Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards 2020 - Winner Bios

  Asia-Pacific Firm of the Year – Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance stands out for its depth and breadth of coverage across the Asia Pacific region, winning rankings in an impressive 11 jurisdictions, including China, Japan Australia and across South-East Asia. The firm's high standing in the corporate and finance fields are demonstrated by its top-tier rankings in capital markets, banking & finance, corporate/M&A and restructuring/insolvency in many jurisdictions, including China, Singapore and Japan. Its accomplished, and sought-after practitioners offer significant expertise in cross-border deals, with individual lawyers achieving recognition in a range of countries in addition to the above, including in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and South Korea. This cross-border capability is appreciated by clients, with one commenting that "they have an ability to handle big deals across multiple jurisdictions without losing quality control." In one work highlight, the stellar China-based capital markets team acted for the joint sponsors and underwriters on China Tower's USD6.9 billion IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Another highlight sees the firm advising ICG Strategic Equity and Affirma Capital’s Fund 1 on the financing relating to their acquisition of a private equity portfolio comprising 35 investments across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Clients draw attention to the firm’s up-to-date and thorough knowledge: "I really appreciate that they are solution-driven and realistic about their recommendations. They follow regulatory developments as well as market developments, meaning they are able to provide commercially efficient and effective advice to clients.”
   
  Australia Law Firm of the Year Winner - King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons enjoys a commanding position in Chambers’ Australian chapter, maintaining not only the highest number of Band 1 practice rankings – nineteen – but also 99 individual lawyer rankings – more than any other firm in the country and enhanced this year by eighteen promotions. Long distinguished for its uniquely close reading of Chinese markets and unrivalled excellence in the banking and finance space, it also offers top-of-the-range expertise where M&A and capital markets transactions are concerned, and especially deep familiarity with the energy and resources, real estate and TMT sectors: in this last field, the firm advised Fairfax on its landmark AUD4.2 billion merger with Nine Entertainment. Regulatory concerns in the competition, financial services and taxation spheres are, in addition, all addressed at the highest level of capability. Clients speak with particular enthusiasm, not only of the lawyers’ “incredibly wide breadth of knowledge and experience,” but also of a superlative level of integration, both between practice groups and across state or territory borders. As one client puts it: “If we speak with one member of the team it's as though we're talking with the whole firm.”
   
  China (PRC Firms) Firm of the Year  - King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons is widely recognised as a full-service powerhouse with presence in mainland China,Hong Kong SAR, Oceania and beyond. Frequently sought by leading Chinese and international corporations, who benefit from the group’s combined local know-how and international resources. Offers expert advice on an array of corporate transactions and disputes and is particularly capable of handling multi-jurisdictional issues. A recent highlight saw the team acting as PRC legal counsel to the joint sponsors in Alibaba Group’s listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Considered as a key player in the PRC Projects & Infrastructure sphere this year and moves up in the rankings on the back of impressive market feedback, with observers highlighting the group’s diverse knowledge background, business acumen and practical approach. Continues to expand and has reinforced its on-the-ground teams across the Greater China region, including a newly established Haikou office in the South China market.
   
  China (International Firms) Corporate & Finance Firm of the Year - Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance LLP impresses with its exceptional depth and breadth across all China-related corporate and finance work. The firm is heralded as a top tier practice across a wide spectrum of work spanning bank finance, capital markets, corporate M&A and private equity. Clients benefit from this array of strengths as the firm is well placed to advise on combined areas, including cross-border leveraged and acquisition finance. The team handles large scale inbound and outbound M&A, as well as transactions within the Greater China market. In a highlight, the team advised Tsinghua Unigroup on the acquisition of Linxens from CVC Capital and Astorg Partners for approximately EUR2.3 billion. The firm also regularly handles market-leading equity listings, and recently advised the joint sponsors and underwriters on China Tower's USD6.9 billion IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The firm represents clients ranging from state-owned corporations to international banks from its offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai and offers both Hong Kong and US legal advice.
   
  China (International Firms) Dispute Resolution Firm of the Year - Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is widely renowned for its full-spectrum contentious practice and engagement with the Greater China jurisdiction. The firm maintains top-tier capabilities in both litigation and arbitration, bolstered by specialist teams focussed on corporate investigations, contentious financial services and insurance matters, as well as competition disputes.  The team frequently advises on Hong Kong High Court cases, and recently acted for BYD in defending a set of Hong Kong High Court litigation proceedings commenced by Foxconn in relation to allegations of breach of confidence and trade secrets misappropriation. Additionally, the firm’s experienced arbitration team advises leading international conglomerates on high profile dispute resolution. In a recently highlight, the practice advised Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation and Addax Petroleum on a SIAC fraud claim brought against Repsol in connection with the former's acquisition of a North Sea upstream business. The firm also offers comprehensive Chinese language documentation and support.
   
  India National Firm of the Year – Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas’ market-leading position in India is reflected in its strength in a diverse array of practices, including its corporate/M&A, private equity, banking & finance, competition, disputes and projects, infrastructure & energy teams. The firm continues to act for an impressive group of international investors and domestic companies from a range of sectors. As a pan-India firm, it boasts ranked individuals in Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai and operates from many more major locations. In one landmark transaction, the firm advised the creditors' committee of Bhushan Steel, led by State Bank of India, in relation to its acquisition by Tata Steel through its subsidiary Bamnipal Steel. Its highly sought-after disputes team represented Monsanto before the Supreme Court of India in relation to an investigation initiated by the CCI. Its status as a go-to firm for larger matters is highlighted by a client who comments: “They have a great breadth of experience and are particularly useful for the more complex transactions.” Recently, the firm has been highly active in the implementation of the Insolvency Code, with its restructuring and insolvency practice obtaining a top-tier ranking in the 2020 edition of the directory. The firm has also strengthened in a number of other practice areas, which was recognised in the improvement of its real estate and intellectual property rankings.
   
  India International Firm of the Year - Linklaters

Operating mainly from Singapore and London, Linklaters’ highly-renowned India-focused team demonstrates considerable strength in its corporate and finance offerings. In the words of one client: “They have among the best credentials for financing in the Indian market." The remarkable track record of its practitioners is reflected in the fact that the firm maintains its band 1 status across corporate/M&A, projects & energy and banking & finance. The hire of Amit Singh, a debt capital markets expert, in late 2018 has significantly boosted its capital markets practice and contributed to the firm’s promotion in that practice area in the 2020 edition of the guide. In one work highlight, the firm advised Greenko on its USD900 million acquisition of Orange Renewable Holdings’ portfolio of wind and solar projects in India. The firm also gained rankings among its younger generation of lawyers, with partner Sushil Jacob and counsel Michele Discepola obtaining up-and-coming lawyer rankings, in the corporate/M&A and capital markets categories respectively.
   
  Indonesia Domestic Firm of the Year - Hadiputranto, Hadinoto & Partners

This top-tier, full-service firm continues to impress leading Indonesian and global clients with the wide breadth of its coverage. It offers standout expertise in M&A and financing transactions, energy and infrastructure matters as well as high profile litigation and arbitration. The team combines the expertise of its locally qualified lawyers with a stellar group of seasoned Foreign Legal Consultants, whilst it can also leverage the Baker McKenzie global network to handle international matters. Its involvement in landmark matters in the Indonesian market is demonstrated by its representation of Freeport Indonesia in the USD3.85 billion sale of its stake in the Grasberg copper mine to Indonesia Asahan Aluminium.
   
  Indonesia International Firm of the Year – Milbank LLP

The firm’s standout Indonesia experts are well known for their commanding presence across corporate/M&A, capital markets, banking & finance and projects & energy matters. Milbank’s practitioners impress with top tier rankings spread across the four aforementioned practice areas. The 2020 edition of the guide also saw partner James Orme enter the rankings in the projects & energy category. Well-recognised in the market for handling the principal finance and corporate work in the market, it represented Mitra Pinasthika Mustika in its USD436 million sale of Federal Karyatama to ExxonMobil. Clients praise the group’s energy sector expertise coupled with its thorough knowledge of the country’s legal and business landscape: “Milbank has unparalleled knowledge of Indonesian power sector deals. In every issue that comes up, they can draw on their experience and knowledge of how it's been done in the past in Indonesia's power sector. We really value that and like that they are very solution-focused.”
   
  Japan Domestic Law Advisers of the Year - Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi wins impressive acclaim from market commentators and clients for its strength across the full spectrum of transactional, corporate and contentious mandates. The firm has a diverse workload, with a particular focus on high-profile M&A and capital markets transactions, as well as commercial and banking disputes. The practice group is regularly entrusted to handle mandates in the automotive, chemicals, electronics, pharmaceuticals and banking sectors, amongst others. Of late, the Tokyo team has advised on some of the most globally significant acquisitions and related financings, including advising Takeda on its USD62 billion acquisition of Shire. The firm also has a particularly strong track record in handling big-ticket debt and hybrid bond offerings, for instance advising Takeda as Japanese counsel on its USD14 billion issuance of dollar and euro bonds. In the dispute resolution space, the firm remains a popular choice for court litigation throughout Japan, whilst also standing out for its cross-border arbitration capabilities. Clients additionally benefit from its assured advice on real estate and project finance transactions, in addition to competition law matters. The firm attracts consistently excellent praise from sources, with sources one singling out the practice group as “a broad bench of the very brightest lawyers.”
   
  Japan International Law Advisers of the Year - Morrison & Foerster

Morrison & Foerster LLP is singled out for its prowess handling high-end and cross-border transactions and disputes and is well known for its leading local and international expertise across multiple practice areas. The firm’s formidable offering ranges from bank lending and debt and equity capital markets through to real estate, intellectual property, projects and energy. Over the last year, the Tokyo practice has continued to attract major instructions from leading multinational corporates such as Softbank, Hitachi, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toshiba as well as Barclays and Citigroup. In particular, the team has advised on some of the country’s most significant M&A and venture capital mandates, acting as legal counsel for SoftBank on its acquisition of USD2 billion of shares in Yahoo from Altaba and on behalf of SoftBank Vision Fund on its USD1.46 billion investment in the Series H financing round of Grab. The firm attracts acclaim among clients and peers alike for its skilful handling of mandates and high-quality client service, as one source reports: “Morrison & Foerster lawyers are business savvy and stand out in terms of their expertise, proactivity in raising issues and reliability when working to tight deadlines.”
   
  Malaysia Firm of the Year - Skrine

Skrine has a longstanding presence as one of Malaysia’s leading law firms, displaying impressive credentials across an array of fields. It has made significant strides in this year’s rankings, earning a top-tier rating for corporate/M&A work, as well as attaining recognition in the newly created real estate section. It also maintains its traditional strengths in the areas of dispute resolution and intellectual property, whilst several of its lawyers have earned new individual rankings in corporate, projects, energy and infrastructure as well as IP and TMT. The firm has substantial experience of representing blue-chip energy companies, exemplified by the firm’s recent work assisting Murphy Oil with the USD2.13 billion divestment of its Malaysian oil and gas portfolio to PTT Exploration and Production.
   
  Mekong Region Firm of the Year - DFDL

DFDL has outstanding expertise across the Mekong region, offering an integrated platform via its offices in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The firm gained a top-tier ranking in Myanmar this year, whilst maintaining its leading practices in Cambodia and Laos. Also recognised in the Thailand and Vietnam rankings, the firm has standout knowledge of regional projects mandates, especially relating to renewable energy, as well as financing and M&A deals. Its combination of foreign and local law experts earns the firm outstanding feedback among clients, with an interviewee declaring that “they have incredibly strong knowledge throughout the Mekong region and South East Asia more generally.” Recently the Yangon team advised Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility, as guarantor to the bondholders, on the THB2.3 billion issuance of Thai baht bonds by Yoma on the Singapore Exchange.
   
  New Zealand Firm of the Year - MinterEllisonRuddWatts

Uniquely well placed among New Zealand firms to handle cross-jurisdictional mandates in the region in general and trans-Tasman mandates in particular, MinterEllisonRuddWatts also stands out as the firm which has raised its profile most significantly in this jurisdiction in the past year. Practice group promotions to Band 1 in the corporate/commercial section and to Band 2 in tax are complemented by nine individual lawyer promotions, covering not only those two practice areas, but also the construction, employment, investment funds, real estate and tax spheres. The firm is also acknowledged for performing “at the highest possible level” in the energy and resources space and for offering similarly market-leading restructuring and insolvency expertise. Its increasing transactional prowess was well illustrated by its representation of ANZ New Zealand with regard to the complex sale of its securities business to First NZ Capital, while its long-standing excellence in the construction sector was showcased by its role as sole legal adviser to the Crown in respect of the delivery of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure project, the NZD3.4 billion Auckland City Rail Link.
   
  Offshore Firm of the Year - Walkers

Walkers is widely considered to be the premier offshore law firm in the Asia-Pacific region, advising clients predominantly from its offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. It maintains exceptional bench strength with host of practitioners handling investment fund, restructuring, transactional work as well as litigation matters. It regularly represents a host of leading global financial institutions, as well as leading corporates from a variety of sectors. The team’s dedicated service offering earns strong admiration, with an interviewee reporting: “We use Walkers when we know that issues are not straightforward, and we can rely on them to understand the complexities.” Another source declares: “Walkers is our number one go-to firm.” It regularly handles high-value mandates and recently represented COSCO SHIPPING as BVI counsel in its USD6.3 billion acquisition of a majority share in Orient Overseas.
   
  Philippines Firm of the Year - SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

SyCip Salazar maintains its unrivalled position on the Philippine domestic legal scene, being unique not only for being ranked in all ten of the applicable Chambers sections, but also for being ranked in Band 1 in every one of those instances. It is also distinguished for being sought out by such significant national names as Aboitiz Power, Metro Pacific and San Miguel, by such prominent foreign multinationals as ANZ, Colgate-Palmolive and Mitsubishi, and by other overseas clients seeking to develop successful and fully compliant businesses in the Philippines. Clients testify extensively to the readiness with which the firm combines technical expertise with commercial pragmatism to iron out difficulties, one noting: “In any instance when we had a problem they were able to come up with a solution for us.” Recent work highlights include representing a syndicate of local banks, led by BDO Unibank, in the provision of a PHP73.5 billion loan facility to Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels, and assisting KEPCO Philippines with its PHP2.25 billion acquisition of an interest in Solar Philippines Calatagan Corporation.
   
  Singapore Corporate & Finance Domestic Law Advisers - Allen & Gledhill

Allen & Gledhill is the clear standout firm in Singapore for corporate and finance matters, offering top-flight expertise and market-leading bench strength. It is considered a first choice by many leading financial institutions and multinational corporates, as well as some of Singapore’s largest companies. Already possessing an unrivalled spread of Band One rankings in the guide, it has made further gains this year with two new top-tier rankings for its banking regulatory work and expertise in the TMT sectors. The firm also offers significant capability across the broader South-East Asia region, leveraging its associations with regional firms in both Malaysia and Myanmar. This year it has achieved a new ranking for its Singapore-based Indonesia expertise. The firm’s recent corporate work includes acting for Temasek and Ascendas-Singbridge on the SGD11 billion sale of its Ascendas-Singbridge real estate business to CapitaLand. Similarly, its capital markets and finance team have acted on market-leading transactions, such as assisting Singapore Airlines with the establishment of a SGD2 billion medium term bond programme and also advising OCBC, DBS Bank and UOB on the SGD1.3 billion term and revolving loan facilities provided to Sim Lian. Clients report: “They offer first class advice and service, and have tremendous bench-strength across the board,” with another commenting that “they provide accurate and practical legal advice and take the initiative to properly understand the context of the client’s business.”
   
  Singapore Corporate & Finance International Law Advisers - Allen & Overy

A stalwart of the Singapore market, this Magic Circle firm is singled out for its strong year in the corporate and finance field, maintaining top-tier rankings in the capital markets, general banking and corporate areas. The firm remains a first choice for lenders and other financial institutions across the region, as well as multinational corporates active across a range of sectors. Spearheaded by Chris Moore, its corporate department has advised on some of the region’s most important transactions this year, including acting for ENGIE on the divestment of its entire 69.1% interest in Glow Energy to Global Power Synergy and assisting Tokopedia with its USD1.1 billion Series F fundraising led by Softbank Vision Fund and Alibaba Group. Its market-leading finance group was boosted this year with the addition of Bimal Desai from the firm’s Dubai office. The group continues to handle ground-breaking work including acting for the mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners on the USD2.85 billion standby senior financing to fund the Indonesian government’s acquisition – through Indonesian Asahan Aluminium – of the majority stake in the Grasberg Copper mine in the Papua Province. One client confirms that “they have a strong reputation in the market for being one of the leading banking and finance law firms in South-East Asia.” With the addition of Felipe Duque and Pallavi Gopinath Aney, the capital markets group has gone from strength to strength acting on impressive DCM work including advising the arrangers and the dealers on the establishment by Bank Mandiri of its USD2 billion-euro medium term note programme and the inaugural drawn down of USD750 million. One client concludes: “A&O has a unique position in Asia as they have strong presence in all the main countries. They are capable of mobilising large resources at the right place. They have a special capacity to work together as a team from different offices, adopting a strong client focused approach.”
   
  Singapore Arbitration Firm of the Year - King & Spalding LLP

Long-established and highly successful, King & Spalding’s international arbitration group enjoys wide recognition for its handling of complex cross-border commercial and investment treaty arbitration. Well-known for its focus and standing in energy matters, the team is advisor to major companies in the sector, such as Chevron, Shell and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. In addition, it represents clients involved in high-stake construction disputes. Recently, the team acted for National Grid Corporation of the Philippines as claimant in an UNCITRAL arbitration relating to a concession to operate the Philippines’ entire transmission grid. Clients have the highest praise for the team, with one commenting: “K&S has the premier arbitration practice in the world.” Others single out its focus on providing tailored legal assistance: “In my experience with the Asia-based team, K&S stands out because they approach our legal issues with a keen understanding of our company’s business needs, and provide us with helpful, out-of-the-box, creative solutions to legal problems that further our business goals.”
   
  South Korea International Firm of the Year - Cleary Gottlieb Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is the pre-eminent international firm advising on corporate M&A and capital markets matters relating to South Korea. Clients benefit from the services of a robust Seoul-based team coupled with the firm’s global network, which features a number of Korean-speaking US lawyers. The firm often represents major South Korean corporations, and recently acted as international counsel to Hanon Systems on its USD1.23 billion acquisition of Magna International's global fluid pressure and controls business. The firm is well known for advising on both inbound and outbound investments and acquisitions. The team is also recognised for its engagement with the South Korean authorities and regulators. Of late, the firm acted as US counsel to the Republic of Korea in its SEC-registered offering of USD1 billion notes. Sources highlight the firm's market-leading reputation, one interviewee praising its "long history and know-how in the Korean market," and another its position as "the leading international law firm in Korea in the capital markets area."
   
  South Korea National Firm of the Year - Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang retains a commanding position in the South Korean legal market, providing top-tier quality across an unparalleled range of practice areas. The firm’s strengths span commercial transactions, real estate and corporate finance, while leading specialist teams advise clients on projects, technology and intellectual property. The group’s sizable bench includes some of the South Korea’s most experienced lawyers. Of late, Kim & Chang has demonstrated that it remains engaged with emerging technology industries such as ecommerce. It recently advised Coupang on the USD2 billion investment from SoftBank Vision in relation to the merger filing and regulatory matters. The firm is also able to offer clients the benefit of overlapping areas of expertise, recently advising KDB on a USD4.2 billion project financing to POS Power for the development of a thermal power plant. The firm regularly advises on cross-border matters, and maintains dedicated teams focussed on key markets abroad, in addition to its overseas offices based in Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City.
   
  Taiwan Firm of the Year - Baker McKenzie

Well established group that houses a deep bench of talented practitioners who offers advice on a full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious matters. Maintains its leading position in finance, M&A, employment as well as commercial dispute resolution and is renowned for its outstanding expertise in sectors such as real estate and TMT. Also notable is its deft handling of intellectual property cases. Counts a stellar roster of companies from technology, financial services and pharmaceuticals, as its clients. Draws support from the group’s international network, its coverage in the Southeast Asia in particular, to provide seamless assistance to clients in high-profile inbound investments and overseas acquisitions. Work of late includes acting for Advanced Semiconductor Engineering on a 100% joint share exchange with Siliconware Precision Industries to establish a holding entity and in another matter assisting Google with its USD1.1 billion acquisition of HTC’s R&D assets.
   
  Thailand Firm of the Year - Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie continues to offer superb coverage in the Thai legal market, with Band 1 rankings in 11 different practice areas. The firm offers unparalleled bench strength and has achieved new rankings for individuals from its finance, capital markets and corporate teams this year. Capable of handling the full scope of financing, M&A, projects and dispute resolution work, the team has in-depth knowledge of sectors such as banking, energy, real estate, insurance and TMT. It regularly represents many of Thailand’s leading corporates, as well as high-profile global entities. Recent work includes advising Thai Oil and Thaioil Treasury Center on an increase to its USD2 billion global MTN programme. An impressed client attests that “Baker McKenzie has a strong footprint in the country and can really provide insights into operating in Thailand.”
   
  Vietnam Firm of the Year - YKVN

Vietnamese law firm YKVN provides top drawer expertise across key areas of practice, such as banking, capital markets, corporate/M&A and dispute resolution, operating out of offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It provides substantial in-depth local Vietnamese legal expertise, whilst also leveraging its Singapore office when handling cross-border matters. It especially acts for leading local and global banks on project finance, as well as for Vietnamese and foreign entities involved in commercial and white-collar crime disputes. In one recent work highlight, the corporate department advised Masan Group on its USD470 million sale of 9.4% treasury shares to SK Group. The service offered by its team members is highly appreciated by interviewees, who proclaim: “They are very responsive, smooth in communication and always addressing the topics. They produce outstanding results.”