Hong Kong SAR

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: 香港律師會 - The Law Society of Hong Kong 

Competition authority: Hong Kong Competition Commission 

Financial regulator: Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) 

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:

Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets: Debt, Capital markets: Equity, Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation, Competition, Financial services regulatoryHedge funds, Private equity fundsReal estate fundsRetail fundsM&A, Private equityProject financeRestructuring and insolvency, Financial and corporate: Offshore, Investment funds: Offshore

Jurisdiction overview

Under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, Hong Kong’s previous legal system remained intact when it moved from British to Chinese control in the 1990s. The Basic Law—a mini constitution for the special administrative region—mandates this unless any previous measure violates it. Chinese national laws are not applicable except for laws relating to defence and foreign affairs.  

Regulated by the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association, the legal profession is divided into solicitors and barristers. Also, with well over 1000 foreign lawyers Hong Kong is known for its open policy. 

The legal market has been open since the 1970s, and foreign law firms have been free to practice foreign law under fairly informal regulations overseen by the Law Society and immigration department. Foreign law firms were not allowed to practice Hong Kong law, but domestic firms could engage them to assist on matters pertaining to other jurisdictions. Over time—as the number of foreign lawyers swelled—a more formal regulatory regime was implemented. 

In 1995 statutory registration requirements of foreign lawyers and foreign law firms came into effect allowing foreign law firms to establish practices and advise on foreign law, and to form associations with Hong Kong firms to share offices and profit costs with the purpose of converting into local firms while retaining foreign trade names.

It was the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and the Mainland that improved access between Hong Kong’s legal sector and the mainland. The residence requirement for representatives of representative offices of the Hong Kong law firm on the mainland has been relaxed; Hong Kong permanent residents may sit the National Judicial Examinations; Hong Kong lawyers are allowed to be employed as legal consultants by mainland law firms; and restrictions on association between Hong Kong and mainland law firms have been relaxed. 

The legal market itself is made up of a rich mix of international, domestic, offshore, and PRC firms. Owing to its colonial legacy, the UK headquartered magic circle firms have been a mainstay in the legal landscape, but more recently they have been challenged by white shoe law firms in the US and an emerging red circle from the mainland.

Rather than developing comprehensive services, PRC firms are following their outbound Chinese clients and many US firms have entered the market specifically targeting high-end lucrative areas such as M&A, private equity and capital markets in profitable sectors such as technology. With China's Anti-Monopoly Law gaining momentum and the Hong Kong Competition Ordinance due to take full effect on December 14 2015, one can be reasonably confident of that the competition to deliver legal services will heat up. 

Adam Majeed - Asia-Pacific Editor

IFLR1000 2019: China and Hong Kong market trends and developments

Financial and corporate
Charltons

Charltons is a Hong Kong-based boutique providing legal services to Hong Kong, Chinese and international clients with an emphasis on the mining sector. The firm has further offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Yangon.

The firm provides legal advice to its clients in corporate finance, capital markets, M&A, financial regulatory and private equity matters.

Key clients of the firm include Tutor Group Holdings, Mayacama Partners, Gekko Artificial Intelligence, eGarden Venture Capital, China International Capital Corporation and Computer and Technologies Holdings. 

In the research period, the firm was preoccupied with equity capital markets work, corporate restructuring and fund wind down mandates alongside due diligence, disposals and sales.

Deal highlights

-Fushek Financial Holdings HKSE IPO

-Gekko Group restructuring

-Ping An investment in Tutor Group Holdings

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance is a London-based magic circle law firm with over 3300 lawyers and 34 offices across 23 countries. The firm opened its Hong Kong office in 1980 which now has 150 lawyers servicing clients’ Greater China interests in conjunction with its Beijing and Shanghai offices. 

Focusses / specialisms

Arguably the most visible magic circle firm in the Hong Kong and China market, Clifford Chance has market leading transactional practices across an array of practice areas as it has the largest banking team in Hong Kong and strong relationships with Chinese policy and commercial banks. The firm’s IPO practice enjoys a dominant market share and huge deal flow when it comes to debt securities.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Bank of China, Jindal Steel & Power (Mauritius), China National Petroleum Corporation, Carrefour Nederland, Permira, Huatai Securities and Panview Capital. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy advising on a raft of Hong Kong IPOs, GDRs, dim sum bonds, perpetual securities, renminbi bonds, exchangeable bonds and green bonds. 

The corporate team acted in disposals, joint ventures and acquisitions in the renewable energy, real estate, transport, telecommunications, education, and food and beverage sectors. 

In private equity, the firm advised on acquisitions, investments, pre-IPO financings and various funding rounds for its clients, while on the fund side acted in fund formation, restructuring, venture capital, SFC-authorised funds, hedge funds and real estate.

The projects practice was engaged with outbound and inbound mandates in transport and oil & gas across jurisdictions such as China, Niger and Colombia. 

In the regulatory space the firm has acted in SFC investigations, market misconduct, cryptocurrency and ePayment matters, while the restructuring team has handled debt recovery and debt restructuring mandates, and insolvencies in the seafood and sustainable solutions industries.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Agricultural Development Bank of China Rmb1.5 billion 3.40% dim sum bond issue

-ARCM Fund IV 

-Baowu Steel Group $660 million acquisition of Maanshan Iron & Steel

-Budweiser Brewing Company APAC HKSE IPO

-Huatai Securities SSE-LSE GDRs

-Jindal Steel restructuring 

-Niger-Benin crude pipeline project

-Permira $260 million acquisition of Topcast Aviation

-Shenwan Hongyuan Group HKSE IPO

-Suning.com €1.4 billion acquisition of 80% stake in Carrefour China 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“They had provided sufficient and effective help to the project. The team did a great job.”

Capital markets: Debt

“The lawyers at Clifford Chance have solid technical and execution skill that can be significantly distinguished under sophisticated transactions or an extremely short timeframe. In addition, they are always reachable which is really important from clients' perspectives. I am always happy to work with Clifford Chance’s team and have a strong preference to have that team on my deal.”

“Very experienced and professional. The lawyers can work with tight time schedules, and cooperate quite well with JLMs.”

Financial services regulatory

“Possesses in-depth knowledge of law whilst the commercial practicality and usefulness of the advice is not compromised.”

“Knowledge of regulatory environment. Lawyers that work well with our team.”

“We really like Clifford Chance's always-ready-to-provide-solutions attitude. They simply advise us 24/7 restlessly with no compromise in quality.”

“Very knowledgeable in PRC regulations and market trends; particularly good in cross-border issues.”

Investment funds

“In-depth knowledge and practical solutions.”

“Matt and his team were extremely knowledgeable and up to date. We felt very comfortable that we were creating our fund in the right way despite the ever changing regulatory landscape. They were also very responsive to all of our questions.”

“The firm has consistently provided proactive, practical advice and has been very responsive to queries.”

“Clifford Chance has top lawyers from top to bottom and is responsive, commercial, and transparent with respect to fees/billing.”

M&A

“Creative solutions to problem solving, very reliable in terms of quality and timing of the work product, extremely nice team to work with who know your business well and make you feel home.”

“CC was not only appointed for its M&A expertise but for the structuring/funding part, we also received the key input from Clifford's regulatory team in the financial services sector. This combination of expertise was extremely efficient. Whenever the client is facing a grey area under PRC laws, they take positions and give very clear recommendations based on market practice.”

“Responsive attention to detail but ever-conscious of commercial elements. They provide a perfect bridge between local legal market knowledge and foreign investor expectations.”

Private equity

“High quality, in-depth knowledge, problem solving.”

“Excellent quality and practical solutions.”

“The law firm is very efficient and is able to turnaround and provide feedback quickly. The team is also knowledgeable in the private equity area.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Very talented team with a lot of experience and strong technical skills. Extensive market network means the team is able to add insights and current thinking on both commercial and legal issues.”

“Clear and concise advice. Responsive and adaptable.”

“Pro-active and focused on problem solving. Takes the lead to push the matter forward and seeks guidance from clients where appropriate.”

“Well positioned in the market and responsive. Knows how to get the deal done and the key pressure points. Consistently solid.”

“Expertise in multiple dimensions that are relevant to our businesses. Quick turnaround, and accessibility to senior and knowledgeable lawyers.”

Davis Polk & Wardwell

Davis Polk & Wardwell is a New York-headquartered law firm with 982 lawyers across 10 offices in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Catering to its clients with Chinese interests the firm has offices in Hong Kong and Beijing.

In Hong Kong and China the firm is best known for its equity and debt capital markets work, M&A and private equity across the technology media and telecommunications, banking, consumer goods, energy, healthcare and real estate sectors.

Key clients of the firm include LIZHI, Venus Medtech (Hangzhou), Tencent Holdings, China Yongda Automobiles Services Holdings, Tianfeng Securities, CNOOC, Baidu Holdings and I Squared Capital. 

In the past 12 months, the capital markets team has kept busy advising on Hong Kong and New York IPOs, private placements, secondary offerings, bond issues including high-yield and convertible issuances. 

In private equity the firm has assisted clients in various rounds of funding and its corporate team has acted in take-private mandates, investments, joint ventures and acquisitions in the automotive, logistics, energy and healthcare sectors. 

Deal highlights

-China Yongda Automobiles Services Holdings $116 million acquisition of Inchcape Asia Pacific

-CITIC Capital Acquisition NYSE IPO

-I-Mab Nasdaq IPO

-JD.com $1 billion dual-tranche (3.375%, 4.125%) bond issue 

-Petronas $300 million acquisition of Amplus Energy Solutions

-Tuhu Car $300 million series F financing 

-Venus Medtech HKSE IPO

-Xi’an Aerospace High-Tech Industry Development $100 million 6.50% bond issue

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Debt 

“We have been in a good relationship since 2017 when we had our first USD issuance. Davis Polk & Wardwell explains everything professionally and with great patience. The lawyer understands well the cultural difference and hence develops good communication between the issuer and the underwriters.”

“Professionalism as always.”

“DPW is professional, knowledgeable and very familiar with the transactions structures and potential issues.”

“Thought leaders in the field. Gerhard knows the law inside out and pairs that with an astutely commercial take on things, recognising that in Asia there are always complicating factors. At the same time, he's also always willing to provide his views even on trades where DPW are not formally engaged and they are an invaluable source in that respect. They are generally timely in their work product and it is of a high quality.”

M&A

“They are efficient, prompt to respond, responsible and proactive.”

Gallant

Established in 1977, Gallant is an independent Hong Kong firm with over 40 solicitors and further representative offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou. 

The firm offers legal services in commercial, corporate and property related matters, including banking and finance, M&A, joint ventures, project finance, and Hong Kong IPOs.

Key clients include Fullsun International Holdings Group.

In the research period, the firm has been busy with the provision of loan facilities, asset and share disposals, joint ventures, and other acquisitions. 

Gallant is also a member of Meritas, a global alliance consisting of 181 independent law firms.

Client feedback

Banking

“Gallant provides professional legal services with outstanding efficiency and quality, their experienced solicitors offer advice based on in-depth understanding of clients’ specific business needs.”

Project development 

“Professional and efficient.”

Kelvin Leung 

“Kelvin Leung has strong expertise in banking and finance, he works with high efficiency and delivers quality work that meets a client's specific business needs.” 

Philip Wong and Angela Lau 

“The partners offer accuracy and efficiency with a professional sense.” 

Hauzen

Hauzen is an independent Hong Kong firm focused on financial services regulatory. It has an association with Chinese Anjie Law Firm giving it reach to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. 

The firm specialises in financial services regulatory advice, and restructuring/rescues of distressed public companies. It handles both contentious and non-contentious aspects of financial services regulation and restructurings.

Siberian Mining Group Company is a key client of the firm alongside mutual funds, listed entities, brokerage firms and cryptocurrency clients.

In the research period the firm kept busy advising on restructuring of private equity funds, contentious matters, distressed loans and cryptocurrency projects. 

The firm brought in Marshall Islands law expert Nickolas Sam to its practice and lost partner Zhao Rong Ooi to Ince & Co. 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Financial services regulatory

“Hauzen is not a big firm like Baker McKenzie in Hong Kong but its members’ achievement and experience for capital markets and listing companies in Hong Kong is impressive. This means that it is competitive in this Hong Kong law firm market. With that, their kindness for foreign customers is really great. Because my company is a foreign company and does not have a big network or information about Hong Kong. From searching for a bank to getting a valuation report from an international financial firm, they are using their social network and giving sincere advice for customers. Even they were willing to go to the registry office with customers when our company staff was confused about public office jobs.  That’s why my company was satisfied with this firm even though other Korean listing companies recommended other international big firms. Finally, this firm is already associated with one of biggest firms in mainland China, so their work network and specialty is already equal to other big firms. So they are really competitive in service price and service quality.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Hauzen provided us with strategic advice with the foresight that comes from their experience. We found them practical, commercial and strategic-minded.” 

Latham & Watkins

Established in California in 1934, Latham & Watkins is an international firm with 2700 lawyers across 29 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm’s office in Hong Kong leverages off its Asia network of offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.  

Focusses / specialisms

Latham & Watkins traditional strength in Hong Kong is in M&A and capital markets, but in recent times, it has made its presence felt in regional private equity, restructuring and insolvency, regulatory and leveraged finance, where it has a unique practice that acts for lenders, sponsors and borrowers.  

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Zhengzhou Zhongrui Industrial Group, China National Chemical Corporation, ESR Cayman, Bank of America, Vipshop Holdings, Huachen Energy and China Life Insurance (Overseas) Company.

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s capital markets team kept busy advising on Hong Kong and US IPOs, high-yield bond issuance, corporate and convertible bonds and programme updates. 

In finance the firm acted in a range of conventional finance mandates, lender and sponsor leveraged finance, margin financing and bridge loans. 

The corporate team were busy with take-private mandates, investments, mergers, joint ventures, spin-offs, and acquisitions in the transport, automotive, telecommunications, data centres, healthcare, technology, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage industries. 

The private equity team assisted clients in various rounds of funding while the regulatory team handled a host of contentious and non-contentious mandates. 

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm acted for bondholders and advised in financial restructuring mandates alongside other matters in energy, mining and medical industries. 

The firm’s corporate team was hit with the departure of its Beijing office managing partner Yilong Du to private equity firm Warburg Pincus. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-China Biologic Products Holdings $4.6 billion take-private

-China National Chemical Corporation $2.5 billion multiple-tranche (3.125%, 3.375%, 3.875%, 4.75%) bond issue 

-Chongqing Sincere Yuanchuang Industrial $230 million 10% high-yield bond issue 

-DouYu International Holdings NYSE IPO

-ESR Cayman HKSE IPO

-Ruangguru $150 million series C financing 

-Shanghai Huaxin insolvency

-Tencent Asset Management $6.5 billion term loan and revolving credit facility 

-Vipshop Holdings Rmb3.4 billion acquisition of Shan Shan Commercial Group 

LC Lawyers

LC Lawyers is an independent Hong Kong law firm and a member firm of EY Law, the legal services arm of rebranded accounting firm Ernst & Young.

The firm’s core practices are in the equity capital markets, M&A, project development, restructuring and insolvency.

Key clients of the firm include Hanergy Mobile Energy Holding Group, CLSA Capital Markets, Zhejiang Energy Gas Group and Greentown Service Group.

Over the research period, the firm kept busy with corporate restructuring mandates, delisting deals, H-share issues, proposed IPOs, share transfers and real estate acquisitions.  

In 2019, the firm hired corporate partners Bonnie Yung and Jason Wang from Paul Hastings. 

Deal highlights

-Hanergy Thin Film Power Group $40 billion take-private 

-Overseas Chinese Town (Asia) Holdings $135 million acquisition of 21% stake in Zhongshan Yuhong Real Estate Development

-Zhejiang Energy $10 billion acquisition (20-year deal) of ExxonMobil LNG 

Client feedback

Capital markets: Equity

“They understand the company and the industry very well and are able to give balanced advice as to technical and practical matters.”

“Good legal advice, timely responses to regulator's enquires, capable of handling the regulators well, well planned schedules from public announcements to circulars to shareholders meetings, processes all under control.”

“The firm is led by managing partner, Ms Rossana Chu, a very experienced lawyer and to whom we have a long cooperation relationship with. We are grateful to have worked with a team of competent professionals who have extensive knowledge in corporate finance and capital markets, who not only provide high standard legal services responsively, but are also communicative and understanding to what clients really need.”

M&A

“The professional team of LC Lawyers is practically experienced in the capital markets and corporate finance fields and always provide valuable legal advice. Their efficient high-quality work and attentiveness are highly appreciated.”

“We have been working with the firm around two years. The managing partner, Ms Rossana Chu, who has a remarkable long term working relationship with us joined the firm and we decided to tag along. The firm provided good and reliable professional services and advice. The firm promptly attends to our needs.  The advice provided make commercial sense.  The services charges are reasonable.  We are very satisfied with the firm's services provided.”

“Responsive and hands on with various transaction issues.” 

“Strong M&A experience and efficient.”

Project development

“It stayed in close contact with us and are highly professional, thoughtful, very experienced and knowledgeable professional services as a client advocate.”

Rosanna Chu

“Broad and profound legal knowledge on M&A and capital organisation. Excellent strategies in dealing with regulators. Great legal advice in tackling legal issues. Great time management, never missed deadlines. Good planning and has everything under control.”

“Rossana is the managing partner and partner of the corporate/M&A department of LC Lawyers.  She specialises in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, corporate finance and regulatory compliance practices. She routinely advices clients on mergers and acquisitions, reverse takeovers, privatisations, initial public offerings and Hong Kong listings, post-IPO fund raising, insolvency as well as corporate and debt restructurings. She also advises on private equity/venture capital investments with Mainland China and Hong Kong elements, as well as on legal and regulatory compliance matters in relation to Hong Kong-listed companies.”

“Rossana Chu has excellent legal knowledge and experiences; always giving top legal advice with strong commercial senses. The firm provided good and reliable professional services and advice. The firm promptly attends to our needs.  The advice provided makes commercial sense.  The services charge is reasonable.  We are very satisfied with the firm's services provided.”

“Responsive, proactive on various deal issues.”

“She is highly professional, thoughtful and very experienced with knowledgeable professional services as a client advocate, and she also has strong problem-solving skills.” 

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown is a large international law firm with offices in 27 cities across the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It has been serving its clients in China since the 1990s with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong where it has over 200 lawyers.

The firm is best known in Hong Kong and China for its restructuring and insolvency, projects, banking and debt capital markets practice where it is ranked highest—its high-yield practice is active often representing trustees on bond issuances.  It also has a strong regulatory practice.

Key clients of the firm include Asian Development Bank, SOCAM Development, HSBC, LimeTree Capital, Citibank, Excelsior Partners and China Everbright Bank.

The firm’s projects team has had a very busy year acting in PPPs and a range of outbound mandates in transport, telecommunications, renewable and conventional energy in jurisdictions such as Brazil, Kenya, Benin, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Philippines, Qatar and Morocco. 

Its restructuring and insolvency practice has been engaged with debt and corporate restructuring mandates, loan recoveries and insolvencies in retail, seafood, financial services and real estate. 

The firm’s corporate team has been active advising in investments, joint ventures and acquisitions in real estate, consumer goods, natural resources, transport, technology and logistics, while the finance team has advised on the provision of facilities and in acquisition, project, real estate, aviation and renewable energy financings.  

The capital markets team has been preoccupied assisting its clients in the issuances of sovereign bonds, high-yield, senior and unsecured notes, and in a range of confidential securitisation mandates. The funds and private equity practices have also been active with raisings and investments. 

The firm strengthened its corporate practice in the research period with the hires of partner Steven Tran from Hogan Lovells and Sheng Wu and Paul Chen from DLA Piper. Its restructuring team was boosted with the hire of partner Adam Paul from Kirkland & Ellis and partners Michael Fiddy and Amy Jacks from DLA Piper. 

Deal highlights

-Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings $1 billion take-private

-Bogart Group restructuring

-CALC PDP 5 $840 million revolving loan facility

-Changgang Dunxin restructuring

-Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka $2 billion (6.35%, 7.55%) sovereign bond issue

-China Water Affairs Group $200 million financing 

-Milford Ceylon $14 million acquisition of 14% stake in Softlogic Life

-Tamar Alliance Fund

Client feedback

Financial services regulatory

 “Vincent Sum provides practical advice which really adds value to the organisation.”

“Deep knowledge and good relations with the regulatory body because of constant work in that topic area.” 

Investment funds

“Systematic, responsive.”

M&A

“Very professional, very good legal knowledge and good commercial sense.”

“The firm has great bench-strength compared to many other international firms in Hong Kong and can provide full-service to meet all of our legal needs. It is also partner-led, with strong and constant involvement of partners in matters rather than just appearing at the beginning and end of transactions. They are also great value for money given the level of service provided when compared to many of their competitors in the market.”

“Extremely responsive, took the lead in driving negotiations, commercial and practical and understood our needs.”

Private equity

“Mayer Brown supports our growing business and has always been responsive, effective and proactive during various transactions.”

“Outstanding and responsive service, very professional, deep knowledge in fund structuring and tax.”

‘Highly responsive, experienced with negotiation of complicated business deals, thorough, professional analysis of contract terms.”

“Very comprehensive work given the tight time.”

“Extremely responsive. Explains complex matters in a way that is easy to understand and presents simplified options to resolve problems.”

Alan Linning

“Wealth of knowledge, responsive and accessible.” 

Hannah Ha

“Good legal knowledge, professional, quick responses to my request and has commercial sense.”

“Highly professional, responsive and a creative problem solver.” 

Jason Elder 

“Jason Elder is excellent. He is responsive, commercial, and practical. He has an exceptional understanding of us as a client and understands the challenges of internal stakeholder management making the job of an in-house counsel easier.” 

Mark Uhrynuk 

“Mark has guided our business through a number of increasingly significant and complex transactions as our business has grown. Mark provides top-notch advice, with a real sense of what we need to achieve for our business to succeed and how to help us get there.” 

“Very smart, solutions-driven and client-service orientation.” 

“Extensive M&A experience and highly commercial feedback.” 

“Extremely responsive, took the lead in driving negotiations, commercial and practical and understood our needs.” 

Robert Woll 

“Systematic, responsive.” 

Steven Tran 

“Impeccable client service and responsiveness. Always on-top of the key issues, but also recognises if there is an area that he is not an expert in and is the first to introduce us to someone who is (but maintains the relationship with us as the client and ensures quality of work of his partners). One of the hardest working lawyers I have known, willing to work all-hours, weekends, and public holidays - to get the job done. Very pragmatic and commercial and able to spot which are the important issues for us, which can be traded for other things we want and always meets deadlines. Steven is one of the best PE/M&A lawyers in town, with a work ethic and passion for his clients that is second to none. I would not hesitate to recommend Steven for any job.” 

“Extremely responsive, hard-working, depth of knowledge and experience which he brings to bear in a very effective way. Steven is skilled at problem solving and explains complex matters in ways that are easy to understand. Helps cut to a solution.” 

Susanne Harris 

“The partner I work with (Susanne Harris) is excellent. She's very responsive, is very focused and knowledgeable about us as a client, and works tirelessly to achieve the best outcome for us as a client.” 

Vincent Sum 

“Vincent was very strong at providing practical cost effective legal solutions.” 

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Formed in 1948, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is a New York-based international law firm with 1700 lawyers across 22 offices. The firm serves its clients’ Greater China interests from its offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing with over 70 lawyers.  

Focusses / specialisms

The firm offers US, Hong Kong and English law advice from its Hong Kong office. High-end M&A and private equity are core to Skadden’s Hong Kong and China capabilities, and it is a go-to issuer counsel for Chinese companies involved in US and Hong Kong IPOs alongside its strong funds practice and finance piece. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Trip.com Group, JD.com, Sinopec Group Overseas Development, SSG Capital Holdings, BeiGene, Pinduoduo and Ctrip.com International. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm’s capital markets practice kept busy advising on Hong Kong and US IPOs, secondary offerings, private placements, corporate bond issues, and high-yield and convertible issuances. 

The funds team acted in private equity and venture capital fund formation and logistics funds work, while the finance team kept busy with borrower side acquisition finance.  

The corporate team handled take-privates, joint ventures, mergers, investments, spin-offs, and acquisitions in technology, telecommunications and education industries.   

In 2019 capital markets counsel Antony Dapiran departed from the firm to pursue his writing interests.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Baidu $1 billion $1 billion 3.425% dual-tranche bond issue

-eHi Car Services $938 million take-private

-iQiyi $1.2 billion 2% convertible bond issue

-JD Logistics Fund I

-Lufax Holding $200 million term loan facility 

-Pharmaron Beijing HKSE IPO

-So-Young International Nasdaq IPO

-YY $1.5 billion acquisition of Bigo  

Timothy Loh

Established in 2004, Timothy Loh is an independent Hong Kong firm that advises multinational companies, family offices, asset managers, and financial institutions in matters of Hong Kong and international law.

The firm is strongest in financial services regulatory matters but also undertakes mandates in M&A, private equity and investment funds.

The firm kept active over the research period advising on market misconduct matters, fintech regulatory work, derivatives and asset management incorporation. It also helped establish a private credit fund and engaged in restructuring mandates and acquisitions in the technology and insurance sectors.  

Vivien Teu & Co – Hong Kong

Established in 2015, Vivien Teu & Co is a boutique independent Hong Kong law firm.

The firm is specialised in asset management and financial services. The firm has strong experience on a range of investment funds and strategies, including retail, securities, hedge, private equity and real estate funds.

Key clients of the firm include SingAlliance, Guotai Global Investments, ABC-CA Fund Management, China Southern Asset Management, Yinhua Fund Management and Vistra Trust.

In the past year, the firm has been active in fund structuring and formation, and regulatory matters. It has also strengthened the ESG focus of its investment funds and corporate practice, and works with charities, foundations, social enterprises and impact investors in this regard.

Withers

Withersworldwide is an international law firm headquartered in London with offices in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. It has been established in Hong Kong since 2008 offering tax and wealth planning, trust, family law, charity and corporate advice.  

The firm’s transactional practice offers corporate services in real estate, M&A, joint ventures, reserve takeovers, IPOs and entity reorganisation.

Key clients of the firm include Cornes Safe Navigation Holdings, Giorgio Armani, Sky Shuttle Management Services, New Provenance Everlasting Holdings, Aux International Holdings and China Greenfresh Group.

The firm kept busy during the research period with acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, investments and share sales in the fashion, real estate, fintech, and food and beverage industries. 

Deal highlights

-Aux International Holdings HK$6.5 million acquisition of Mini Club

-Cornes Safe Navigation Holdings $8 million acquisition of Safe Navigation (HK, SG, US)

-Giorgio Armani MUP145 million Rainbow Fashion Management 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Equity

“Putting their urgent clients at top priority with concise and quick responses to questions. They are able to cut through the noise and present us with the basic information required to make a decision.”

“Lead partner Mabel Lui is very commercially-minded. Comes up with solutions instead of just saying what can't be done.”

“Very professional, friendly and quick to respond.”

M&A

“Responsible, views with different perspectives and detailed-oriented.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Withers provides professional services with high integrity and efficiency.” 

Campbells

Campbells is a full service offshore law firm that was established as Bruce Campbell & Co in 1970 before rebranding in 2001. The firm opened its office in Hong Kong in 2016.

Campbells offers Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands legal advice and is strongest in the equity and debt capital markets, banking, M&A and restructuring, hedge funds and private equity. 

Key clients of the firm include Hanison Constructions Holdings, XD, FriendTimes, Asia Debt Management, DeepBlue and EFund Management. 

During the research period the firm has been busy advising clients on revolving facilities, term loans, real estate, project and acquisition financings, capital raisings, IPOs, bond issues, corporate restructuring mandates, pension funds, venture capital, SPC funds, regulator and fund restructuring matters.

Deal highlights

-ADM Fund

-DeepBlue Multi-Strategies fund restructuring

-Hanison Construction Holdings HK$735 million acquisition of Minibox Tower

-Huafa 2019 I Company $300 million 4.25% bond issue 

-Kimou Environmental Holding HKSE IPO

-XD HK$706 million capital raising

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Responsive and understands the different financial structures used by financial institutions. Also very good at advising on the entire life cycle, whether from the initial structuring to the dispute or enforcement.”

“They give me good and prompt replies. They make me feel that they are trustworthy advisers.”

“It’s a no nonsense and practical approach worth mentioning. They give competitive fees, do the work fast and efficiently and don't come back to renegotiate fees. We use them on all types of finance work, they cover the BVI and Cayman aspects.”

Capital markets: Equity 

“They are good at solving urgent tasks and issues. In addition, they are experienced at providing innovative legal solutions for Cayman legal issues.”

Capital markets: Structured finance & securitisation 

“Relatively new and hungry. Responsive. Willing to be flexible and accommodative.”

Investment funds 

“Commercial and quick turnaround time, exceptional service.”

“Responsive, good grasp of legal knowledge, reasonable costs, good value and good commercial sense.” 

Deacons

Established in 1851, Deacons is Hong Kong’s oldest and largest law firm with 300 lawyers and further offices in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. The firm has connections with independent law firms across the world through its membership of legal networks such as Lex Mundi, Interlex, World Services Group and Employment Law Alliance.

Focusses / specialisms

Deacons has the largest investment funds team in Hong Kong and dominates in retail funds. It covers PRC-related funds and mandatory provident funds (MPF), which are unique to Hong Kong. The firm also has strong capital markets, corporate and regulatory practices.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Manulife, Kerry Logistics Network, Bank of China, BNP Paribas Securities, Mirae Asset Global Investments, Janus Henderson Management and The Bank of East Asia. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s capital markets team kept busy advising on Hong Kong IPOs, PRC sovereign bond issues and programme updates. 

The firm’s funds team were preoccupied advising on ETFs, ESG funds and SFC authorised funds alongside money market funds, ICITS funds and private equity strategy.  

The corporate practice acted on take-privates, disposals, investments, corporate restructuring mandates and acquisitions in logistics, technology, retail, healthcare and financial services, while the regulatory team provided compliance, corporate governance and SFC-related advice.  

In 2019 the firm brought in regulatory partner Stephen Tisdall from the Securities and Futures commission.

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Horizon Global Sustainable Equity Fund

-Huijing Holdings Company HKSE IPO

-JY Grandmark Holdings HKSE IPO

-Mirae Asset Horizons China Biotech ETF

-Manfield Chemical HK$790 million acquisition of 51% stake in Mao Hong Information Technology Holding

-Ministry of Finance of the PRC Rmb9.5 billion sovereign bond issue

-Wharf Real Estate Investment Company $300 million 2.50% bond issue

-Wheelock and Company HK$47.5 take-private  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Sharp and right to the point advice.”

Investment funds 

“Good understanding of regulations and trends, market practice.”

“Deacons are very familiar with the regulatory requirements, development and market practice. Their team of professionals are very supportive and can provide useful advice to assist us in fulfilling the necessary regulatory requirements while being able to accommodate commercial needs.”

“Timely and practical advice, client-focused, awareness of market practice and solid understanding of regulator's expectations.”

“Deacons was able to indicate the gap between the market practice and the already outdated regulatory requirements. Deacons was very practical and has strong knowledge in operation of the fund industry.”

“Responsive, multidisciplinary, well connected to the regulator and on top of recent regulatory changes.”

“The firm knows our business well and their advice is based on this intimate knowledge of what we need and what works and what does not work for us.” 

Debevoise & Plimpton

Debevoise & Plimpton is a New York-based global law firm with 655 lawyers across 10 offices in the US, Europe and Asia. The firm services its clients with Chinese interests from its offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Debevoise & Plimpton is transactionally strongest in strategic and private equity, M&A and private funds. 

Key clients of the firm include Carlyle Group, Alibaba Group, Baring Private Equity Partners Asia, Ontario Teachers Plan Pension Board, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Wilsonart International.

During the research period, the firm handled large private equity fund formation and secondaries matters alongside take-privates, joint ventures, recapitalisations, restructuring mandates and acquisitions in the healthcare, consumer goods, retail, agriculture, chemicals and insurance industries. 

Deal highlights

-Anta Sports Products $5.15 billion acquisition of Amer Sports 

-Baring Private Equity Asia Fund VII

-MYOB Group $1.2 billion take-private

-National Investment and Infrastructure Fund  

-New Frontier Corporation $1.44 billion acquisition of United Family Healthcare

-WeWork Companies restructuring 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Investment funds

“Know us and the market norms very well; extremely efficient in their work; proactive and strong advocates for their clients.”

“Technically very sound and great depth in domain knowledge and experience. Excellent turnaround times.”

“Technically excellent and good, in-depth understanding of the private equity industry.”

“Practical advice and prompt responses”

M&A

“Responsive, understands clients’ goals.”

Private equity 

“Good market intel. Responsiveness. Professional with good technical knowledge.”

“Very responsive and worked to tight capped fee estimates.” 

“Proactive, commercial, tailors work to the client and remembers previous deals and positions. User friendly.” 

Dorsey & Whitney

Dorsey & Whitney is a US-based law firm with over 500 lawyers across 19 offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. In Asia the firm has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. 

From its Hong Kong office the firm is transactionally known for its India-focused capital markets practice alongside its China practice. It had been building its India debt capital markets since 2018.

Key clients of the firm include Indian Railway Finance Corporation, Eight Roads Ventures and Citicorp International. 

In the research period, the team was kept busy with Rule 144A offerings, block trades, and high-yield bond issues. 

The firm was recently hit by the departure of partner David Cameron to Candy Pang & Co. 

Deal highlights

-Fidelity International $32 million block trade

-Indian Railway Finance Corporation $1 billion dual-tranche (3.249%, 3.95%) bond issue

-Vedanta Resources $1 billion high-yield bond issue 

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland is the result of a 2017 merger between law firms Eversheds and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. It has over 2800 lawyers and 68 offices across 32 countries. The firm serves its clients with China interests from its offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

In Hong Kong the firm is most active in handling structured finance and securitisation mandates and has expertise in contentious and non-contentious restructuring and insolvency-related matters.

Key clients of the firm include Hong Kong Capital Finance Corporation, Meritz Securities, Oceanwide Holdings, DBS Bank, HSBC, Gibson Innovations and Liberty Group.

In the past 12 months, the team has kept busy advising on RMBS mandates and Korean securitsation mandates, public to private structured financing, trade recievables and derivatives matters. The restructuring and insolvency team has handled Indian mandates, and matters in consumer goods, retail and mining. 

In 2019, the team was bolstered with the relocation of partner Alex Doughty from the London office and the hire of of counsel Simon Barrell from Shearman & Sterling. 

Deal highlights

-Adhunik and Zion Metals NLCT insolvency 

-Gibson Innovations insolvency 

-HKCFC HK$1.7 billion RMBS securitisation

-Manley Toys insolvency

-Meritz Securities HK$1.3 billion Korean securitisation warehousing transaction

-Springland International Holdings HK$4.5 billion public-to-private structured financing 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“The firm understands commercial realities and offers practical advice and solutions to assist the bank.”

“Can provide timely responses and is flexible in budgeting.”

“Kingsley Ong led the Eversheds team and did a remarkable job. They were very efficient and responsive to requests and comments.  Legal advice is always on-point and practical solutions offered.”

Capital markets: Debt

“They are very responsive, supportive and focused. They tried to find the work that they could do for their clients.”

Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation

“Eversheds has a very steady and logical approach, which engenders confidence. They have plenty of market knowledge and experience and this allows them to provide helpful and innovative solutions. They are proactive and their turnaround is fast. Overall, a top notch product.”

“The law firm is pragmatic, commercial and responsive.”

“The deal went through numerous negotiations, comments, and editing. Eversheds quickly reviewed and responded with recommended ideas and comments.”

“Overall quality of the advice has been off the charts. Substantial experience, which has been market-proven, in this structured financing involving the residential mortgage market has been clearly differentiated, and the level of proactive support throughout the entire deal process has been truly instrumental.”

“Strong local and international market knowledge with good grasp of structuring concepts and the ability to properly document these.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Clear advice which avoids jargon and pompous legal jargon.”

“Three key attributes are: the team's appreciation of the position and perspectives of administrators/liquidators which contributed to their quick and sharp response to the issues we raised; the ability to mobilise and draw on their local expertise in UK and China has been very helpful in dealing with issues which have arisen in the course of the liquidation; and the multi-lingual ability of the team. They were able to support us in meetings conducted in Cantonese, Putonghua and English.”

“Very responsive and provides a fairly valuable service.”

Fangda Partners

Headquartered in Shanghai, Fangda Partners is among the largest China-based law firms with further offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

The firm has traditional strength in private equity. It was one of the earliest entrants into the PRC fund formation market and its team has the dual capacity to advise on renminbi and offshore US dollar fund formation matters. M&A is a core focus of the firm, while its capital markets team has TMT expertise, and the finance team is especially potent in acquisition financing.

Key clients of the firm include Alibaba Group Holding, Budweiser Brewing Company, KKR, Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank, DCP Capital and Shenzhen Energy Group.

In the past 12 months, the firm has had a very active projects practice alongside its capital markets, M&A and private equity practices.

The firm brought in M&A partners Yi Chen, Tianyi Chen, Tony Zhong and Mark Lehmkuhler from Morrison & Foerster, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Norton Rose Fulbright and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe respectively. Colin Law also joined from Shearman and Sterling, while partner Diane Xue departed. 

Deal highlights

-Alibaba Group Holding HKSE secondary listing

-Alibaba $2 billion acquisition of HQG

-KKR NVC $794 acquisition of NVC Lighting’s China Lighting Business

Client feedback

Capital markets: Debt

“Christine and her team advised us on the successful issuance under a very unique structure in the industry. We have benefited from her rich experiences in capital markets and her professionalism. Her long experiences in international law firms and financial institutions enables her to work with multinational companies like ours very well. She is well respected and trusted by the relevant regulators, which is also of great help for us to communicate with the authorities in the course of the issuance.” 

“Fangda helps the company to focus on the key points of the transaction, and assists in the negotiation.” 

Capital markets: Equity

“Very responsive to clients’ enquires, great work ethic and strong teamwork.”

M&A

“Fangda’s mainland China offices (Beijing and Shanghai) and Hong Kong office really work as one team. Fangda is capable in organising lawyers from different practice areas to work together collaboratively and effectively.  They are very critical for a Chinese based firm in advising clients on complex cross-border M&A cases.”

“Conducted due diligence in limited time to help revise the transaction documents effectively.”

“The best M&A firm in China with deep understanding of the M&A law and capital markets knowledge. Always provides professional legal advice in a timely manner.”

Annie Shen

“Good communication, excellent in problem solving, and always acts in the best interests of the company.”

Dong Wu

“Very experienced in equity underwriting transactions and a quick problem solver.”

Jeffrey Ding

“Jeffrey is the most experienced M&A lawyer in China with extensive experience in private equity investment. He is very knowledgeable and always very hands-on in his projects.”

Li Kewu

“He has conducted due diligence in a limited time and helped to revise transaction documents.”

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Established in 1890, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher is a Los Angeles-based international law firm with over 1300 lawyers across 20 global offices. The firm’s Hong Kong office opened in 2010 and works closely with its other Asian offices in Beijing and Singapore. 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm offers US, Hong Kong and English law advice to its global and Asia-based clients and is best known for its private equity, investment funds, M&A, projects and leveraged finance work.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include I Squared Capital, Bain Capital, Hahn & Company, NetEase, Manila Electric Company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation and IPI Partners. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy assisting clients on various funding rounds, Covid-19 related investments, joint ventures, take-privates and acquisitions in the private equity, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, technology, infrastructure, gaming, industrial and education industries. 

The funds team kept active acting in private equity fund formation mandates and other US dollar funds and funds in special situations, venture capital and real estate.

The finance team was active in leveraged finance and the projects practice was mainly engaged in outbound work and PPPS in South East Asia, especially in the Philippines, and in China in aviation, transport, real estate and waste.

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Alibaba Group $2 billion acquisition of Kaola

-Boyu Capital Fund IV

-Hahn & Company III and Side Car Fund

-I Squared Capital A$160 million acquisition of three Telstra data centres

-MRT-7 project

-Platinum Equity $630 million acquisition of Lonza water care business

-Ver Se Innovation $35 million series F financing  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Investment funds 

“Technically competent, very good cross cultural (both local/regional/global) understanding. Strong communicators, very proactive in follow ups.” 

Goodwin Procter

Boston-based Goodwin Proctor is an international firm with 1200 lawyers and 13 offices across the globe. In Asia it has an office in Hong Kong.

The firm is best known for its private equity, M&A and funds practices in technology, life sciences, financial services and real estate.

Key clients of the firm include PAG, TKK Symphony Acquisition Corp, FountainVest Partners, A91 Partners, Alpine Capital and DSG Consumer Partners. 

In the research period, the firm has been involved in private equity mandates, share disposals, investments, joint ventures, and acquisitions in the media, technology and consumer goods industries. It has also assisted clients with various funding rounds and engaged in LP, venture capital and real estate funds work. 

Deal highlights

-A91 Partners growth capital fund

-Alpine Opportunity Fund IV 

-Lightbox Management venture capital fund

-TKK Symphony Acquisition Corp $258 million acquisition of Glory Star New Media Group  

Haiwen & Partners

Founded in 1992, Haiwen & Partners is a 200-lawyer-strong PRC firm with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The firm is a fully integrated partnership with a modified lockstep compensation system. 

Compared to other PRC law firm, Haiwen & Partners is relatively small and focused on cross-border securities, M&A transactions and private equity.

Key clients include Weibo, The Export-Import Bank of China, Zhejiang Cangnan Instrument Group, CITIC Securities, Zhejiang Hailiang, China International Capital Corporation, Xianghe Capital and Neusoft Xikang Holdings.

In the past 12 months, the firm has been busy with debt issuances, Hong Kong, China and US IPOs, setting up renminbi and US dollar funds, restructuring matters and acquisitions. 

It has strengthened its M&A team with the hires of Feng Rui from Zenity Holdings, Zhang Ying from Goldman Sachs, Yan Bo and Ye Taoye from Allen & Overy. Its capital markets practice welcomed partner Philip Chan. 

Deal highlights

-36Kr Holdings Nasdaq IPO

-Zhejiang Cangnan Instrument Group HKSE IPO

-Zhejiang Hailiang $240 million acquisition of KME

Client feedback

M&A

“Very supportive and professional.”

Zhang Jinen

“Very thoughtful, has in-depth comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field.” 

HM Chan & Co in association with Taylor Wessing

HM Chan & Co is a Hong Kong transactional boutique that formed an association with international firm Taylor Wessing in 2016.  Taylor Wessing has over 1100 across 16 jurisdictions in Asia, Europe and the Middle East including offices in Shanghai and Beijing. 

In Hong Kong, the firm is most active in the equity capital markets, M&A, private equity, venture capital and the regulatory space. 

Key clients of the firm include Southwest Securities, Ballas Capital, Acute Peak Investments, Earn World Enterprises, Music Sales Corporation, Recaro Aircraft Seating International and Chapman Freeborn.

During the research period, the firm handled Hong Kong IPOs and GEM listings, trade sales, private equity acquisitions, share acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures and other acquisitions in the technology, aviation, financial services and food and beverage industries. It also assisted its clients in various rounds of funding. 

Deal highlights

-Design Capital HKSE IPO

-Earn World Enterprises HK$210 million acquisition of 70% stake in Earn World Development

-Hevol Services Group HKSE IPO

-Parsons Music acquisition of MusicFirst Junior 

-Shinelong Automotive Lightweight Application HKSE IPO

-Wynnchurch Capital acquisition of America II Group and Advanced MP Group

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Equity

“They are highly experienced, diligent and professional.”

M&A

“A lean team that is responsive and provides effective advice.” 

Howse Williams

Howse Williams is an independent Hong Kong firm comprised of 90 lawyers including 26 partners. It covers a range of practices such as corporate and corporate finance, disputes, insurance, personal injury, labour law, family law, and real estate.

The firm has particular strength in financial services regulatory as one of the market’s largest contentious and non-contentious standalone regulatory practices with seven lawyers.

It often deals with the financial services regulators such as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Securities and Futures Commission, Insurance Authority and Hong Kong Stock Exchange on contentious regulatory investigations as well as non-contentious licensing and advisory matters. 

In the past 12 months the firm handled a number of non-contentious, investigations, and money laundering work for banking clients, European and Singaporean companies, and asset management and brokerage services firms. 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Financial services regulatory

“Jill (Wong) is very practical and commercial minded, and gave good guidance in relation to the practical realities of the relevant Hong Kong regulators.” 

K&L Gates

K&L Gates is a US-based international law firm with 45 further offices across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. The firm assists its clients with Greater China interests from its offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei. 

Its lawyers instruct on cross-border transactional, regulatory, and contentious matters, but are especially active in corporate and M&A. 

Key clients of the firm include Koppers, TCL Holdings, Greentown Education Investment, Luye Medical, KaiOS Technology, Bluescope Steel and DIC Corporation. 

Over the research period the firm kept itself busy with corporate advice and restructuiring mandates, joint ventures, investments, stake sales and acquistions in the chemicals and financial services sectors. 

In 2019, the firm hired partner Guiping Lu from Haiwen & Partners and saw Grace Fan-Delatour depart for White & Case. 

Deal highlights

-Greentown Service Group A$67 million acquisition of 56% stake in Montessori Academy Group

-Fangda Carbon New Material and C-Chem $107 million acquisition of Koppers (Jiangsu) Carbon Chemical Company 

-KaiOS Technology restructuring 

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) is a Hong Kong-based international firm that was formed as a merger between PRC firm King & Wood, Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, and UK firm SJ Berwin. It has over 2000 lawyers and 23 offices worldwide. Apart from Hong Kong the firm also has mainland offices in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Suzhou.

Focusses / specialisms

The Sino-Australian venture is a dominant player in China’s legal market. It is the only international firm that can practise PRC law and so a go-to counsel for A-Share, H-Share, and panda bond transactions. The firm is also strong in projects, private equity, finance, M&A, and structured finance and securitisation—especially in Korean cross-border ABS deals, cross-border auto loan securitisations and retail structured products. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Castle Peak Power Company, CEIEC, China General Nuclear Power Corporation, CSSC Shipping, Zhong An Technology group, Shui On Land, Pamfleet, Ningxia Tianyuan Logistics Group and Shandong Chenming Paper Holdings.

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s corporate team kept busy with joint ventures, inbound work and acquisitions in the mining, automotive, technology, education, tourism, manufacturing, fashion and beverage sectors. 

KWM’s finance practice was preoccupied with conventional lending mandates, outbound and acquisition financings, real estate and aviation finance. 

In capital markets the firm advised on Hong Kong, China and US IPOs, dim sum bonds, US dollar bonds, panda bonds, exchangeable bonds, capital bonds and convertible bonds. 

The private equity team assisted clients in acquisitions and various rounds of funding, while the funds piece acted in renminbi and US dollar funds, investments, LP work and AI funds.  

During the research period the firm bolstered its finance team with the hire of partner Katherine Ke from Clifford Chance; welcomed capital markets expert Jason Kuo from Paul Hastings; and boosted its contentious regulatory practice with partner Rachel Yu from Herbert Smith Freehills.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-BOC Macau $68 million aircraft financing 

-Castle Peak Power Company HK$4.3 billion revolving and term loan facilities 

-China General Nuclear Power Corporation $600 million 2.75% green bond issue 

-CMH Healthcare Fund 

-CSSC Shipping HKSE IPO

-Ghana Western Railway Line BOT

-Poly Property HKSE IPO

-Sino Energy International Holdings Group insolvency

-Strong Day Holdings HK$283 million acquisition of Dining Concepts Holdings

-TPV Technology HK$4.6 billion take-private  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Extremely localised in China with fast and accurate responses.”

Capital markets: Debt

“The firm is professional.”

M&A

“KWM has vast resources which are well deployed and managed. They are committed and highly responsive. They are experts in law but their commercial, pragmatic approach means it is deftly applied. They have regard not just to the law as written but how it is applied by regulators and the social, economic and political shifts which influence issues and the development of new regulatory approaches.”

“KWM showed a deep knowledge on both M&A transactions and capital markets.” 

Kirkland & Ellis

Established in 1909, Kirkland & Ellis (K&E) is a Chicago-based law firm with 2300 lawyers and 15 offices worldwide.  The firm caters to its clients with an interest in Greater China from its offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is best known for its strength in private equity and restructuring work, but it also has solid corporate, capital markets and investment funds practices and a growing regulatory presence. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Warburg Pincus, Showa Denko, Ascendent Capital Partners, KKR, Hammer Capital, China Minsheng Investment Group and Bain Capital. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s corporate team kept busy handling a spate of take-private mandates, joint ventures, investments and acquisitions in the chemicals, gaming, retail, aviation and data centre industries.  

The restructuring team were preoccupied with bondholder work, financial restructuring mandates, Indian restructuring work and retail bankruptcies.  

In funds the firm advised on mega private equity funds, healthcare and venture capital funds, real estate funds and LP work.  

The capital markets team acted in Hong Kong and New York IPOs, follow on offerings, corporate and convertible bond issuances, while the finance team acted on sponsor side leveraged financing.  

K&E’s capital markets team was bolstered by the hire of partner Yazhe Liu from Davis Polk & Wardwell.  

The firm’s finance team was hit with the departures of partners David Irvine to Linklaters’ banking practice in London, Daniel Abercromby to Weil Gotshal & Manges and David Couper to Allens. 

Partner Yue Zhang left the investment funds practice for Fangda Partners, and partner Agnes Li departed to SoftBank Vision Fund.  

Restructuring partner Damien Coles also left the firm and partner Robert Sandes relocated to its London office. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-China Biologic Products Holdings $4.6 billion take-private

-C-Bridge Healthcare Fund IV

-ESR Cayman HKSE IPO

-iKang Healthcare Group $1.5 billion take-private 

-NVC International Holdings Rmb2.9 billion acquisition financing 

-Showa Denko $8.9 billion acquisition of Hitachi Chemical Company 

-Toys “R” Us insolvency

-Wynn Macau $1 billion 5.125% bond issue  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Financial services regulatory

“Cori Lable has in depth knowledge of the market, legal and regulatory requirements and commercial acumen.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Very commercial, always available, outstanding service.”

“In-depth knowledge and expertise. Timely interactions and senior partners that are accessible and user friendly with a hands on approach. Very reassuring.” 

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis & Bockius is an international law firm with 2200 lawyers across 31 offices in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The firm services its clients with Greater China interests from its offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

The firm is strong in equity capital markets, private equity and M&A in the energy, financial services, life sciences, healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, consumer goods, automotive, education and technology sectors. 

Key clients of the firm include China East Education Holdings, Shanghai Gench Education Group, HealthCor Management, Ocean Link Partners, ANTA Sports Products, Warburg Pincus, Sequoia Capital and Gaorong Capital. 

During the research period, the firm kept busy with Hong Kong IPOs, rights and A-share issues. It also assisted its clients with pre-IPO investments and in various rounds of funding, take-privates and acquisitions in the retail, technology and education sectors.

The firm bolstered its M&A team with the hire of of counsel Shi Cheng from Slaughter & May in 2019. 

Deal highlights

-Anta Sports Products $5.15 billion acquisition of Amer Sports 

-China East Education Holdings HKSE IPO

-China Hengshi Foundation $245 million take-private

-CMIC Ocean En-Tech Holding $85 million rights issue

-Sequoia Capital $1.5 billion investment in Chehaoduo Group 

-Shanghai Gench Education Group HKSE IPO

-Ziroom $500 million series B financing 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Equity

“Very commercial, easy to work with and practical in solving issues.”

“Professional, good at structuring the deal and resolving issues.”

“The firm has been very professional in giving suggestions about the project flow, appropriate disclosures and items/clauses that are beneficial to the company. They are really thinking on the client's behalf and been giving workable solutions.”

M&A

“Incredible firm, fast, diligent, looking into details, thinking long term, short term, negotiating on our behalf. Most incredible firm I have ever worked with.”

Private equity 

“Very commercial in structuring legal terms.”

“Very experienced in US privatisation deals which has given us a lot of insight and helpful guidance.”

Morrison & Foerster

Formed in 1883, Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) is a San Francisco-based international law firm with 1000 lawyers and 17 offices across the United States, Asia and Europe. In Greater China, the firm established its Hong Kong office in 1983 followed by Beijing in 1998 and Shanghai in 2003.

Focusses / specialisms

MoFo offers its clients US, English and Hong Kong law advice in China-related matters and excels in the equity capital markets, M&A and private equity.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Alibaba Group Holding, Softbank Vision Fund, Ascendent Capital Partners, Lvji Technology Holdings, Ally Bridge Group, Shenzhou International Group Holdings and China Harmony New Energy Auto Holding. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm’s equity capital markets practice was active in proposed and realised IPOs, block trades, share placements and non-public A share issuances.

The M&A and private equity team assisted clients in various funding rounds, investments, take-privates, mergers, joint ventures and acquisitions in private equity, technology, education and sports.

The firm bolstered its private equity and M&A practice with the Shanghai hire of partner Ruomu Li from Fenwick & West and the Beijing hire of Lucy Lu from Dechert. Private equity and real estate funds specialist Maureen Ho joined in Hong Kong from Clifford Chance as did capital markets partner Ke Huang from O’Melveny & Myers. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Alibaba Group Holding acquisition of 33% stake in Ant Financial

-China Automation Group HK$392 million take-private

-Klook $225 million series D+ financing 

-Lvji Technology Holdings HKSE IPO

-Shenzhou International Group Holdings HK$3.2 billion block trade

-SoftBank Vision Fund $1.5 billion investment into Chehaoduo 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Asset finance

“Experienced, pragmatic, efficient and good advice.”

Banking

“The team is very helpful in the transaction, namely, thoughtful and commercial on high level issues, highly technical, specific on the details, and persuasive with the counterparty.”

Investment funds

“Solid knowledge in the industry, clear risk analysis, client-friendly and good presentation. They are willing to understand the underlying commercial needs of clients and they will take this into consideration in future projects, which makes it easier to work with them again.” 

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

Originally founded in 1875, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison is a New York-based international firm with over 1000 lawyers across eight offices. The firm services its Greater China clients from its offices in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is best known for its private equity work and technology expertise. It also has a strong M&A team alongside a leveraged finance and capital markets practice. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include KKR, APM Monaco, Tencent, IDG Capital, Wumei Holdings, State Grid International Development and Wanda Sports Group. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy with private equity work, spin offs, investments, stake acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures and other acquisitions in the technology, retail, energy, logistics, education and food and beverage sectors. It also handled leveraged finance mandates and listings in the US. 

In 2019 the firm was hit with the departures of partner Jeanette Chan and Corinna Yu to Airwallex. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-KKR $794 million majority stake acquisition of NVC Lighting’s China lighting business

-State Grid $2.23 billion acquisition of Chilquinta Energía

-Wanda Sports Group Nasdaq IPO

-Wumei $2.1 billion acquisition of Metro AG’s Chinese retail, wholesale and cash and carry operations 

-Zhuan Zhuan $300 million financing  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

M&A

“As a leading firm, Paul Weiss’s team has helped clients throughout the whole process, including but not limited to due diligence, structure designing, legal document negotiation, working out a closing plan, coordinating local counsel as well as other legal service providers in other jurisdictions.”

Private equity

“Accurate, practical and commercial advice, technically very strong, user friendly and reliable.” 

Proskauer Rose

Proskauer Rose is a New York-headquartered law firm 12 global offices and 725 lawyers. The firm caters to its clients with Chinese interests from its offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. 

From its offices in Hong Kong the firm is best known for its private equity, M&A and regulatory enforcement work.

Key clients of the firm include Grifols, Accor, RRJ Capital, CCB International Asset Management, Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund, Adamas Asset Management and Parker-Migliorini International. 

During the research period the firm kept busy with joint ventures, disposals, investments, acquisitions and fund formation mandates in the hotels, real estate, retail, healthcare and fintech sectors alongside SFC investigations and compliance work. 

Deal highlights

-Accor acquisition of Tribe 

-B.M. Group $100 million investment in LVC Super Unicorn Fund

-Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund financial technology investment

-Grifols / Shanghai RAAS Blood Products strategic alliance 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Equity

“Knowledgeable, professional, problem solving.”

Financial services regulatory

“The firm is street smart and technically sound.  It has a realistic view of the situation and can provide pragmatic advice.”

Investment funds

“Knowledgeable and thorough.”

“Experienced in fund formation, responsive to clients’ requests and good communication skills.”

M&A

“Responsive, provides timely and practical advice.”

“The Proskauer team serving on our deals was technically strong, very commercial and reliable. The team was led by Ying, a go-to lawyer for cross-border M&A and financing deals in the real estate sector. Ying is a native Chinese with dozens of years of experience advising clients on various cross-border transactions. He really focused on the client's needs and had a great understanding of our business and culture. Ying was very commercial and had a very good insight into the market. He was known for his sharp style at the negotiation table. When negotiating deals for clients, Ying always knew how to maximise the clients' negotiation leverage. Ying was also practical and efficient, and was quick in coming up with solutions that were both commercially and legally sound. We really benefited from his representation.”

Private equity 

“Fast responses, flexible, raise risk awareness and solutions.”

“Knowledgeable, efficient, practical.”

“Professional, responsive and hard working with a good attitude.” 

Reed Smith Richards Butler

Reed Smith is an international law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with over 30 offices across the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm has over 30 years’ experience in Greater China with its offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.   

Transactionally it is best known for its M&A work acting for private and state-owned PRC entities from its offices in Beijing and Shanghai and advising Hong Kong-listed corporates on Greater China and regional transactions.

Key clients include China Agri-Industries Holdings, Gangtai Group Corporation, E-Commodities Holdings, Shandong Heavy Industry Group, Ali JK Nutritional Products Holding and Automated Systems Holdings. 

During the research period, the M&A team has been busy with take-privates, spin offs, joint ventures, disposals, corporate restructuring mandates and acquisitions in the transport, pharmaceuticals, financial services and automotive industries.

The firm brought in partner Eric Lin from Simmons & Simmons to its office in Beijing.

Deal highlights

-Alibaba Health Information Technology $1 billion acquisition of Ali JK Nutritional Products Holding’s pharmaceutical products, medical devices, and health services businesses 

-China Agri-Industries Holdings $1.2 billion take-private

-Dah Chong Hong Holdings $387 million take-private

-Compagnie Financière Richemont $245 million acquisition of Buccellati Holding Italia 

-Shandong Heavy Industry Group acquisition of China National Heavy Duty Truck Group Company  

Ropes & Gray

Established in 1865, Boston-based Ropes & Gray is an international law firm with over 1400 lawyers and 11 offices across the United States, Asia and Europe. The firm caters to its clients with Greater China interests from its offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong.  

Focusses / specialisms

Ropes & Gray offers Hong Kong, US and English law advice and has an increasingly active sponsor side leveraged finance practice alongside its strong private equity, M&A and fund formation practices. The firm also has a strong restructuring and insolvency team primarily advising bondholders. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Bain Capital, KKR, Alibaba Group, Baring Private Equity Asia, NetEase and Siguler Guff & Company China. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The M&A and private equity team kept busy with joint ventures, investments, share disposals, PIPEs, exits, spin-offs and acquisitions in the technology and education sectors. 

The funds team handled a lot of GP fund formation work, while the finance team handled sponsor side leveraged finance, and the restructuring team acted in bondholder work, Indian mandates, debt recovery work and financial restructuring matters.    

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Alibaba and Yunfeng Capital $700 million investment in NetEase Cloud Music 

-Bain Capital Credit $320 million investment in CJ Foods America

-Baring Private Equity Asia $1 billion investment in JD Health

-Jindal Steel & Power Australia restructuring 

-LDK Solar insolvency 

-LSA Holdings and LS Automotive Technologies refinancing  

Seyfarth Shaw in association with Wong Wan & Partners

Seyfarth Shaw is an international law firm that was founded in Chicago in 1945 by Henry Seyfarth, Lee Shaw, and Owen Fairweather. The firm has an office in Shanghai and in Hong Kong following its establishment of an association with Wong Wan & Partners in 2017.

Traditionally strong in labour and employment the firm’s transactional strength in Hong Kong and mainland China is in the corporate field, particularly in M&A and the equity capital markets.

Key clients of the firm include Beng Soon Machinery Holdings, Persta Resources, Rimbaco, Recruit, Grace Creation Investment, Dspread Payments and NiuTouBang Asset Management.

During the research period the firm kept busy advising on Hong Kong IPOs—and proposed listings—warrant issues, share acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, corporate restructuring mandates and other acquisitions of insurance brokers and digital payments.

Deal highlights

-Beijing NiuTouBang Asset Management acquisition of Keen Eagle Insurance Brokers

-Beng Soon Machinery Holdings HKSE IPO

-Recruit / Shenzhen Yeahka Technology joint venture

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Equity

“The lawyers possess extensive market experience and are able to provide professional advice from a practical perspective.”

“Highly professional and experienced.”

M&A

“They took a very proactive, balanced and professional approach while giving solutions to our client.” 

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling is a New York-based international law firm with 850 lawyers across 23 offices. The firm’s Hong Kong office leverages off its global and Asia network to carry out transactions in Greater China, South East Asia, Japan, India, Mongolia and South Korea. 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm has a very strong debt capital markets practice in Hong Kong advising on investment grade and high yield capital markets transactions across the region. The firm also has a diverse funds practice offering private equity and hedge funds expertise to its GP and LP clients, and it has a solid M&A and outbound energy projects practice.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include China National Petroleum Company International, Joyvio Group, Poly-GCL Petroleum Company, Etihad Airways, Central Retail Corporation Public Company, Nomura International and JPMorgan Securities.

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm’s capital markets team kept busy advising on bond issues, tap offerings and high-yield issuances alongside Hong Kong and US IPOs, including the largest ever IPO in Thailand.   

The M&A team were preoccupied with corporate advisory and restructuring mandates, joint ventures, investments, and acquisitions in the financial services, telecommunications and food and beverage industries, while the private equity practice assisted clients in various funding rounds, investments and regulatory matters. 

The funds team acted in private equity fund formation, early stage technology mandates, LP work and represented sovereign wealth funds and real estate funds. 

The finance practice acted on both the lender and sponsor side, while projects focussed on outbound oil and gas, LNG and mining mandates in Brazil, Africa, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. 

During the research period the firm bolstered its capital market practice with hire of partner Max Hua from Haiwen & Partners, but it was hit with the retirement of long-serving partner Matthew Bersani who has since started his own consultancy. Leveraged finance partner Kenneth Ching also departed for Baker McKenzie. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Birla Carbon $275 million financing 

-Brazil integrated oil & gas refinery

-Central Retail Corporation SET IPO

-CITIC Capital and Frontier Services Group Fund I

-Delhi International Airport $500 million 6.45% high-yield bond issue 

-HKBN $1.34 billion acquisition of WTT Group

-Jinxin Fertility Group HKSE IPO

-Wanda Sports Group Company Nasdaq IPO

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Investment funds

“Professional, very knowledgeable and cost effective.”

M&A

“I have been working with Shearman’s M&A team, led by partner Chen Li, on several complex transactions in the past several years. As I took the lead in the execution on those deals, I have close contact with Li and her team. She and her team are extremely reliable and capable. Her understanding of the commercial purpose of our deals and knowledge of transaction related legal issues has enabled her to deliver tailored and effective solutions to all of the legal issues and sometimes commercial issues we have encountered in those highly complex and challenging transactions. My team and our senior management really appreciated her contribution and Shearman's services. We will continue to work with her on many other deals to come in future.”

Private equity

“Their broad knowledge and rich experience in Chinese related policies and deals are extremely instrumental to effectively assist us in shaping investment decisions including structuring transactions and navigating best routes and approaches. Ms. Chen has proven to be the most sophisticated and experienced transaction lawyer we have ever seen in the Chinese market.”

Project finance

“Shearman & Sterling has insight into our transactions and can always give us professional legal advice. Our communication goes very smoothly.”

Sidley Austin

Formed in 1866, Sidley Austin is a Chicago-based international law firm with over 2000 lawyers across 20 global offices. In Asia-Pacific the firm has 200 legal professionals in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. Its Hong Kong office was established in 1994. 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm offers US, Hong Kong and English legal advice to its clients and excels transactionally in the equity capital markets, the debt—especially high-yield bond issuances—capital markets, investment funds, M&A and private equity. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Springland International Holdings, Vivo Capital, CanSino Biologics, Kaisa Group Holdings Company, Standard Chartered Bank, DBS Bank and Fosun International. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s equity capital markets practice was very active during the research period advising on Hong Kong IPOs, share placements and rights issues; while the debt team handled corporate bond issuances alongside high-yield, convertible and green bond issues. 

The M&A team acted in take-privates, joint ventures, disposals and acquisitions in the transport, real estate and construction industries. In private equity the firm assisted clients in various rounds of funding and in investments.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-China Evergrande Group Rmb13.2 billion acquisition of Shengjing Bank

-Fosun International €400 million 4.35% high-yield bond issue 

-HiFiBiO Therapeutics $67 million series C financing

-Kaisa Group Holdings $400 million 11.95% high-yield bond issue

-Shanghai Henlius HKSE IPO

-Springland International Holdings HK$4.5 billion take-private 

-Vodafone Idea $3.5 billion rights issue 

-Zhongliang Holdings HKSE IPO 

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is a New York-based international law firm with 900 lawyers across 11 offices across the Americas, Asia and Europe. The firm services its clients Greater China interests from its offices in Hong Kong and Beijing.

The firm is strong in private equity and is also known for equity and debt capital markets, M&A and leveraged finance.

Key clients of the firm include KKR, Softbank Group, Alibaba Group Holding, Zhongliang Holdings Group Company, Goldman Sachs, Qudian, J-Star and Aspirant Group.

During the research period, the capital markets practice kept busy advising on Hong Kong and US IPOs, follow on offerings, convertible and other bond issuances. The private equity team handled fund formation and fund raising GP/LP mandates and acquisitions for KKR and Blackstone. The corporate team was also busy with acquisitions in the healthcare, retail and automotive industries. 

The firm’s capital markets practice was hit with the departures of counsels Venus Lo and David Lee in 2019.

Deal highlights

-AG III Series Funds

-Alibaba Group Holding HKSE secondary listing

-Canaan Nasdaq IPO

-J-Star No.4 Series Funds

-KKR $1.56 billion acquisition of LCY Chemical Corp 

-New Frontier Corporation $1.44 billion acquisition of United Family Healthcare

-Phoenix Tree NYSE IPO

-SoftBank $4.5 billion margin loan financing

-Weibo $800 million 3.5% bond issue

-XD HKSE IPO

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Their response time is fantastic - the firm never lets you down in terms of getting a quick and efficient response whenever we needed. The response and advice is always practical and solution oriented and reflects a superior understanding of how financing transactions work.”

Investment funds 

“Pragmatic, well-reasoned advice and understanding of the market.”

“They are highly experienced in investment funds work, and are able to distil this experience into commercially-relevant advice.”

Slaughter and May

Established in 1889, Slaughter & May is a London-based magic circle law firm with 560 lawyers across additional offices in Brussels, Beijing and Hong Kong.  Compared to similar firms of its stature the firm has a minimal overseas presence relying instead on relationships with local law firms for its international practice. The firm became the first London law firm to establish an office in Hong Kong when it opened in 1974.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is unique in Hong Kong’s legal market as it has no hourly or billing targets for its lawyers and takes a multi-specialist approach to developing its lawyers in a collegiate atmosphere. Its corporate practice is renowned for public takeovers, mergers and private acquisitions and it has strong capital markets, finance and regulatory practices.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Tencent Holdings, United Energy Group, Haitong International Capital, Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered Bank, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and FWD Group.

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s corporate team had a busy year advising on joint ventures, investments, take-privates, stake sales and acquisitions in the real estate, insurance, aviation and financial services industries.  

The capital markets team acted on a host of Hong Kong IPOs, block trades, programme updates and corporate and convertible bond issues.  

The finance team handled real estate finance and conventional lending mandates while the rulatory practice advised on compliance matters and regulatory applications tied to M&A.  

The firm bolstered its capital markets practice during the research period with the hire of Jing Chen from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, but lost regulatory partner Mark Hughes to Eversheds Sutherland.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-BEURG HKSE IPO

-Cathay Pacific Airways HK$5 billion acquisition of Hong Kong Express

-China Agri-Industries Holdings $1.2 billion take-private 

-FWD Group $3 billion acquisition of SCB Life Assurance

-Inari $2.2 billion syndicated facility

-Swire Pacific $500 million 2.875% bond issue  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“The work was clear, thorough, and technically excellent. The firm managed to meet a demanding deadline.”

“I would say the overall service is excellent. Their strengths include strong capability in the regulations of the banking sector and problem-solving skills. They always respond to the clients' needs in a timely manner.”

Capital markets: Equity

“Slaughter has a deep bench of highly qualified and experienced professionals. It has particular strength in HK capital markets and M&A.”

Financial services regulatory

“As Slaughter and May had worked with us previously, they were already familiar with our business. Slaughter and May took their time to listen to our reasoning on topics we wanted them to further clarify and elaborate on, displaying insight and genuine understanding of the local legislation along the way. Their advice was straight-forward, unambiguous and applicable, pointing out uncertainties without involving needless assumptions or hypotheticals. They took our comments to heart and provided elaborate feedback and valuable insight where needed/requested.  While the team we worked with was diverse, their communication was well-coordinated and their approach clearly involved engaging lawyers specialised in the matters at hand.”

“They provide feedback under tight deadlines, allocating the necessary resources to meet the deadlines with ease of contact.”

 “The team is able to deliver under tight deadlines, and is very available for follow up.”

“The work is thorough, technically excellent, clearly explained and delivered meeting the deadlines.”

M&A

“Extremely good technical skills and knowledge, very strong negotiation capabilities, fast, accurate and responsive.”

“Excellent work attitude, very knowledgeable, sincere commitment and super hardworking.”

“Its network, knowledge and skills enabled the transactions to be completed delivering the best results.”

“Benita Yu is a very responsible and hands-on partner. She is technically very strong and is able to identify key risks without much explanation required.”

“Committed, commercial, knowledgeable and intelligent team.”

“Very practical and responsive. Well versed in the laws and listing rules. Very good drafting skills.” 

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood is a London-headquartered law firm with nine offices across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The firm has offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and an association—with PRC law firm Wei Tu—in Guangzhou catering to its clients’ interests involving Greater China. 

The firm provides English and Hong Kong law advice especially in regulatory matters and in restructuring and insolvency mandates.

Key clients of the firm include Futu Lending, Convoy Global Holdings, CSL Securities, PwC, Société Générale, Rabobank and UIL Singapore. 

In the research period the firm was preoccupied providing its clients with regulatory advice, technology company establishment and some strong debt restructuring and insolvency mandates including Shanghai Huaxin Group’s liquidation and a host of individual and Indian mandates. 

Partner Malcolm Kemp, who led the firm’s litigation and financial services (contentious) practice, retired in April 2020. 

Deal highlights

-CECEP COSTIN New Materials Group insolvency

-Shanghai Huaxin Group insolvency

-UIL Hong Kong restructuring 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking 

“They understand what we and our client want them to do and provide the best advice in accordance therewith.”

“Responsive team – the partner is hands on when he needs to be. Generally a team that is very good to work with on general banking matters as well as on ship finance transactions where they have particular expertise.”

“The wording of agreements are very precise, and it's helpful with their opinion.”

Financial services regulatory

“Have a good wealth of experience in this type of work, so their advice is authoritative and little of their time is spent learning things from scratch. They have a deep bench of experienced associates, so costs are well managed, and also ensures deadlines are met. Fee discussions are commercial and transparent.”

“Responsive, helpful and sound business acumen.”

“They are technically strong and experienced in the area and offer useful and practical advice and solutions. They are also responsive and flexible.”

“Engaging and proactive.”

Investment funds

“Very responsive and timely turnaround on requests.  Well considered and thought out comments and suggestions. Documents are well drafted without excessive legal language.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Can-do attitude and user-friendly; willing to explore and push the limits.”

“SH adopts a practical and effective approach to matters rather than an overly academic one.”

“Very sensible, down to earth, and user-friendly but clear, objective and supportive at the same time.”

“Provides very practical solutions and timely responses.”

“Personal attention. Practical solutions.”

“The lawyers handling the case are helpful and knowledgeable.  They are responsive to all my questions and concerns in a timely and professional manner.  They can always provide highly reliable and quality services.  I am glad to have them in my team so that we can make well informed and strategic decisions quickly.”

“They provided professional advice and a holistic legal strategy for dealing with complicated issues.”

“Provides in-depth analysis and recommended approaches that are practical.”

“The team at Stephenson Harwood knows both shareholders well because of their earlier relationship. Notwithstanding their role was effectively lost, they continue to assist in helping both shareholders and we (as liquidator) to re-build the communication channel and facilitate both parties to assist the liquidator's work in a short-term trading-on of the business and also in the course of selling the company's business. They did this work out of their good initiative.”

“The recent elevation of Eloise and Alex to partnership is reflective of their abilities and certainly well deserved. I have worked with Stephenson Harwood on both contentious insolvency and restructuring matters. I consider both Jamie, Eloise and Alex to be extremely capable and leading practitioners within the HK market. I turn to them when I need assistance as they are responsive, accommodating, easy to communicate with, have the requisite technical skills and more importantly the ability to consider pragmatic commercial solutions.” 

Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) is a London-based international firm with 15 offices across Europe, Asia and USA. Its Hong Kong office was established in 2012 and in 2015 it established an association with Hanoi-based boutique firm LVN & Associates

The firm is traditionally known for its shipping and shipping finance practice but has since developed its energy and infrastructure, natural resources, real estate and transport expertise. From Hong Kong it is most active in banking, project development, project finance, and restructuring and insolvency.

Key clients of the firm include China Merchants Commerce Financial Leasing, Asian Development Bank, CMB Financial Leasing, Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade and Toyo Ink.

During the research period, the firm kept busy with shipping finance, outbound project finance mainly involving Vietnamese gas, coal, thermal, solar and hydropower projects alongside Taiwanese offshore wind mandates. The firm also handled debt and financial restructuring mandates. 

WFW added finance partner Khin Voong to its practice from King & Wood Mallesons in February 2020. 

In May 2019, the firm fully integrated its associated law firm in Vietnam, LVN & Associates, to its WFW network in order to expand its footprint in the energy sector in South East Asia.

Deal highlights

-Changfang and Xidao 600MW offshore wind project

-China Merchants Commerce Financial Leasing $310 million term loan facility

-China Merchants Commerce Financial Leasing subsidiaries $76 million acquisition of CCB Financial Leasing Corporation subsidiaries’ two ore carriers

-Dung Quat II 750MW gas-fired combined cycle power plant

-Quang Tri 2 x 650MW BOT thermal power plant  

-Vinh Tan 3 1980MW coal-fired power plant

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Asset finance

“Responds quickly and always on behalf of the client's interest.”

“Good knowledge of the transaction and market. Quick responses. Good documentation work. Good advisory.”

“Good and knowledgeable within the industry. Quick responses. Good documentation.”

Project development 

“All of the lawyers that we have worked with are very capable and my overall impression of them is extremely positive. The team has demonstrated to us their ability in advising on large-scale power projects and with a smooth process. We were able to get reliable advice on a local level with WFW LVN and also with an international perspective from WFW. Their strong network across the globe, particularly Asia and thorough understanding of the market environment in Vietnam is also helpful for information exchange. They often provide very good insights on what other markets or other players in Asia are up to.  They have the expertise and are experienced with our work, which translates into making them cost effective. Their industry knowledge and experience advising government mandates enable them to devise and implement suitable legal advice more quickly than other law firms. They have also demonstrated to us the ability to save time and money by focusing on the key issues of each projects. Linh Doan understands how various agencies in Vietnam work very well which makes a difference with other players in the market. I highly recommend the team, for any organisation seeking legal advice for projects of the similar significance and complexity as ours.”

Weil Gotshal & Manges

Weil Gotshal & Manges is a New York-headquartered international law firm with Asia offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. 

The firm is best known for its high-end private equity practice and accompanying leveraged finance practice. It is the go-to law firm for take-privates of US-listed Chinese companies and has strong expertise in the consumer goods and technology, media and telecommunications industries.

Key clients of the firm include Taobao China Holding, Huanxi Media Group, TPG Capital Asia, Primavera Capita, MBK Partners, SoftBank Vision Fund and Anchor Equity Partners.

In the research period the firm kept busy with take-private mandates, spin offs, joint ventures, stake acquisitions and acquisitions in the technology, real estate and insurance sectors. It also assisted its clients in investments and various rounds of funding. 

Weil’s Asia finance team experienced a significant change in leadership in October 2019 following Soo-Jin Shim’s departure for personal reasons. Partner Daniel Abercromby joined the firm from Kirkland & Ellis to head its banking and finance team.

Deal highlights

-Alibaba Group $2 billion acquisition of Kaola

-eHi Car Services $1.8 billion take-private

-iKang Healthcare Group $1.1 billion take-private

-SoftBank Vision Fund $2 billion investment in Coupang

 

-TPG and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board $489 million acquisition of 35% stake in Dream Cruises  

Winston & Strawn

Established in Chicago in 1853, Winston & Strawn is one of the largest and oldest firms in the city. It has nine offices in the United States and six offices in Europe and Asia. With offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong the firm assists its global and Asia-based clients navigate inbound and outbound opportunities in Greater China. 

The firm’s transactional practice is most active in M&A and equity capital markets work, particularly in structuring special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) where it has a niche enabling its clients to go public as an alternative to the traditional IPO process.

Key clients of the firm include New Frontier Corporation, Diginex, Koppers Holdings, Universal Star Holdings, Kingsway Capital, SPDB International Capital and Aidigong Maternal & Child Health.

During the research period the firm kept busy structuring SPACs, advising on Hong Kong IPOs—and proposed listings—share, rights and bond issues, while the M&A team advised on exits, stake acquisitions, healthcare and automotive acquisitions, distillation facility sales, share exchanges, corporate restructuring mandates, stake acquisitions, investments and subsidiary sales.

The firm’s corporate practice brought in partner Khoon Jin Tan from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and saw Marco Pocci depart for Stephenson Harwood.

Deal highlights

-Fangda Carbon New Material $107 million acquisition of Koppers (Jiangsu) Carbon Chemical Company 

-Lamtex Holdings HK$50 million 4% bond issue

-Moody Technology Holdings HK$15.5 million bond issue 

-New Frontier Corporation $1.44 billion acquisition of United Family Healthcare

-Universal Star Holdings HKSE IPO 

Financial and corporate : Offshore
Appleby

Originally established in 1898, Appleby is an offshore law firm with over 200 lawyers across offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Mauritius and Seychelles. The firm also has offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Focusses / specialisms

Its office in Hong Kong has Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking lawyers providing Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands legal advice. 

It is most active in the equity and debt capital markets, M&A, aviation, shipping and structured finance, fund formation and technology matters. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Li & Fung, Shenwan Hongyuan Group, China Tianbao Group Development Company, ARA Private Funds, Global Logistic Properties, Infrared NF and DBS Bank. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy advising on bond issues, IPOs, disposals, joint ventures, general corporate lending, take-private mandates, and assisted clients on various rounds of funding. Its funds team was preoccupied with the setup of segregated portfolios.  

In April 2020 the firm relocated corporate partner David Bulley from its offices in Cayman Islands and in October 2019 partner Nicholas Davies departed for Walkers.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-China Oil and Gas Group $320 million 5.5% bond issue

-China Tianbao Group Development Company HKSE IPO

-Li & Fung $500 million 4.375% bond issue 

-Portico International Holdings take-private

-Shenwan Hongyuan Group HKSE IPO

-Xinji Shaxi Group HKSE IPO 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Quick responses and to the point analysis.”

“The firm is highly responsive, responding shortly to every request. Banking requests tend to need turnaround within a day. Appleby meets the speed requirement very well.”

“Their responses are swift and accurately correct, and in excellent commercial sense. The partner and the associate are very responsive and can always provide great solutions to us.”

“Appleby's turnaround time is extremely quick - this is very helpful as most of our deals are urgent. They are always helpful in answering questions on BVI, Cayman and Bermuda law as well. Fiona and her team can read Chinese which is also helpful as we have many Chinese clients.”

Capital markets: Equity

“They are very commercial and practical. They will step in the shoes of the client in order to resolve issues.”

“I would think their market share in capital markets is quite substantial and they would understand market trends, and they do their work in a very efficient and professional manner.”

Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation

“Responsive, strong partner and associate level knowledge, able to operate using Chinese at a senior level.”

Financial services regulatory

“The lawyers portray a very knowledgeable yet professional attitude. The advice they give is supportive and constructive.”

Investment funds

“The Appleby team in Hong Kong is responsive, experienced and practical. I know I will receive prompt, efficient service.”

M&A

“Immediate responses (even during weekends/holidays) and accurate and pragmatic advice.”

Project finance

“Fiona and her team are responsive and offer pragmatic solutions to issues.”

“They don't only provide legal advice, but business solutions from the legal perspective.”

Carey Olsen

Carey Olsen is an offshore law firm with 235 lawyers including 59 partners. The firm has offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cape Town, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, London, Hong Kong and Singapore. The firm is on a growth trajectory in Asia and opened its Hong Kong office in 2016.

Carey Olsen offers Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey legal services from its offices in Asia and is the only offshore firm with a Channel Islands Desk in Asia. It initially offered litigation and restructuring services from Hong Kong but bolted on corporate, funds and finance capabilities in 2019. 

Key clients of the firm include Bridgepoint and Glory Star New Media Group.

In the research period the firm kept busy with private equity work, IPOs, finance and acquisitions in the media and publishing industries. The firm also assisted clients in various rounds of funding and the funds team was preoccupied with LP work, venture capital, real estate funds, closed-ended funds and mutual funds.

In 2019 the firm brought in partners Michael Padarin and James Webb from Walkers and counsel Andrew Tually from DMAW Lawyers. Counsel Alan Hughes left for Vistra and partner Linda Lee retired from practice.

Deal highlights

-Ocorian acquisition of Estera

-TKK Symphony Acquisition Corporation $525 million acquisition of Glory Star New Media Group

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“James and the team are very proactive about establishing a new business and seeking out new clients - they are very motivated and responsive.”

Investment funds

“Michael Padarin has been very responsive to our enquiries round the clock and he has demonstrated his solid knowledge and skills in advising on complex legal issues arising from the establishment and management of Cayman investment funds.”

Conyers Dill & Pearman

Originally established in 1928, Conyers Dill & Pearman is an offshore magic circle firm with 130 lawyers across six offices in Bermuda, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Hong Kong, London and Singapore. It is a member of Lex Mundi, an association of independent law firms.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm offers expertise in Bermuda, BVI and Cayman law to its Asia-based clients and is very strong in the equity capital markets alongside debt issuances and take-privates. It has sector expertise in education and real estate and an experienced investment funds team advising international and Asia-based fund management houses, financial institutions and entrepreneurs. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, MBK Partners HK, China Resources Microelectronics, Luckin Coffee, Beijing Tongchuangjiuding Investment Management Group, CAR and Central China Real Estate.  

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period, the firm’s IPO practice was very busy advising on listings in Hong Kong, New York and China. It acted as an offshore adviser in nearly 50% of the Hong Kong IPOs in the market in 2019.

The firm has also been busy with take-private mandates, share sales, bond issues and the funds team has been proactive advising on segregated portfolios, LP work, and fintech and renewable funds. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Budweiser Brewing Company APAC HKSE IPO

-China Resources Microelectronics STAR SSE IPO

-eHi Car Services take-private

-Luckin Coffee Nasdaq IPO

-Pacific Century Premium Development $130 million 4.75% bond issue

-Shanghai Gench Education Holdings HKSE IPO 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Vivien Fung is very responsive to our requests and provides very helpful advice in relation to Bermudan law.”

“Prompt services and advice.”

Capital markets: Debt

“Professional and know the laws well with strong commercial acumen.”

Capital markets: Equity

“CDP is very experienced in equity capital markets. The team is responsive and the advice it gives is pragmatic and user friendly.”

Financial services regulatory

“Quick and professional feedback.”

Investment funds

“Quality work, team players, integrity and flexible.”

“Yes, it was pleasant working with Conyers on that matter because they provided insightful legal advice in a responsive manner to facilitate the conclusion of the deal.”

“Clear advice provided on a timely basis.”

“With David Lamb supervising our work with Conyers Dill & Pearson, we always are ensured swift, solution focused and pragmatic advice. Having such a strong and broad team on the ground in our time zone in Hong Kong is especially attractive.”

‘On point advice on the Cayman law aspects and quick turnaround responses.” 

Harneys

Established in 1960, Harney Westwood & Riegels is a global offshore law firm with offices across Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean. In Asia the firm has 60 lawyers across Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.  

Focusses / specialisms

The firm provides advice on British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Bermuda and Anguilla law and is known for its strength in finance, and in corporate deals including M&A, private equity, restructurings, joint ventures, investment fund formation and general corporate matters.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Wingtech Technology, China Merchants Bank, China Feihe, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, New Frontier Corporation and ICBC International Investment Management. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm’s finance team was busy with conventional lending, real estate and acquisition finance, bond issues and IPOS, while the corporate team handled acquisitions and joint ventures in sectors such as healthcare and insurance. 

The team also assisted clients in various rounds of funding and carried out LP work and advised on private equity, SPC and venture capital funds. 

In March 2010 partner Charles Clayton-Payne departed the firm for Hogan Lovells.

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-China Feihe HKSE IPO

-New Frontier Corporation $1.44 billion acquisition of United Family Healthcare

-Parkson Retail Group $498 million financing 

-SenseTime series C prime financing

-Wingtech Technology $3.6 billion acquisition of Nexperia Holding 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“They are usually very responsive.”

“Highly responsive and pragmatic.”

“They are very responsive and price efficient.”

Capital markets: Debt

“Extremely responsive; no drama - focuses on the job at hand and is never the source of issues.”

Capital markets: Equity 

“Good service, competitive fees and high partner involvement.”

“They are technically solid, responsive and professional.”

“Raymond Ng of Harneys provided timely, practical and professional advice on Cayman and BVI legal issues. His advice was succinct, commercial and pragmatic and he always made himself available to address the queries raised by clients. Great personality and receptive to client's queries regardless of whether the issue was simple or complicated. A pleasant and professional partner of the firm - a great ambassador of Harneys.”

Investment funds 

“The firm is very efficient and responsive. Their quality of work is high. They are well-rounded.”

“Quick responses.”

“When it comes to the firm's client service, they are very cordial in the correspondence exchanged (which strengthens the relationship with us), willing to answer any queries and are receptive to comments/feedback. In addition, they are understanding of our requests (e.g. aligning with our procedure with a client). Overall, they present themselves as a "hands-on" available firm.   Regarding commercial awareness, Harney Westwood & Riegels understands the benefits and importance of networking with a law firm like ours as we have been increasingly involved in cases with a BVI/Cayman element. Finally, on the subject of value for money, the firm always presents price fees along with assumptions that support their appreciation for substance and resourcefulness such as imposing a limit of five opinions upon the initial draft. Harneys' lawyers often solicit notice in case of transaction changes and warnings if the fee becomes unrealistic. Even so, they are willing to discount/negotiate their fees in some cases.”

“Responsive, professional and informative.”

M&A

“Very efficient and professional.”

Private equity 

“Prompt replies with accurate and flexible applications of law. Partners take more time on the project.”

“Constructive advice and being responsive.” 

Maples Group

Maples Group—formerly Maples & Calder—is a Cayman Islands-based offshore magic circle law firm with 330 lawyers and 17 offices including Asia-Pacific offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm offers British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Jersey and Irish legal advice and British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands incorporation services. 

It has expertise in the BVI, Cayman Islands and Ireland domiciles for asset finance SPVs; is strong in corporate and finance transactions, insolvency matters and offshore funds and investment management across the financial services, aviation, oil and gas and real estate sectors. 

Maples Group has also bolstered its shipping and ship finance and Marshall Island law capabilities alongside its Irish law practice in Asia. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Alibaba Group Holding, Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management, Kuaishou Technology, China Evergrande, New Frontier Group, Topsports International Holdings and Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group Company. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm has been very active in the capital markets advising clients on IPOs in Hong Kong and New York and advising on high yield bond offerings. 

In finance, the firm has advised on ordinary corporate lending mandates, refinancings and shipping finance.

The corporate team has been busy with take-private mandates and acquisitions in the healthcare and sports sectors, while the private equity team has assisted clients in various rounds of funding and advised on technology funds. 

In August 2019 the firm brought in finance partner Jonathan Silver from Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Alibaba Group Holding HKSE secondary listing

-China Evergrande $3 billion 9.5% high-yield bond issue

-DouYu International Holdings Nasdaq IPO

-Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group HKSE IPO

-Kuaishou Technology $3 billion series F financing

-New Frontier Corporation $1.44 billion acquisition of United Family Healthcare

-Topsports International Holdings HKSE IPO

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Asset finance

“Very responsive and reliable.”

“With the arrival of Jonathan Silver and his team, the HK office of Maples provides a broad legal service for shipping finance. In addition to legal advice on their core jurisdictions (Caymans, BVI) they can offer legal advice on Marshall Islands law, perform Hong Kong notarial work and manage ship and mortgage registrations for any of the major shipping jurisdictions that have consulates or other offices in Asia.”

Banking

“Strength of knowledge when required, available and prompt.”

“They are very responsive and accessible. They manage their budget well.”

Capital markets: Debt

“Efficient and cost effective.”

Capital markets: Equity

“Efficient with effective responses.”

Investment funds

“Great knowledge, problem solving, reasonable legal fees.”

“Smart, honest, clear and straightforward advice, being well aware of how to be supportive to us and our clients.”

“They provided up-to-date and to-the-point advice very efficiently, and always provide legal updates on the laws and regulations of Cayman Islands.”

“They are responsive, have great market knowledge and know our documents and procedures well so that the work we do together is seamless.”

“They established their market reputation and keep it.  They proactively visit Japanese clients to provide up-to-date market information. Highly appreciated.”

M&A

“Responsive and efficient.”

“Richard Spooner provided responsive and commercial legal advice to get the transaction done in a short timeframe.”

“Responsiveness and professionalism - the team at the Hong Kong office of Maples Group is highly responsive. In particular, it should be noted that their BVI legal advice on the matter was sought during the period when COVID-19 was prevalent in Hong Kong. However, this has not impacted the responsiveness of Maple Group's team, and their advice was always provided in a timely manner. This demonstrates their team remains highly professional during such unprecedented times.”

Private equity

“Matt Roberts, a partner in the corporate practice, has been our team's go-to offshore legal counsel because he is not only extremely responsive but has full command of legal substance as well as a goal-oriented approach to lawyering.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Above all the firm is very responsive reflecting the global reach it enjoys and strong appreciation of the demands of client service. The firm always offers pragmatic 'real world' advice directed to problem solving rather than theoretical solutions. The firm has a considerable strength in depth of senior lawyers who advise and can speak based on real detailed expertise and direct experience.”

“Aisling Dwyer is clever, client focused and attentive to detail. She gives a personal service."

Mourant Ozannes

Mourant Ozannes is a magic circle offshore law firm that was formed in 2010 following the merger of Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes. The firm has 250 lawyers and 60 partners across six global offices in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey and London. 

The firm is strongest in private equity, real estate transactions, fund formation, leveraged and acquisition finance, fund finance, asset finance and general corporate lending.

Key clients of the firm include China Minsheng Banking Corp, China Huarong, Citigroup Global Markets Asia, Gaw Capital Advisors, The Blackstone Group and FPEF1 Partnership. 

During the research period the firm kept busy with real estate acquisition finance, debt and corporate restructuring, stake acquisitions, investments, term loans, convertible loans, margin loans, US IPOS, bond issues, and private equity. The funds team were preoccupied with real estate fund mandates, LP work, cryptocurrency funds, and hedge funds.

Mourant Ozannes is the exclusive member firm of Multilaw for the BVI and Cayman Islands, and Lex Mundi for Jersey and Guernsey. Its Hong Kong office also has a unique 50% equality ratio in male and female partners.

Deal highlights

-Brightoil Group debt restructuring

-Gateway Fund VI

-HKBN HK$10.5 billion acquisition of WTT

-Orix Corporation $2.2 billion acquisition of 30% stake in Avolon Holdings

-Tamarind Group $50 million term loan facility 

-Vivocity Shanghai $1.3 billion acquisition financing

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Asset finance

“Responsive and available, industry and technical knowledge, quality product.”

Banking

“Commercial, intelligent, reasonable, easy to work with, committed to delivering quality support.”

“Technically strong lawyers; very responsive; commercial; really good to work with.”

“Really responsive and professional. Always quick to put together a quote to help at short notice. Their knowledge of the market is good and always good on their legal knowledge updates. Danielle is great to work with.”

Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation

“The team at Mourant are extremely responsive, providing feedback and input on a timely basis. The team is technically proficient, and is proactive in identifying issues and proposing solutions on the matters and transactions they advise on. This proactive, problem-solving approach goes beyond the firm's remit of advising on Cayman and/or BVI law, but extends to identifying issues, problem solving and providing useful input and support at the level of the transaction as a whole.  This goes beyond the level of service that is often experienced with other Cayman and BVI counsels, whose service is often reactive in nature and narrowly confined to limited local law issues.”

Investment funds 

“Practical solutions even in light of all the regulatory changes in the Cayman Islands. Value for money for our clients.”

“Team was very responsive, technically strong and picked up issues that other firms had missed.  Pricing was also significantly lower than competitor firms.”

“Very Responsive. The team takes the extra effort to understand the commercial drivers behind the legal analysis, and delivers a sensible commercial outcome.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“They give clear and strong advice and avoid equivocating on the issues that matter. Strong senior team of lawyers. Very responsive and willing to put in the hours for urgent matters.”

“Responsiveness, commerciality, professionalism underpinned by sound legal knowledge.” 

Ogier

Ogier is a Jersey-based offshore magic circle firm with nine global offices and 325 lawyers. It has offices in Greater China in Hong Kong and Shanghai where it was the first offshore law firm to establish an office.

From its Hong Kong office the firm offers BVI, Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey legal services to its Asia-Pacific clients alongside access to Luxembourg legal services. Ogier is strongest in finance, investment funds, private equity, M&A, capital markets and finance.

Key clients of the firm include Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group, CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Company, China Communications Construction Company, RRJ Capital, Hammer Capital and 8F Asset Management.

In the research period the firm kept busy advising on Hong Kong and China IPOs, bond issues, corporate restructuring mandates, stake sales, exits, delistings, term loans, LP work, co-investment funds, private equity funds, Japan funds and SPC funds.

In 2019 the firm brought in counsel Geoffrey Tang from Linklaters and lost counsel Jacqueline Chan to Ropes & Gray.

Deal highlights

-8F Aquaculture Fund I LP

-CCCI Treasure $1.5 billion dual-tranche (3.425%, 3.650%) bond issue

-CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Company HKSE IPO

-Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group SSE IPO

-RRJ Capital master Fund IV

-Shanghai Port Group (BVI) Development $800 million dual-tranche (2.40%, 2.85%) bond issue

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Banking

“Responsive, prompt”

Capital markets: Debt

“The team is very responsive, commercial and provides client-focussed solutions. They are approachable and very good to deal with.”

Capital markets: Derivatives

“Geoffrey and Anthony are both very responsive and are a pleasure to work with. They provide definitive views and solutions to help move transactions forward.”

Capital markets: Equity

“Responds quickly to questions; good ability to get in front of Cayman regulators; willing to think outside of the box.”

“Ogier team responds quickly and is able to deliver results even if we frequently have a tight schedule.”

Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation

“I work particularly closely with Anthony Oakes.  He is level-headed and charming.  He is wonderful at managing transactions.”

“Solid advice and very responsive.”

Financial services regulatory

“The firm is caring, perseveres and is sincere. It is very good at dealing with CIMA.”

Investment funds

“Lin from Ogier has been a highly responsive and dedicated lawyer - she has been very considerate and thoughtful during our preparation of the fund, raising questions and concerns that we may not have covered, and keeping us posted on any changes to Cayman law to ensure the fund remains compliant.”

“Rather than the standard offshore counsel's reviewing services in the market, they could come up with creative solutions to meet our business needs for our project based on its breadth and depth of its expertise in the investment funds. They have got a very experienced English and Chinese speaking fund’s lawyer Lin Jacobsen.”

“Ogier has an excellent network, employing high quality professionals with outstanding experience at top tier law firms.”

“Ogier provided a high quality and responsive service. I would like to highlight Kate Hodson and Alan Wong who were both ridiculously responsive and provided high quality work in the very tight deadlines we imposed on them. Kate Hodson is a safe pair of hands who is willing to go out of her way to deal with client demands. Their industry and regulatory knowledge on the ground in the Cayman Islands is also impeccable. In addition to their legal services arm, they are also able to provide a high quality and responsive fiduciary team on the ground in Hong Kong which makes it very convenient for us since BVI/Cayman are so many hours behind us.”

“The ability to act as both a Cayman counsel and a lead counsel.  Ogier can advise in matters concerning the laws of the Cayman Islands, but it also acts as lead counsel in the ongoing operations of the fund and 'holds the pen' on the offering documentation. As an early-stage company, this is a very useful service as it saves having to work with two separate firms; proactive, fast response times and high quality of output.  Ogier HK are very quick to address client queries and the quality of their drafting is generally very good.  Kate Hodson is very proactive at bringing matters to our attention and at finding efficient and effective solutions to our plans; and commercial awareness.  Unlike other offshore lawyers that I have experienced, Kate Hodson and the team are very understanding and sensitive to the nature of start-up businesses and empathetic to our financial constraints.  I can call Kate for a brief conversation without fear of always receiving a hefty invoice and this is a very positive attribute.  Kate clearly takes a holistic view of the relationship and shows long-term commitment to the plans of our company and its key staff, rather than seeking short-term monetary reward.  In providing fee and scope proposals, she shows admirable commercial flexibility, which encourages me to use her services again in the future.”

“Miss Jacobson Lin Han provided excellent services to our company during the entire service. We are very pleased and impressed with her quality service. We appreciate her answering all our questions timely and helping us to set up the fund in a hassle-free and effective manner.”

“The lawyer in charge is proactive and can provide solutions for the client.”

M&A

“Responsive, excellent legal advice provided, and competitive in the market.”

“Ogier is extremely user-friendly, commercial and responsive. Tony Oakes in particular is a very reliable, experienced and respected operator for offshore support in the Hong Kong market.” 

Walkers

Walkers is a Cayman Islands-based offshore magic circle law firm that practices the laws of six jurisdictions across 10 global offices. It is one of the largest offshore law firms in Hong Kong with a 14 partner strong team.

The firm offers Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and Ireland legal advice and is known in Hong Kong for its M&A, finance, funds, regulatory and restructuring and insolvency work.

Key clients of the firm include China Yangtze Power, New World Development, ESR Cayman, Standard Chartered Bank, Cathay Pacific Airways, Ascentage Pharma Group International and PrimeCredit. 

In the research period the firm kept busy advising on IPOs, private equity, securitisation mandates, bond issues, funds work and acquisition mandates in the insurance, energy and aviation sectors.

In 2019 the firm brought in partner Nicholas Davies from Appleby but lost partners James Webb and Michael Padarin to Carey Olsen. 

Deal highlights

-Ascentage Pharma Group HKSE IPO

-Cathay Pacific HK$5 billion acquisition of Hong Kong Express

-China Yangtze Power $3.6 billion acquisition of Luz Del Sur

-ESR Cayman HKSE IPO

-New World Development $2.8 billion acquisition of FTLife Insurance 

-Sands China $1.5 billion dual-tranche (3.8%, 4.375%) bond issue