Chambers Asia Pacific Awards for Excellence 2014
The Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards 2014 recognise the work of national and international law firms across the region on the basis of research for the 2014 edition of the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide. They also reflect notable achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service.
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To see the shortlist for this year's awards click here.
Asia-Pacific Law Firm of the Year
This award is given to a firm that demonstrates outstanding capability in a range of practice areas and thorough coverage across the region. It handles complex cross-border work and provides a consistently excellent quality of service.
Outstanding Contribution Awards
Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession: Davinder Singh, SC, Drew & Napier LLC
Davinder Singh, SC is widely considered to be Singapore's foremost litigator. He was among the first group of advocates to be awarded the title of Senior Counsel in 1997, and, over the last 30 years, has played a central role in developing Drew & Napier's dispute resolution practice. As one source put it: "The 'Davinder Factor' puts this practice in a different league!". Mr Singh has won landmark court cases and developed a following for his commercial arbitration expertise. Clients consistently highlight his exceptional advocacy skills, noting his "unique ability to grasp the issues and to cross-examine with authority."
Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession: Ken Siegel, Morrison & Foerster LLP / Ito & Mitomi
Ken Siegel has been the managing partner of Morrison & Foerster's Tokyo office since 1997 and has been the driving force behind the growth of the firm’s practice in Japan over that time. His practice focuses on advising blue-chip clients in the high-tech sector on mergers, acquisitions, and other strategic investments. Siegel has been consistently singled out for his expertise in handling major cross-border transactions. Clients value his understanding of how to conduct business in the region; he is "very experienced and decisive, and good at managing our expectations. Many Japanese clients enjoy working with him."
Australia Law Firm of the Year - Allens
Maintaining its top-flight reputation in the finance and corporate arenas, the firm acts for leading clients and attracts mandates that require multi-disciplinary teams with expertise across all the major sectors. The practice advised Woolworths and Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group on its AUD1.4 billion IPO, a deal which called upon the capital markets, real estate and tax experts within the firm. It is equally in demand for its energy and natural resources, restructuring and projects abilities.
India Boutique Law Firm of the Year - S&R Associates
Best known in the sphere of capital markets, this full-service firm continues to punch well above its weight on complex, high-value transactions. Client sources single out the high quality of the firm's advice and the international expertise of its practitioners as key strengths. The practice has had a successful year advising on major IPOs and QIPs; it represented the joint bookrunners Morgan Stanley, HSBC, JM Financial and CLSA on a INR20 billion QIP by IndusInd Bank. The firm is also gaining an increasingly prominent reputation in other transactional areas of practice, particularly M&A and private equity.
India National Law Firm of the Year - AZB & Partners
Now entering its second decade of practice, AZB is one of the premier commercial law firms in the country. It has continued to expand in recent years, putting particular resources into its competition law group. It is representing Lafarge India in an appeal before the Competition Appellate Tribunal in response to allegations of cartel activity in the cement trade. Aside from competition, banking and M&A remain the firm's most-admired practices. Its active year has included mandates such as advising Tata Sons on its entry into Air Asia (India), a joint venture jointly owned with AirAsia, AirAsia Investment and Telestra Tradeplace.
India International Law FIrm of the Year - Allen & Overy LLP
This firm's client list includes such giants of the Indian corporate landscape as the Tata Group, Aditya Birla Group and Reliance Industries. Led by partners in London, Singapore and Hong Kong, the India group offers an impressive spread of legal services, from banking and finance and capital markets to international arbitration. Its recent highlights include counselling Axis Bank and HSBC on their arrangement of a USD240 million term loan to Piramal Healthcare. The group continues to break new ground. It advised the joint lead managers on the Reg S issuance of USD647 million bonds by the Dutch subsidiary of Suzlon Energy, the first-ever credit-enhanced bonds from the Indian market.
Indonesia National Law Firm of the Year – Assegaf Hamzah & Partners
This highly reputed team has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It is particularly singled out in the capital markets sphere where it handles a range of issuer-side mandates; a recent highlight saw it advise Alam Sutera on a USD235 million issuance on the Singapore stock exchange. Its M&A and banking and finance practices are also highly praised and attract substantial, cross-border instructions. A recently announced tie-up with Singapore’s Rajah & Tann further extends its Asia-wide reach.
Indonesia International Law Firm of the Year - Allen & Overy LLP
Through its association with Ginting & Reksodiputro, Allen & Overy has developed impressive traction in the local market. It has a strong following amongst international lenders, frequently attracting instructions from the likes of Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered Bank, as well as local corporates and financial institutions. In a highlight it advised Toba Sejahtra on the sale of a strategic stake in its coal mining subsidiary Toba Bara Sejahtra to Barings Asia Private Equity.
Japan National Law Firm of the Year - Anderson Mori & Tomotsune
This full-service firm has a unique history among Japanese firms, having been jointly founded by American lawyers. It therefore has a long history of serving international clients on cross-border M&A. Its real estate, banking, capital markets and competition and antitrust practices are also all highly respected. It recently advised eAccess in relation to its acquisition by SoftBank in a USD1.9 billion share exchange deal.
Japan International Law Firm of the Year - Morrison & Foerster LLP
This firm is one of the largest in Tokyo and has a strong and storied history in the country. It represents household names such as Toshiba, Hitachi, Sumitomo and Fujitsu, on some of the most high-profile deals in the market. The team excels on transactional matters, recently advising SoftBank on its major acquisition of Sprint Nextel, a USD20.1 billion deal. On the contentious front, the firm continues to flourish and recently welcomed a new head of the group, James Hough, who formerly headed the litigation team in New York.
Malaysia Law Firm of the Year - Shearn Delamore & Co
Shearn Delamore & Co stands out for the sheer breadth of its offering, in relation to both contentious and non-contentious matters. The firm's corporate practice is buttressed by excellence in the area of tax and IP, with additional strengths noted in banking, project development, capital markets and shipping. The longstanding practice recently represented Royal Bank of Scotland in a labour dispute and acted for a major multinational insurer on the proposed acquisition of ING's Malaysian insurance business.
New Zealand Law Firm of the Year - Chapman Tripp
This long-established firm, already renowned for its particularly durable client relationships and consistent excellence across the board in key practice areas, has more than maintained its reputation this year. In the corporate sphere, it was at the forefront of the government's reforms of the energy market, acting for Mighty River Power during its landmark flotation. The firm also added to its laurels in the financial space, further enhancing its standing as the go-to outfit for complex debt capital markets and other high-profile financing issues.
Philippines Law Firm of the Year – Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRALAW)
This practice is one of the most well established in the country. It continues to act for prominent clients such as Manila Electric, Rizal Commercial Banking and San Miguel. Sources highlight the firm’s dispute resolution practice as the jewel in its crown, with impressive experience on a wide range of litigation and arbitration cases. Of late, its activity on disputes in the energy and financial sector has been especially notable, including defending Redondo Peninsula Energy against a special civil action which was aimed at stopping the construction of a 300 MW power project.
Singapore National Law Firm of the Year - Allen & Gledhill LLP
As one of Singapore's most venerated firms, Allen & Gledhill attracts a significant tranche of the country’s most complex transactional work. The banking and finance team is particularly singled out for praise, handling a number of multibillion-dollar instructions in the last year including advising Senoko Energy on a SGD2.6 billion term loan facility. The firm also maintains an excellent track record in capital markets and M&A, and has continued to develop its dispute resolution capabilities with the recent expansion of its arbitration team.
Singapore International Law Firm of the Year - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Milbank offers a bench of practitioners with an exceptionally deep level of regional expertise. The team is renowned for its Indonesian work, and is also active across South East Asia. Its experience in project financing and development is acknowledged to be a forte, as evidenced by its involvement in a number of major lender-side mandates. The firm is also singled out for its exceptional track record in the areas of M&A and high-yield bond offerings.
South Korea National Law Firm of the Year - Shin & Kim
This firm has deep expertise in relation to corporate / M&A, capital markets and banking and finance transactions. It has handled some of the market's most high-profile matters such as advising the Korea Exchange Bank on stock swaps between the Korea Exchange Bank and Hana Financial Group, through which the latter acquired 40% of the former’s shares. In another standout mandate, the litigation group is representing Samsung Electronics and 28 other parties in a huge claim for payment of guaranteed money, with a value in the region of KRW5.4 trillion.
South Korea International Law Firm of the Year - Linklaters
Sources consistently single out the high levels of technical and commercial expertise offered by the Linklaters team, particularly in the areas of structured finance, debt capital markets and leveraged acquisitions. The team in Singapore plays a pivotal role in the continued success of the firm's India group, and also serves as a hub for South East Asia-wide transactions. As one of only four firms to secure a QFLP licence in the 2013 round of applications, Linklaters is now able to offer Singapore law advice.
Taiwan Law Firm of the Year - Baker & McKenzie
Long established in Taipei, Baker & McKenzie is a byword for excellence across banking and finance, capital markets and corporate services. It is mandated on some of the largest M&A deals in the market, such as advising a consortium of buyers including the Want-Want Group on its acquisition of CNS Cable TV. Sources praise the ease with which cross-border deals and capital markets matters are handled through its global network of offices.
Thailand Law Firm of the Year - Tilleke & Gibbins
Unanimously acclaimed for its intellectual property group, Tilleke & Gibbins has also made significant advancements in other areas of practice. The team has acted on headline IP litigation, particularly in relation to trade mark disputes, where recent clients include BSkyB, New Zealand Rugby Football Union and Ferrari. The practice continues to develop significantly in the South-East Asian region, and in the past year established offices in Myanmar, Laos and Indonesia.
Vietnam Law Firm of the Year - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
The Freshfields team in Vietnam is highlighted for the breadth of its expertise and longstanding experience in the jurisdiction. It is especially skilled in the areas of corporate/M&A, banking & finance, projects & energy, TMT and dispute resolution. Standout work of late saw the team represent HSBC Insurance (Asia-Pacific) on its USD350 million sale of Bao Viet Insurance Corporation to Sumitomo Life. Other key clients include ConocoPhillips, Deutsche Bank, Mekong Capital and JBIC.
PRC - Zhong Lun Law Firm
A pre-eminent law firm that is internationally renowned for its real estate expertise, Zhong Lun regularly assists clients in all aspects of major developments and infrastructure projects. In addition, the firm offers expert advice on corporate law and has a growing client base of overseas companies operating in the manufacturing industry in China. In addition to its established strengths in real estate and corporate matters, the lawyers are also skilled advisers on newer areas of practice such as environmental and telecommunications law.
Hong Kong - Howse Williams Bowers
Continuing with its extraordinary growth and expansion of the scope of its practice, Howse Williams Bowers is one of the top competitors in this space. Its stronghold lies in shipping and insurance, and it is renowned for its expertise in medical negligence claims. The disputes group also advises on real estate, intellectual property and general commercial litigation.
China International Firms of the Year
Corporate - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
This well-known practice continues to be fêted for its strong record in M&A and IPO transactions. The team has assisted with significant divestments and outbound acquisitions made by Chinese clients, including representing HSBC in the disposal of its shares in Ping An Insurance for USD9.4 billion. It has also enjoyed much success over the past year in the area of private equity, with particular focus on handling cross-border transactions in the region.
Dispute Resolution - Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills boasts an impressive bench of professionals in every area of contentious legal work. Of particular note in recent years is its anti-corruption and FCPA practice, led by Kyle Wombolt. The firm continues to excel in this area, with highlights in court litigation, arbitration and internal corporate investigations, while its client base includes blue-chip investment banks, Asian conglomerates and multinational oil and gas companies.
Finance - Clifford Chance LLP
Clifford Chance maintains strong client relationships with numerous leading investment banks. It recently advised one of these major clients, in addition to other lenders, on the financing for a luxury hotel and entertainment complex in Macau, valued at more than USD2 billion. Leveraged and acquisition finance remains an integral part of the team's offering, and it demonstrates an impressive list of deals in these areas. Of particular regional significance was its advice to CVC Asia concerning its joint acquisition of the Pizza Hut and KFC franchises in Singapore, India, Malaysia and Cambodia, for a total consideration of USD900 million. The firm's aviation finance team is widely held as one of the most consistently impressive in the region.
Australia - Minter Ellison
Sources reveal that this firm is able to couple a full-service offering with excellent client care: “It seems a very well-run firm and the lawyers enjoy working there. This comes across when they interact with clients. The lawyers are always engaged and make sure you get the right attention. They are interested in their clients and always aware of what is going on in the business.” Clients also appreciate the targeted and tactical nature of its advice and the resultant “excellent value” provided “because the overall bill isn't padded with a lot of irrelevant work and input from unknown people.”
Hong Kong - Deacons
Clients are quick to recognise this firm's dedication to their various needs, noting: "It has high-quality and experienced lawyers who provide all-round legal services. They attend to our requests in a timely manner and the quality of service is great." Interviewees further praise the firm's "non-rainmaker approach – all the partners are very hands-on and involved in the project." This commitment to client service complements its acute awareness of legislative changes in Hong Kong: "With the many moving parts in our legal and regulatory environment, we are glad that Deacons 'has our back'."