Asia Pacific Legal 500 (2015 Edition)

Thirteen practices from Rajah & Tann were ranked in the top two tiers of the ranking released by the Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2015 edition. The coverage includes Rajah & Tann Singapore, Rajah & Tann Thailand, Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers, Assegaf Hamzah & Partners and Christopher & Lee Ong.

Editorials & Ranking

The relevant extracts from the Asia Pacific Legal 500 editorial are as follows:

Rajah & Tann Singapore

Dispute Resolution: Local firms (Tier 1)
Leading Individuals: Francis Xavier SC, Andre Yeap SC

‘One of the leading firms in the market’, Rajah & Tann LLP receives plaudits for its ‘approachability and openness in communication’. The sizeable team is able to handle a high volume of cases, and recent litigation spans defamation, trust, fraud and conspiracy, with many claims far exceeding the US$100m mark. Lee Eng Beng SC is ‘an outstanding lawyer in any commercial field’; K Muralidharan Pillai is ‘a titan in the courtroom’; Danny Ong is ‘extremely client friendly and responsive’; and Mohammed Reza is ‘absolutely first rate’.

Employment: Local firms (Tier 1)

‘Excellent on all counts’, Rajah & Tann LLP has recently been active in cross-border employment matters. The practice is jointly led by Francis Xavier SC and Desmond Wee. The latter is advising a Washington DC-headquartered IT company on a restructuring matter relating to employees in Singapore, India, Indonesia and Japan.

Projects and energy: Local firms (Tier 1)

The ‘professional’ team at Rajah & Tann LLP was strengthened... Other key names include Soh Lip San, who has 18 years’ experience in the construction and projects space, and the highly recommended Shemane Chan, who recently advised the State Government of Penang on the preliminary agreement for an undersea tunnel.

Real estate and construction: Local firms (Tier 1)

Rajah & Tann LLP’s ‘professional’ real estate and construction lawyers provide ‘good legal advice and industrial knowledge’. The ‘professional, sharp and pleasant’ Shemane Chan is currently advising an international contractor on two power plant projects in Timor Leste. Construction head Andre Yeap SC is experienced in building and infrastructure disputes. Lina Chua joined the firm.

Restructuring and insolvency: Local firms (Tier 1)
Leading Individuals: Patrick Ang, Eng Beng Lee SC

With over 30 specialist restructuring and insolvency fee-earners, Rajah & Tann LLP maintains an enviable position in the local market; cross-border matters are a particular strength. The practice is acting for the liquidators of various Lehman Brothers entities across Asia, and advising Berlian Laju’s bondholders in relation to the company’s restructuring in Indonesia. Kwan Kiat Sim heads the team, and Danny Ong is recommended.

Shipping: Local firms (Tier 1)
Leading Individuals: Winston Kwek, Kian Sing Toh

Rajah & Tann LLP is ‘a go-to firm for an all-round excellent service’ and provides ‘concise advice’. Led by Kian Sing Toh SC, the firm handles the full breadth of contentious and non-contentious matters, and recently acted for Pacific International Lines in striking out a claim brought by over 100 cargo interests and their insurers. Kah Wah Leong is ‘exceptionally attuned to client needs’.

TMT: Local firms (Tier 1)
Leading Individuals: Kok Keng Lau, Andrew Ong, Rajesh Sreenivasan

Offering ‘prompt’ and ‘on-point’ advice, the team at Rajah & Tann LLP enjoys a particularly good reputation for technology work. Steve Tan and the ‘very knowledgeable’ Rajesh Sreenivasan assisted the Government of Bangladesh in reviewing its ICT Act and e-Signature Guidelines. The team also has strong expertise in data protection law and advised Aviva on its data protection compliance programme. New client wins include Facebook, Lucasfilm and Konami Gaming.

Banking and finance: Local firms (Tier 2)
Leading Individuals: Choo Hock Soon

Angela Lim heads the regionally focused team at Rajah & Tann LLP; Benjamin Tay joined from White & Case Pte. Ltd., bringing cross-border expertise. Work highlights included Terence Choo’s advice to the lead arrangers and original lenders on the refinancing of Senoko Energy.

Capital markets: Local firms (Tier 2)
Leading Individuals: Kim Huat Chia

Key names at Rajah & Tann LLP include practice head Evelyn Wee, Goh Kian Hwee and Serene Yeo, whose M&A and capital markets expertise make them a popular choice on fund raisings for acquisitions; and Kim Huat Chia, who has experience in PRC-related transactions. The firm’s specialist derivatives team includes David Yeow.

Corporate and M&A: Local firms (Tier 2)

Rajah & Tann LLP’s office network in South East Asia is beneficial for cross-border M&A work, and the firm runs Japan and India desks from the Singapore office. Highlights included representing Gallant Venture on the S$1.6bn takeover of PT Indomobil Sukses Internasional, advice led by Goh Kian Hwee, Serene Yeo and Cheng Yoke Ping. Abdul Jabbar Bin Karam Din and Lim Wee Hann are key figures in the private M&A team.

Intellectual property: Local firms (Tier 2)
Leading Individual: Kok Keng Lau

At Rajah & Tann LLP, department head Kok Keng Lau is recommended for copyright matters. He focuses on IP, sports, gambling and technology, and was recently appointed as counsel in a high-profile multi-million dollar dispute. A recent highlight was defending Daiso Industries against a trade mark infringement claim by Seiko Epson.

International arbitration (Tier 2)
Leading Individuals: Francis Xavier SC, Andre Yeap SC

Rajah & Tann LLP’s regional office network is of particular benefit in international arbitration, where lawyers in Singapore work in collaboration with colleagues across South East Asia. Another distinguishing factor is its team of dedicated arbitration lawyers; Andre Yeap SC leads the specialist practice, which includes recommended partner Ng Kim Beng.

Tax: Local firms (Tier 2)

Led by Ronald Choo, the tax practice at Rajah & Tann LLP provides ‘a very thorough service’ to its clients, which include multinational companies, banks and individuals. The team handles tax litigation and advisory work on matters such as stamp duty, tax treaties and trust management. Irving Aw was recruited, and Jimmy Oei left the firm

Rajah & Tann Thailand

Dispute Resolution - Tier 2

Rajah & Tann (Thailand) Limited recently hired Surasak Vajasit, Melisa Uremovic, Pakpoom Suntornvipat and 11 other individuals from Hunton & Williams. The team focuses on complex litigation, government investigations and corporate internal investigations in highly regulated industries such as telecoms, insurance and energy. Practitioners also handle customs disputes involving alleged duty evasion.

Leading Lawyer for Corporate and M&A, Restructuring and Insolvency - Surasak Vajasit

Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers

Banking & Finance – Tier 3

Brian Ng leads the four-partner team at Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers. The firm advises borrowers and lenders on loan financing, restructuring, compliance and other regulatory issues. Recent work includes drafting loan agreements and advising on a loan transaction. Vu Thi Que and Nguyen Dinh Nha are key names in the team.

Dispute resolution – Tier 1
Leading Lawyer - Chau Huy Quang

Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers is ‘responsive, thorough’ and displays ‘extensive professional knowledge’. The current caseload includes a cross-border arbitration and a dispute over outstanding payments. Managing partner Chau Huy Quang has a ‘professional working manner’ and the ability to ‘liaise very well with both Vietnamese and international authorities’.

Projects & Energy – Tier 3

Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers continues to lead on structuring a deal to build a temporary jetty and is advising on an investment into a lubricants factory project in Dong Nai province. Vu Thi Que heads the team.

Assegaf Hamzah & Partners

Banking & Finance – Tier 1
Leading Lawyer - Ahmad Fikri Assegaf

Assegaf Hamzah & Partners has been growing its Islamic finance practice, and has a solid reputation in structuring and implementing shari’ah-compliant investment and financing transactions. The team, led by Bono Daru Adji and Ibrahim Sjarief Assegaf, advised Arifin Panigoro and Medco Inti Dinamika on the sale of a stake in Bank Himpunan Saudara to South Korea based Woori Bank. Name partner Ahmad Fikri Assegaf heads the team.

Capital markets – Tier 1
Leading Lawyers - Ahmad Fikri Assegaf, Bono Daru Adji

The ‘excellent’ Assegaf Hamzah & Partners acted in six IPOs on the Indonesian Stock Exchange in 2013, representing issuers, underwriters or other parties. Bono Daru Adji and Putu Suryastuti led a team advising Saratoga Investama Sedaya on its $127.8m IPO. Name partner Ahmad Fikri Assegaf is recommended.

Corporate and M&A – Tier 1
Leading Lawyer - Ahmad Fikri Assegaf

Assegaf Hamzah & Partners ‘provides an excellent service to clients’. Bono Daru Adji recently advised XL Axiata on the purchase of 100% of the share capital of Axis Telecom Indonesia from Teleglobal Investments for $865m; this cross-border deal was the largest-ever M&A transaction in the Indonesian telecoms sector. Eko Basyuni is recommended.

Dispute Resolution – Tier 2

Eri Hertiawan and Chandra Hamzah co-head the team at Assegaf Hamzah & Partners. The firm successfully represented Garuda Indonesia in a high-profile defamation case involving Hutomo Mandala Putra, son of the former President of Indonesia, which went to the Supreme Court. Other clients include NYK Line Indonesia, a subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Holcim Indonesia.

Projects & Energy – Tier 3

The team at Assegaf Hamzah & Partners is co-headed by Ahmad Fikri Assegaf alongside the newly promoted Kanya Satwika, with Ibrahim Sjarief Assegaf in charge of project finance matters. The firm’s projects and natural resources practice focuses on three core areas – infrastructure, mining and forestry. Highlights included representing Holcim Indonesia in a dispute regarding the development of a limestone quarry and cement plant and advising on associated forestry law.

Real Estate – Tier 2

Yogi Marsono leads on real estate matters at Assegaf Hamzah & Partners. The team mainly concentrates on acquisitions and financing transactions. Recent highlights include advising Bank Muamalat, one of the largest shari’ah-compliant banks in Indonesia, on the $96.8m acquisition of a high-rise building in Jakarta from property developer Mitra Pertala Perkasa. Banking partner Ibrahim Sjarief Assegaf advises on transactions where land is used as collateral.

Restructuring and Insolvency – Tier 2

Assegaf Hamzah & Partners has had a busy year in restructuring work, and as a result of its recent tie-up with Rajah & Tann LLP in Singapore the firm has grown its client base to act on some of the biggest debt restructuring deals. Eri Hertiawan recently led advice to Mitco Labuan on an insolvency action in the Indonesian Commercial Court against Citra Bhakti, based on an unpaid debt of $24m.

Christopher & Lee Ong

Banking & Finance – Tier 2

Christopher & Lee Ong’s Fiona Sequerah leads on both conventional and Islamic banking, debt restructuring, securitisation and derivatives matters for both corporate borrowers and financial institution clients.

Capital Markets – Tier 4

At Christopher & Lee Ong, Yon See Ting represented Eurosports Auto on its Singapore IPO, and Christopher Lee acted for Barakah Offshore Petroleum on its reverse takeover of listed company Vastalux Energy. Other representative clients include AirAsia X and Hong Leong Industry. David Ong departed to Chooi & Company in July 2014.

Corporate M&A – Tier 3

Christopher & Lee Ong has been advising on a number of inbound and cross-border deals, including its advice to Sime Darby on a RM1.5bn joint venture with Australia-based Ramsay Health Care. It also represented AusGroup on a reverse takeover, and acted for Hong Leong Industries and Narra Industries on a restructuring. Lead lawyers include Christopher Lee, Yon See Ting and Kuok Yew Chen. David Ong joined Chooi & Company in July 2014.

IT and Telecoms – Tier 2
Leading Lawyer - Kuok Yew Chen

Christopher & Lee Ong has experience in e-commerce, licensing, contractual and telecoms outsourcing work. Team leader Kuok Yew Chen has been acting for Formis on the establishment and network rollout of internet service provider Ohana. He also recently advised numerous corporate and energy sector groups on data protection compliance matters.

Projects and Energy – Tier 1

Christopher & Lee Ong acts for sponsors, developers and regulators on large-scale energy projects. Christopher Lee has particular expertise in infrastructure matters. Shemane Chan recently advised 1MDB Real Estate on the development of the Tun Razak Exchange financial and business district. The practice lost David Ong to Chooi & Company in July 2014.

Real Estate and Construction – Tier 3

Christopher & Lee Ong focuses on construction and development work, and is a key adviser to the main developer on the Tun Razak Exchange financial district project. It has also been acting for the Penang state government on construction contracts for an RM8bn development scheme. Christopher Lee has been advising Prasarana Malaysia on a joint venture with Crest Builder to build a mixed-use scheme at Kelana Jaya LRT station. Lim Hui Ming leads the real estate team. David Ong joined Chooi & Company in July 2014.

Shipping – Tier 2
Leading Lawyer - Ong Chee Kwang

At Christopher & Lee Ong, litigator Ong Chee Kwan advises on marine insurance, international trade and charterparty disputes, as well as ship arrest and cargo disputes.