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: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The banking and finance team was recently active for several international financial institutions on matters such as project financing, acquisition financing and regulatory compliance.

A high-value mandate on the corporate side saw the firm advise a Japanese real estate company on entering into a joint venture with a local conglomerate.

An eye-catching projects deal saw the firm advise an international oil and gas company on setting up a petroleum refinery. This project marked the highest foreign direct investment into Sri Lanka to date. Another newsworthy mandate saw the firm advise an international client on the development of the largest international theme park in Sri Lanka.

 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Central Expressway Section 3 project

Hambantota 21 MMTPA petroleum refinery

Odakyu Group / TAD Group joint venture

 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Speedy and solid advice.”

 

Financial and corporate

“The team that I worked with is responsive and commercial on fees.”

 

Financial services regulatory

“Prompt  action and friendly attitude.”

 

M&A

“The firm has deep knowledge and experience in M&A and capital markets. Our client was given timely advice in managing the overall process and supported well during negotiations with investors.”

“Technical expertise and helping to navigate the challenges of local implementation when the registries have been closed due to COVID.”

“Prompt turnaround time, pro-active service and reasonable fees.”

“Timely advice, bold decisions, meet deadlines.”

 

Project development

“Meticulous research, well-articulated response, and patience in dealing with secondary questions.”

John Wilson Partners

Established in 1920, John Wilson Partners is a consistent performer across the financial and corporate space. The firm maintains an office in Colombo.

Sectors of activity automotive, technology, insurance, hospitality, industrials and manufacturing, and retail.

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

During the research period the firm was active on matters including regulatory compliance, acquisitions and construction projects.

Staffing changes to the corporate team saw the addition of Mohan Rupesinghe and Usha Sivagurunathan, while Samantha De Soysa left.

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.

The firm is ranked among the market-leading firms for banking and finance, capital markets, M&A, and project development. Sectors of activity include banking and financial services, technology and telecommunication, energy, and transport.

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

During the research period, the banking and finance team was active on regulatory compliance work and also advised lenders and borrowers on matters such as acquisition finance and project finance. The corporate team was active for buyers, sellers and joint venture partners; a noteworthy deal saw the firm advising on the joint venture between Ideal Finance and Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services. A projects’ highlight saw the firm advising on the development of a multi-fuel 300MW combined cycle power plant. The restructuring team was active on several restructuring mandates.

 

Deal highlights

Hemas Holdings LKR450 million divestment of IT subsidiary

Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services / Ideal Finance joint venture

Multi Fuel 300MW combined-cycle power plant

 

Client feedback

Banking

"Highly responsive, practical consultative approach, well informed and technically conversant."

 

Capital markets : Debt

“Possesses a very good understanding, a knowledge of capital market operations, and provides solutions and guidance which are practical for smooth execution of transactions.”

 

M&A

“Commercial minded, breadth of expertise, proactive and quick turnaround.”

“Easy to communicate with, friendly and approachable, professional expertise in several different sectors, and client-centric - which is rare among Sri Lankan law firms.”

 

Private equity

“The law firm and the partner we work with can only be described as responsive, thorough and thoughtful.”

 

Project development

“Understanding the nature of requirement and ability to provide timely advice and solutions.”

 

Arittha Wikramanayake

“Integrity and knowledge of law and the country's situation.”

“Commercial sensibility; practical approach to getting a deal done; deep experience; problem solving attitude; super approachable, responsive and proactive.”

 

Chanaka de Silva

“Knowledge and a positive attitude. Approachable and dependable.”

 

Naomal Goonewardena

“He is well qualified and an all rounder with a diverse knowledge on legal, tax and financial matters.”

 

Nirusha Ratnatunga

“Very meticulous, approachable, friendly, easy to communicate with and trustworthy.”

“Nirusha has been advising us for the past 6 years and really goes out of her way to make sure that we are well covered for all our legal requirements. She is always available provides sound advice. She is also able to garner her firm's resources to deliver the best service.”

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 recognised for its well-established project development practice.

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: 30th edition (2019/2020)

An interesting capital markets mandate saw the firm advise a confidential client on its overseas listing.

The corporate team often took on buy-side roles on acquisitions and also advised on matters such as market entry, franchises, joint ventures and restructuring.

One projects highlight saw the firm advise the project company in the development of a landmark real estate project. Another standout deal saw the firm advise CHEC Port City Colombo on another landmark land reclamation project.

 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Ceyline Holdings acquisition of Ruwala Resort

Galle Face Icon development

The Colombo International Financial City development

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.”