Solicitors governing body: The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
Competition authority: Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, Department of Trade and Industry
Financial regulator: Securities and Exchange Commission
IFLR1000 ranking categories:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets, M&A, Project finance, Project Development, Restructuring and insolvency
The legal system of the Philippines is a combination of civil law and the Anglo-American common law system. But religion plays a vital part in the country and Catholicism and Islam have influenced the law to different degrees.
Family-run law firms and enterprises are an important feature of the Filipino business landscape. Major players in the country are domestic firms such as Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW), Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles and SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan who provide full service local law services.
As foreign firms are not allowed to practice in the country, some have linked up with local firms to serve clients on cross-border deals. One example is Baker and McKenzie who are partnered with local firm Quismbing Torres (QT).
Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific
ACCRA Law has a reputable and sizable capital markets team that acts for the international banks on IPOs and bond issuance. It also handles cross-border M&A, representing foreign enterprises.
Significant capital markets deals include acting for ASA Philippines Foundation on its corporate notes issuance, the largest issuance of notes by a microfinance institution in the Philippines.
In M&A, ACCRALAW acted as Philippine counsel to Dell in relation to the sale of its IT services subsidiary to NTT Data.
Key clients include Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, UBS, SMMT TIM, CVC Asia Pacific and BDO Capital & Investment Corporation.
Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra is focused on capital markets and M&A work.
In capital markets, the firm primarily advises on initial and secondary public offerings and also does some work relating to restructuring and M&A of listed companies. It notably advised on the IPO of DM Wenceslao.
In M&A, the firm advises on primarily domestic investments and changes of ownership, including advising Xurpas on its acquisition of Art of Click.
Gulapa Law is focused on M&A, project finance and restructuring and insolvency. The firm has an office in Manila and an affiliated firm in New York, Gulapa & Baclay.
In M&A, the firm advises on domestic and cross-border transactions with a particular focus on business outsourcing, consultancy and financial services. Its work during the research period included the merger of Philippine AXA Life Insurance and Charter Ping An Insurance.
In project development, the firm has a focus on domestic transport and utilities projects. One example saw the firm advise AC Infrastructure Holdings in preparing qualification documents for its bid to build and operate a railway linking Metro Manila and Southern Luzon, to be known as the North-South Railway Project.
In restructuring and insolvency, the firm advises on corporate and financial restructuring. It sometimes acts as a rehabilitation receiver, such as on the rehabilitation of Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer (PhilPhos) under the Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act (FRIA).
The firm opened its New York office in February 2017.
“The practitioners at Gulapa Law Office are technically proficient and responsive. They understand the legal issues and provide prompt and practical advice.” – M&A
“Extremely knowledgeable and prepared to get involved himself. I found Aris to be a great external counsel to work with”
MOSVELDTT Law is best known for its work in M&A in the energy and mining sectors.
In project development the firm advises on joint ventures. Manila Water and Manila Water Philippine Ventures were repeat clients, turning to the firm for advice on water facility joint ventures with Obando Water District and Calasiao Water District.
PJS Law is best known for its banking and M&A practice. The project practice also had a fairly active year.
In M&A significant deals include, acting as Philippine transaction counsel for Aboitiz Power Corporation in its $650 million acquisition of all interests of Sithe and Blackstone in GNPower Mariveles Coal Project and GNPower Dinginin Corporation; and advising the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ on its $783 million acquisition of a 20% equity interest in Security Bank Corporation. This is the largest equity investment in a Philippine financial institution by a foreign firm after the liberalisation of the Philippines banking sector in 2014.
In the project space, the firm has been acting mostly on the borrower side and has been active on projects in the energy sector.
Key clients include China Bank Capital Corporation, Aboitiz Equity Venture, RCBC Capital Corporation, and BPI Capital Corporation.
Quisumbing Torres is the Philippines member of the Baker McKenzie global network and has extensive experience advising international clients on Philippines law matters.
The firm has been particularly active in corporate and M&A matters, one publishable deal saw the firm acting for an Indonesia-listed bread products manufacturer on the establishment of an incorporated joint venture with Monde Nissin Corporation.
The firm also advised on a number of capital markets related mandates from foreign securities brokerage firms and global investment banks on corporate, regulatory, securities and tax matters.
Key clients include Allianz, MWH New Zealand, GRCO Isulan Mining and Ocmador Philippines
SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan (SyCip) is one of the largest and most reputable Philippines law firms and often works as the local contact for international law firms.
The banking team acted on high profile financing mandates with top tier international law firms, especially in the project finance and corporate finance space.
Highlight deals include advising Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) and Macquarie Infrastructure (Philippines) in the public bidding in relation to the 32-year concession and the negotiations with a syndicate of lenders.
In the capital markets a representative deal saw the firm advising one of the largest Philippines conglomerates Aboitiz’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Aboitiz Renewables, in its issuance of $225 million project bond.
Key clients include Standard Chartered Bank, PNB Capital and Investment Corporation, ING Bank, DBS Bank and Mizuho Bank.
Zambrano Gruba Caganda & Advincula or ZGLaw is a corporate law firm with a particular strength in tax law. Within financial and corporate the firm focuses on banking, M&A and project finance. Since July 2017, ZGLaw has been the strategic alliance partner of WongPartnership.
In banking and finance, the firm has picked up work in the real estate finance space including advising on BDO Unibank’s financings of an office tower and a training centre.
In M&A, the firm has advised on the establishment of new business joint ventures such as Union Energy’s investment in two Philippine hydroelectric power projects or the establishment of Asia Marine Yacht Services Philippines to promote and charter yacht and seacraft services.