Laos

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Ministry of Justice

Competition authority: Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Financial regulator: Bank of the Lao PDR

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:

Financial and corporate (published October) – Financial and corporate, Project development

Jurisdiction overview

Laos is a small, still unregulated and risky jurisdiction, despite the fact that the local government seems to be responsive to the market’s needs. Country based practitioners note that as the legal system is still changing, it is very difficult to build a stable practice. 

The legal system of Laos combines a number of different traditions and contains French civil law elements from its colonial background alongside Soviet socialist ideology from its years as a communist state. The legal system also incorporates elements from Vietnam and China. 

 

Lacking the presence of international law firms, several large regional firms have offices in the country. In 1994, Mekong regional firm DFDL was the first foreign firm to establish itself in Lao’s legal market, with expertise in the corporate and commercial sector and project finance. Tilleke & Gibbins is the other active foreign law firm which specialises in banking and finance, M&A and project finance. However, while foreign lawyers cannot appear in court, foreign law firms are permitted to advise foreign investors and international organisations on local law. 

Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific

Financial and corporate
DFDL

Established in Laos in 1994, DFDL is recognised for its pre-eminent financial and corporate and project development practices.

The firm’s corporate and M&A practice is geared towards catering to the legal needs of foreign and domestic companies investing or expanding in the jurisdiction. During the research period, the firm acted for both buyers and sellers on acquisitions in the mining, telecommunication, banking and food and beverages sectors.

On the projects side the firm has a particular focus on acting for both lenders and sponsors on project financing mandates for hydro projects. Other areas of focus include mining, biomass, solar, wind, and infrastructure.      

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining $275 million acquisition of a stake in MMG Laos Holdings

•                     Government of Lao PDR $22 million acquisition of a 78% stake in VimpelCom Lao Co

•                     Nam Theun 1 650MW hydropower power plant

 

Client feedback

“DFDL was knowledgeable regarding the laws of Laos.” – Banking

 

Vinay Ahuja

“Vinay is generally responsive.

Walter Heiser

“Experienced.”

Rajah & Tann

A member of the Asia network of Rajah & Tann, the firm is active across the financial and corporate space.

The firm has a diversified practice and advises on a wide array of matters including the establishment of foreign-Lao joint ventures, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and project financing. Sectors of focus include technology and telecommunication, energy, infrastructure and construction. 

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     EDL-Generation $500 million loan facility 

•                     Xelanong 1 hydropower plant

Tilleke & Gibbins

Tilleke & Gibbins offers advice on a wide array of matters including regulatory compliance and M&A and is particularly known for its expertise in the insurance sector.

During the research period the firm took on clients from a wide variety of sectors including, agroforestry, banking, entertainment, food and beverages, gambling and hospitality, utilities and transport.            

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     AIG Group $870 million reinsurance placement

•                     United Power of Asia acquisition of stake in water treatment plant

•                     SPD Thai Agriculture $30 million acquisition of agricultural operations

VDB Loi

VDB Loi’s Laos office is recognised for its focus on banking and finance, and energy and infrastructure projects work.

In banking, the firm is known for its project financing work and has experience in acting for international development banks, regional commercial and retail banks, and non-banking financial institutions.

Additionally, the firm takes on matters involving regulatory compliance, restructuring, joint venture investments, property development, M&A deals and market entry and incorporation.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     Aanandi Lao $2 million loan facility 

•                     Burapha Agro-Forestry $30 million loan facility

ZICOlaw (Laos) Sole Co

ZICOlaw is as a member firm of the ZICO Law network and has been active in the financial and corporate space in Laos since 2009.

During the research period the firm was particularly active in the projects space and worked on a number of project financing and development mandates in sectors including real estate, telecommunication, and transport.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     Laos-China Joint Expressway BOT

 

Client feedback

“On time and knowledgeable.” - Financial services regulatory

“Zico laws in Laos was very professional and efficient.” – M&A

“The word, professional, should be able to describe our impression as to ZICO Law. They could swiftly comprehend the client's requests and purposes and issue a very clear legal opinion concerning the transaction.”- M&A

“Prompt, dependable response and adequate work product.” – Project development

Aristotle David

“Problem-solving, friendly and competent.”

“Very professional, efficient and responsive in handling our work. He has good knowledge of the mining sector and FDI in Laos.”

“Aris is experienced and familiar with cross-border M&A. He could swiftly comprehend our requests and finish the tasks efficiently. Further, regarding the material legal risks involved in this transaction, he could defend the client's interests by putting forward and discussing with us the plans of rectification and improvement based on the condition of the transaction.”