Becoming a top legal adviser requires firms to go beyond giving solid legal advice and ensure timely completion of tasks. Asia Business Law Journal names the top firms in the Philippines for 2018. We have identified the best overall law firm as follows
- PICAZO BUYCO TAN FIDER AND SANTOS
- ROMULO MABANTA BUENAVENTURA SAYOC & DE LOS ANGELES
- SYCIP SALAZAR HERNANDEZ & GATMAITAN
Despite the intense competition, AccraLaw had an impressive run in 2018, expanding to 164 lawyers, which made it the biggest firm in the country. AccraLaw has made its mark representing some of Philippine’s largest companies, including San Miguel, PLDT, Procter & Gamble, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation and the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
AccraLaw advised PLDT, the country’s largest telecommunications company, in relation to a petition filed against the PCC with regard to PLDT and Globe Telecom’s acquisition of San Miguel Corp’s telecoms unit. This was a case of first impression in the Philippines, where the courts examined the PCC’s powers and authority to review a deal that complied with its validly issued transitory rules.
BDO Unibank’s US$2 billion medium-term note programme was another notable deal that AccraLaw took on this year. The firm advised the joint lead managers, Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Securities, in connection with US$700 million in senior notes issued by BDO Unibank.
“AccraLaw has provided IP services for San Miguel Corporation and its subsidiaries for many years and we are very happy with their services and expertise,” says Majalla Baun of San Miguel Corporation. “They are always accessible and provide complete and appropriate advice in a timely manner.
“The area of data privacy is a relatively new practice area in the Philippines and Accralaw, through partner John Paul M Gaba, was very proactive in providing us much needed advice and assistance in this area.”
Picazo Buyco Tan Fider and Santos may be best known for their capital markets practice, however it has made significant strides in other practice areas and made quite a name for itself, led by managing partner Alex Erlito Fider and four named partners. The firm is held in high regard by its clients, and also by its peers. Picazo was among the most recommended by other law firms in a number of practice areas, especially capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital, as well as banking and finance, and real estate.
“Picazo is among the top firms that many of the domestic issuers go to because of the quality of their output and advice, relatively quick turnaround, and the dedication of their lawyers,” says Juan Paulo Colet, director & general counsel at China Bank Capital Corporation.
Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles
A highly regarded full-service law firm in the Philippines, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles is one of the go-to firms for both domestic and international clients in the country. They have built a solid reputation across practice areas including M&A, capital markets, private equity and venture funding, and real estate.
“Romulo deserves to be recognized as one of the top law firms [in the Philippines] given the firm’s professionalism, diligence, thoroughness and knowledge of its trade,” says a Philippines-based private equity professional, adding, “I have worked with the firm for three to four years on several engagements, mostly involving legal due diligence and M&A transactions … In some instances, we’ve dealt with difficult and unreasonable counter-parties, and matters could have heated up and gone the wrong way. Romulo remained respectful and stood firm on our stance during these long negotiations, and were willing to act as the ‘bad cop’. As a client, knowing that our legal representation has our best interests and needs at the forefront, I would not hesitate to highly recommend them.”
Manila-based Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan (SyCipLaw) is one of the most recognizable names in the Philippines’ corporate legal market. SyCipLaw has had a wonderful year, having worked on headline-grabbing deals such as Singaporean taxing hailing app Grab’s acquisition of US peer Uber’s Southeast Asian business in a deal worth approximately US$1.6 billion.
The firm also worked on the largest ever renewable sector deal, Global Infrastructures Partners’ (GIP) US$5 billion acquisition of Singapore’s Equis. SyCipLaw was also the adviser to Union Bank of the Philippines’ rights offering of up to 200 million common shares with an offer size of PHP10 billion (US$190 million).
The Grab-Uber deal, the largest deal of its kind in Southeast Asia, was a landmark case from a competition and antitrust perspective as it was the only transaction subjected to a motu proprio review (a case taken for review without notifications from either of the parties) by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). SyCipLaw in co-ordination with Grab developed voluntary commitments that the PCC accepted through the issuance of its commitment decision.
SyCipLaw also worked in what might well be the only successful Philippines initial public offering of the year – property developer DM Wenceslao’s US$154 million offering in June 2018.
See other top law firms in other categories:
- Law Firm of the Year
- Best New Law firm
- Best Overall Law Firms
- Banking & Finance
- Capital Market
- Competition & Antitrust
- Corporate & Commercial
- Dispute Resolution
- Labour & Employment
- Energy, Projects & Infrastructure
- Insurance & Reinsurance
- IP Enforcement
- IP Protection
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Private Equity & Venture Capital
- Real Estate
- Restructuring, Refinancing & Insolvency
- Shipping & Maritime
- Structured Finance & Securitization
- Technology, Media & Telecoms
THE JUDGING PROCESS
The winners of Asia Business Law Journal’s Philippines Law Firm Awards were selected based on votes, references and qualitative information received from in-house counsel and other legal professionals in the Philippines and around the world.
A voting form was posted on our website and thousands of in-house counsel, lawyers at international law firms and other Philippines-focused professionals were invited to vote. At the same time, Philippine law firms were asked to make submissions in support of their candidacy for awards. These submissions, combined with research by Asia Business Law Journal’s editorial team, played a supporting role in the judging process.
All Philippines law firms were automatically eligible for inclusion in the awards process. As always, there were no entry fees or any other requirements for entry. Read the full list of The Philippines Law Firm Awards 2018 here