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Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards 2016

This year, the Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards Ceremony and Dinner was held at The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore on Friday, April 8th 2016.

These awards honour the work of national and international law firms across the region on the basis of research for the upcoming edition of Chambers Asia-Pacific.  They recognise a law firm’s pre-eminence in key countries in the region.  They also reflect notable achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service. 

Take a look at the photo gallery here.

Winners

Outstanding Contribution Award:

David Zemans - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

David Zemans has been based in Singapore for nearly 20 years and currently serves as Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP's managing partner for Asia. He is also a member of the firm's five person Global Executive Committee. Zemans is especially credited for helping to build Milbank into one of the leading international firms in South-East Asia. A leader in the legal community, he is highly regarded for his deep expertise across numerous disciplines, and regularly works on the most complex and challenging banking & finance, project finance, restructuring, and corporate/M&A transactions in the region. He is also renowned for his excellent negotiation skills, ensuring he secures the best position for his clients while being sensitive to cultural dynamics and business objectives.

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Suet-Fern Lee - Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC

Suet-Fern Lee is the managing partner of Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC and board member of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, where she is also a member of the International Leadership Team. Morgan Lewis Stamford is the product of a ground-breaking merger between US-head quartered Morgan Lewis and legacy Singapore practice Stamford Law in 2015, a pioneering move spearheaded by Lee. It effectively internationalised Stamford Law’s practice and in turn, Morgan Lewis, through Morgan Lewis Stamford, became the only international firm that is able to advise on all aspects of Singapore law. She is very highly regarded in the corporate/M&A field, and has been involved in many innovative transactions, including the recent award winning competitive bid transactions for Fraser & Neave. She is also sought after for capital markets and corporate finance transactions. Lee is a board member of the World Justice Project. She also chairs the Legal Education Cluster and is a member of the executive committee of the Singapore Academy of Law, a trustee of Nanyang Technological University and is a former president of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association.

  

AUSTRALIA

Allens
Ashurst
Clayton Utz
Herbert Smith Freehills
King & Wood Mallesons
Minter Ellison

Winner: Ashurst

Ashurst combines local versatility and international reach, being the firm of choice for many of the world's leading corporates, resources giants and financial institutions. Its Australian credentials are particularly well illustrated by its market-leading IP, restructuring and TMT practices, and by the comprehensive range of cutting-edge employment, environmental and native title services it provides to the resources and other sectors. It also regularly provides advice to Commonwealth and state government entities. Its ability to handle the largest and most complex of deals is underlined by its selection by ANZ to assist in its role in the establishment of the Lloyds AUD15 billion MTN programme, and by Novion to advise on the creation of a property-managing REIT worth AUD22 billion.

 

Client service

Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Gilbert + Tobin
Henry Davis York
Herbert Smith Freehills
Minter Ellison

Winner: Corrs Chambers Westgarth

“We could not have asked for a better service” is a common response from Corrs' clients. This typically high level of approval extends across the full range of client concerns. Sources also indicate that satisfaction only increases as relationships develop over time, and that it can sometimes prove to be “the one bright area in an otherwise extremely difficult transaction.” As one referee sums up: “Corrs has a terrific model for the management of the client relationship and consistently hits the mark in all categories.”  

 

CHINA & HONG KONG

International firms

Corporate

Clifford Chance LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Kirkland & Ellis International LLP
Linklaters
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Winner: Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

Long established as a counsel of choice for inbound US investors, Kirkland & Ellis is rapidly developing a similarly enviable status where leading Chinese and regional players are concerned, particularly in the private equity and funds spaces. The firm's wealth of cross-jurisdictional experience, combined with its sensitivity to regulatory requirements, also equips it to advise on market-leading ECM transactions, including both Hong Kong and US IPOs. It offers cutting edge advice in such key growth areas as healthcare, infrastructure, and technology, recently advising a consortium of Chinese investors on their USD9.3 billion acquisition of internet security company Qihoo 360.

 

Disputes

Clifford Chance LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills
Hogan Lovells
Linklaters
Norton Rose Fulbright
Reed Smith Richards Butler

Winner: Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills is lauded for the excellence of its contentious offering, with sources testifying explicitly to the pre-eminence of its commercial litigation and anti-corruption teams, and to the firm's unrivalled breadth, depth and experience when it comes to handling complex, cross-jurisdictional arbitration. These market-leading capabilities combine with those of a highly responsive and practical team both in Hong Kong and Mainland China, which is fully connected to the resources of a worldwide network, matching global experience with local know-how. Credit Suisse, Leighton Offshore, Marriott International and PwC are just a few of the names featuring on this formidable outfit's list of blue-chip clients.

 

Finance

Allen & Overy LLP
Clifford Chance LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Linklaters
Shearman & Sterling

Winner: Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance operates one of Greater China's most comprehensive finance practices, fielding particularly distinguished general banking, DCM, financial services regulatory and project finance teams. The firm is fully equipped, not only to advise on large and complex transactions, but also to keep pace with critical trends in the progress of market liberalisation and reform. It further stands out as the adviser of choice for several PRC lenders involved in the development of major power and other infrastructure projects around the world, recently assisting China Development Bank, ICBC and Bank of China with financings in Argentina's hydropower sector totaling USD4.7 billion in value.

 

PRC firms

Corporate & Finance

Fangda Partners
Global Law Office
Han Kun Law Offices
Jingtian & Gongcheng
JunHe Law Offices
King & Wood Mallesons
Zhong Lun Law Firm

Winner: King & Wood Mallesons

An exceptional practice with a well-established ability to provide PRC and international law advice on a full gamut of matters including M&A, financing, capital markets and tax. Leveraging off its sprawling network of offices in Mainland China and beyond, the team remains as a first port of call for clients on cross-border deals and the most complex inbound and outbound transactions. The firm houses a sizeable bench with invaluable sector expertise, particularly in relation to financial services, TMT and natural resources. A recent highlight saw the practice act as the lead counsel to Weichai Power on its acquisition of 4.95% of the shares of German manufacturer KION for EUR187 million.

 

Dispute Resolution

Fangda Partners
Jincheng, Tongda & Neal
JunHe Law Offices
King & Wood Mallesons
Zhong Lun Law Firm

Winner: Fangda Partners

Renowned as a powerhouse in the dispute resolution arena, Fangda Partners fields a group of capable and experienced practitioners counselling clients on an array of high-stake contentious issues. The firm dominates in the sphere of IP, construction, employment and insolvency litigation and also receives a raft of praise for its corporate investigations and international arbitration practice. Some of its highlight cases includes its representation of Qihoo in a defamation matter against a local Shanghai newspaper and its defence of InterDigital against allegations of market dominance and FRAND violation. Of late, the practice has reinforced its contentious capabilities with the hire of international antitrust experts, and has continued to build upon its international disputes practice in Hong Kong.

 

Independent Hong Kong firms

Deacons
Haldanes
Howse Williams Bowers
Oldham, Li & Nie
Tanner De Witt
Woo Kwan Lee & Lo

Winner: Deacons

Established in Hong Kong for 165 years, and maintaining licensed offices in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, Deacons commands immense respect as one of Hong Kong's most prestigious independent full-service firms. The cutting-edge investment funds and IP practices attract particular praise, having lately acted for Macquarie Funds Management in securing regulatory approval for its premier RQFII fund and assisted OSRAM with a People's High Court trade mark opposition case, respectively. The real estate team enjoys a similarly high reputation, recently advising on the HKD5.1 billion sale of the iconic Ho Tung Gardens property in Hong Kong. Across the board, the firm is applauded for its in-depth understanding of the Hong Kong community, and also for knowledge of Mainland China market practice.

 

INDIA

National firms

AZB & Partners
Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
J Sagar Associates
Khaitan & Co
Luthra & Luthra Law Offices
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co.
Trilegal

Winner: Trilegal

This highly regarded practice continues to go from strength to strength, earning market recognition for its high calibre bench of lawyers, well-rounded expertise and forward-thinking approach to client service. It is especially commended for its growth in the India M&A and private equity space, underlining its excellent track record as counsel on major investments and exits. Notable highlights of late include advising Goldman Sachs in its USD230 million investment into Ostro Energy, as well as instructions from the likes of Blackstone, Tata Power and Telenor. Financing also remains a cornerstone of the firm's offering, particularly in the areas of project finance, structured finance and banking regulatory.

 

Client service

Bharucha & Partners
S&R Associates
Nishith Desai Associates
Trilegal
Talwar, Thakore & Associates

Winner: S&R Associates

S&R Associates receives stellar recommendations from its loyal clientele and from international co-counsel. Sources regularly single out the firm's quick response times and the ease of contact with partners, noting: “Once you ask them for advice, the relationship doesn't stop – they proactively follow up and they reply in a timely manner.” Others were keen to point to its “great eye for detail” and ability to “understand the clients' requirements.” A full-service firm, S&R is best known for its work in capital markets, private equity and M&A, and also has a growing reputation for dispute resolution and TMT mandates, amongst other areas.

 

International firms

Allen & Overy LLP
Clifford Chance LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Linklaters
Latham & Watkins LLP

Winner: Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills stands out for its long-standing commitment to the India market. Working across its international network of offices, the firm has fostered strong links with Indian conglomerates over many years, and regularly wins marquee instructions from conglomerates such as Essar Group, Adani Group, Godrej and Reliance. M&A is central to the firm's offering, and the team displays a strong track record on both inbound and outbound work, including high-profile transactions in the pharmaceutical, infrastructure and natural resources sectors. It is also especially noted for its work on investments between India and Africa, for instance acting for IHS Africa in its acquisition of 1,100 telecommunications towers across Rwanda and Zambia from Bharti Airtel. In addition, the practice is also highly regarded for its arbitration and litigation offering, and has a growing reputation in the Indian capital markets space.

 

INDONESIA

Domestic firms

Assegaf Hamzah & Partners
Ginting & Reksodiputro in association with Allen & Overy LLP
Hadiputranto, Handinoto & Partners
Hiswara Bunjamin Tandjung
Soemadipradja & Taher
SSEK Legal Consultants

Winner: Hiswara Bunjamin Tandjung

A mainstay in the market, this firm has a hugely respected corporate team with decades of experience representing global businesses in high-profile investments and acquisitions in Indonesia. In addition, it is also highlighted for its projects and energy, banking and capital markets prowess, as well as its increasing activity in the real estate space. The team's work highlights include advising Dubai Islamic Bank on its minority investment into Bank Panin Syariah. Its long-standing association with Herbert Smith Freehills further bolsters its capabilities on cross-border mandates.

 

International firms

Allen & Overy LLP
Ashurst
Clifford Chance LLP
Latham & Watkins
Linklaters
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Winner: Latham & Watkins

Latham & Watkins continues to be regarded as a market leader in the project finance field, with an impressive bench of partners spread across Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan handling a spectrum of high-profile, cross-border financings involving Indonesia. In a notable highlight, the firm advised Pertamina on the USD2.8 billion financing of the Donggi-Senoro LNG project. Further to this expertise, the group is also active on a range of complex M&A and capital markets transactions, particularly in the oil and gas, mining and power sectors. It is widely commended for its in-depth knowledge of the local regulatory landscape, and clients further benefit from the Bahasa Indonesia language skills within the team.

 

JAPAN

Domestic law advisers

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
Atsumi & Sakai
Baker & McKenzie
Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Nishimura & Asahi

Winner: Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsi

This firm continues to cement its impressive position in the market, and is highlighted by interviewees for its focus on growing the next generation of lawyers, in addition to its outstanding expertise. Its skills traverse banking, finance, corporate, tax and dispute resolution. The firm has a profound understanding of competition law where it has handled many of the most high-profile cartel and merger clearance matters for major corporates in an array of industry sectors. It also skilled at handling complex disputes, often with cross-border elements. It continues to act for the Tokyo Electric Power Company in actions arising from the 2011 tsunami and is advising Suzuki Motors in relation to arbitration proceedings against Volkswagen.

 

International law advisers

Baker & McKenzie
Herbert Smith Freehills
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
White & Case LLP

Winner: Morrison & Foerster

As one of the largest international firms in Japan, Morrison & Foerster is valued for its unparalleled offering of Japanese, UK and US qualified practitioners. Its outstanding domestic and cross-border M&A expertise is complemented by its capital markets, IP, real estate and dispute resolution skills. It counts such leading names as Fujitsu and Softbank amongst its long-standing clients and has tackled some of the most high-profile IPOs and JVs in the jurisdiction. It also has an established track record in the technology sector, an example being its work for the Intel Corporation which included advising on its investment in the semiconductor business of Tsinghua Unigroup, a matter valued at UDS1.5 billion.

 

MALAYSIA

Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill
Shearn Delamore & Co
Skrine
Wong & Partners (member firm of Baker & McKenzie International)
Zaid Ibrahim & Co. (a member of ZICO|law)
Zul Rafique & Partners

Winner: Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill

This well-established firm elicits high praise for its expertise in a variety of practice areas, spanning dispute resolution, tax and employment, with clients extolling its capacity for commercial and innovative advice. Particularly lauded for its litigation offering, the practice maintains a reputation as a market authority on commercial dispute resolution, as well as contentious tax and employment and industrial relations cases. It acts for both national and multinational blue-chip clients, including Mercedes Benz, Thompson Reuters and Maybank. In one work highlight, it represented Petronas in a tax appeal relating to interest and business source income before the Special Commissioners of Income Tax. On the corporate front, the firm remains a go-to for inbound investment mandates from foreign companies.

 

NEW ZEALAND

Bell Gully
Chapman Tripp
Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
Russell McVeagh
Simpson Grierson

Winner: Bell Gully

Bell Gully is a top-drawer provider of legal services and has had a hugely successful year. It has acted on many of the most significant deals of recent times including the New Zealand aspects of the USD3 billion sale of TE Connectivity’s Broadband Network Solutions business. On the contentious front, it handles a range of work, from class actions to regulatory investigations. The group continues to represent PwC as receivers of Bridgecorp Limited, assisting with various high-profile spin out litigation from the collapse of the company. The teams serve an enviable roster of clients, including ANZ Bank, Fletcher Building, Air New Zealand, Rank Group and Meridian Energy.

 

PHILIPPINES

Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRALAW)
Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez & Protacio
Quisumbing Torres, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International
Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos
Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

Winner: SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

This distinguished firm occupies a commanding position in the Philippine legal landscape, possessing an unrivalled bench strength and depth of resources. Attracting praise from conglomerates at both a national and international level, its extensive expertise in financial and corporate matters, particularly in the special projects sphere, stands out. HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and BDO form part of its impressive roster of clients. Highlights from the past year include acting for the Light Rail Manila consortium on the financing of the Manila Light Rail Transit Line 1, in a project valued at over USD500 million.

 

SINGAPORE

Domestic law advisers

Allen & Gledhill
Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow
Drew & Napier LLC
Morgan Lewis Stamford
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP
Rodyk & Davidson LLP
WongPartnership LLP

Winner: Allen & Gledhill

This leading practice maintains a stellar reputation in Singapore and South-East Asia, and stands out for the sheer breadth of its offering. It is especially in relation to complex M&A and financing transactions that it particularly excels, and where it is frequently instructed on large, technically challenging or first-of-kind matters. For instance, it acted as Singapore counsel for Avago Technologies in the USD37 billion acquisition of Broadcom Corporation, and advised DBS and Bayfront Covered Bonds on the establishment of a USD10 billion global covered bonds programme. The team continues to attain recognition, securing new 2016 rankings for securitisation and derivatives, and construction. Also of special note is the firm's expansion in the wider region, including the growth of its Yangon associate office Allen & Gledhill (Myanmar) Co which opened in 2014.

 

International law advisers

Allen & Overy
Clifford Chance LLP
Linklaters
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright

Winner: Clifford Chance LLP

This magic circle stalwart is a go-to firm for many leading financial institutions, multinational corporates and private equity firms. The team handles big-ticket transactions and arbitrations across the region, including cross-border work involving Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and India, amongst other jurisdictions. As a holder of the QFLP license, Clifford Chance offers clients access to local law advice, and is additionally able to provide a one-stop-shop for litigation in Singapore through its Formal Law Alliance with Cavenagh Law. The team has been involved in some highly significant arbitration mandates of late, including advising PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) in a USD2 billion claim to have its 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining reinstated by the PNG government.

 

SOUTH KOREA

International firms

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Clifford Chance LLP
DLA Piper LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills
Linklaters
Paul Hastings
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
White & Case LLP

Winner: Paul Hastings

The Korea practice at Paul Hastings continues to flourish, especially in the corporate/M&A space. This base expertise is backed by distinguished disputes and capital markets offerings, all of which serve major Korean conglomerates, international banks and private equity houses. The firm has handled a number of landmark corporate deals for clients such as Samsung, Hanwha and GE, while on the capital markets front it has been mandated on some of the largest and most complex equity transactions. Its recent work includes assisting Samsung Electronics with the sale of its fibre optics business to Corning, and advising the placement agents on a USD1 billion sale of the common shares of Hyundai Glovis.

 

National firms

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
Kim & Chang
Lee & Ko
Shin & Kim
Yulchon LLC

Winner: Kim & Chang

This practice is top-rated in all practice areas, no small feat in a highly developed and competitive market such as South Korea. Its clients, many of whom are household names, are offered a sterling service across the board. The scale of the practice is perhaps best exemplified by the firm's stand out capabilities in such specialist areas as competition/anti-trust and ship finance. In relation to the former, the group has unrivalled expertise in dealing with the KFTC, handling merger control issues affecting both foreign and domestic corporates. In relation to the latter, a highlight saw the team advise Korea Development Bank and other international banks on the USD1.2 billion financing of six LNG carriers. It is also one of the few national firms to represent Korean Chaebol before worldwide international arbitration tribunals.

 

TAIWAN

Baker & McKenzie LLP
Formosan Brothers
Jones Day
Lee and Li
Tsar & Tsai

Winner: Lee & Li

Recognised as a market leader, Lee & Li continue to distinguish itself for its comprehensive offering. The firm fields a well-rounded practice, handling contentious and non-contentious matters in a diverse range of sectors, including finance, real estate, healthcare and TMT. It is sought out by domestic and multinational companies for assistance on cross-border transactions, complex regulatory issues and commercial operations in the wider region. In a recent highlight, it acted for a group of lenders, including Bank of Taiwan, in the provision of a USD300 million loan to a Cayman Islands company.

 

THAILAND

Allen & Overy
Baker & McKenzie
DLA Piper (Thailand) Ltd
Linklaters (Thailand) Ltd
Tilleke & Gibbins
Weerawong, Chinnavat & Peangpanor Ltd

Winner: Baker & McKenzie

Baker & McKenzie leads the field in Thailand and this is attributed to its fostering of long-term client relationships combined with its global connectivity. It is often instructed to assist Thai clients on outbound investments, an example being the acquisition by Bangchak Petroleum, via an off-market tender, of Nido Petroleum. This matter involved the Bangkok, Manila, Singapore and Sydney offices. The team serves an outstanding roster of renowned clients in areas ranging from technology and telecoms to IP and finance. It has a strong focus on power projects and can bring corporate, finance, and tax expertise to bear on such transactions.

 

VIETNAM

Allens
Baker & McKenzie
Frasers Law Company
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
YKVN Lawyers
Vilaf

Winner: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

The firm demonstrates excellence across the board and fields a number of seasoned and outstanding lawyers in Vietnam. The team handles many of the most complex and high-value corporate transactions, one being assisting the Metro Group on the USD879 million sale of its Vietnam subsidiary. It is also entrusted with some of the most significant transactions in the TMT sphere, in addition to complex litigation and arbitration cases in this jurisdiction, including complex partnership disputes and those with cross-border aspects. The group continues to attract big-ticket infrastructure and energy work, such as advising AES Corporation and the project company on the development, the USD1.5 billion financing and the construction of the Mong Duong 2 Power Project.