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Simmons & Simmons

Hong Kong

  • 13th Floor
  • One Pacific Place
  • 88 Queensway
  • Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • ManagingPartner:   Paul Li
  • Number of partners: 28
  • Number of lawyers: 87
  • Languages: Cantonese, Dutch, English, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Shanghainese, Spanish

Firm Overview:
Simmons & Simmons is a leading international law firm with fully integrated teams working through offices in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and Asia, bringing experienced professionals to some of the most active growth markets today. The firm has been active for over 34 years in Asia, and is recognised there as one of the leading international full service law firms. Simmons & Simmons has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo and its lawyers practise Hong Kong, English and US law. Since 2001, the firm has had a qualified joint venture with TMI Associates in Tokyo, the first such alliance between a major established Japanese law firm and a major international law firm.

Main Areas of Practice:  

Financial Markets including Asset Management & Investment Funds:
1 partner, 3 fee earners in Beijing 6 partners, 20 fee earners in Hong Kong 2 partners, 3 fee earners in Singapore
•China Asset Management on the establishment of ChinaAMC SAI 300 Index ETF, the first physical A Share ETF in the world
•Standard Chartered Bank on a methanol project financing to Xuzhou Weitian Chemical Co
•J.P. Morgan Securities PLC as Sole Global Co-ordinator, Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Limited and Bank of China Limited as Joint Lead Managers, on the issuance of credit enhanced bonds by China ZhengTong Auto Services Holdings Limited
•Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited on its Structured Note Programme
Key Clients: BlackRock, CDB, CLSA, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan
Contact: Paul Browne
Tel: +852 2583 8405 paul.browne@simmons-simmons.com

Corporate/M&A:
2 partners, 9 fee earners in Beijing 2 partners, 12 fee earners in Hong Kong 1 partner, 5 fee earners in Shanghai 3 partners, 2 fee earners in Singapore
•ONGC Videsh and Oil India on the US$2.475 billion acquisition of Videocon Rovuma 1 Limited in Mozambique
•China Telecom on a variety of corporate transactions and regulatory matters including data privacy compliance
•Assisting Dentsu Inc. with various joint ventures in Asia, Europe and the Middle East
•Stepan Company on the development of a new chemicals plant in Nanjing, China
Key Clients: China Telecom, Mitsubishi Corporation, ONGC Videsh, Shenhua, United Energy Group
Contact: Jason Daniel
Tel: +813 6438 5262 jason.daniel@simmons-simmons.com

Dispute Resolution:
2 partners, 1 fee earners in Beijing 5 partners, 13 fee earners in Hong Kong 1 fee earner in Singapore
•The “go-to” adviser for “bet the firm” financial institution regulatory and anticorruption investigations and prosecutions - currently handling several market misconduct allegations regulatory investigations
•Continued advice to financial institutions on post GFC claims, including mis-selling disputes relating to the sale of complex financial products
•A loyal “brands” client base provides a strong trade mark filing practice for corporate clients directly, and a firm favourite of US and Asia law referrals
•A robust cross-border arbitration practice supporting numerous current ICC, SIAC and UNCITRAL arbitrations right across Asia for international and Asian-HQ clients
Key Clients: Jeffries, China Resources Power, GlaxoSmithKline, Noble Group, Société Générale, Sanofi-aventis
Contact: Paul Li
Tel: +852 2583 8269 paul.li@simmons-simmons.com

Employment:
2 fee earners in Beijing 1 partner, 9 fee earners in Hong Kong 1 partner, 3 fee earners in Shanghai
•Continue to be the first choice counsel for top clients on their most complex, multijurisdictional and strategic employment matters including increased regulation on the employment of expatriates in China and on multi-jurisdictional projects
•Clients regularly approach the team for advice on sensitive matters, including: business restructures, investigations into allegations of misconduct by senior management and disputes involving highly remunerated employees
Contact: Fiona Loughrey
Tel: +852 2583 8361 fiona.loughrey@simmons-simmons.com

Areas of Practice

  • Corporate
  • Commercial
  • Dispute Resolution & Arbitration
  • Employment
  • Financial Markets
  • Information, Communications & Technology
  • Intellectual Property
  • Projects

Branches

  • 33rd Floor China World Tower 3,
  • 1 Jianguomenwai Avenue,
  • Beijing,
  • China
  • Beijing 100004
  • Tel +86 10 8588 4500
  • Fax +86 10 8588 4588
  • Email : BeijingOffice@simmons-simmons.com
  • 40th Floor Park Place,
  • 1601 Nanjing Road West,
  • Shanghai,
  • China
  • 200040
  • Tel +86 21 6249 0700
  • Fax +86 21 6249 0706
  • Email : Shanghai@simmons-simmons.com
  • #38-04 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3 ,
  • 12 Marina Boulevard,
  • Singapore,
  • Singapore Island
  • Singapore
  • 018982
  • Tel +65 6831 5600
  • Fax +65 6831 5688
  • Email : Singapore@simmons-simmons.com
  • 23rd Floor,
  • Roppongi Hills Mori Tower,
  • 6-10-1 Roppongi,
  • Minato-Ku,
  • Tokyo,
  • Tokyo-to
  • Japan
  • 106-6123
  • Tel +81 3 6438 5255
  • Fax +81 3 6438 5256
  • Email : Tokyo@simmons-simmons.com

Capital Markets - Asia-Pacific Region

What the team is known for Demonstrates particular strength in the derivatives market combined with experience handling a variety of structured products transactions such as structured note programmes and secured asset-backed repackagings. Its offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo give the firm solid coverage across China and Japan.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Efficiency: "The Simmons team is commercial, proactive and efficient. They are very professional and I am very impressed with their ability to turn over documents in an effective manner."

Bench strength: "A main strength I would say is the time you get with the partners and the quality and strength of their bench."

Work highlights Advised OCBC on the update of its SGD3 billion structured note programme.

Notable practitioners

Paul Browne is the national practice head for the securitisation and structured finance group based in Hong Kong. 

Significant clients JPMorgan, CLSA, Morgan Stanley, OCBC.

Investment Funds - Asia-Pacific Region

What the team is known for Enjoys a much-envied reputation for its deep expertise of registered funds. Handles a significant portfolio of exchange-traded fund (ETF) work, with experience of advising on new categories of funds. Also known for its hedge fund expertise, gaining regular instructions from leading hedge fund managers on fund establishment and regulatory matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Expertise: "They are very strong indeed in the ETF space." 

Work highlights Acted for Harvest Global Investments on forming a pioneering CNY1.9 billion dual counter RQFII A-share ETF, which allows renminbi-denominated units to be traded in both renminbi and Hong Kong dollars.

Notable practitioners 

Partner Rolfe Hayden is based in Hong Kong and leads the financial services department.

Significant clients Bosera Asset Management, BlackRock Asset Management North Asia, Zeal Asset Management, China Asset Management, Citigroup First Investment Management.

Life Sciences - Asia-Pacific Region

Banking & Finance - China

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 7 other fee earners 

What the team is known for Continues to expand its leveraged finance practice and its client base over the past year. Stands out for its client-oriented approach and high level of partner involvement.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Partner involvement: "They are client-focused and have good attention from the partners. "

Competitive fees: "Their work is efficient and reasonably priced."

Work highlights Counselled Mizuho Corporate Bank and OCBC on a GBP300 million refinancing loan facility.

Advised Standard Chartered Bank on the project finance of Xuzhou Weitian Chemical with an extensive security package over receivables, real estate and equipment, supported by a cross-border guarantee.

Notable practitioners  

Richard McKeown is praised for "the diligence of his work." He handles a wide range of banking transactions, with a particular focus on project, acquisition and trade finance. He led the team advising Mizuho and OCBC as lenders on a sterling-denominated loan.

Significant clients Rabobank, HSBC, RBS Leasing China, China CITIC Bank International, JPMorgan Chase.

Capital Markets - China

Basic facts about the department
Equity & debt
- 5 partners
- 8 associates

What the team is known for Active across renminbi-denominated bonds, guaranteed senior notes and convertible bonds. A growing reputation for Korea-related debt capital markets matters.

What's new? Korean-speaking partner Jay Lee joined the firm from an in-house position at Standard Chartered, strengthening the team's burgeoning Korea expertise.

Notable practitioners  

Paul Browne and Joel Bentsur are the main client contacts.

Significant clients JPMorgan.

Capital Markets - China

Basic facts about the department
Derivatives & structured products:
- 5 partners
- 8 associates

What the team is known for Market sources view this as a go-to team for credit-linked derivatives.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Efficiency: "The team is commercial, proactive and efficient. They are very professional and I'm impressed with their ability to turn over documents in an effective manner."

Industry knowledge: "Strengths include a depth of market knowledge in Asia."

What's new? The firm hired Jay Lee, formerly the North East Asia head of DCM legal for Standard Chartered, as a partner. 

Work highlights Advising OCBC Bank on the update of a structured, credit-linked note programme.

Notable practitioners  

According to source, practice head Paul Browne "is an expert in structured finance and derivatives. He understands our business and the commercial rationale behind our trades. He works very closely with his team and is always ready to discuss matters, around the clock. Finally, he is very hard-working and committed to his clients." Another interviewee emphasised that "Paul is very sound technically but at the same time commercial – a combination I've found quite rare."

Dispute Resolution - China

What the team is known for An expanding group, with a growing reputation in anti-corruption and contentious employment.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Bench strength: "Simmons has a consistent body of people coming in. We feel the associate grouping there is stronger than at one of the other firms we've used."

Pragmatic advice: "Simmons offers good, solid, practical advice at a reasonable price, and the team tries to accommodate our requests where possible."

What's new? Partner Tom Fyfe joined the firm in August 2012. Consultant Alex Gordon joined in April 2013, strengthening the team's capabilities in contentious insurance.

Work highlights Defending the private banking arm of an international bank against allegations of misrepresentation brought by a high net worth individual in relation to the sale of certain complex securities products. The potential amount in dispute is USD54 million.

Pursuing a HKD50 million claim on behalf of a 'Big Four' accounting firm against an individual alleged to have breached his duties regarding a company whose shares were held by a trust to which he was a beneficiary. 

Notable practitioners  

Shanghai-based Lesli Ligorner leads the anti-corruption group. She also has a considerable reputation in the employment field, advising on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters. Clients value these "unique and very valuable qualities," with a number having followed Ligorner from her previous firm, Paul Hastings.  

Veteran litigator Robert Lewington is singled out for his understanding of insurance and employment disputes. Among his ongoing instructions, he is defending a Hong Kong-listed company against a share options claim brought by a former senior employee.

Clients recommend up-and-coming partner Abdulali Jiwaji as a "technically sound, sensible and robust litigator who always finds practical solutions." 

Employment (International Firms) - China

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

What the team is known for Offers experience and expertise in both China and Hong Kong. The China team is well regarded for investigations and anti-corruption work, together with advising new and long-standing clients on developments in employment law. The Hong Kong practice offers a strong full service to leading companies in sectors such as financial services, life sciences, technology and media.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Bench strength: "A very impressive, dedicated team with excellent strength and depth."

Negotiation skills: "I like dealing with them: they are very reasonable, professional and knowledgeable." 

What's new? There are three new lawyers in the China team and five more in Hong Kong, including partner Tom Fyfe and managing associate Sarah Berkeley. 

Notable practitioners  

Lesli Ligorner is widely regarded as a leading authority on PRC employment law, and stands out particularly for her work on anti-corruption employment issues. One client commented: "She is the FCPA guru, and able to explain it to laypeople." A peer reported: "You can trust her and I am happy to refer work to her."

Fiona Loughrey heads the China employment group and receives outstanding praise from sources. One peer enthused: "She is the standout lawyer in town – she has the breadth of experience and is very calm, very professional and very hard-working." Loughrey leads on major contentious and non-contentious work, acting for multinational corporations, hedge funds, insurers, investment banks and charities.

Robert Lewington is a contentious work specialist with over 30 years of experience in Hong Kong employment law. He generally represents employers, and has expertise in partnership disputes, restrictive covenants and team moves.

Associate Johnny Choi typically advises multinationals on a wide range of PRC employment law concerns, including workplace policies, M&A-related issues, terminations, downsizing and restrictive covenants. He is based in the Beijing office and is fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Som Leung is based in the Hong Kong office and is described by clients as being "very good for quick, practical and correct advice, in both Hong Kong and the PRC." He is particularly well versed in executive employment matters in the PRC and cross-border M&A employment matters.

Significant clients Moody's, Warner Bros., MTR, Standard Chartered, Adveq. 

Energy & Natural Resources - China

Financial Services - China

Basic facts about the department
- 10 partners
- 14 other qualified lawyers 

What the team is known for Offers assured guidance to banking and hedge fund clients in relation to Hong Kong Monetary Authority and SFC investigations.

What's new? Alex Gordon joined the firm as a consultant, focusing on regulatory insurance.

Notable practitioners  

Peers agree that Paul Li is "a quality operator and a very strong practitioner." Clients are also impressed, with one source noting that "he knows market misconduct and insider dealing better than anyone else in Hong Kong."

Rolfe Hayden is commended for his broad knowledge of a number of areas, including the regulatory aspects of regional asset management transactions.

Significant clients Adveq, Bosera Asset Management (International), China Asset Management (Hong Kong), Da Cheng International Asset Management, Harvest Global Investments.  

Insurance - China

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 7 assistants

What the team is known for Long-standing reputation for insurance work, particularly in Hong Kong. Particular strength on the contentious side, especially in relation to work for reinsurers.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "Timely and solution-oriented."

What's new? The recent arrival of associate Alex Gordon bolsters the insurance practice. Formerly at Stephenson Harwood, he has significant experience on contentious insurance matters.

Work highlights Represents a major insurer in a number of claims, including those arising out of reverse mergers, terrorism reinsurance and the 2010 political riots in Bangkok.

Advised a major Asian insurer on professional negligence claims made against architects.

Notable practitioners  

Robert Lewington heads the insurance department. He is highlighted for his many years' experience in contentious issues, and is described as "a warhorse in the insurance legal market" and "a go-to guy at the firm."

Significant clients AXA General Insurance Hong Kong, AXA China Region Insurance Company, Beazley, Standard Chartered and Ernst & Young. 

Intellectual Property - China

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner 
- 6 other fee earners

What the team is known for Acts for many of the most recognisable global brands across a diverse range of industries and is a popular choice for referral work from the USA. Well experienced in trade marks, anti-counterfeiting and domain name matters, both contentious and non-contentious. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "They are very responsive and we appreciate their valuable expertise."

Work highlights Successfully opposed a similar trade mark on behalf of Crown Melbourne in Hong Kong. 

Notable practitioners  

John Slater has over 20 years' experience in Hong Kong and has dealt with issues ranging from the acquisition and licensing of rights to litigation and anti-piracy programmes. He is noted by a client as being "very upfront and straightforward."

Angela Li is a senior associate based in the Hong Kong office and has broad experience in both transactional and contentious matters, particularly with respect to trade marks. Clients note that "her advice is always practical even in this fast-changing commercial world."

Significant clients Lacoste, Bacardí, Take-Two Interactive, Cathay Pacific Airways, CleanOil.

Investment Funds (International Firms) - China

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 7 other qualified lawyers 

What the team is known for The first port of call for registered funds advice for numerous clients, handling a high volume of ETF work in Hong Kong. Is market reputation is affirmed by the team's recent mandates handling the first series of RQFII ETF listings. Also commended for its strong hedge fund presence.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Expertise: "They take things very seriously and diligently; they offer valuable advice when we seek their opinion."

Market standing: "They are very strong in the ETF space." 

What's new? Eva Chan became a consultant in June 2013.

E Fund Management (Hong Kong), HuaAn Investment Management (Hong Kong) and HuaTai Investment Management (Hong Kong) were secured as new clients.

Work highlights Represented Harvest Global Investments in forming the pioneering dual counter RQFII A-share ETF, which allows renminbi-denominated units to be traded in both renminbi and Hong Kong dollars.

Counsel to China Asset Management on the launch of a CNY4.5 billion RQFII A-share ETF, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Notable practitioners  

Rolfe Hayden is praised for having an "in-depth knowledge of investment funds." He has extensive experience advising on a wide variety of funds, with market sources highlighting his proficiency in hedge funds and ETFs. His response time and attention to detail are commended by clients, one of whom further notes his "very strong product knowledge."

Interviewees are keen to highlight that Eva Chan is "very good in terms of serving clients and offering advice." Her ETF specialism is demonstrated by her role in China Asset Management's RQFII fund launch.

Significant clients BlackRock Asset Management North Asia, Brevan Howard (Hong Kong), Citigroup First Investment Management, Zeal Asset Management, Value Partners.

Life Sciences - China

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

What the team is known for Combines expertise in the protection and commercial utilisation of IP rights with a growing reputation for its anti-bribery compliance and transactional work. The Greater China team counts some of the leading names in this field amongst its clients.

What's new? Alan Xu joined the team in June 2013.

Notable practitioners

John Slater is the key contact at the firm.

Significant clients Alfa Wasserman, Bayer, Galderma, Sanofi, Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Projects - China

What the team is known for A broad practice that advises sponsors, lenders and contractors. Active on outbound conventional and renewable energy matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Commercial awareness: "They're very hands-on and commercial - they really moved the matter forward."

What's new? The firm has opened an office in Singapore, enhancing its regional footprint.

Work highlights Acted for Standard Chartered Bank in relation to the financing of a Chinese methanol plant. 

Continues to represent Absa Capital and Barclays Capital on the project financing of major wind and solar farms in South Africa.

Notable practitioners Vivien Yang and Bree Miechel are key contacts for this practice.

Significant clients AES Corporation, CNOOC, Zhaojin Mining, Qatar Petroleum.

TMT - China

Basic facts about the department
- 8 partners
- 26 other fee earners

What the team is known for Well-rounded TMT group that is especially active on e-commerce, social media and outsourcing. Advises on a variety of issues including commercial agreements, licensing, M&A, restructuring and regulatory compliance.

What's new? Became a panel firm for China Telecom.

Work highlights Advised China Telecom on a retainer basis on a range of commercial transactions.

Notable practitioners  

Davis Wang acts for TMT clients on foreign direct investment, mergers and acquisitions, private equity fund investment and fund formation. Clients note that "he is always quick to react to things, and is efficient."

Anju Malik is praised for her "strong commercial awareness." She advises on outsourcing and cloud computing arrangements, software licensing, e-commerce, data privacy, and regulatory work.