Sri Lanka

IFLR1000 Reviews

Financial and corporate
Chambers Colombo

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

 

Focusses / specialisms    

The firm caters 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.

 

Key clients 

Key clients include Nations Trust Bank, Belluna (Japan), Thomas Cook, LSR Group of companies and Rank Group of companies.

 

Research period review: 32nd edition (2021/2022)

Recent highlights include advising on a high-value cross-border M&A transaction in the tourism sector.

 

D. L. & F. De Saram

Founded in 1898, DL&F de Saram is one of the oldest and best-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 Asian Development Bank, HSBC, Volta Investissements, China Harbour Engineering Company, Odakyu Group and TATA Motors.

 

Research period review: 32nd edition (2021/2022)

During the review period, the financial and corporate team often acted on the side of lenders and advised on matters such as financial investment and financing. It also advised on the issuer side of several IPOs.

The project team has maintained its practice in the power and energy sector, transport and utilities.

 

Deal highlights: 32nd edition (2021/2022) 

Commercial Bank of Ceylon $50 million unsecured term facility

JF&I Packaging divestment

Pan Asia Banking Corporation $5 million senior unsecured debt facility

WindForce CSEIPO 

100MW solar photovoltaic power plant with 50MW battery energy storage system

 

Client Feedback: 32nd edition (2021/2022)     

Capital markets

"Knowledgeable and approachable. Very good turnaround time. Flexible and understands commercial realities."

"Responsive, able to meet tight deadlines and reasonable fees."

 

M&A

"Technical expertise."

"Technical expertise and experience.

 

Project development

"Strong on customs laws, tax laws, contract laws, and on other Sri Lankan laws relating to automotive industry – such as emissions and homologation norms, environmental laws, etc."

"They have been very prompt in responding to queries. On the assignments given to them, they have always complied with the timelines – with quality work."

 

Hansi Abayaratne

"Prompt and flawless response."

 

Manjula Inshira

"Strong on understanding business requirements and on giving legal advice – with a problem-solving attitude."

 

Aloka Nandasena

"Extremely responsive, provides good solutions."

"She is very responsive and practical and has good industry knowledge. She is able to harness the energy of her team and other departments to deliver effective solutions quickly."

"Sound and prompt in areas she's handling. Attention to detail and attention to the assignment. Fast reaction time. Adaptability and flexibility. Very easy to work with."

"Technical expertise and experience, plus accountability. Good at problem-solving and being hands-on for the assignment. Always reachable, although being a partner, which is somewhat rare. Flexibility when scope changes."

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 telecommunications.

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

 

Key clients 

Noteworthy clients include Union Bank, JPMorgan, Citibank, International Finance Corporation, Colombo Stock Exchange, Microsoft, Uber, Shangri-La Hotels and China State Construction Engineering.

 

Research period review: 32nd edition (2021/2022)

The banking team was active on both the lender and borrower side of loans and facilities.

In the capital markets area, the firm advised on equity transactions. The corporate team often acted on sell-side acquisitions and for issuers of IPOs.

In projects, one highlight saw the firm advise a confidential client on a project of national importance.

 

Deal highlights: 32nd edition (2021/2022) 

Asian Development Bank $80 million investment of John Keells Holdings

DFCC Bank $150 million facility

Jay Jay Mills Lanka $8 million term loan

Sunshine Consumer Lanka $5 million loan

 

Client Feedback: 32nd edition (2021/2022)     

Bank lending

"Liaising with local regulators to fast track the process."

 

M&A

"Gave advice and worked on the preparation of the sale and share purchase agreement. They have negotiated the terms and conditions of the agreement between the buyer and the seller to perfection. They have done an excellent job on legal due diligence."

"The firm is fully hands on during the entire transaction - from the due diligence stage, through negotiations and drafting to execution. The team is accessible at all times and is an invaluable ally on M&A transactions."

 

Private equity

"Strong on legal due diligence and sales agreements."

 

Project development

"Strong on acquisition and legal documents."

 

Buwaneka Basnayake

"Buwaneka's knowledge of the law and its application in a practical/business sense has been invaluable on many of the matters he has handled for the group. We have also noted his ability to come up with innovative solutions to obstacles faced on some of our transactions. His accessibility and responsiveness are also noteworthy and to be commended."

"Technical expertise and experience. Takes time to explain technical legal matters to the client for better-informed decision-making."

 

Manjula Ellepola

"Deep knowledge on conveyancing."

 

Anjali Fernando

"Drafting and legal knowledge."

 

Shehara Varia

"Efficiently and effectively managed the legal requirements for the acquisition of the company. Met a very tight deadline."

"Excellent legal knowledge."

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 Nithya Partners is among the best regarded law firms 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 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 Bank of China, Seylan Bank, Sampath Bank, Bank of Ceylon, Citizens Development Business Finance, Lakdhanavi, Adani Group of India, New Fortress Energy of USA and Maga Engineering.

 

Research period review: 32nd edition (2021/2022)

In banking, the firm was active on both the lender and borrower side of financing. In a landmark mandate, the firm advised on the refinancing of a bank, which was one of the largest lending transactions in Sri Lanka in 2021.

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

On the corporate front, the firm often advised on acquisitions and divestments. One highlight saw the firm advise an investment management company on its acquisition, which also involved the transferring out, prior to deal completion.

In projects, the firm was active on energy, mining, power and infrastructure projects.

During the review period, precedent partner Dr. Arittha Wikramanayake of the corporate and M&A team, moved to Heritage Partners.

 

Deal highlights: 32nd edition (2021/2022) 

DFCC Bank $150 million term loan facility

Lakdhanavi $95 million syndicated term loan

LOLC Holdings SLR20 million debentures issue

Tempest P.E Partners / consortium of investors acquisition of SLT Campus

Waterfront Properties $225 million refinancing

 

Client Feedback: 32nd edition (2021/2022)     

Banking and finance

"Professionalism in advising and guiding the clients. Courteous service provided."

"They provide holistic advice, combining the legal, taxation and even financial aspects of a transaction, which is very convenient. Very good service levels."

"They provide us with insight on the Sri Lankan market, while ensuring the head office requirements are also met. Easy to work with and very flexible in providing solutions."

 

M&A

"Thorough in capital markets and finance areas. Very knowledgeable partners with a vast level of experience."

 

Project finance

"Studies the matter thoroughly. Understands the industry. Meticulous in presentation."

"Technically very sound. Overall advice on legal, tax and financial implications. Providing innovative solutions. Strong structuring skills."

"Thorough legal detailing."

 

Peshala Attygalle

"Flexible and understanding. Provides solutions acceptable to both the bank and our clientele."

 

Chanaka De Silva

"Studies the file. Very details-oriented. Listens to alternative viewpoint and, if legally acceptable, acknowledges this. Accessible."

"Thorough detail on the subject matter."

 

Chalani Dissanayake

"Very efficient. Courteous service. Delivers as promised."

 

Naomal Goonewardena  

"Combined knowledge of legal, tax and financial aspects is his biggest strength."

"Expertise on tax and financial aspects (on top of legal). Creative solutions.

"Very knowledgeable person with both legal and finance background with adequate professional qualifications."

 

Nirusha Ratnatunga

"Very good industry knowledge. Approachable and good response times."

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."

Heritage Partners

Heritage Partners is a boutique law firm based out of Colombo that specializes in corporate, securities and financial law. The firm is focused on the Sri Lankan market. Key figures include precedent partner Arittha Wikramanayake, who was formerly the director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka. 

 

Focusses/ specialisms       

The firm focuses on banking, financial services and investment management. 

In M&A, the firm’s specialties include venture capital transactions and legal due diligence audits. Its client base includes many HNIs and angel investors in the VC space.  

 

Key clients 

Key clients include Colombo Stock Exchange, Sampath Bank, CIC Holdings, Softlogic Holdings, LOLC Holdings, Cargills (Ceylon), Capital Alliance, Diesel & Motor Engineering, BOV Capital, MAS CapitalBluestone Capital and Lankan Angel Network. 

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. 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 specializes 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 Blue Point Capital Partners and HID CID. 

 

Client feedback: 32nd edition (2021/2022) 

M&A 

"J&C were very responsive and always made themselves available despite the time difference with the UK. They never missed a deadline and would keep us updated. The work that they completed was of an excellent standard and we would know that it would be completed to a very high standard. Additionally, the members of J&C we worked with were all very friendly and we very much enjoyed working with them." 

 

Project development

"Unlike many lawyers in Sri Lanka, Julius & Creasy lawyers were very prompt and very passionate about their undertakings." 

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.”