Solicitors governing body: Thai Bar Association
Competition authority: Office of Trade Competition Commission (OTCC)
Financial regulator: Bank of Thailand, Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission Thailand
IFLR1000 ranking categories:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking and finance, Capital markets, M&A, Project Development, Restructuring and insolvency
Thailand is the only country in South East Asia that was never colonised, so Thai law has naturally taken on its own identity. Yet this hasn’t made its legal system simpler as it’s largely formed of a mixture of German, Swiss, French, English, Japanese, Italian, and Indian laws and practices. Even today, Islamic laws and practices exist in four southern provinces.
In Thailand there are some restrictions on foreign law firms practising in the country, but the legal sector is generally open to international law firms when compared to other jurisdictions in the region. The likes of Baker & McKenzie, Allen & Overy and Linklaters all have a presence in the country.
Under the Foreign Business Act, foreign law firms are only allowed to establish joint ventures with a local partner and must register as limited companies. This restricts ownership of the foreign firm in Thailand of up to 49% against Thai ownership of at least 51%. Only lawyers admitted in Thailand holding Thai nationality can give advice, consult Thai laws and appear before the courts.
Thailand’s real estate, leisure, manufacturing, technology and telecoms industries remain strong as a result of active inbound investment from China and Japan. Myanmar is a key focus for Thai outbound investment.
Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific
Allen & Overy is especially strong in capital markets and project development. As a result of the firm’s ability to work with its office in other jurisdictions, it often advises cross-border transactions.
The firm advised on numerous power projects such as the Nam Theun 1 hydropower plant. It has also advised on complex deals such as its assistance to Asian Development Bank’s advising for a renewable energy project, spanning six jurisdictions. In banking, it advised Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and BNP Paribas in a buyback hybrid securities by an issuer.
Key clients include Asian Development, Central Group, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and BNP Paribas.
"Local staff, Doungporn Prasertsomsuk, helps maintain good rapport with us. Staff assigned to work on deals show diligence and are easily reachable. Competitive costs and a single package for domestic and international legal advisory." – Banking and finance
"In Thailand, A&O is an excellent combination of an international counsel with a strong local office; it is difficult to find such a combination. The lawyers in Thailand are experienced, friendly, responsive, and knowledgeable. The international office out of Singapore works well with the local office and provides the international advisory portion, which we would commend as well." – Capital markets
"Very experienced, pragmatic and effective." - Project development, M&A
"Great leadership and team depth in all finance work, including project finance and real estate finance. In-depth market knowledge in Thailand and Myanmar." - Project development, Capital markets
Baker McKenzie’s office in Thailand focuses on cross-border transactions and specialises in capital markets.
The firm has mostly been involved in acquisition finance deals, most notably in real estate. The firm advised Bangkok Bank in its financing of an acquisition of several hotel properties. Additionally, it also advised in numerous consumer product deals, most notably the Pepsi buyout of Suntory. The firm continues to stay active in various power deals through its assistance in the development of multiple power plants.
Key clients include Bangkok Bank, Pepsi, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank.
"The lawyers show commitment and are willing to support at all times. Their knowledge base is reliable and practical, and they are easy to access with reasonable response times." - Investment funds, Capital markets
"Excellent quality of work and turnaround time and great client care. Well (and appropriate) resourced (hence all of the foregoing). These great qualities of the firm can be particularly found in its banking and finance (including fintech), regulatory, financial crime risk management and capital market practice groups." - Investment funds, M&A
“Advice can be trusted and is acceptable." – M&A, Capital markets
"The firm's strengths are its hard-working, prompt, highly qualified and experienced professionals, and the availability of a worldwide network." - Project development, Capital markets
"The best-connected firm in the Thai market with the most specialists in the greatest numbers of disciplines. Able to offer a breadth of service and expertise that is not available at other firms. Always our 'go to' firm and a firm that values our relationship with it and acts accordingly. Very user-friendly, responsive and helpful." - Project development, M&A
Chandler MHM mostly works on cross-border transactions. Much of its activity comes from banking and finance.
The firm is especially active in the banking and manufacturing sectors. It has advised on a number of deals involving the development of chemical manufacturing plants, most notably it advised on the development of the BPA Plant and Phenol II Plant. It also advised on the Sabeco-Thai Beverage merger, one of the largest mergers in the country this year.
The firm hired Joseph Tisuthiwongse as a partner for the banking & finance and M&A practices.
Key clients include Standard Chartered Bank, Global Chemical, and Krung Thai Bank.
"Value for money and sufficient technical knowledge." – Banking and finance
"As of today, we are fully satisfied with the work of Chandler MHM." – Restructuring and insolvency, M&A
Kudun & Partners is active in capital markets and M&A transactions. The firm focuses on advising on Thai law in transactions.
It is particularly specialised in tax matters that arise during the restructuring process. For example, when preparing TOA Paint for its IPO, the firm assisted the company in avoiding any additional tax liabilities that would result from going public. In another interesting case the firm advised on the purchase of Symphony Communication’s shares by TIME.com.
In the research period partners Chinawat Assavapokee and Saravut Krailadsiri joined the firm.
Key clients include B. Grimm Power, Prima Marine, and TIME.com.
Latham & Watkins is active in capital markets and M&A. The firm has internationally-qualified lawyers who practice from its Hong Kong and Singapore offices.
This year the firm has worked on two IPOs of large Thai energy companies. The firm assisted UBS and Bank of America in the IPO of Gulf Energy Development Company, one of the largest Thai IPOs in the past decade. It also represented TPI Polene Power, a waste-to-power company, in Thailand’s largest IPO in 2017. Another interesting deal includes its assistance to Citigroup in establishing an international notes programme.
Key clients include Bank of America, UBS Citigroup, Kasikornbank, Gulf Energy Development Company, and TPI Polene Power.
LawPlus is best known for its capital markets and M&A practices. As it is a Thai firm, it specialises in and mostly advises on Thai law.
The firm mostly advises financial institutions on various matters. The firm advised Bangkok Bank on numerous matters including asset protection. With cryptocurrency recently introduced into Thailand, the firm advised BIG Assets on issuing cryptocurrency given that, at the current time, there were no current regulations or specific laws addressing the matter.
Key clients include Bangkok Bank, Chevron, BIG Assets and Bayerische Landesbank.
“Responsive and provides practical legal advice.” - M&A
“The firm's flexibility and expertise are most valuable in our projects for dealing with foreign regulators. Its responses were timely, informative and useful for our business."- Project development
"It has expertise in financial markets and can provide valid opinions that are useful for our project." – Project development
The Capital Law Office advises on cross-border deals, but specialises in Thai law. The firm is active on capital markets and M&A transactions.
The firm is particularly active in the real estate sector. The firm advised King Power in the acquisition of Pace Development Corporation and assisted with asset transfers and negotiating and drafting agreements. It has also provided due diligence services and advised the real estate development company, U City, as it purchased shares from BTS Group.
The firm’s M&A practice welcomed new partners Pakdee Paknara and Patraporn Milindasuta.
Key clients include King Power Group, U City and VGI Global Media.
Watson Farley & Williams is most active in its project development and M&A practices.
The firm is especially active in the renewable energy industry. It has advised on solar cell projects and has provided due diligence services for several wind farm development projects, such as the 500MW farm developed by Korat Energy. The firm also advised Vietjet on a number of issues including regulations and restructuring as it entered the Thai market.
Key clients include Vietjet, Zublin and Korat Energy.
Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners is an independent Thai firm that advises both local and international clients. The firm is most active in capital markets and M&A.
The firm focuses on infrastructure, consumer goods and real estate. Of the numerous real estate deals the firm advised on, the most notable is its role in the sale of Thai Commercial Investment Freehold and Leasehold Fund. The firm also assisted in the acquisition of Sabeco, Vietnam’s largest brewer, by Thai Beverage. In infrastructure, the firm has assisted with the various development projects such as the development of the Eastern Bangkok Transit Monorail.
Key clients include Thai Commercial Investment Freehold and Leasehold Fund, Thai Beverage, and BTS Group Holdings.
"On time advice with accuracy and trust. The firm will have pros and cons for the management to help in making decisions, and its experience also helps us a lot. The fee is quite favourable compared to others we deal with." – Capital markets, Banking and finance
"Professional and responsive." - M&A
"Know the Thai listing rules, M&A code and company law well. Very innovative solutions to achieve both business objectives and law compliance." – M&A
"Very supportive, business-oriented advice, and strong partners and teamwork (especially on corporate finance and funding solution)." - M&A
"Depth of knowledge regarding the legal issues being faced, service mindedness, understanding of the client's management needs, coverage of potential issues, creativity, and understanding of commercial issues." - Project development
"Very user-friendly, prompt service from the lawyers and all are knowledgeable in their respective fields." – Restructuring and insolvency
ZICOlaw is active in banking and finance and M&A transactions. It advises on Thai law for both local and foreign firms.
The firm often assists banks in establishing financing facilities for various development projects. Two significant deals the firm advised on has involved the Alibaba Group. The firm assisted Alibaba in increasing its presence in Thailand through the development of a new distribution centre. It also advised Alipay, a subsidiary of Alibaba, on local regulations to assist in the establishment of its payment system within Thailand.
Key clients include Alibaba Group, Alipay and Fulcrum Group.
“Has in-depth knowledge of international swaps and derivative agreements.” - Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation