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SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

Makati City

SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan - Makati City
  • SyCipLaw Center
  • 105 Paseo de Roxas
  • Makati City
  • Metro Manila
  • Philippines
  • 1226
  • Managing Partner: Rafael A Morales
  • Number of partners: 39
  • Number of lawyers: 142
  • Languages: Chinese, English, Filipino, Japanese, Spanish  

Firm Overview:
Established in 1945, SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan or SyCipLaw is the largest law firm in the Philippines, with a principal office in Makati City, the financial and business centre of Metropolitan Manila, and branch offices in Cebu City, Davao City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. SyCipLaw is a leader in virtually every significant area of legal practice, and recognised as the leading Philippine law firm by the IFLR Asia Awards, the ALB Southeast Asia Law Awards, and Who’s Who Legal. In 2012, SyCipLaw was recognised as the Philippine Law Firm of the Year by the Chambers Asia guide. The firm maintains links with established and leading firms in major cities in Asia, Europe, Canada, the United States, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand.

Main Areas of Practice:  

Banking, Finance & Securities: SyCipLaw has represented clients in all types of lending, securities offering, financing and credit transactions, as well as in restructurings and financial workouts. It provides advice on regulatory matters affecting banking institutions and has assisted through the years in major bank acquisitions and mergers. SyCipLaw has also represented owners, lenders and advisors in major project finance transactions, including the financing of power plants, airports, mass transit railroads, toll roads, and telecommunications facilities (including the Philippines’ sole satellite transponder).
Contact: Mia G Gentugaya
Email: mggentugaya@syciplaw.com

Corporate Services: The firm assists both domestic and foreign clients set up business vehicles in the Philippines. For foreign companies in particular, SyCipLaw has established branches, representative offices, regional headquarters or other business presence in the Philippines. It also renders corporate housekeeping services.
Contact: Emmanuel C Paras
Email: ecparas@syciplaw.com

Intellectual Property: SyCipLaw assists clients in the registration of their intellectual property rights with the Intellectual Property Office and, should a dispute arise, effectively protects their interests in inter partes cases, as well as infringement and unfair competition cases.
Contact: Enrique T Manuel
Email: etmanuel@syciplaw.com

Labour & Immigration: The firm has extensive experience in all aspects of employment relations, and in the labour-related aspects of corporate mergers and acquisitions.
Contact: Lozano A Tan
Email: latan@syciplaw.com

Litigation & Dispute Resolution: SyCipLaw represents clients before regular courts, administrative and quasi-judicial agencies, as well as arbitral tribunals and other dispute resolution bodies. The firm handled major commercial and business litigations, such as mass tort actions filed against fruit plantation companies and chemical manufacturers, tobacco product liability cases, cybersquatting, the validity or invalidity of government projects, environmental cases, as well as WTO cases.
Contact: Ricardo Ma P G Ongkiko
Email: rmpgongkiko@syciplaw.com

Special Projects: SyCip Law has represented Philippine and foreign clients in some of the largest transactions in the Philippines, including the acquisition of the country’s largest telecommunications company, the privatisation of the national airline, major acquisitions in the cement, mining and petroleum industries, the privatisation and sale of the largest tract of government-owned land in Metro Manila, and the setting-up of Philippine subsidiaries for several of the world’s major life insurance companies. The firm has considerable experience in advising leading players in the Philippine mining and petroleum industry, in their negotiation with the Philippine government and private claim owners and the documentation of the resulting agreements. SyCipLaw also has unparalleled expertise in the construction and infrastructure area. The firm has advised clients in practically all the major infrastructure projects in the Philippines, including those relating to power generation, mass railway transit, toll roads and water system.
Contact: Rocky Alejandro L Reyes
Email: ralreyes@syciplaw.com

Tax: SyCipLaw provides structuring and other advice on the tax aspects of various business transactions. It handles tax litigation and refund claims, anti-dumping cases, and other tax-related disputes. It also provides specialised advice on estate planning and on employee compensation and retirement benefits.
Contact: Rolando V Medalla, Jr
Email: rvmedalla@syciplaw.com


Banking & Finance - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 16 partners
- 24 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for The largest firm in the Philippines, offering a diverse group of lawyers with expertise in all areas of banking and finance and capital markets work. Has experience working on complex cross-border transactions.

Work highlights Represented US Ex-Im Bank on the financing lease for the acquisition by Philippine Airlines of four new B777 aircraft. One of the aircraft was valued at USD130 million.

Acted as local counsel to OceanaGold with regard to its USD225 million corporate refinancing facilities. The facilities were funded by a multinational banking syndicate comprised of BNP Paribas, Barclays, Investec, Citibank, Nedbank Capital and HSBC.

Represented UBS, Standard Chartered Securities and Maybank ATR Kim Eng Capital Partners as joint lead managers on the sale of San Miguel Corporation’s 15% stake in San Miguel Pure Foods.

Notable practitioners  

The practice is headed by Mia Gentugaya, who has recently been active on matters including representation of Greenstone Resources on its USD25 million prepaid gold forward swap transaction with Credit Suisse.

Managing partner Rafael Morales is well known for his knowledge and insight of financial regulatory matters, having written two authoritative books on the matter.

Vicente Gerochi specialises in capital markets and securitisation. A recent example of highlight work is his representation of UBS, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered Bank as joint lead managers on Petron's issuance of USD500 million undated capital securities.

Significant clients Metro Pacific Investment, ING, BDO Unibank/BDO Capital, JPMorgan Chase.

Corporate/M&A - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 21 partners
- 41 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Acts for clients in the energy sector, and is also experienced in handling government asset privatisations. Also notable for a substantial and well-resourced real estate team that acts on matters such as recreational projects and industrial parks.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Market standing: "The firm is one of the best in the Philippines in terms of corporate law."

Client service: "I am confident that if we refer to them, we will not be embarrassed later on by claims that they let the client down."

Expertise: "They have deep experience in real estate, and know the market really well."

Work highlights Advised the selling shareholders of Premiere Development Bank on Philippine law and acted as transaction counsel with regard to Security Bank's acquisition of 95% of the total issued and outstanding capital stock of Premiere Development Bank.

Acted for Kingdom Hotel Investments on the sale of all its shares in KHI Manila Property and KHI-ALI Manila, a USD55 million deal.

Advised NTT Communications on its capital tie-up with Diversified Technology Solutions International, whereby the former will acquire a 50.1% stake in the latter's holding company, Freedom Resources Holdings.

Notable practitioners  

Managing partner Rafael Morales is considered a commercial law expert, with a broad practice covering all aspects of corporate and finance law.

Emmanuel Paras heads the corporate services department and is an experienced hand in real estate law; he is also licensed as a real estate appraiser. He has published several articles focusing on this area of law.

Clients highlight Marievic Ramos-Añonuevo's commerciality regarding corporate transactions. She was part of the team which advised Maybank, Standard Chartered Securities (Singapore) and UBS (Hong Kong branch) as lead managers in the sale of San Miguel Corporation's stake in San Miguel Pure Foods.

Rocky Alejandro Reyes is best known in connection with large inbound infrastructure work, handling the commercial aspects of these transactions and advising on the latest regulatory matters in the field. 

Andres Gatmaitan is hailed as a veteran lawyer in this field. He continues to be a source of much wisdom and guidance to his colleagues at the firm.

According to clients, Andres Sta Maria has "a wealth of experience in corporate law and project finance, helping us deal with issues with various government institutions." He heads the special projects group at the firm, and acts on a range of energy matters.

Rose Marie King has been particularly active in the past year in real estate work, including commercial and residential sales and acquisitions.

Dispute Resolution - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 19 partners
- 29 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Handles a diverse range of arbitration and litigation, including product liability and constitutional challenges. Increasingly active in mining-related matters and in representing foreign companies involved in Philippines-based disputes. Benefits from a deep and highly specialised bench of litigators.

What's new? Partner Ricardo Ongkiko was appointed head of the litigation practice.

Notable practitioners  

Ricardo Ongkiko is the new head of the litigation department and a dispute resolution practitioner of long standing. He has particularly extensive expertise in handling corporate, contractual and insolvency-related disputes.

Emmanuel Lombos maintains a strong standing in the dispute resolution practice, with an emphasis on product liability and construction-related disputes. He has acted as Philippine counsel for a range of multinational clients, including Sumitomo and BMW.

Carlos Roberto Lopez is particularly well regarded for disputes related to energy and natural resources, among a diverse range of litigation and arbitration work he handles.

Ramon Songco acts on a variety of matters, with particular emphasis on defence of clients in mass tort cases, including environmental tort actions.

Nelson Antolin has retired as a partner of the firm, but continues to contribute his extensive experience as of counsel. He handles both litigation and arbitration.

Of counsel Roberto San Juan continues to apply his deep experience gained over four decades in practice to a range of complex cases handled by the firm.

Employment - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 9 partners
- 24 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for A full-service firm with one of the most highly respected labour and employment practices. Strong cross-border capabilities complement its expertise in domestic issues.

Work highlights Collaborated with Faegre Baker Daniels on the corporate immigration requirements of the United Health Group during its start-up and expansion phase. This involved in-country processing of work visas and permits for key UHG personnel working in the Philippines.

Acted for Pfizer in order to keep key employees and ensure steady control of separation pay and benefits issues arising as a result of a merger between Pfizer Philippines and Fort Dodge, a subsidiary of Wyeth, a recent Pfizer acquisition.

Advised Coca-Cola on employment issues related to its acquisition of Coca-Cola Bottling Philippines, including compliance matters, assessing exposure from pending labour cases, summarising recent union activity and reviewing contracting arrangements.

Notable practitioners  

Leslie Dy is consistently praised for her deep expertise and experience in labour work. She handles arbitration, litigation and collective bargaining negotiations, among other matters.

Lozano Tan is head of the HR practice group, and a veteran of some 35 years in this area of law. He specialises in labour and industrial relations and management counselling. He recently advised Coca-Cola on employment aspects of its purchase of a Philippines bottling plant.

Significant clients Thomson Reuters, Asurion Group of Companies, Ford.

Intellectual Property - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 24 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Recognised for its prowess in licensing and portfolio management. Also noted for its skilful handling of enforcement and litigation matters. Bench depth is a further key strength.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Market standing: "They are an institution - everyone knows them."

What's new? Enrique Manuel was appointed head of the department in October 2012.

Work highlights Representing Yamaha Motor and Yamaha Philippines in an ongoing patent infringement suit against Ramas Uypitching & Sons.

Assisting Chanel with its IP portfolio management, protection and enforcement, among other matters.

Advising Gap on multiple aspects of its IP portfolio in the Philippines, including branding and trade mark issues, enforcement and unfair competition.

Notable practitioners  

Vicente Amador is respected for his depth of experience gained through his long tenure and established relationships with clients. In addition to his legal practice, he has published a number of well-received academic articles.

Enrique Manuel brings over three decades' experience to his new role as head of the practice. He takes the lead in the firm's advice to high-profile international clients, such as Chanel and Gap.

Significant clients Chanel, Pfizer, Colgate-Palmolive, Abbott Laboratories, Revlon.

Projects - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 24 partners
- 41 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Highly regarded for its work in a number of areas, most notably for its natural resources practice. Sought after for services in all stages of transactions, including due diligence, negotiation and documentation.  

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Efficiency: "I believe that SyCip continues to be one of the most excellent and reliable firms in the country. Its fees likewise continue to be reasonable."

Work highlights Served as Philippine counsel to OceanaGold on its USD225 million corporate refinancing facilities funded by a multinational banking syndicate, which included Citibank, Investec, Barclays and BNP Paribas.

Acted as local counsel to CGA Mining in its negotiations with B2Gold for a definitive merger implementation agreement, covering CGA Mining's investment in the Masbate gold project.

Notable practitioners  

Hector De Leon is a leading figure in the firm, and is particularly active on high-profile financing work, including working on OceanaGold's corporate refinancing facilities.

Significant clients Standard Bank, OceanaGold, Greenstone Resources, Red 5.

Shipping - Philippines

What the team is known for Handles both contentious and non-contentious maritime work. Provides counsel to leading banks on ship finance and registration matters.

Work highlights Represented 7107 Islands Shipping in an appeal against the Philippine authorities' decision to seize the client's vessel.

Prepared cautionary notices for Bank of America regarding its ship mortgages on 32 vessels.

Notable practitioners  

Domingo Castillo works on litigation and arbitration matters. Of late he has advised on ship financing as well as issues related to the flagging of vessels. 

Tax - Philippines

Basic facts about the department
- 9 partners
- 12 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for A large firm with a sizeable tax department providing integrated transactional and regulatory advice. Also works with clients in defending against local and national tax assessments. Represents clients in a variety of industries, with significant experience in assisting those in the power sector.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Market standing: "It's very professional and is one of the top law firms in the Philippines."

Notable practitioners 

Rolando Medalla is the leader of the firm's tax practice, described by one client as being "well versed in taxation law, on both the administrative and litigation sides." He has worked on a number of special economic zone matters of late.

Transaction-focused partner Hector De Leon advises on tax matters related to a range of commercial activity, particularly in the oil and energy sectors. Clients appreciate that he "demonstrates a great deal of focus and competence in giving advice."

Carina Laforteza is a certified public accountant as well as a lawyer, and specialises in corporate and finance work. In relation to tax, she handles both tax litigation cases and corporate tax advice.

Emmanuel Lombos is a litigation partner with a strong focus on tax matters. Clients describe him as "a very good and experienced litigator who is able to express his arguments in a convincing manner."

Significant clients JPMorgan Chase, Wrangler Apparel, Manila Electric Company.