The Legal 500 - Asia Pacific (2018)
Antitrust and Competition - Tier 1
Banking and Finance - Tier 2
Capital Markets - Tier 2
Construction - Tier 1
Corporate and M&A - Tier 2
Dispute Resolution - Tier 1
Financial Services Regulatory - Tier 1
Intellectual Property - Tier 2
International Arbitration - Tier 2
Investment Funds - Tier 2
Labour and Employment - Tier 1
Private Wealth - Tier 1
Projects and Energy - Tier 1
Real Estate - Tier 2
Regional International Arbitration - Tier 4
Restructuring and Insolvency - Tier 1
Shipping - Tier 1
Tax - Tier 2
TMT - Tier 1
Andre Yeap, SC - Dispute Resolution, International Arbitration
Angela Lim - Banking and Finance
Arnold Tan - Investment Funds
Chia Kim Huat - Capital Markets
Desmond Wee - Labour and Employment
Francis Xavier, SC, PBM - Dispute Resolution, International Arbitration
K. Muralidharan Pillai - Labour and Employment*
Kala Anandarajah, PBM - Antitrust and Competition
Lau Kok Keng - Intellectual Property
Lee Eng Beng, SC - Restructuring and Insolvency
Leong Kah Wah - Shipping
Norman Ho - Real Estate
Patrick Ang - Restructuring and Insolvency
Paul Tan - International Arbitration*
Rajesh Sreenivasan - TMT
Sandy Foo - Banking and Finance
Steve Tan - TMT
Toh Kian Sing, SC - Shipping
Vikna Rajah - Private Wealth, Tax
Next Generation Lawyers:
Chor Zhi Chao - Banking and Finance
Benjamin Liew - Financial services regulatory
Antitrust and Competition
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s clients span telecommunications, media and energy, with merger control a strong focus for the practice. Kala Anandrarajah is assisting a food manufacturer in a cartel investigation, advised Network for Electronic Transfers on compliance matters pertaining to its S$38m acquisition of Banking Computer Services and BCS Information Systems, and acted for Ley Choon Constructions and Engineering on the competition aspects of a real estate transaction. The team is also defending Cyclect against allegations of bid-rigging in the procurement process for the provision of electrical services for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix between 2015 and 2017.
Banking and Finance
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP has a fast-growing practice founded on a solid base of acquisition finance and syndicated loans; it is also a growing presence in real estate finance and pre-payment facilities. Moreover, the firm is at the forefront of fintech in the region and is widely recognised for its restructuring expertise. While having a large team of Singapore law practitioners, many within the department are also English qualified and have worked at international law firms. As a consequence, the department has a range of local, regional and European banking clients and is routinely engaged in cross-border acquisition financings; in this regard, the firm’s strong physical presence across South-East Asia is a key factor. Clients include CIMB Bank, UOB, OCBC, DBS Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered and HSBC; it advised DBS and UOB on the renewal of an asset-backed securitisation programme orginated by Diners Club (Singapore). Angela Lim heads the practice, which includes Regina Liew, trade finance expert Terence Choo, acquisition finance specialist Nicholas How and Lee Weilin in REIT financing. Norman Ho, a recent hire from Dentons Rodyk, provides further real estate finance expertise and Sandy Foo, a hire from Drew & Napier LLC, adds to the firm’s corporate finance capabilities.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP has a high market share of mainboard IPOs on SGX and a healthy practice in Catalist listings. The firm has an impressive client base of local and regional issuers and underwriters, as well as an extensive number of Chinese clients that have listed or are looking to list in Singapore; it advised China Jinjiang Environment Holding on its S$1.08bn IPO and listing on SGX. Moreover, the firm has worked on a significant number of Hong Kong listings by Singapore issuers. On the debt side, the firm impresses in derivatives and structured products; it advised DBS Bank and UOB on the renewal of a securitisation programme originated by Diners Club (Singapore). Other clients include Gallant Venture, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Japfa, KMP Private, United Overseas Bank, Fortis Healthcare Group, China Minzhong Food Corporation, CIMB Bank, Genting Singapore and OUE. Danny Lim ‘engages with clients very well’. Chia Kim Huat, Evelyn Wee and Lawrence Tan are also recommended.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s ‘dependable’ team includes the ‘respectful, responsive and knowledgeable’ Ng Kim Beng, who is ‘adept at handling all types of queries’. International arbitration specialist Andre Yeap SC and projects expert Soh Lip San head the practice, which counts TRX City, Obayashi Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Siemens AG and 3M among its clients. The team provides a full-service offering, advising on high-value infrastructure projects, oil and gas developments and public private partnerships as well as complex litigation and arbitration proceedings. Shemane Chan is assisting Ikano with the contractual matters pertaining to the construction of a shopping centre in Malaysia and advising a developer on a mixed-use hotel complex in the Mariana Islands. Sim Chee Siong is recommended.
Corporate and M&A
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s commitment to South-East Asia and strong regional coverage has made it especially prominent in public M&A. The team acts for a strong client base of business tycoons, family-owned businesses and a number of Japanese and Chinese corporates; it has a Japanese bengoshi and a number of Chinese speakers in the Singapore team. The firm has experienced growth in technology and real estate deals and in distressed transactions in the oil and gas sector. A team led by head of the M&A practice Lawrence Tan advised Marvellous Glory Holdings on its S$786m takeover of Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX)-listed China Minzhong Food Corporation; the firm developed a new approach for an acquirer to privatise the target and meet the 90% share threshold required by Singapore regulations. In other work, the firm advised Shanghai-listed Sinochem International on the S$847m merger of its subsidiary GMG Global and Halcyon Agri Corporation, both of which are listed on SGX. Danny Lim is another key member of the team, and the hire of ‘very commercial’ and ‘very technically sound’ Sandy Foo from Drew & Napier LLC adds to the firm’s market standing.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP is at the forefront of cross-border disputes and has appeared in a high proportion of cases before the SICC. It has a sizeable group of ‘fantastic senior counsels’, who are supported by a large and high-quality team that provides ‘incisive, succinct and appropriate’ advice, and is able to ‘craft and articulate excellent rebuttals’. It acts for a number of regional and multinational companies, including a multitude of financial institution clients, and regularly impresses in insolvency, restructuring and shipping disputes. Francis Xavier SC has a ‘strong legal mind’ and ‘a good rapport with the bench’; Andre Yeap SC has extensive securities litigation expertise and is big name in international arbitration; and Tan Chuan Thye SC is adept at dealing with ‘difficult questions’. ‘Formidable litigator’ Lai Yew Fei is praised for his cross-examination skills and ‘sharp business acumen’, and deputy managing partner Patrick Ang and Lee Eng Beng SC are also recommended.
Financial Services Regulatory
In addition to established financial institutions and banks such as Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and BNP Paribas, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s group acts for fintech start-ups, private equity funds and technology companies. The team frequently receives instructions on matters with a cross-border element; recent highlights include assisting a major private bank with its international business in South East Asia and advising a foreign bank on regulatory aspects of its new business venture. It also acted for the liquidators of BSI Bank Singapore in investigations into alleged money laundering and dissipation of assets purportedly belonging to a Malaysian state-owned company. Larry Lim is ‘analytical’ and ‘cuts directly to the core of any issue to apply a forward-thinking and commercial solution’. Danny Ong specialises in investigations and contentious regulatory matters in the financial services sector, including those arising from fraud and restructurings. Regina Liew is also recommended.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s team handles contentious and non-contentious matters, ranging from patent infringement and passing-off disputes to licensing and portfolio management issues, for blue-chip companies. Practice head Lau Kok Keng is assisting Singapore Pools with enforcement actions against cybersquatters and illegal operators of websites registered under similar domains and containing misleading or infringing content. The group is also advising Philip Morris Singapore on the implication of plain packaging legislation on the company’s intellectual property rights and is defending Sunseap Leasing against a pre-action discovery application filed by a competitor. Other recent work includes acting for Fuji Transport in patent infringement proceedings filed by a German ship equipment company relating to a coupling device for securing shipping containers on board ships. Nicholas Lauw is also recommended.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s breadth of practice ranges from investor-state disputes to major infrastructure cases. Clients include the Republic of the Philippines, Kingdom of Lesotho, Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production, GD Media and China New Machine Company. The firm represented the Republic of Philippines in arbitration proceedings before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in a dispute over claims of breach of contract relating to income taxes brought by Chevron and Shell. It also acted for the Philippines in proceedings before the Permanent Court of Arbitration over claims brought by Maynilad Water Services, a domestic water and public utilities company. Paul Tan is an ‘absolute star’ and a ‘senior counsel in waiting’, whose status has ascended for him to be ‘known outside Asia as a first-rate lawyer’ in investor-state disputes right through to construction cases. Francis Xavier SC and Andre Yeap SC are also recommended.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP has a big presence in alternative funds and is widely recognised for its regulatory expertise. It advises a range of private equity, venture capital and family-office funds, with clients ranging from big-name buyout funds to start-ups. Clients include New Silk Road Investment, Unison Capital Management, RV Capital Management, Nuvest Capital, Havenport Asset Management and Mizuho Asia Partners. The large team is headed by Arnold Tan, who is ‘a true funds specialist’, and ‘a big name in the market’ with an ‘ability to see operational as well as theoretical issues’. Lu Yueh Leong provides ‘succinct, commercial and timely advice’ and is recommended for regulatory work, while Anne Yeo is another vastly experienced practitioner.
Labour and Employment
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s group is renowned for its specialism in large-scale contentious work; Jonathan Yuen acted for the former president of CarVal in litigation regarding the entitlement to performance-based compensation, and Danny Ong is assisting WorldQuant with proceedings against two former employees and their new employers pertaining to claims of misuse of confidential information, trade secret misappropriation and further contractual breaches. The ‘extremely versatile and commercially astute’ K Muralidharan Pillai ‘provides clear, succinct and on-point advice’. On the non-contentious front, Desmond Wee advised CMS on the employment aspects of its merger with Nabarro and Olswang.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP fields a ‘competent and responsive team’ that includes the ‘very intelligent’ Vikna Rajah, who combines ‘very deep technical expertise with acute commercial acumen’, while ‘carefully listening to his clients and putting himself in their shoes’. The group acts for high-net-worth individuals and business owners on integrated tax, trusts and estate planning, charitable giving, business succession planning and related immigration matters. Other clients include trust companies, private banks, institutional fiduciary service providers and charities are also clients.
Projects and Energy
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP has deep regional penetration thanks to its commitment to South-East Asia and offices in key jurisdictions. It has experienced notable growth in Indonesia and Vietnam in matters involving power, water and rail projects. While contentious work dominates, the firm has genuine credibility in front-end work, enabling it to work more frequently with multilateral agency lenders and private sector investors. Clients include TRX City, Energy Market Company, Panca Amara Utama, Government of Myanmar and T-Systems. It acted for 1MDB in its joint venture with Lend Lease on the development of the Lifestyle Quarter in the Tun Razak Exchange district in Kuala Lumpur. Soh Lip San heads the construction and projects practice, and Andre Yeap SC has a pivotal role on the contentious side. Larry Lim, Shemane Chan and Kim Beng Ng are also names to note.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s corporate real estate group handles investments, project financing, sale and leaseback transactions, joint venture arrangements and real estate securitisation as well as conveyancing matters across residential, industrial and commercial property. Its clients range from owners and receivers to developers and mortgagees. Margaret Chin and Elsa Chai head the practice. Lee Lay See was part of a team advising a boutique developer on the S$241m acquisition and financing of an executive condominium land parcel, while Lina Chua supported Chin in acting for Selangor Dredging on the S$47m acquisition of land for the residential housing development project. Norman Ho, who joined from Dentons Rodyk, has an ‘outstanding understanding of the market as well as strong commercial judgement and management skills’.
Regional International Arbitration
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP fields an arbitration team that is well versed in acting on the full range of cross-border disputes. Department head Andre Yeap and Paul Tan are regularly instructed by governments on investment treaty claims; in one example, they are representing the Republic of the Philippines in a claim brought by Chevron and Shell centring on the companies’ liability to pay income taxes due to the government. Tan is also active in the construction space and represented a major Chinese construction company in proceedings to set aside a final award granted in relation to the construction of a power plant in Guatemala. The practice also has capability in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.
Restructuring and Insolvency
Judicial managers, insolvency professionals and creditors instruct Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s team on matters arising from large-scale restructurings and insolvency proceedings. Lee Eng Beng SC advised Maybank on the moratorium application filed by Pacific Andes Resources Development and its three subsidiaries. Patrick Ang is leading a team, which includes Wilson Zhu, Sim Kwan Kiat and Quek Teck Liang, providing ongoing advice to the joint and several judicial managers of Swiber Holdings and Swiber Offshore Construction. The group is also assisting the judicial managers of Swissco. Mark Cheng and Danny Ong are also recommended.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP houses a ‘highly knowledgeable team of professionals with top maritime expertise, who are very sharp in advising and aggressive in litigation’. The firm’s non-contentious expertise was further enhanced by the acquisition of TSMP Law Corporation’s team led by Chua Choon King. Restructurings and insolvencies continue to form a large part of the practice, along with casualties and collision disputes. ‘Master strategist’ Toh Kian Sing SC is leading a team acting for PSA Corporation and other creditors and shipowners in matters arising from Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy and moratorium application. Winston Kwek is assisting the judicial managers of Swiber Offshore Construction. John Seow is a ‘skilled litigator with strong tactical skills’ who ‘takes the job to heart, works with passion and knows no rest in attending to clients’ requirements’. Kendall Tan is ‘always cautious, thorough and good with complex issues’ while ‘forcing opponents to get to the nub of the issues’. Ian Teo is another name to note. Winston Wong joined Gunvor.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP is a growing presence in the tax market, particularly with regards to tax litigation. The team provides an ‘unparalleled service’ and ‘deep and technical knowledge’, and advises a range of multinationals, government-linked companies, Big Four accountancy firms and financial institutions. It is routinely engaged in ‘complex and demanding’ tax disputes such as representing multinationals in cases against the IRAS. It also deserves recognition for its emerging tax planning and advisory practice. Clients praise the ‘fast turnaround times’ and the team’s ability to identify ‘commercial considerations as a priority’ and ‘invest in long-term relationships’. Department head Vikna Rajah is ‘very professional and able to decipher key concerns and protect clients’ values’; he ‘blends technical expertise with commercial acumen’, ‘knows how to put himself in the client’s position’ and benefits from his background at the IRAS.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s ‘top-tier’ practice includes Benjamin Cheong, who is ‘one of the brightest minds’ and is praised for his ‘valuable insight and experience’. ‘Commercially savvy and responsive’ practice deputy head Steve Tan attracts praise for his ‘wealth of knowledge and experience, tailored in line with the client’s business objectives’. The group tackles traditional as well as emerging areas of work in the sector, and acts on matters ranging from data privacy to e-commerce, entertainment, fintech and data analytics. Practice head Rajesh Sreenivasan is part of a team advising Avbaloq Sourcing Asia Pacific on the launch of its new business process outsourcing centre and, together with Lionel Tan, assisted Ascendas-Singbridge with data protection and other issues pertaining to setting up an online vendor. Tanya Tang is also recommended. Jocelyn Chan left private practice.