Rajah & Tann recognised for outstanding cross-border service by IFLR

Editorial from IFLR (2013 edition 

"I've had a long relationship with Rajah & Tann, and I've had no bad experiences. The lawyers are hands on, very knowledgeable and very commercial. When they give you advice, you know you can trust them," says a client.

This year the firm opened in Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. In addition, following a growing trend of Singapore firms entering Malaysia's closed legal market via associated firms, it aims to expand the offering of its associated Kuala Lumpur office, Kamilah & Chong, in the next year. "Rajah & Tann have an impressive network for a Singapore firm," says a client. "Their cross-border teams have great support and the service is seamless. They're able to tap into strong affiliates even in countries where they don't have a physical presence, such as Japan."

"Their understanding of India means that they are able to overcome challenges faced by Indian firms looking to do business in Singapore. Prakash Pillai, a senior partner dedicated to South Asia, helps us greatly," says an Indian client. "We've also had interactions with their teams in Malaysia and Vietnam. They're expanding into a regional firm, which is great because we can expect the same service across Southeast Asia. "

 

The firm's restructuring and insolvency practice is involved with some of the most prominent restructuring and insolvency cases, such as Lehman Brothers, Nortel, MF Global and TT International. Though deputy managing partner Patrick Ang and partner Lionel Tay are leading lights in the field, clients still turn to a market stalwart, managing partner Lee Eng Beng. A long-time client says, "I think he's considered one of the best, if not the very best in the industry. He knows what the client wants and where we're coming from. In terms of strategy, he's exemplary: he always thinks two to three steps ahead of everyone else."

Another client appreciates younger members of the team; "I like to work with the younger generation at Rajah & Tann, especially partner Danny Ong. He's young, hungry and willing to innovate," says a lawyer at an international law firm.

Led by partner Soon Choo Hock, the firm's banking practice wins plaudits from clients: "Rajah & Tann know what bankers want, and they're solution-oriented. They're aware of timelines and will work though the night to ensure that things get done."

Partner Chia Kim Huat, head of the firm's M&A practice, also receives praise. "I would single him out for his helpfulness," a financial client says. "He's there when we need him, and is always willing to give support. He's also systematic and clear in outlining the path forward; in negotiations, he easily summarises the important points from the mess of arguments."

Giving credit to other team members, the same client also comments on partner Lawrence Tan's prowess in corporate transactions: "He has a formidable intellect, with a very clear understanding of the issues. He also makes the best submissions I've ever seen, with all arguments well-marshalled."

 

Deals 

In the M&A space, insurance partner Elaine Tay, advised AXA on Singapore law matters regarding its $494 million acquisition of the general insurance business of the HSBC group.

Emphasising the strength of the Singapore real estate market, partners Soon Choo Hok, Goh Kian Hwee and Cynthia Goh represented CapitaMalls Asia in its joint venture with CapitaMall Trust and CapitaLand to tender for and develop a mixed retail-office at the Jurong Gateway Site, which has a total expected development cost of S$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion).

The firm was also involved in Mapletree's landmark acquisition of Festival Walk, one of the largest retail malls in Hong Kong. Partners Angela Lim and Chan Kin Yew acted for Mapletree Investments on the HK$18.8 billion ($2.4 billion) bridging facility for the acquisition and the subsequent refinancing into a term facility.

On the restructuring and insolvency side, partner and senior counsel Andre Yeap, along with David Yeow, Lionel Tay, Kwan Kiat Sim and Danny Ong are advising the liquidators of MF Global Singapore. This year they assisted the liquidators in successfully applying to sanction an interim distribution of $350 million to customers, which was a first in local courts.

Partners Sim Kwan Kiat and Chua Beng Chye, as well as shipping partner Winston Kwek, are also representing the coordinating committee of bank lenders in the global restructuring of $2 billion in debt for Dutch shipping group Torm and its subsidiary Torm Singapore.

 

Leading lawyers:

Patrick Ang

Lee Eng Beng

Chia Kim Huat

Goh Kian Hwee

 

Recommended firm for:

Restructuring and insolvency – Tier 1

Banking – Tier 2

Capital markets – Tier 2

Mergers and acquisitions – Tier 2