Chambers Asia Pacific Awards for Excellence 2013
The Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards 2013 recognise the work of national and international law firms across the region on the basis of research for the 2013 edition of Chambers Asia Pacific. They also reflect notable achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service.
2013 Categories and Winners
Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession: Kap You (Kevin) Kim - Bae, Kim & Lee LLC
Kap-You (Kevin) Kim is head of the International Arbitration & Litigation Practice Group at Bae, Kim & Lee LLC (BKL). He became a pioneer of international arbitration in Asia after co-founding BKL’s international arbitration practice in 2001, the first arbitration-dedicated team in Korea. Kevin is a well-recognised member of the international arbitration community at large, contributing extensively towards ensuring that Asian perspectives are made known as the system evolves and progresses.
Well-known for his hands-on approach and “deep knowledge of how to best frame arguments”, Kevin’s dedication towards his clients and the international arbitration community in both Korea and abroad has received repeated recognition. Interviewees emphasize that he seemingly “works 24 hours a day – he goes to court, he cross-examines, he is highly involved with all the international arbitration centres worldwide and is always on the move.
Australia Law Firm of the Year - Herbert Smith Freehills
This powerhouse is renowned for the breadth and quality of its expertise and is often a first port of call for complex projects requiring multi-disciplinary skills. It is a leading player across the corporate, banking and capital markets practices, as well as in energy, environment, TMT and employment. The firm was involved in some of the most important M&A mandates of the past year, particularly in the energy and resources sectors. It acted for Peabody Energy on its AUD4.9 billion takeover of Macarthur Coal.
India National Law Firm of the Year - J Sagar Associates
J Sagar Associates retains its position at the forefront of the market for corporate/M&A, projects and TMT work. Its private equity practice continues to go from strength to strength, with recent highlights including advising Baring Private Equity Partners India on an investment – estimated at USD90 million – in Tiruchirappalli-based Cethar Vessels. Also notable was its representation of Fonroche Energie on its bid for two solar developments in Rajasthan.
India International Law Firm of the Year - Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith has one of the most established India practices of any international firm. It is celebrated for its strong relationship with the Tata and Essar groups, but continues to pick up impressive new clients, including, of late, Strides Arcolab and the Godrej Group. Herbert Smith’s merger with Australia’s Freehills has significantly added to the practice, providing the firm’s Indian clients with access to one of Australia’s leading energy and resources practices. Sources also praise the team’s M&A and dispute resolution expertise particularly highly.
Indonesia National Law Firm of the Year – Soewito Suhardiman Eddymurthy Kardono
Soewito Suhardiman Eddymurthy Kardono is one of the top performers in Indonesia, with commentators praising to the firm's good balance of Indonesian and foreign legal resources. It is especially praised in the corporate sphere, where it recently represented the Korean tobacco company KT&G on its USD132.6 million purchase of a majority stake in Trisakti Group. Its real estate team is also spotlighted as a major player in the field, and the firm continues to grow and develop its capital markets and litigation capabilities. The practice serves a distinguished clientele which includes SC Johnson, RBS and LaSalle Investment Management.
Indonesia International Law Firm of the Year - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Milbank has an exceptional track record in the country and is recognised as one of the most established teams handling Indonesia-related work. Interviewees highlight in particular its deep understanding of the complexities of the local market as a key strength. The team is led by David Zemans from Singapore and typically takes on the market's more structured and complex work, especially in the areas of banking and finance, M&A, capital markets and restructuring. It has continued to be a key player in the country's burgeoning power sector, advising KEXIM and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking on a USD130 million 45 MW hydroelectric power plant in northern Sumatra.
Japan National Law Firm of the Year - Nishimura & Asahi
Nishimura & Asahi has made great strides to expand its reach, both domestically and globally. Since November 2011, it has established new offices in Osaka and Nagoya as well as Singapore and Hanoi. It has parlayed its great international reach into representing such large multinationals as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Renault. With approximately 474 attorneys, including 95 partners, this firm is able to provide a full range of service for its clients.
Japan International Law Firm of the Year - Morrison & Foerster LLP
This firm provides a top-tier service, with 125 attorneys on the ground, over 80 of whom either are Japanese or speak Japanese fluently. It represents some of the world’s largest multinational companies doing business in Japan, including Yahoo!, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, as well as Japanese clients such as Panasonic and Toshiba. Notably, it advised NEXON on the US and Japanese law aspect of its USD1.2 billion IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Malaysia Law Firm of the Year - Zul Rafique & Partners
This firm is renowned for having one of the country’s top banking and capital market practices, attracting domestic and foreign financial institutions such as Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Maybank and OCBC as clients. It is also widely recognised for its outstanding litigation, employment and corporate/M&A offering. A highlight in the past year saw the team represent the independent, non-executive directors of Eon Capital in a dispute which stemmed from a MYR5 billion acquisition.
New Zealand Law Firm of the Year - Russell McVeagh
Russell McVeagh combines a tradition of excellence with continued development. Commentators pay tribute to the lawyers' commercial focus and understanding of clients' business objectives. They also note the firm's dedication to broadening bench strength and cultivating younger talent. Recent areas of notable significance include assistance with the development of renewable energy projects both inside and outside New Zealand, the representation of the two principal parties in the NZD1 billion Trade Me IPO, and the provision of key taxation advice to Telecom New Zealand on its NZD4.3 billion separation from Chorus.
Pakistan Law Firm of the Year – RIAALAW
This firm's deep knowledge of a broad range of disciplines makes it a popular choice with both local and foreign entities. It is renowned for its role on high-value transactions, including advising House of Habib on proposed merger with Makro Habib Pakistan. The firm is also a powerhouse for projects work, with a particular forte in wind power and hydro power project financing. One standout mandate saw the team assist with the CASA 1000 project, to develop the transmission and trading infrastructure needed to facilitate electricity trading between Central Asia and South Asia. In keeping with its international capabilities, the group also has a branch in Kabul.
Philippines Law Firm of the Year – Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRALAW)
From its humble beginnings as a six-partner firm in 1972, this firm has emerged as one of the strongest and most reputable in the Philippines, with offices in Manila, Cebu and Davao. The firm's rich expertise in a wide range of areas has resulted in an enviable client base, which includes the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble. Highly commended for its litigation ability, it recently successfully acted for a number of Philippine and Chinese banks in the Supreme Court against the government in a complex tax case.
Singapore National Law Firm of the Year - Rajah & Tann LLP
Rajah & Tann balances a top-notch litigation and arbitration practice with an increasingly strong offering for transactional work. In one highlight, the firm defended Lehman Brothers Singapore in proceedings relating to its SGD10 billion secured note programme. The firm also merits particular mention for its shipping, TMT, and restructuring and insolvency expertise. In addition to domestic success, the firm has achieved substantial regional growth in recent years, with overseas teams based in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.
Singapore International Law Firm of the Year - Clifford Chance LLP
Clifford Chance’s top-notch transactional practice attracts a wide array of mandates and an impressive client base, especially among major lenders such as Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, as well as large corporates. The last two years has seen the firm offer an increasingly established Singapore law practice, complimenting its excellent international law repertoire. It continues to make strides in the litigation field, forming an alliance with new domestic litigation boutique Cavanagh Law at the end of 2012.
South Korea National Law Firm of the Year - Lee & Ko
This firm cements its reputation as a giant in the Korean market, renowned particularly for its strength in a range of finance and corporate transactions. It maintains strong relationships with a range of high-profile domestic and international financial institutions such as KEXIM, Shinhan Bank, Standard Chartered, and BNP Paribas. A recent focal point for this practice was representing the lenders for the USD526 million ECA financing for Hyundai Steel Company for the construction of its third blast furnace. In addition to its formidable transactional capabilities, the practice has made great strides in its TMT and intellectual property practices.
South Korea International Law Firm of the Year - Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
This firm maintains a strong and steady patronage from a range of Korea’s largest industrial and commercial giants, such as Samsung Electronics, Hana Bank and KOGAS. The firm has a long-standing Korean practice in Hong Kong, and its offering has been further boosted by its newly established office in Seoul. The team handles a range of matters, with a particular forte in capital markets, with highlights including its representation of Samsung Electronics’ listing of UDS1 billion of notes on the Singapore Stock Exchange.
Taiwan Law Firm of the Year - Tsar & Tsai
With branches in Taipei and Hsinchu, this firm offers a broad and well-rounded service. It has strength across several practice areas, and its active insurance team recently advised Chinatrust Financial on its USD180 million acquisition of MetLife Taiwan. Its IP team is also highly praised, and recently assisted 7-Eleven with successfully objecting to the registration of the '711 Realty Network' mark. It often works closely with foreign lawyers and firms, and has lawyers fluent in English and Japanese, in addition to Taiwanese and Mandarin. The firm's clients include Aviva, Intel and Philip Morris.
Thailand Law Firm of the Year - Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy continues to be a strong performer in the banking, projects and capital markets fields, offering a deep bench and catering to a broad range of client needs. It has also made great strides across several other practice areas, particularly in corporate/M&A and TMT, where it acts on a range of complex and high value transactions. The firm advised Singapore Telecommunications on its proposed purchase of an interest in Advanced Info Service, a matter valued at THB7.93 billion.
Vietnam Law Firm of the Year - Baker & McKenzie
The Vietnam team of this international powerhouse has extensive experience of handling both domestic and international matters. It is a full-service practice and fields diverse top-tier expertise, including in the core areas of finance and corporate. It has a standout IP team and its projects group is also highly recommended. The practice recently advised Asian Coast Development on its USD4 billion establishment of the Ho Tram Project Company, which will develop an integrated resort in Ba Ria - Vung Tau, the first such resort in Vietnam.