Myanmar

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Competition authority: Directorate of Investment and Company Administration

Financial regulator: Central Bank of Myanmar

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:

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

Jurisdiction overview

As Myanmar emerged from five decades of military rule that cut it off from much of the rest of the world, the resource rich country started to open up in 2011 with a series of far-reaching political and legal reforms to achieve rule of law and provide more legal certainty for its people and investors.

Previously known as Burma, the country has seen US and EU sanctions eased and increasing interest from the international business community. It appears to be looking forward to a period of relative peace and prosperity. 

Some big international law firms have committed to Myanmar by opening an office in Yangon, including Allen & Overy in 2013 and Baker & McKenzie in 2014. This year, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) opened its doors in the country by hiring Baker & McKenzie’s former managing partner Chris Hughes to lead its newly opened office in Yangon. 

Domestic law firms have also sought out new opportunities, with NK Legal Myanmar integrating into the wider regional network of Singapore firm Rajah & Tann, while Myanmar Legal Service affiliated itself with Thai firm Chandler & Thong-Ek Law.

But Myanmar’s local legal sector is underdeveloped and there is no national bar association for legal practitioners in the country. With the assistance of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Myanmar’s lawyers ran an election in September this year for their first ever independent national professional organisation to represent lawyers.

Once known for its poor human rights record, media censorship and tyranny under military rule, the regime has been left with many old laws that were set up to give leaders’ extensive powers to target political opposition and ethnic insurgents. 

Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific

Financial and corporate
Allen & Gledhill

Allen & Gledhill in Myanmar is strong across financial and corporate and project development work. The firm boasts the largest number of legal professionals among the local law firms in Myanmar.

In financial and corporate, work recently the firm primarily acted for lenders in funding firms operating within the power and hospitality sectors. A notable M&A mandate saw the firm advising the target in IFC’s first investment in the cement business in Myanmar.

On the projects side the firm acted for the project company on the development of the New Yangon City.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     IFC $75 million investment in Shwe Taung Cement

•                     New Yangon City

•                     Sembcorp Myingyan Power $248 million loan facility  

Client feedback

“Very good.” – Banking

Lee Jun Yee

“Very knowledgeable and detailed.”

 

DFDL

One of the oldest foreign firms in Myanmar, DFDL is a market leader in financial and corporate and project development work. The firm notably sits on the panels of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Telenor.

During the research period the firm acted for a consortium of lending banks on the first leveraged buyout in Myanmar; and advised the guarantor in a first-of-its-kind corporate finance transaction. Another highlight saw the firm advising Alibaba on an acquisition in the e-commerce space.

In the projects space the firm acted for a consortium of financial institutions on the precedent-setting financing and development of the Myingyan 225MW combined-cycle gas turbine power plant. The deal is the largest gas-fired independent power plant in Myanmar, the first internationally tendered power project in Myanmar, and the first large project financing in the country. In project generally key sectors of focus include energy, mining, real estate, infrastructure and natural resources.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      Alibaba acquisition of Daraz Group

•                      Myanmar National Airlines aircraft leasing

•                      Myingyan 225MW combined-cycle gas turbine power plant

•                      TPG $185 million financing              

•                      Yojin Cement $20 million loan facility

Client feedback

“Happy with their service, responsiveness, met deadlines; they didn't only do what was asked but were proactive and thought beyond the scope. No aspect where they were not satisfactory.” - Financial services regulatory

“A great mix of international and local knowledge. Deep local relationships really helped.” - Private equity

Duane Morris & Selvam

The first US firm to open in Myanmar, Duane Morris & Selvam has a strong financial and corporate practice and is also recognised for its projects work.

During the research period the firm acted for a mix of international banks and foreign and local corporates on matters such as regulatory compliance, market entry advice, joint ventures, and project financing. A highlight mandate saw the frim acing on the borrower's side on the financing of the first internationally competitively tendered power project in Myanmar and the largest gas-fired power station to date.

The projects team has a particular focus on the energy, infrastructure, real estate, and oil and gas sectors. The firm has acted for multinational corporations, national energy regulators and government-owned utilities across the region.

A notable staffing change saw the departure of Babita Ambekar for DWF.

Recent Deal Data highlights

·        Pathein Industrial City

·        Sembcorp Utilities $250 million financing

Client feedback

“Excellent. Strengths of the firm include quality of human resources, practical approach, understanding of local laws and business conditions, innovative solutions, and adherence to timelines even pressing ones.” – Banking

“Duane Morris Selvam, especially Priyank Srivastava, has always been extremely responsive and went out of their way to service client queries and have the work done. We are very happy with their services, and we continue to use them for all our Myanmar projects.” - Financial services regulatory      

“Very satisfactory.” - Financial services regulatory

“Professional, in-depth knowledge and good insight into the entire process of our project development from the early promotional stage up to financial closure. Prompt responses, credible and good recognition from the government, commercial and banking sectors. Agile and comprehensive.” - Project development

Lincoln Legal Services (Myanmar)

Lincoln Legal Services is active in the financial and corporate space. The form has a particular focus on the telecommunication, logistics, hospitality, real estate, mining, and oil and gas industry sectors.

Recent highlights include advising a Thai retail company in establishing nine wholesale and retail centres; assisting a government body with drafting laws regarding information technology; advising an Indian company in setting up a first of its kind industrial-grade alcohol plant; and advising a mining company on foreign investments in the mining sector.

Key clients include Siam Cement Group, Siam Makro, Boeing, Hilton, Marriott, and Toyota Tsusho.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      Dala Friendship Bridge

•                      Oswal Group industrial grade alcohol plant

•                      Siam Makro wholesale and retail centres

•                     The Blue Circle 175MW solar power plant

Client feedback

“Fast responses, good insights, and great communication.” - Financial services regulatory

"Speedy and efficient, easy to get in touch with, has fair rates, and is professional.” – Project development

“Knowledgeable and dependable.” - Project development

Livingstons Legal

Based in Yangon, Livingstons Legal is an independent firm active in the financial and corporate space. The firm has expertise in advising on domestic matters as well as inbound and cross- border transactions.

During the research period, the firm was particularly active in the mining sector and acted for acquirers and joint venture partners. Other sectors of activity include construction, manufacturing, advertising, and agriculture.

A staffing change saw the firm welcome Alexander Pulte as special counsel in its financial and corporate practice.

Client feedback

“We are very happy with them and will continue to use them for any legal requirements we may have. They responded quickly and are reasonably priced.” – Financial and corporate

“Very thorough and professional.” – Investment funds

“The firm responded quickly and intelligently, understood the intricacies of the local industry and law, had substantial hands-on experience.” – M&A

 “Mark is a very thorough lawyer and does not cut corners.” - Project development

 “Livingstons Legal has a very good understanding of the cultural nuances and this helps in the framing of legal documents.” - Project development          

"In-depth knowledge of the process and corporate governance concerning Burmese entities. Patience in educating clients on the entire restructuring process.” – Restructuring and insolvency             

Rajah & Tann NK Legal Myanmar

In Myanmar, Rajah & Tann’s strength lies in its work in the financial and corporate space. The firm has a special focus on M&A work in the food and beverages sector. The firm has established a strong Japanese practice and is ideally placed to catch the windfall from increased Japanese interest in Myanmar. 

In banking, the firm primarily acted on the lender's side on a host of financing transactions across various industries. An interesting cross-border financing mandate saw the firm acting for the borrower in financing a real estate development project.

The M&A team had a busy year and was active on a mix of buy-side and sell-side M&A mandates and joint ventures in sectors including food and beverages, healthcare, technology and telecommunication, insurance, and energy. 

The firm strengthened its financial and corporate offering with the hire of new partner Kyaw Swa Myint from MLE Legal.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     ENGIE Group acquisition of a minority stake in Mandalay Yoma Energy Company

•                     OUE Lippo Healthcare $19.5 million acquisition of stakes in Yoma Siloam Hospital Pun Hlaing and Pun Hlaing International Hospital

•                     Yangon Museum Development $144 million financing 

Client feedback

“Confident and able to provide clear guidance in an uncertain environment. A good combination of international lawyers and local stalwarts who can navigate the complexities of the legal landscape.” - Project development                 

Thanlwin Legal

Thanlwin Legal in Myanmar is recognised for its financial and corporate work.

In banking, the firm acted mainly for lenders in project financing mandates in sectors including telecommunication, energy, hospitality and real estate recently.

In corporate and M&A the firm took on a mix of buy and sell-side roles in acquisitions and advised on joint ventures. A notable mandate in the transport sector saw the firm advising a local company in forming a joint venture with a consortium of foreign companies. 

On the project development side the firm acted for stakeholders including developers, contractors, and government bodies on several confidential mandates.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     Prestige Automobiles $5 million financing

Tilleke & Gibbins

Active in Myanmar since 2013, Tilleke & Gibbins is a noteworthy player in the financial and corporate space.

In a notable recent capital markets deal the firm advised a foreign firm operating in the food and beverage sector on its IPO.

The firm had a robust year in terms of M&A and acted primarily for acquirers such as private equity firms, government entities, and international companies on deals in sectors including consumer products and telecommunication. A recent highlight saw the firm advising Marsh & McLennan on the high-value acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson group.

VDB Loi

The largest law firm in Myanmar, VDB Loi is a strong performer across the board in financial and corporate work.

The firm had an active period in financial land corporate work and acted on numerous eye-catching mandates. An interesting mandate saw the firm advising a US private equity firm on acquiring a telecommunication company - one of the largest foreign investments in Myanmar. Other notable work includes advising an international non-governmental organsations operating in the microfinance space in its transformation into an LLC - one of the first of such transformation processes undertaken in the country. Additionally, the firm advised a foreign investor on the acquisition of a substantial stake in a Myanmar commercial bank, in what was the first active bank acquisition process being undertaken in Myanmar.

In the projects space the firm acts for stakeholders such as foreign investors, local sponsors, development institutions, and lenders. The firm notably acted for the IFC on one of the largest PPP transactions currently being undertaken in Myanmar. Recent sectors of activity include real estate, agriculture, renewable energy, logistics, infrastructure, and transport.

The firm is set to open a new office in Mandalay.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     Groupe de Recherches et d'Echanges Technologiques regulatory compliance

•                     METRO Wholesale Myanmar $20 million financing

•                     TPG acquisition of Pan Asia Majestic Eagle

•                     Yangon Elevated Expressway PPP

Client feedback

“Excellent responsibility, good communication and service.” - Financial services regulatory

“Very proactive and responsive to all instructions. Very professional and knowledgable in their advice. Very helpful to clients.” - Financial services regulatory

WongPartnership

WongPartnership is ranked among the top financial and corporate firms in Myanmar.

Recent highlights include acting for both borrowers and lenders on the provision of loan facilities, assisting several real estate firms with regulatory compliance-related matters, and advising an international airline on winding down its operations in the country.      

Key sectors of focus include aviation, telecommunication, real estate, hospitality, and food and beverages.

A notable staffing change saw the departure of partner Goh Wanjing for Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                     Apollo Towers Holdings $100 million mezzanine term loan facility

•                     Enterprise Singapore regulatory compliance advice

•                     Nexland Company regulatory compliance advice

Client feedback

“The team works very closely with the bank and is responsive and fast. Despite the challenging conditions on the ground, the firm is able to advise the bank well. Under a very tight timeline, it is able to expedite the documentation to allow for the loan drawdown. There are numerous rounds of discussion and WongPartnership has been very professional in representing the bank and working with the borrower and their lawyers.“ - Banking

“The firm handles all of our general corporate legal work. They are efficient and timely in their work and have done a good job for us so far in this relationship.” – Financial and corporate  

“Very professional and well organized.” - Financial and corporate      

“Overall, I am satisfied with the firm's works for us. The strengths of the firm are urgency, responsiveness, knowing the ground.” - Financial services regulatory 

“Professional drafting skills, professional and accurate legal advice, and good and prompt feedback.“ – M&A

“Extremely professional, knowledgeable and timely responses.” - Restructuring and insolvency

Suegene Ang

“Highly informative, dispenses good advice and knowledge.”  

“Very quick and responsive. Is able to work around challenges and provide solutions. Is able to put in long hours to deliver results. Works very closely with the bank.“

“Suegene is very resourceful. She does her work diligently and never fails to get back to me on any of my queries.”

“Fast responses, professional and highly knowledgeable in local laws and regulations.”

Karina Peng

“Karina is excellent and cares for our business and the work that she handles. I give her a very high rating and appreciate her service to our company. “

“Professional legal skills, good and prompt feedback and a good professional attitude.”

 

ZICOlaw

ZICOlaw in Myanmar is recognised for its work in the financial and corporate space.

Key sectors of activity include energy, real estate technology and telecommunication, transport and insurance.

A notable projects highlight saw the firm advising a government agency on the Yangon Central Railways Station Redevelopment Project. Other interesting work includes acting for a private equity firm on an acquisition in the telecommunication space and advising a real estate developer on the development of the fiber-optics infrastructure in an SEZ.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      Thilawa special economic zone

•                      Yangon Central Railways Station redevelopment

Client feedback

"We found ZICO Law generally competent and responsive to our queries. They were flexible in respect of client requirements as well as in negotiating terms of engagement, especially since the nature of the transaction was very fluid (owing to the continuing changes to the deal structure occasioned by concurrent inter-party negotiations).” – Financial and corporate

Financial and corporate - Foreign
Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie in Myanmar is active in the financial and corporate space. The firm can leverage its global network to advise multinational clients across multi-jurisdictions. The firm has furthered solidified its position in the market by forging relationships with key regulators and government bodies in the country.

Sectors of focus include conventional and renewable energy, oil and gas, transport, telecommunications, financial services, technology, healthcare, consumer goods, retail and real estate.

The firm houses one of the largest corporate and M&A teams currently operating in Myanmar and has significant experience in assisting clients with establishing operations in Myanmar.

Highlights from the past year include advising an international development bank and a government body on toll road concessions; advising a large oil and gas company on its market entry through the first FDI in the retail petroleum market; and advising a multinational telecom on one of the first buyouts of a local ISP.

A significant staffing change saw the departure of corporate partner Ross Taylor who has joined Tilleke & Gibbins.

Recent Deal Data highlights

•                      Myanmar Cities and Infrastructure growth programme

•                      Yangon-Pathein toll road

Client feedback

“Very business-oriented, great knowledge and responsiveness.” - M&A

"Very relevant and sound.” – Project development