Malaysia

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Malaysian Bar Council

Competition authority: Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC)

Financial regulator: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Securities Commission Malaysia (SC)

IFLR1000 ranking categories: 

Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking and finance, Capital markets, M&A, Project development

Jurisdiction overview

Malaysia’s legal system is modelled on English common law and practices parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King) ceremonially as head of state.

The country liberalised its legal market in 2014/15, with UK firm Trowers & Hamlins the first firm to obtain a Qualified Foreign Law Firm (QFLF) licence in order to establish a local office in April 2015. 

Malaysia’s QFLF system was implemented in June 2014 following amendments to the Malaysian Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA). An earlier amendment to the LPA designed to open up the legal services market to foreign law firms allowed foreign lawyers to work in the country for up to 60 days.

A licence is valid for three years with an option for renewal and will allow foreign firms to work on a stand-alone basis advising on international legal matters, but not on Malaysian law. Before the new rules took effect, international companies could only run a non-trading representative office and could not practice law in the country. 

Up to five foreign law firms can now be granted a three-year license to hire foreign lawyers and practice law without partnering with a local Malaysian law firm. 

The move is part of a government initiative to enable Malaysia to become an International Islamic finance centre, so licences will only be given to international law firms that have proven expertise in international Islamic finance. 

Apart from applying for the QFLF license, international law firms may consider forming a joint venture. Regulations state that in such an arrangement at least 60% of the equity must be owned by a Malaysian firm. 

International law firms have created networks to run their Malaysian business by way of associations with local law firms. For example Wong & Partners is a member firm of Baker & McKenzie; Rahmat Lim & Partners is tied with Singapore’s Allen & Gledhill; Christopher & Lee Ong is affiliated with Rajah & Tann; and Foong & Partners has a cooperation with WongPartnership. Firms such as Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters opt for a fly-in-fly-out approach to advise Malaysian clients, with teams normally based in Singapore.

Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific

Financial and corporate
Adnan Sundra & Low

Active in Malaysia since 1975, Adnan Sundra & Low is ranked among the market leaders for banking, capital markets and infrastructure projects work. The firm also has a well-established M&A practice.

The firm boasts the largest banking and finance team in Malaysia, which acts on both conventional and Islamic finance matters for local, offshore and foreign clients. 

During the research period, the firm was very active in Islamic finance and debt capital markets, acting mostly lead arrangers and lead managers. Highlights saw the firm advising on, an issue of perpetual sukuk; the establishment of a sukuk programme; the largest independent power project Islamic finance deal in Malaysia in 2018; and the largest issue of capital securities in 2018.

In M&A the firm acted on one of the largest oil and gas deals in Southeast Asia in the past five years and on acquisitions in the construction and real estate sectors.

In the projects space the firm was active in sectors including, transport, renewable energy, technology and telecommunication, and logistics.

The banking and capital markets teams saw partner Lai Kooi Thong leave recently.

In 2018, the firm strengthened by merging with Putri Norlisa Chair and bringing in Adrian Chair and Putri Norlisa as banking and finance partners.      

Recent Deal Data highlights 

• Affin Islamic Bank $1.25 billion MTN sukuk programme

• Bukit Selambau 30MW solar power plant

• Exploration and Production Public Company $2.13 billion acquisition of Murphy Oil Corporation’s oil and gas assets

• Kuala Lumpur to Singapore High Speed Rail Project

• Puncak Niaga Holdings RM210 million acquisition of TRIplc Group

 

 

Client feedback

“Good quality advice and deliverables.” - Capital markets

“Fast turn around time and knowledgable on the subject matter.” – M&A

“ASL is our go-to firm for M&A, especially in the energy industry, and for debt and capital markets work. Adrian Chair and Adrian Chee are the two stand out partners.” – M&A

“A very professional team of legal practitioners who provided us with quality legal advice and guidance with the ability to lead us through our negotiations and the entire transactions. They understood our stand and worked with our interests in mind to ultimately achieve our objectives through their valuable experience and perfect teamwork.” – M&A  

 

Adrian Chair

“Very responsive and with a good understanding of the energy industry. He looks for solutions but ensures they are legally robust and not simply what he thinks the client might want to hear.”  

 

Tracy Tsu Ynn Ng

“Knowledgable, cooperative, humble and approachable.“

 

Chin Chin Wong

“Her extensive experience and vast knowledge in legal practice, her patience, attentiveness and exercise of extreme care during all negotiations and documentation contributed much to the success of the transaction. Her professional advice and guidance along the way made the negotiations much smoother for us. She is the best lawyer to us.”

Albar & Partners

Albar & Partners is strongest in banking and capital markets and also has solid practices in M&A and project development. 

The banking team advises local and international financial institutions including investment banks, commercial banks, insurance companies, as well as borrowers on matters such as asset finance, project finance, real estate and REIT finance, leveraged and acquisition finance, and structured finance.

The capital markets team has experience in handling an array of matters including sukuk, assets backed securities, perpetual instruments, convertible and exchangeable securities, securitisation, IPOs, rights offerings and secondary offerings. Recent highlights saw the firm acting on restructurings of bonds and a sukuk exchange transaction.

In M&A the firm notably acted on a high profile award-winning merger in the banking sector – creating the second-largest stand-alone Islamic Bank in Malaysia.

Recent staffing changes saw managing partner Syed Zaid Albar leave to join the Securities Commission of Malaysia. Banking and capital markets partner Azleen Mohammad Saleh also left.

In 2018, the Malaysian Investment Banking Association notably appointed the firm to its Debt Capital Markets Committee and Corporate Finance Committee.

Recent Deal Data highlights 

• Asian Finance Bank / Malaysia Building Society merger

• Leong Hup International Bursa Malaysia IPO

• Pengurusan Air Selangor RM2.55 billion acquisition of Splash

• PNSB Water bond restructuring

• UMW Holdings RM2 billion sukuk issue

 

Client feedback

“Good and commercially balanced advice.” – Banking

“Committed to assignment with professional legal advice, quick response time and good drafting skills. Demonstrated commendable experiences in debt capital market transactions.“ – Capital markets

“Strong legal advisory.” - Capital markets

“Technically sound, and provides good practical advice.” – M&A

 

Dalilah Albar

“Good.”

 

Natalie Peh

“Sound and knowledgeable in legal aspects, fast and responsive in execution.”

 

Lily Tan

“A very experienced lawyer who has provided valuable services to the industry for more than 20 years.” 

 

Foong & Partners

A member of the WPG Law Network, Foong & Partners is a solid performer across the financial and corporate space.

In banking work the firm predominantly acted for borrowers on acquisition financing and refinancing mandates.

In the capital markets area the firm was recently busy with several international IPOs and listings. Highlights include advising a pharmaceutical company on its IPO and listing on the Catalist Board of the SGX.

In the research period the M&A team acted for a mix of vendors and acquirers in sectors including manufacturing, financial services, real estate, healthcare, and technology. A notable matter saw the firm advising the target in the first take-over offer announced as a pre-conditional offer in Malaysia.

The firm was hit by the departure of partner Michelle Wen Mien Tan who left the corporate and capital markets teams.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      Jacobs Douwe Egberts Holdings Asia Voluntary take-over offer for OldTown

•                      Hyphens Pharma International SGX IPO

•                      K Group Holdings HKSE IPO

•                      PC Manufacturing Solutions Holdings RM110 million acquisition of Plastic Centre

•                      Scientex Packaging Film RM190 million acquisition of Klang Hock Plastic Industries

Kadir Andri & Partners

Kadir Andri & Partners has had a strong year in M&A.

In recent banking work the firm offers a wide spectrum of services including Islamic finance, structured finance, securitisations, syndicated finance, asset and acquisition finance and debt restructuring advice. A recent highlight saw the firm act on the first sukuk exchange transaction in the market.

In M&A the firm acted for both buyers and sellers on recent transactions in a range of sectors including food and beverages, financial services, media, and hospitality. A highlight saw the firm acting on Blackstone Capital’s largest investment since the 2008 financial crisis.

Recent Deal Data highlights 

• Aboitiz Equity $334 million acquisition of a majority stake in Gold Coin Management Holdings

• Asian Finance Bank RM2.2 billion covered sukuk issue

• Blackstone Capital $20 billion acquisition of 55% in Thomson Reuter’s Financial and Risk

• CVC Capital Partners $250 million acquisition of Munchy Food Industries

• Finisar Corporation / II-VI Incorporated merger

MahWengKwai & Associates

MahWengKwai & Associates is known in Malaysia for its M&A work.

In banking the firm has a focus on real estate finance transactions and was recently active for several banks on loans. The firm counts Public Bank and Hong Leong Bank as repeat clients.

In M&A the firm has experience in advising a diverse group of clients, ranging from public listed companies to SMEs and is often mandated to assist on inbound investments. A recent work highlight saw the firm advising a local client in entering into an exclusive partnership with a Finnish technology firm.                           

In the projects space the firm is particularly experienced in the construction and energy sectors and has acted for both domestic and international clients. Recently the firm was active in the sports and entertainment sector and assisted with the development of the first corporate-named stadium in Malaysia.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      Axiata Arena development project

•                      MJ Properties $6.8 million divestment in warehouse lots

•                      Power China Real Estate land acquisition

Rahmat Lim & Partners

While Rahmat Lim & Partners is among the market leaders for work in banking and M&A, and the firm also has strong capital markets and project practices.

In addition to advising on matters such as acquisition financing, project financing and debt restructuring, the banking team also handles financial regulatory, investment funds, Islamic finance, and fintech work. Recently the firm advised on financing a high-value asset acquisition and a high-value debt restructuring in shipping.

On the M&A front recently the firm mostly acted on the acquirer’s side on mandates in sectors including oil and gas, healthcare, insurance, and financial services.

A notable projects mandate saw the firm advising IKEA on the construction of a distribution centre.

Recent Deal Data highlights 

• AET Tanker Holdings $575 million asset acquisition

• Maybank Alliances / GP Network Asia joint venture

• Nam Cheong Group restructuring

• Unicharm Corporation $530 million acquisition of DSG

• Viant Medical $600 million acquisition of Integer Holding Corporation assets 

 

Client feedback

“Good to work with, responsive and helpful on local law issues. High quality of work.” - Banking

“Proactive, think out of the box, practical and have good follow up.” – Banking

“Responsive and commercial.” – Banking

“We have worked with both, Kelvin Loh and Lau Jia Yan and appreciate that they are attentive to our requests, and are able to turn around work quickly. Kelvin is an asset to have on the team as he has in-depth knowledge and understanding of financing/loan transactions, and his advice is always comprehensive. A very technically sound lawyer who inspires confidence in his clients.” - Banking

“I'm very impressed and satisfied with RLP's work. In addition to it's M&A capability, RLP has a strong regulatory practice which is particularly helpful.“ – M&A

“Very good work and very professional. We are very happy.” - Project development

“Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and experienced.” - Project development

 

Soh Yin Chuin

“Prompt, commercial and helpful.”

 

Ang Sinn E

“Sinn E is an excellent M&A lawyer, very commercial and always responsive.”

  

Kamilah Kasim

“Excellent work.”

“Knowledgeable, experienced and enthusiastic.”

 

Kelvin Loh

“Proactive, knowledgeable and experienced in banking matters.”

“Kelvin is a real asset to have on your team and inspires confidence with his in-depth knowledge and experience in advising on financing/loan transactions.”  

 

Azman bin Othman Luk

“Innovative and thinks out of box.”

 

Chen Lee Won

“Diligent with prompt and detailed responses.“

 

Florence Yong Zhimin

“High quality work for our purposes - good knowledge of issues relevant to Malaysian banking transactions and proactive management of issues.”

 

Shearn Delamore & Co

One of the oldest law firms in Malaysia, Shearn Delamore & Co has a strong practice across the financial and corporate ara.

During the research period the firm has been most active in banking. The firm primarily acted on the lender's side on matters involving Islamic financing, acquisition financing, project financing, and refinancing in sectors including pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, and real estate. The banking team also provides financial services regulatory and regulatory advice on matters related to derivatives.

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•                    KL Eco City RM203.5 million loan facility

•                    Setia International $300 million financing

Client feedback

“Good. We will continue to work with the firm for our financing transactions as the team that we deal with is accessible, commercial minded and the fees are acceptable.” - Banking

“Very impressive as ever.” – M&A, Financial services regulatory

“Very proactive in negotiations; fast turnaround of work; understand the client's needs, requirements and limitations; sound and practical advice; and involvement of senior partners with vast experience and skills.” - Project development

Nicholas Tan Choi Chuan

“High quality performance and commitment.” 

Pamela Kung

“Pam is friendly and accessible and mindful of our deadlines. We are happy with the services of Pam and her team.”

Marhaini Nordin

“Very knowledgeable in her areas of expertise; the advice was sound and practical; easily accessible; proactive; and quick in responding to the client's queries.”  

Shook Lin & Bok

Shook Lin & Bok is known for its banking and Islamic finance work. The firm also has well-established capital markets and M&A practices.

The firm has experience in advising on a wide range of conventional and Islamic financing transactions such as project and asset financing, both cross border and domestic syndications in foreign and local currencies, ship and aircraft financing, and Islamic capital markets instruments.

During the research period the firm acted for lenders on acquisition and project financing mandates in the food and beverage and hospitality sectors.

Skrine

Skrine is the firm of choice for top quality M&A and projects work in Malaysia. The firm also has well-established banking and capital markets practices.

In capital markets, the firm often acts for issuers, underwriters, guarantors, investors, sponsors, trustees, rating agencies and financial institutions.

The firm’s prized M&A team has extensive experience in advising on high-value cross border and domestic mandates with a special focus on the insurance and energy sectors. Recent eye-catching work includes the largest cross-border acquisition in the animal feed sector in Southeast Asia; a rare investment made by a forestry fund in Malaysia; and a number of acquisitions in the takaful (Islamic insurance) space.

In projects, the firm provides advice throughout the project life cycle and is known for its work in real estate, infrastructure, energy (traditional and renewable), industrials, and transport.

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm acts for financial institutions and the insolvency practitioners in the Big Four accounting firms. Recently the firm acted on the high-value debt restructuring of the Nam Cheong Group.

Recent Deal Data highlights 

•                    Aboitiz Equity $334 million acquisition of a majority stake in Gold Coin Management Holdings

•                    Exploration and Production Public Company $2.13 billion acquisition of Murphy Oil Corporation’s oil and gas assets

•                    FWD Group acquisition of a 49% stake in HSBC Amanah Takaful

•                    Nam Cheong Group restructuring

Wong & Partners

Wong & Partners, a member of Baker McKenzie, has a strong reputation for M&A work. The firm’s banking, capital markets and projects teams also maintain a strong presence in the market.

In banking the firm sits on the panels of a large number of local and international banks. During the research period the firm was busy with project financings, particularly in the energy sector. A recent highlight saw the firm acting for the lenders in the project financing of the largest mixed development in the greater Central Business District of Melbourne.

Despite some headwind in the market recently, the capital markets team had a busy period. Notable work included advising on the first MYR perpetual sukuk with a mudharabah structure.

On the corporate and M&A side the firm had a particular focus on the financial services, infrastructure, consumer goods and services, and technology sectors.

In the projects space the firm was particularly active in the energy sector and advised on the development of Malaysia's first rice-husk fired power plant. 

Recent Deal Data highlights 

• Kenyir Gunkul 30MW solar power plant

• Mandom Corporation acquisition of a controlling interest in Alliance Cosmetics Group

• Tianshui Huatian MYR1.407 billion takeover of Unisem

• U Mobile MYR1 billion loan facility

• Yinson MYR1.5 billion sukuk issue

Wong Beh & Toh

Wong Beh & Toh is noted for its high quality capital markets work.

In the capital markets area recently the firm notably advised the issuer on one of the only two Main Market IPOs in Malaysia for the year 2018 and the largest IPO of the year. Another interesting mandate saw the firm advise a public listed company in Malaysia on a successful spin-off listing of its subsidiary on the HKSE.

In M&A the firm typically took on buy-side roles and was active in sectors including technology, transport, manufacturing and logistics.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      AWC RM43.50 million acquisition of a 60% stake in Trackwork & Supplies

•                      Mi Equipment Holdings MYX IPO

•                      Pentamaster International HKSE listing

•                      RGT RM34.88 million rights issue

•                      S Capital RM80 million acquisition of Paysys

Zul Rafique & partners

One of the best-known names in the Malaysian legal market, Zul Rafique & Partners is a strong performer across the financial and corporate area, with banking and capital markets its key strengths.

In banking and capital markets work the firm advises domestic and international clients in matters related to asset-backed securitisation, Islamic financing, international issuance of debt instruments, debt restructuring, project financing, and domestic and offshore loan syndication. Recent highlights include advising on the establishment of an MTN programme for a firm in the hospitality sector.

The corporate and M&A team advises on cross-border and domestic mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, takeovers, and restructurings in a variety of industries including insurance, banks and financial institutions, telecommunications, oil and gas, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate and education.

Recent Deal Data highlights 

• Bank Islam Malaysia MYR10 billion sukuk programme

• Genting Malaysia MYR3 billion MTN programme 

• Sapura Industrial / Wada Aircraft Technology and Aero joint venture

• Uzma Integrasi Padu MYR1 billion sukuk programme

 

Client feedback

“Overall good experience. Able to provide valuable advice and solutions.” – Banking

“Quick turnaround and knowledgeable.” – Banking

“The firm demonstrated a strong collaborative approach, commercial and operationally practicality, always striving to achieve mutually beneficial solutions for counterparties.” - Banking 

“Very professional, high level of expertise and experience in the debt capital market. Excellent intermediary between borrower and the bank. Able to resolve and find solutions that are acceptable to both the bank and borrower.” – Capital markets  

“Very experienced partners, knowledgeable in their fields, never fail to provide value add opinion and highly professional.” - Capital markets  

“A sound grasp of local land and property development laws as well as alertness to commercial issues that arose from negotiations. As always, extremely responsive in relation to queries or requests and extremely prompt in their turnaround times. Always willing to go that extra mile in negotiations to secure the best possible outcome for clients.“ - Project development

 

Kung Suan Im

“Overall, good in all the dealings for the past many years. Truly a great professional.” 

Mei Mei Loh

“Ms Loh is the driving force of the banking team. She embodies the spirit of mutual collaboration, commercial and operational pragmatism that in house counsel teams look for in their external advisors.”

Jerry Ong

“I am happy with Jerry as he is very strong in corporate advisory work.”

“A sound grasp of local land and property development laws as well as alertness to commercial issues that arose from negotiations. As always, extremely responsive in relation to queries or requests and extremely prompt in their turnaround times. Always willing to go that extra mile in negotiations to secure the best possible outcome for clients.”

“Jerry provides professional and expert advice on the legal obligations. He is detailed and has strong business acumen to indicate potential risks and opportunities on our business decision.”  

Ashela Ramaya

“Knowledgeable and has good client relationship management.”  

Celine Rangithan

“Amazing personality with depth on the debt capital matters and able to resolve issues effectively and fast. Always available to listen to issues and provide the best solutions which are a balance to both the banks and the borrower.”