Desmond heads the Corporate Commercial practice and the non-contentious side of the Employment practice of Rajah & Tann Singapore.
With more than two decades of legal experience, Desmond has substantial expertise in general corporate matters, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructurings. His areas of specialisation include corporate structuring, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and commercial advisory law and Foreign Direct Investments into ASEAN and Asia. He regularly acts for both publicly-listed and private companies in a wide range of transactions, including acquisitions, disposals and joint ventures, as well as their other corporate transactions and compliance obligations.
Desmond is also the head of the non-contentious practice in the firm’s Employment Practice Group, which has one of the largest team of lawyers in Singapore within a specialised practice grouping arrangement. The Practice is consistently ranked as a top-tier practice by leading legal publications such as The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.
Highly regarded for his strong expertise in the labour and employment field, Desmond has been recognised as a Global Leader by Who’s Who Legal 2023, a Notable Practitioner by Chambers Asia Pacific 2023, a Leading Individual by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2023, a Distinguished Practitioner by Asialaw Profiles 2023, and a Recommended Lawyer in Doyle’s Guide 2022.
Lauded to be “very practical and clear, explaining how best to approach an issue, with guidance on dos and don’ts”, another client also commends Desmond for being “one of the best employment practitioners we have dealt with and a consistent go-to person for employment matters." He has the ability to "derive the crux of the matter sharply and quickly", and "is able to give us clear, quick and practical advice and does not overcomplicate matters”.
Desmond’s specific experience in this area include advising on structuring of employment terms, crafting of employment policies and guidelines, restructuring and retrenchment advice, advising on employee compensation/performance plans and other forms of executive compensation, advising on labour issues arising from mergers and acquisitions, statutory and compliance requirements; amongst others.
Prior to joining Rajah & Tann Singapore in 2000, Desmond started practice as a commercial litigation lawyer in another leading Singapore-based law firm, followed by his appointment as regional group legal counsel of a Hong Kong public-listed corporation with business interests in both public-listed and private corporations throughout Asia. This uniqueness of experience has resulted in Desmond’s appreciation and dealings with issues from very different perspectives.
Desmond graduated from the University of Nottingham in 1994 and is called to the Bar of England and Wales. He is also admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
Desmond's current areas of practice comprise:
- Corporate Restructurings.
- Mergers and Acquisitions (Singapore and cross-border).
- General Corporate and Commercial law.
- Employment and Labour.
Transactions of significance which Desmond has been involved in include acting for:
- Numerous Singapore public-listed corporations as legal counsel, in their corporate transactions (including acquisitions, disposals, share buyback compliance, interested party transactions, continuing listing obligations).
- A Singapore listed entity, in their joint venture and investment into Lao PDR.
- Encompass Digital Media Inc., on a due diligence exercise, and acquisition of the content distribution division of Ascent Media (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., Ascent Media Holdings Ltd. and Ascent Media Pte. Ltd.
- A UK-based group, in the acquisition of assets in the bio-medical industry.
- Sale of Janus Corporate Solutions.
- China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corporation Ltd, in their corporate restructuring exercise.
- Westech Electronics Limited, on a reverse take-over transaction.
- Mori Building Investment Management Co., Ltd, in relation to the joint venture with Guocoland Ltd and Lehman Brothers Investments Pte Ltd.
- Myanmar Growth Fund Ltd, in relation to Divestiture of Investment in Myanmar Integrated Port Services Pte Ltd.
- Pacific King Shipping Holding Pte Ltd, on investment into the company by JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited and Bain Capital Asia LLC.
- Pipeline Micro Holdings, Inc., on investment agreement and shareholders’ agreement.
- Top Marques Pte Ltd, in relation to investment in Aston Martin Lagonda (S.E.A.) Pte Ltd.
- Asiawerks Global Investment Group Pte Ltd, in relation to the acquisition of shares in CMS Dresdner Asset Management Sdn Bhd from Allianz Global Investors Hong Kong Limited.
- Citic Dameng Mining Co., Ltd., in the acquisition of shares in Rainbow Minerals Pte. Ltd. from Assetsphere Investments Limited.
- Hong Kong Econworld Group Limited, in relation to the investment in Fibrechem Technologies Ltd.
- Wing Tai Holdings Limited and Winglow Investment Pte Ltd, in the joint venture with Greatearth Developments Pte Ltd.
- Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, in the restructuring of their Jurong Fishing Port and Senoko Fishing Port.
- Singapore Accountancy Commission, in relation to corporate commercial matters.
Memberships / Directorships
- Barrister-at-law, The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple
- Member, The Bar Council of England and Wales
- Independent Director, Popular Holdings Limited (Chairman of Remuneration Committee, Member of Audit Committee and Nominating Committee until the company was delisted from the Singapore Exchange in May 2015. Subsequent to its delisting, Desmond continues to be an Independent Director of the company as well as its Non-Executive Chairman)
- Independent Director, First Sponsor Group Limited
- Article on the fundamental considerations to consider in when formulating a ‘Mergers and Acquisitions Strategy’, Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited.
- Article on the duties and responsibilities of Employers and Employers in the context of Employment Law in connection with the disasters.
- Employment Law articles (for e.g. on the applicability of gardening leave under Singapore law, law relating to restraint of trade covenants, etc).