and restructuring and insolvency work. The firm is headquartered in Beijing with additional offices in Shanghai and 24 other Chinese cities.
In equity capital markets the firm advised on proposed IPOs for Yantai Zhenghai Technology and Chongqing TianSheng pharmaceutical.
In April 2017 the firm signed a co-operation agreement with Hong Kong Pecno Culture Communication and the Law Office of Taihe Wang.