Sri Lanka

IFLR1000 Reviews

Financial and corporate
Chambers Colombo

Founded in 1995, Colombo-based domestic law firmChambers Colombo includes key figures such as senior partner Kusal Subasinghe and partners Dhammika Ranasinghe and Nihal Jayawardene.

 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm has a focus on catering to the needs of SMEs and is noted for its corporate and M&A and project development work.

Sectors of activity include technology, mining and real estate.

 

 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Recent highlights include advising on the formation of a joint venture between a local client and a foreign company in the mining sector and advising international investors on a mixed development project in Colombo.

A staffing change saw the departure of corporate and project development executive Gayathri Liyanage.

 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Financial and corporate

“Communication and efficiency.”

 

DL&F de Saram

Founded in 1898, DL&F de Saram is one of the oldest and most well-known full-service law firms in Sri Lanka. The firm maintains an office in Colombo and is a member of Lex Mundi.

 

Focusses / specialisms 

The firm provides project finance and project development advice and has strong banking, capital markets and corporate and M&A practices.

The firm often acts alongside major international law firms and is experienced in advising on a range of matters including mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, regulatory compliance, and project finance.

The projects team is often active in the energy, transport, oil and gas, social infrastructure and utilities sectors.

 

Key clients  

Notable clients include Sugih Energy International, Manila Water Company, China Harbour Engineering Company, VPower Group, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, Asian Development Bank, HSBC, and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

 

Research period review: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

During the review period, the banking team often acted on the side of lenders and advised on matters such as project finance, corporate finance, acquisition financing, and trade financing. A notable confidential mandate saw the firm advising a global financial services company on financial services regulatory matters. The firm was also active in the derivatives and securitization space, acting for confidential clients. In capital markets, the firm acted for the issuer in the issuance of a green bond and also assisted a client with listing on the Colombo Stock Exchange. The corporate team was busy with several corporate restructurings and buy-side acquisitions and also advised on a joint venture. In projects, the firm was notably active on multiple PPP projects.

 

Deal highlights: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

Akbar Brothers heathcare business / Sunshine Holdings merger

Ceylon Petroleum Storage Cross-Country Pipeline

Gazelle Asset Management acquisition of a 83.97% stake in Guardian Capital Partners

Kerawalapitiya 300MW combined cycle power plant

Sysco Corporation corporate restructuring

 

Client feedback: 31st edition (2020/2021)

Banking and finance

"They have conducted excellent due diligence work for our deal. Their responses are very swift and they could assist to meet the requirements of the client efficiently. "

 

Capital markets

"Flexible, timely, accommodating, brave, ability to think outside the box."

 

Capital markets : Derivatives

"Responsive."

 

Investment funds: Private equity funds

"Good command on SL foreign investment regulation."

 

M&A

"Appropriate advice, timely and quick response."

"Good knowledge of practices, good regulatory insight and local law issues."

"Very prompt and proactive. Outstanding knowledge of local regulations and provision of all-round advice."

 

Project development

"Very proactive firm with the ability to understand the commercial issues around the legal issues that we need protection for."

 

Hansi Abayaratne

"They always give quick feedback and they met the requirements of the client very efficiently."

"Proactive solutions."

 

Savantha De Saram

"Proactive solutions."

 

Aruni Marcelline

"Flexibility; meeting timelines;  knowledge of subject matter; thinking outside the box."

 

Aloka Nandasena

"Good knowledge of law and practical."

"Earnest, responsive and knowledgeable."

FJ&G de Saram

Founded in 1841, FJ&G de Saram is the oldest law firm in Sri Lanka and is headquartered in Colombo.

 

Focusses / specialisms 

The firm is ranked tier 1 across the board in the financial and corporate space.

The banking team assists both international and domestic clients including banks, financial institutions, leasing companies, private equity firms, MNCs, government bodies and payment service providers.

The project team’s experience covers a wide range of sectors including oil and gas, energy, transport, utilities, and telecommunication.

The firm’s corporate team advises across the spectrum of corporate mandates and has experience in advising on both domestic and cross border deals.

 

Key clients  

Noteworthy clients include International Finance Corporation, Microsoft, Uber, Unilever, State Bank of India, JPMorgan Chase Bank, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Citibank and Union Bank.

 

Research period review: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

The banking team was active on a range of confidential mandates for clients such as multilaterals, financial services companies, banks, corporates, and financial institutions.

The corporate team often acted on buy and sell-side acquisitions and also advised on joint ventures. An interesting deal saw the firm advising an international client on the sale of a stake in the largest glass manufacturing company in Sri Lanka.

In projects, a highlight saw the firm advising a confidential client on the development of a landmark project in the renewables space.

 

Deal highlights: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

Alpha Aviation Group acquisition of Fairway Aviation Academy

China Merchants Port Holdings Company $268 million sale of a 23.5% stake in Gainpro Resources

Dialog Broadband Networks LKR350 million acquisition of a stake in H One

International Finance Corporation $50 million acquisition of a stake in Commercial Bank of Ceylon

Piramal India divestment of a stake in Piramal Glass Ceylon

 

Client feedback: 31st edition (2020/2021)

Bank lending : Lender side

"They are very thorough with the work and easy to work with. "

 

Banking and finance

"a. well connected locally, b. they understand their client requirements well,"

 

Capital markets : Structured finance and securitisation    

"They are knowledgeable, experienced and experts in this field. They are meticulous in their advice."

 

M&A

"Being very assertive in the face of international exposure with much senior international counsel. Also being very thorough concerning the laws, whether local or international, that were being required for the implementation of the final product. "

"Rigour and professionalism, adequate response times, good follow-up of the operation and great negotiation support. Well-structured teams. Experience in technically sophisticated transactions and good overview."

"They were diligent, timely and had our best interests at heart. They took control of the matter and acted in a very professional manner. They were very thorough in the manner they handled every aspect of the M&A."

 

Project development

"Well organised, quick response and understands our business and its challenges."

 

Project finance

"In fact I have worked with this firm during my previous employments as well. So their work ethics, standard and quality of their service delivery and the professionalism were anyway known to me. During this engagement as well I have experienced the same level of professionalism from them, with most attention to detail and straight on the point of issue. Further, it was very friendly, flexible and relaxing working with them. "

"Provide extended explanation - email and memo - whenever necessary. Clearly understand our needs. Knowledge of local practices. Reactive and reliable."

 

Restructuring : Corporate

"Availability/subject knowledge."

"Responses to be provided more swiftly."

 

Deepthi Abeysena

"They have a very positive approach and they do legal documentation and litigation work well."

 

Ayomi Aluwihare

"Positive outlook; listens well; knowledgeable and, most importantly, flexible."

 

Buwaneka Basnayake

"Very proactive in getting the work done."

"Positive outlook; listens well; knowledgeable and, most importantly, flexible."

 

Anjali Fernando

"Good technical knowledge; experience with international participants; problem solver; flexible; does not complicate things unnecessarily; honest and efficient."

 

Tilani Ford

"Tilani is polite, approachable and has a good knowledge of the area."

"Listening, understanding. Provides solutions."

 

Shanaka Gunasekara

"Availability; depth of knowledge; response time; ability to create solutions."

"During our contract engagement, Shanaka did tremendous job in my view. He was very professional and always to the point. Also knowledgeable and had a wider understanding of the industry, which helped a lot when dealing with our matters."

"Deep understanding of the subject. Keeps to committed deadlines."

"Understands our needs, provides sound advice and tries to find solutions. Responds quickly."

 

Pavithra Navarathne

"Good technical knowledge; experience with international participants; problem solver; flexible; does not complicate things unnecessarily; honest and efficient."

 

Shehara Varia  

"She is always accessible. She would find a solution to every challenge. She is a tough negotiator and is very pleasant to engage with. "

 

John Wilson Partners

Established in 1920, John Wilson Partners is headed by name partner John Wilson and is located in Colombo.

 

Focusses / specialisms 

The firm is active in banking, M&A, project finance and project development. Sectors of activity automotive, technology, insurance, hospitality, industrials and manufacturing, and retail.

 

Key clients  

Key clients include BUPA Global, Ernst & Young, Kitz Corporation, Cisco Systems, and T Choithram and Sons.

 

Research period review: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

During the research period, the firm advised on market entry, buy-side acquisitions, and exits. A highlight mandate saw the firm advising a logistics company on a high-value acquisition.

The firm welcomed partner Mohan Rupesinghe to its corporate team, while corporate partner Usha Sivagurunathan left the firm.

 

Deal highlights: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

Orana market entry

Lanka Princess Hotel wind up

Sagittarius Digital Engineering wind up

 

Client feedback: 31st edition (2020/2021)

Bank lending : Lender side

"Great attention to detail. They hire quality professionals, Thorough investigation of circumstances and evidence. Forthright and honest. Diligent,"

 

Financial services regulatory

"Detailed, worked hard to understand the product history,"

 

M&A

"Excellent and concise advice which resolved the issues we faced very quickly."

 

John Wilson

"Thorough knowledge of legal aspects of my case. Honest; straightforward; determined."

"Very proactive; strong technical legal ability; very responsive."

Nithya Partners

Founded in 1997, Colombo headquartered firm Nithya Partners is one of the most well-regarded names in the financial and corporate space in Sri Lanka.

 

Focusses / specialisms 

The firm is one of the market leaders in the financial and corporate space and is ranked Tier 1 in banking, capital markets, M&A, project finance, and project development.

The banking team has experience in advising both lenders and borrowers on a range of financing mandates.

The corporate and M&A team is experienced in acting for clients such as corporates and financial institutions on a variety of matters, including buy and sell acquisitions and joint ventures.

Sectors of activity include banking and financial services, technology and telecommunication, energy, and transport.

 

Key clients  

Clients include Ideal Finance, Aavishkaar Frontier Fund, BOV Capital, Government of Sri Lanka, World Bank,

 

Research period review: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

In banking, the firm took on borrower roles but was predominantly active for lenders on a host of cross border financing transactions such as corporate financing, asset financing, refinancing, and acquisition financing.

The capital markets team was busy acting for issuers on several debenture issues.

An interesting corporate highlight saw the firm advising on the merger of two pharmaceutical companies. In another highlight, the firm advised an international firm on a high-value acquisition in the manufacturing sector.

In projects, the firm was recently active on several high-value confidential projects in the infrastructure space. Highlights include advising the project developer in the development of a significant transport project and advising an international client on the acquisition and operation of an integrated development project involving sugar manufacturing and two thermal power plants.

 

Deal highlights: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

Dialog Broadband Networks LKR350 million acquisition of a stake in H One

Lakdhanavi 300MW combined cycle power plant

Lanka Realty Investments LKR1.2 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in On’ally Holdings

Nations Trust Bank LKR6 billion syndicated loan

Union Bank of Colombo LKR1 billion sale of UB Finance Company

 

Client feedback: 31st edition (2020/2021)

Bank lending : Borrower side

"They brought in inside of public sector thinking that goes in to the agreements, international lender's requirements and striking a balance."

 

Banking

“Always reachable when required."

 

Capital markets

"Possesses lawyers with experience and exposure to capital market-related activities. The expert team is able to provide practical and feasible solutions to address the issues and concerns that come across in the transaction execution."

 

M&A

"The Team at Nithya Partners was open with us and assisted in ensuring that we understood all of the clauses within the contract. They highlighted potential risk areas and ensured that we understood the various implications. By providing easy-to-comprehend scenarios, we were able to work with them to ensure that our best interests were protected. "

 

Project development : Infrastructure

"The firm has knowledge on the subject matter and past experience."

 

Peshala Attygalle

"Practical solutions and workaround advice provided for legal concerns. Customer oriented, while ensuring no compromise on banking laws."

 

Chanaka de Silva

"Subject knowledge and understanding the needs of the client."

"He is extremely knowledgeable on the industry from a legal documentation point of view."

 

Naomal Gunawardena

"Very knowledgeable on both legal and tax matters. Diversified professional qualifications. Able to provide practical and feasible solutions to address concerns and provides advice with a holistic view."

 

Arittha Wikramanayake

"Arittha is our first phone call. His level of integrity is unparalleled. Simply put, we know that he maintains confidentiality, provides us with respect and equally isn't afraid to be open and upfront or to push back when necessary. He has always provided us with valuable counsel."

Varners

Full-service law firm Varners has been active in Sri Lanka since 1986. Key figures include partners Rajaratnam Selvaskandan, Mahinda Haradasa and Vinothini Amarasekara. The firm maintains two offices in Colombo.

 

Focusses / specialisms 

The firm is recognized for its well-established banking, M&A and project development practices.

It has experience advising domestic and foreign clients on a range of matters including restructuring, debt and equity offerings, infrastructure projects, project financing, market-entry, and shareholder exits.

 

Key clients  

The firm recently acted for clients including Galle Face Properties, Marsylka Manufacturing Company, Bank of China, Ceyline Holdings, CHEC Port City Colombo and Cashwagan.

 

Research period review: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

During the review period, the firm was particularly active on corporate and M&A and project development work. A cross border highlight on the corporate side saw the firm acting for a multinational conglomerate on a high-value acquisition. In a standout projects deal, the firm advised an international client on a first of its kind land reclamation and development project in South Asia.

In banking, the firm recently advised a conglomerate on regulatory compliance matters and on a joint venture in the fintech space. The firm was also active in the capital markets space and assisted an international client with its listing on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm expanded its corporate team with the addition of partner Rahal Gunaratne from Dissanayake Amaratunga Associates.

 

Deal highlights: 31st edition (2020/2021) 

Capital Metals LSE listing

Colombo International Financial City

Comercial Projar corporate restructuring

Mannar mineral sand exploration

Soorya Bala Sangramaya

 

Client feedback: 31st edition (2020/2021)

M&A

"Structuring and content of agreement."

"Professional, in-depth knowledge of subject. Expertise on M&A. Quick responses to queries."

 

Project development : Mining

"They have provided sound and pragmatic advice on how to deal with this case."

 

Restructuring : Corporate

"Detailed preliminary surveying. Efficient execution. Excellent understanding of foreign clients' concerns and practical operational difficulties we face locally. Practical consultation/advice given based on latest legislation. Very attentive to smallest detail and focus on solving clients' needs."

 

Vinothini Amarasekara

"Listening and diagnosing the problem; communication and availability; network of contacts; practical knowledge and experience."

"As well as being a very nice lady to deal with, she has provided us with sound and pragmatic advice."

 

Raj Selvaskandan

"Strong analytical skills and structuring."

"Expertise on M&A and industry knowledge."

Julius & Creasy

One of the oldest law firms in Sri Lanka, Julius & Creasy was established in 1879 and is known for its high quality financial and corporate work. Key figures include partners J M Swaminathan, Anandhiy Gunawardhana, Janaki Kumaraguru and Priya Sivagananathan. The firm has two offices in Colombo.

 

Focusses / specialisms

In the banking space, the firm has significant experience advising foreign lenders on syndicated loans to domestic companies and the government. The firm also advises international banks, investment banks and fund managers on derivatives related transactions. Additionally, the firm specialises in aircraft leasing and acts as local counsel to foreign lessors and financiers.

In capital markets work, the firm takes on matters related to a wide range of financial products and transactions. These include options, futures, derivatives, bond issues, IPOs and listings, rights issues, private placements and debentures.

The corporate and M&A team is experienced advising clients from a range of sectors, including technology and telecommunications, food and beverage, professional services, insurance and real estate.

 

Key clients

Key clients include Avolon Aerospace, Air Lease Corporation, Sri Lankan Airlines, C M Holdings, Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka, and International Distillers.

 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the review period, the banking team often acted for international financial institutions on regulatory compliance matters and also acted for sellers and buyers on aircraft leasing mandates.

On the capital markets side, the firm recently acted for Sri Lankan Airlines on the issue of bonds.

An interesting mandate on the corporate side saw the firm advise a global professional services firm on market entry into Sri Lanka. Another standout deal saw the firm advise on a merger in the telecommunications space.

The firm was also active in the restructuring space, taking on roles for banks as creditors.

 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Sri Lankan Airlines $175 million bond issue

C M Holdings Rs714 million divestment of stake in KIA Motors

Zilingo $15.5 million acquisition ofnCinga Innovations

 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Very responsive and provided clear answers to the questions asked.  Made themselves available when required. Produced comments/drafts of documents very quickly.”

 

Capital markets : Debt

“Access free and going beyond the call to get the work delivered.”

 

Financial and corporate

“Clear, balanced and independent. Protected my interests, and reflected an understanding of the industry.”

 

M&A

“Good communication; clear and concise guidance. Timely processing of documents. They did exactly what was needed and did not at any time try to cross-sell or over bill. The senior partners were always willing to provide any additional advice when asked.”

“The firm is very responsive. Their advice is clear, thoughtful and commercial.”

“They were very prompt and provided more than adequate expert services for the transaction to close successfully.”

 

Restructuring and insolvency

“Flexibility, approachability and professional conduct.”

“Thorough, creative and objective driven.”

Sudath Perera Associates

Nawala-headquartered full-service law firm Sudath Perera Associates has been active since 2002. Key figures include Dushyantha Perera, who serves as the head of the firm’s corporate and commercial practice. 

 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is recognised for its banking and finance and M&A capabilities.

It has expertise in inbound foreign direct investment, public-private partnerships (PPPs), M&A and corporate restructurings. Key sectors of focus include retail, pharmaceuticals, energy and consumer goods.

 

Key clients

Key client names include People’s Merchant Finance, Navara Capital, MAGA Engineering, Nippon Paints Lanka, Copreus and Bolton Labs.

 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period, the firm notably advised on several corporate restructuring mandates and was also often engaged to provide regulatory compliance advice. One highlight saw the firm advise on the restructuring of a bank.

A staffing change saw the departure of corporate partner Suhadini Wickremasinghe, who left to pursue independent legal practice.

 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Bolton Labs restructuring

Nippon Paints restructuring

People’s Merchant Finance restructuring

 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

M&A

“Its lawyers are very responsive and are very knowledgeable.”

“The firm is well-reputed in the field of M&A and corporate law. The firm has a dynamic team that is very knowledgeable and experienced in M&A and divestitures.”

 

Private equity

“Subject knowledge, flexibility, and promptness.”