China Business Law Journal’s editorial team reveals the law firms that shone in the past year

China’s legal market flourished in 2019, but as always there were many challenges that required complex and innovative legal solutions. In this dynamic environment, China Business Law Journal’s editorial team was once again tasked with selecting the winners of the China Business Law Awards. Our decisions are based on thousands of votes and recommendations received from in-house counsel, other senior corporate executives and legal professionals from around the world, as well as hundreds of submissions from Chinese and international law firms.

To determine the winning firms, we carefully evaluated each firm’s landmark deals, cases and other notable achievements in the past year, in conjunction with the recommendations and comments we received.

The number of nominations and recommendations received this year reached a record high, indicating that corporate counsel are paying more attention to the quality of external legal services. At the same time, fierce competition in the market is giving rise to heightened demand for all-around, comprehensive and diverse feedback on the quality of service provided by Chinese and international law firms.

The feedback of corporate counsel and business personnel at home and abroad reflects not only the unremitting efforts of Chinese and foreign law firms to serve their clients, but also their innovative thinking with regard to how they provide legal services.

While many large full-service law firms are building on their foundations and actively expanding, the demand for diversified, refined and specialized legal services from different enterprises has also spawned more boutique firms focusing on specific areas of practice.

We launched the “Golden League” award this year to reflect the market situation, and to encourage the firms on the list, and their peers, to improve their overall quality and level of service. The “Golden League” comprises eight elite full-service Chinese law firms with all-round capabilities and nationwide reach. These firms, in the past three decades, have grown into “aircraft carriers”, becoming a presence that cannot be ignored in China or around the globe.

There are also regional domestic law firms that have recorded enviable growth. The country’s strategic development policies for different regions, the establishment of circuit courts in various places, and the mixed ownership reform of state-owned enterprises have all given different local and private enterprises more opportunities for growth. The leading local law firms in these regions have quickly adapted and started participating in the nationwide legal market with regional resources at hand.

The growth of regional law firms now offers a more diversified choice for corporate counsel. To recognize this emerging market reality, we have decided to expand our regional coverage and added new cities and regions to our “Best Overall Law Firms” category. The newly added regions include the Greater Bay Area, Ningbo, Tianjin and Northeastern China.

Cross-border investment and operations of enterprises were severely tested last year due to the complex business climate, and international law firms have played a vital role in multi-jurisdictional and complex transactions. To recognize the efforts of these firms we have introduced “Best International Law Firms” and “Best Offshore Law Firms” this year.

What’s past is prologue. Since the restoration of the Chinese lawyer system in 1979, many law firms have now ushered in their second or third decade of development. Will they be able to preserve their places at the top of the pyramid well into this century, or will some regional law firms that are going national tip the balance? China Business Law Journal will keep you up to speed with market developments as the journey of these firms’ continues.

Although detailing the achievements of every single winner is not possible, it is necessary to point out that each winning firm in each category carries the same weight and has earned the plaudits. Well done and congratulations to all our winners!

GOLDEN LEAGUE


GOLDEN LEAGUE (Nationwide elite law firms)
AllBright Law Offices
Fangda Partners
Guantao Law Firm
Jingtian & Gongcheng
JunHe
King & Wood Mallesons
Tian Yuan Law Firm
Zhong Lun Law Firm

The winners of “Golden League”, our most prestigious award for Chinese law firms, are (in alphabetical order): AllBright Law Offices, Fangda Partners, Guantao Law Firm, Jingtian & Gongcheng, JunHe, King & Wood Mallesons, Tian Yuan Law Firm, and Zhong Lun Law Firm.

In 2019, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) embraced the quickly changing environments and adapted itself to national strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). KWM was involved in the four-year-long Pakistan Matiari-Lahore high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project, which is Pakistan’s first HVDC transmission line.

Later, in March last year, KWM established the KWM Belt & Road Centre for International Co-operation and Facilitation. Apart from Pakistan, its service also reaches out to Turkey, Ukraine and other parts of the world.

KWM also advised on some benchmark deals and cases, with some of them being the first of their kind in the market, including Alibaba’s Hong Kong listing, Huatai Securities using Shanghai-London Stock Connect as the first issuer, and Ant Financial’s obtaining of the first pre-litigation act preservation order from Hangzhou Internet Court.

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) remains a major KWM focus. In May 2019, Shenzhen Investment Holdings completed its offering of special corporate bonds in relation to the construction of the GBA on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, with an offering size of RMB1 billion (US$ 144.5 million). The project marks the official launch of the first GBA corporate bond, on which KWM advised the company.

In China’s busy and fiercely competitive legal sector, talent retention has been on top of the law firms’ agenda. KWM published the Young Legal Talent Development Programme last year for top LLB graduates who are directly pursuing careers in the legal profession.

As a pioneer in law firm internationalization, KWM China has set up nine offices across Europe and the Middle East (EUME), the US and Japan, managed by KWM China as one firm.

In 2019, JunHe celebrated its 30th anniversary. The firm opened a branch office in Hangzhou last year, strengthening its development in the Yangtze River Delta region. In terms of partner hires, JunHe has added Lin Li, a consultant focusing on infrastructure construction and overseas investment and financing, and Phyllis Xu and Ye Yurong, partners in the capital market and M&A financing areas.

In overseas capital markets, JunHe assisted Viva Biotech, Pujiang International Group, China East Education Holdings and many other companies to list in Hong Kong. Among them, Viva Biotech’s public offering was oversubscribed by about 106.92 times, making the company one of the most popular biopharmaceutical companies on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In domestic M&A, JunHe assisted Harbin Pharmaceutical Group to implement its mixed-ownership reform and commence a tender offer for its two A-share listed subsidiaries. JunHe also represented AXA, providing services for the acquisition of the remaining 50% stake of AXA Tianping Property & Casualty Insurance Company, and making AXA the largest wholly foreign-owned property insurance company in China.

Tian Yuan Law Firm was involved in a number of deals that impacted the market in 2019. In overseas capital markets, Tian Yuan provided Hong Kong listings services for biopharmaceutical companies such as Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group, Jinxin Fertility, and CanSino Biologics, as well as educational companies such as Koolearn Technology. Among them, Hansoh Pharmaceutical’s listing was the largest pharmaceutical IPO in Hong Kong, and Koolearn was the first mainland education company listed in Hong Kong.

Tian Yuan’s competition and antitrust business continues to grow, led by partner Huang Wei. The cases represented by the Tian Yuan team included the anti-monopoly investigation to South Korean SK Hynix DRAM (Dynamic random-access memory) chip, and the anti-monopoly investigation into China Mobile. A legal counsel of a multinational company says that Huang Wei and his team “provided practical plans, highly meticulous and conscientious work. They can address the concerns of business personnel particularly well; a team with such excellent performance is rarely seen and always reassures clients.”

In terms of firm development, Tian Yuan opened a Xi’an branch last year to better serve the needs of clients in Shaanxi province and the rest of western China. Tian Yuan says there were more than 10 partner hires and internal equity partner promotions, and more than 80 associates hires in the firm, with a total revenue increase of more than 30% last year.

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Guantao Law Firm, which opened offices in Fuzhou and Zhengzhou during the year. Last year the law firm added 47 partners, and there are now more than 200 partners in total.

In the construction and infrastructure sector, the projects that Guantao participated in included the Liaoning Lianjiaba 300MW photovoltaic grid-connected power generation project, and the Heilongjiang Binxian 50MW wind power generation project, with project amounts exceeding RMB1 billion.

An energy company’s legal counsel was impressed with the M&A services provided by the firm: “[Guantao] discovered the lack of preliminary procedures in the M&A project on time, and proposed effective solutions by designing transaction documents. The final design of the transaction not only prevented and controlled risks to the greatest extent, but also promoted the smooth development of the project.”

In the field of sports, Guantao has been shortlisted for the “Legal Counsel for 2019-2022” sponsored by the Olympic Games Preparation Office of the Chinese Olympic Committee. In media and entertainment, Guantao served CMGE Technology Group Limited in its listing in Hong Kong. Guantao says the shareholder structure of CMGE is diversified and subject to different regulations. The restructure of the listing needed to meet the shareholders’ demands from all parties, consider the tax impact, and comply with the regulatory requirements and listing rules of each jurisdiction.

BEST INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRMS


BEST INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRMS
Baker McKenzie FenXun
Clifford Chance
Davis Polk
Freshfields
Herbert Smith Freehills
Hogan Lovells
Linklaters
Skadden

The winners of “Best International Law Firms” are (in alphabetical order): Baker McKenzie FenXun, Clifford Chance, Davis Polk, Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, and Skadden.

Baker McKenzie FenXun continues to provide on-the-ground services in China through its joint operation. In the capital markets sector, the firm operates a leading Hong Kong and US Securities and capital markets practice that covers Hong Kong, mainland China and the Asia-Pacific region. It advised China Merchants Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust with properties located in the GBA in China in its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which is the first authorization application of a REIT under the sponsors’ regime adopted by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, according to the firm.

In IP, the firm received recognition from several multinational companies. “The [Baker McKenzie FenXun] team helps with our IP work with a one-stop service in China, from strategizing and maintaining the IP portfolio to enforcing IP rights against counterfeiters,” says Ying Yihong, director and corporate counsel of intellectual property at Starbucks Coffee Company. “[The firm] assists taking down online infringers by different means and IP rights to support the offline operation, of which the result is well received by the business.”

Dominique Amans, director of business development at GSK is “extremely pleased” with the services of Baker McKenzie FenXun. “I have worked with them twice in the past three years, in the context of the divestment of two legal entities including the sale of manufacturing sites to Chinese pharmaceutical companies,” says Amans. “The work delivered was to the highest possible standard, consistently.”

Clifford Chance advised on several notable deals involving China, including the auto giants merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot (Groupe PSA), in which Clifford Chance advised Dongfeng Motor Group, a reference shareholder of Groupe PSA. It also advised on China Railway Signal & Communication’s (CRSC) A-share listing on the Star Market.

CRSC is the first Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) Star-listed company both in mainland China and Hong Kong. Clifford Chance continues to assist companies in Hong Kong IPOs, including Hansoh Pharmaceutical, IDreamSky Technology, and Ascentage Pharma.

Skadden is one of the go-to firms for many companies in China, and around the world. In M&A, it was involved in Amgen’s acquisition of a 20.5% stake in BeiGene, a Chinese biotech firm, for US$2.7 billion. Its client base includes Chinese technology company Meitu, Chinese live streaming social media platform YY and Chinese e-commerce giant JD.

Skadden also advised Xiaomi Corporation on its US$2.6 million cornerstone investment in Maoyan Entertainment, a Chinese company providing online movie ticketing services.

Linklaters formed a Shanghai Free Trade Zone joint operation with Zhao Sheng Law Firm in 2018, enhancing its China practice. Last year, its local partner firm, Zhao Sheng, opened a Beijing branch, which showcases the firm’s continued growth in China.

Linklaters advised on Suning’s acquisition of Carrefour China, Huatai Securities’ listing in London via Shanghai-London Stock Connect, and the People’s Bank of China’s renminbi bill issuances in Hong Kong.

BEST OFFSHORE LAW FIRMS


BEST OFFSHORE LAW FIRMS
Conyers Dill & Pearman
Harneys
Maples Group

The winners of “Best Offshore Law Firms” are (in alphabetical order): Conyers Dill & Pearman, Harneys, and Maples Group.

Conyers Dill & Pearman advises clients and onshore lawyers on the laws of Bermuda, BVI and the Cayman Islands. Its Hong Kong office regularly advises on establishing offshore trusts for clients in China and East Asia, for commercial and private wealth structuring management purposes. Clients include high net worth business owners, investors, entrepreneurs and charitable entities.

In field of restructuring, Conyers Dill & Pearman acted as Bermuda counsel to the global restructuring of Noble Group, a Hong Kong-based commodity trader. It also advised National Arts Entertainment and Culture Group, a Hong Kong-based investment holding company engaged in hotel and film-related businesses, on its debt restructuring.

In the insurance sector, the firm advised Tongchuang Jiuding Investment Management, also known as JD Capital, on its sale of FTLife to New World Development Group. It is the biggest insurance deal to be completed in Hong Kong to date.

Harneys, and its Asia practice in particular, maintained steady growth in 2019. As the first offshore firm to provide offshore legal services on the ground in China, its Shanghai office is comprised of nine lawyers, and it has continued to recruit Chinese-speaking partners and associates to complement and enhance its Chinese-language offering.

It may have rebranded in January 2019, but Maples Group still provides clients with comprehensive services on laws of the BVI, Cayman Islands, Ireland, Jersey and Luxembourg. The Asia team consists of more than 150 staff based in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

Maples Group advised on several notable deals last year including Alibaba Group’s Hong Kong IPO, Tencent Music’s US listing, and New Frontier Corporation’s acquisition of United Family Healthcare.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (BEIJING)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (BEIJING)
Commerce & Finance Law Offices
DeHeng Law Offices
East & Concord Partners
Global Law Office
Han Kun Law Offices

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Beijing)” are (in alphabetical order): Commerce & Finance Law Offices, DeHeng Law Offices, East & Concord Partners, Global Law Office, and Han Kun Law Offices.

DeHeng Law Offices, a Beijing-based firm, undertook projects including: China Three Gorges Corporation’s (CTG) issue of green exchangeable bonds worth RMB20 billion; the second plant of SK Hynix’s construction of a US$3.5 billion syndicated loan project; and China Development Bank’s financing for China Merchants Port’s stake in Sri Lankan ports.

In terms of domestic capital markets, according to DeHeng, the firm provided A-share and Star Market listing services for 41 companies last year. In employment and labour law, the firm served clients including China Merchants Bank’s Beijing branch, China Mobile, Munich Reinsurance Company’s Beijing branch, and Volkswagen Finance. In the bankruptcy and reorganization sector, DeHeng provided services for China Minsheng Investment Group’s debt restructuring and Lifan Group’s restructuring.

Global Law Office (GLO) added seven partners to enhance its service capability in areas such as investment funds, PE/VC and M&A, all of whom are based in Beijing. In the healthcare, pharma and life sciences sectors, GLO enhanced its influence on legislation and links to industrial associations.

An executive of a biopharma company says he was “very satisfied” with the compliance services provided by GLO. “The GLO team fully understands our compliance policies and legal requirements in terms of compliance, and can provide efficient, high-quality and professional legal advice, which effectively reduces the relevant legal compliance risks for our company.”

East & Concord Partners further enhanced integration within the firm last year, and opened a Chengdu office to strengthen the service quality of the firm in western China. In international trade, in January 2019, the European Commission made a final ruling on anti-dumping and countervailing subsidies for electric bicycles originating in China.

A Chinese electric bicycle company, represented by East & Concord’s partner Vivian Wang and her team, received minimum tax on dumping and subsidies. According to East & Concord, the investigation involved €400 million (US$428.7 million), which is one of the largest trade remedy cases initiated by the EU to date.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (SHANGHAI)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (SHANGHAI)
Boss & Young Attorneys at Law
Dentons
Grandall Law Firm
Jin Mao Law Firm
Llinks Law Offices

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Shanghai)” are (in alphabetical order): Boss & Young Attorneys at Law, Dentons, Grandall Law Firm, Jin Mao Law Firm, and Llinks Law Offices.

Llinks Law Offices participated in several representative transactions in the market last year, including SenseTime’s C++ and C-prime rounds of financing, and HYC Technology listing as the first company on the Star Market. Zhang Jiarong, a partner at Summitview Capital, says: “[Llinks] has a very high degree of legal expertise and rich practical experience in private equity and venture capital. At the same time, they always think from the perspective of clients, and respond quickly.”

Llinks also participated in dozens of debt-to-equity swap projects. Among the five major state-owned banks in China’s debt-to-equity implementation agencies, and the five largest banks’ debt-to-equity asset investment companies (AICs), Llinks served as legal counsel to three of them. They are ICBC Financial Asset Investment, CCB Financial Asset Investment, and ABC Financial Asset Investment.

In the real estate sector, Llinks’ services cover all stages of co-operative development, operation management, M&A, project restructuring, financing and listing, asset securitization and dispute resolution. Projects included CapitaLand’s acquisition of Shanghai Pufa Tower for RMB2.75 billion, and Ping An Real Estate’s co-operation with Harrow International in Harrow Innovation Leadership Academies in Nanning, Guangxi.

Grandall Law Firm continued to maintain its dominant position in the domestic capital market last year. The deals it participated in include CGN Power’s A-share IPO, and the “stake+ business” co-operation between Juneyao Group and China Eastern Air Holding. According to Grandall, as of mid-December last year, the firm had assisted 24 companies to list on the Star Market, including “unicorn in the chip industry”, Montage Technology.

In domestic M&A, Grandall participated in the sale of IDC’s (Internet Data Centre) business by GEM-listed company Wangsu Science & Technology to Bain Capital, involving a transaction amount of about RMB2.29 billion. The firm served as the legal adviser to the seller, Wangsu Science & Technology.

Grandall also represented Shanghai Oriental Pearl Media in its acquisition of a 2% stake in Oriental Cable Network, which was valued at RMB100 million.

Last year, Dentons represented Tianlong Group in its dispute over a joint venture and joint development of a real estate contract with Shun Hing (China). The principal involved in this case was RMB380 million, and the case went through the first instance of the Shanghai High People’s Court and the second instance of the Supreme People’s Court. With the efforts of Chen Feng, senior partner of Dentons, and his team, the client won the lawsuit.

In the aviation sector, Dentons serves clients including AVIC International Leasing, Minsheng Financial Leasing, Qingdao Airlines, and SPDB Financial Leasing.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (GREATER BAY AREA)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (GREATER BAY AREA)
China Commercial Law Firm
ETR Law Firm
Guanghe Law Firm
PW & Partners
Wang Jing & Co

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Greater Bay Area)” are (in alphabetical order): China Commercial Law Firm, ETR Law Firm, Guanghe Law Firm, PW & Partners, and Wang Jing & Co.

Guangzhou-based PW & Partners specializes in foreign-related legal services, especially in terms of labour laws. PW & Partners clients include Jabil Circuit, Mars Wrigley, the Kraft Heinz Company, Guangdong Zhongsheng, Mead Johnson, Suning Commerce Group, Revenco Conglomerate, Guangzhou Shipyard International Company, Utili Auto Parts, Dongyun Plate Making Group, and Dongguan Water Investment Group.

In a significant development at the firm, German lawyer Lutz Kaiser joined PW & Partners last year as a foreign expert consultant, further strengthening the firm’s foreign legal services. The firm has more than 20 practising lawyers, including four foreign expert consultants.

ETR Law Firm, another firm headquartered in Guangzhou, opened a new Beijing branch, two branches in Guangdong and Hainan provinces, and overseas offices in Sydney, Australia, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia last year. According to the firm, there were 22 new partner hires and nine internal partner promotions last year.

Wang Jing & Co, based in Guangzhou, specializes in maritime and shipping. Last year, it handled several influential cases in the industry, including the jurisdiction dispute between Changhong Group (HK), Bright Shipping, and National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) over the liability for collision damage, a case that attracted the attention of both the international shipping and legal communities.

This case involved the first collision and combustion accident of tanker-loaded condensate in the world, which has considerable domestic and international impact. Wang Jing & Co acted for the plaintiff Changhong Group, and chose to file a lawsuit in China. In the end, Shanghai Maritime Court and Shanghai High People’s Court rejected the jurisdictional objection raised by NITC.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (HANGZHOU)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (HANGZHOU)
Capital Equity Legal Group
L&H Law Firm
T&C Law Firm
Zeda Law Firm
Zhong Lun Law Firm

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Hangzhou)” are (in alphabetical order): Capital Equity Legal Group, L&H Law Firm, T&C Law Firm, Zeda Law Firm, and Zhong Lun Law Firm.

While maintaining its business advantages in Hangzhou and Zhejiang province last year, T&C Law Firm also opened a Shenzhen office, extending its service capabilities to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau GBA. The Shenzhen office, together with Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Ningbo offices, has built a service network for the firm.

T&C last year assisted many companies in the capital market to listed on the SSE Star Market and Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The firm’s clients include companies in the Yangtze River Delta region such as Arcvideo Tech, MedSphere International and China ZheShang Bank. In the field of M&A, T&C provided services for the acquisition of Zhongce Rubber Group, a leading tyre manufacturing company, by Great Star Industrial and Hangcha Group, for RMB5.8 billion.

According to T&C, this transaction involved three listed companies acquiring the same target at the same time, with all three companies constituting a major asset reorganization. The regulators involved were Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange, making it a rare case in China.

In November 2019, during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China, two large-scale Chinese and French energy companies, Tianneng Group and Saft Group, a subsidiary of Total, formally signed a co-operation agreement at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and jointly established a JV in Zhejiang. T&C provided legal services to Tianneng Group in the deal.

Capital Equity Legal Group (CELG) is headquartered in Hangzhou and has seven member firms in Shanghai, Ningbo and other places in China, along with an overseas branch in Vancouver. The clients of CELG include Zhejiang Energy Group, Zhejiang Satellite TV, CPMC Holdings, Pfizer and other large and medium-sized enterprises at home and abroad.

In the field of patents, CELG has represented a well-known domestic balancing car company in a case involving a person surnamed Chen’s infringement of the invention patent right. Recently, the case ended with the plaintiff Chen’s withdrawal of the lawsuit. CELG says that the patent involved functionally limited features, and the combination of software and hardware in the balancing control system of the car, which was relatively complicated.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (NINGBO)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (NINGBO)
Capital Equity Legal Group
Dentons
Harnest & Garner
Hightac PRC Lawyers
Shining Law Office

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Ningbo)” are (in alphabetical order): Capital Equity Legal Group, Dentons, Harnest & Garner, Hightac PRC Lawyers, and Shining Law Office.

Harnest & Garner is headquartered in Ningbo. According to the firm, revenues in 2019 exceeded RMB220 million. In December 2019, Zhejiang Seaport Group signed an equity co-operation agreement with PYI Corporation, in which PYI Corporation’s subsidiary sold its terminal business for about RMB659 million. Harnest & Garner acted as legal counsel for the project.

In addition, the firm has handled some outstanding IP cases including one model case on IP property protection selected by China’s General Administration of Customs, and one of the top 10 IP property cases named by Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court. In the wealth management sector, Harnest & Garner and China Minsheng Bank’s Ningbo branch established a strategic partnership, which aims to provide more comprehensive family wealth protection and inheritance services for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients.

Hightac PRC Lawyers, another law firm based in Ningbo, announced that in 2019 it achieved revenue growth of close to 50%, with per capita revenue more than twice the local average.

Wu Huilin, the director of Hightac, specializes in international trade and investment, M&A, real estate and construction engineering. In September last year, Hightac’s real estate team was appointed as the legal adviser to Excellent Real Estate, Ningbo branch.

Dentons’ Ningbo office was established in 2012, and has maintained close co-operation with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities of the Yangtze River Delta region. For example, Johnny Jiang and Will Ye, senior partners of the firm’s Ningbo office, worked closely with Jet Deng, a senior partner of its Beijing office, to provide services in the acquisition of Ningbo Construction by Ningbo Communications Investment Holdings.

According to Dentons, the transaction involved the transfer of shares in listed companies, as well as special issues such as regulatory review of state-owned assets, antitrust investigations, due diligence on overseas investment laws, and mixed ownership reforms of SOEs. The total transaction amount reached more than RMB1.24 billion.

In the bankruptcy and reorganization sector, in July 2019, the reorganization plan of 19 companies under Zhongdu Group was approved by the Hangzhou Yuhang District People’s Court, marking a phased victory for the bankruptcy project that lasted five years.

The 19 companies involved in this case covered sectors including real estate development, commerce and trade, hotels, and investment. A total of 1,129 creditors reported claims of more than RMB3.16 billion. Dentons’ Ningbo office acted as a member of the administrators in the case.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (TIANJIN)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (TIANJIN)
Join & High Law Office
Winners Law Firm
Yiqing Law Firm

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Tianjin)” are (in alphabetical order): Join & High Law Office, Winners Law Firm, and Yiqing Law Firm.

Winners Law Firm is headquartered in Tianjin and has served Chinese and foreign companies such as Siemens, Standard Chartered Bank, China Development Bank, and China National Aviation Fuel Group. Winners has three offices in Beijing, Tianjin and the city’s Binhai New Area, with more than 90 registered lawyers.

In the bankruptcy and reorganization practice area, Winners was assigned by Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court last year as the administrator of Tianjin Shunhang Shipping. Tianjin Shunhang reportedly had a book value of assets of RMB3.73 billion and liabilities of RMB3.82 billion as of the end of October 2018.

In October 2019, a dispute over the sales contract between Tianjin Yimeibo and Apple Corporation was settled, and Yiqing Law Firm represented Tianjin Yimeibo in winning the case. Yiqing has worked with companies including China Mobile, China Bohai Bank’s Tianjin branch, and Alltrust Property Insurance’s Tianjin branch.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (NORTHEASTERN CHINA)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (NORTHEASTERN CHINA)
Fada Law Firm
Gongcheng Law Firm
Wang Wu Yang and Ma Law Office

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Northeastern China)” are (in alphabetical order): Fada Law Firm, Gongcheng Law Firm, and Wang Wu Yang and Ma Law Office.

Gongcheng Law Firm is headquartered in Changchun, Jilin province, and has an office in Shenyang, Liaoning province. The firm is strong in public-private-partnerships (PPPs), with notable cases like Changchun Yitong River treatment project, which has an investment of nearly RMB50 billion.

Another example is the Heilongjiang Suihua-Daqing Expressway PPP project, which is the first toll road PPP project in China. Su Hui, a senior consultant of the firm, is the team leader for PPP projects and has been included as a PPP expert for the Ministry of Finance.

In capital markets, Chuncheng Heat, the largest heating company in Jilin province, completed its Hong Kong listing in 2019. The subscription rate of the offerings set a record for the public utility sector among Hong Kong public offerings in 2019. Gong-cheng served as PRC counsel to the sponsors and underwriters in the project.

Fada Law Firm has offices in Dalian and Shenyang, in Liaoning province, with seven legal service centres covering areas including bankruptcy, PPPs, shipping, and foreign-related legal services. The law firm participated in the co-operation project of Liaoning Port Group last year. China Merchants Group invested in Liaoning Northeast Asia Harbor Air Development (later known as Liaoning Port Group) and obtained 49.9% equity through a capital increase.

Liaoning Northeast Asia Harbor Air Development is a port integration platform for Liaoning and is controlling shareholder of Dalian Port Group and Yingkou Port Group. In January 2019, Liaoning Port Group was established in Dalian, marking the completion of the ports’ resources integration. Fada participated in the project as the legal adviser of Dalian Municipal Government and Dalian Port Group.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (SHANDONG)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (SHANDONG)
Deheng Law Firm
Jointide Law Firm
Kang Qiao Law Firm
Qilu Law Firm
Wincon Law Firm

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Shandong)” are (in alphabetical order): Deheng Law Firm, Jointide Law Firm, Kang Qiao Law Firm, Qilu Law Firm, and Wincon Law Firm.

Wincon Law Firm has offices or branches in Qingdao, Seoul, Sydney, and Washington, and set up new offices in Jining, Shandong and Beijing last year. According to the firm, 13 partners were recruited in 2019. In November 2019, Wincon hosted the Fifth Shandong Law Firm Development Forum in Qingdao, joined by delegates of the judicial departments and lawyer associations of Shandong province and Qingdao city, and leaders of more than 400 law firms in the province.

Wincon also advised in a damages compensation case involving Dongying 92MW photovoltaic power project as the result of a typhoon last year. As a legal adviser to the insureds, Wincon assisted them to obtain RMB129 million in compensation. According to the firm, this insurance compensation was the largest of the photovoltaic industry in China to date. The amount of losses was huge, involving expertise in the operations of photovoltaic projects and evaluations of power generation facilities.

Deheng Law Firm and Beijing DHH Law Firm are two major brands of Deheng Law Group. Deheng Law Firm has branches in cities including Qingdao and Beijing, and overseas offices in Washington, Moscow, St Petersburg, Toronto and Sydney. The firm says that the income of its Jinan office in 2019 increased by nearly 40%, compared with the same period in 2018.

In addition, Deheng participated in the S. ALAM coal-fired power station project in Bangladesh. The US$2.5 billion project is an important part of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, and the BRI, and also the largest single-unit thermal power unit, and the largest coal-fired power plant project in Bangladesh.

Kang Qiao Law Firm is based in Jinan, Shandong province. Last year, Du Yong represented the firm in the dispute of Qingdao Senterui Import & Export v Qingdao Hongshitong Import & Export, Xu Hongxing, and Li Longmei over trade secret violations, which was included as a Top 10 Case by the All China Lawyers Association Intellectual Property Committee. In March last year, Zhang Qiaoliang, managing partner of the firm, was appointed by the China Securities Association as an expert in asset securitization. He was one of 12 lawyers selected.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (WESTERN CHINA)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (WESTERN CHINA)
Gaoyang Law Firm
K&H Law Firm
Solton & Partners
Tahota Law Firm
Zhonghao Law Firm

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Western China)” are (in alphabetical order): Gaoyang Law Firm, K&H Law Firm, Solton & Partners, Tahota Law Firm, and Zhonghao Law Firm.

Tahota Law Firm has established offices in Taiyuan and Nanjing, in China, and Kathmandu in Nepal, and has added many large enterprises to its client base, including Microsoft (China), Weichai Power, China Everbright Bank, Kunming Iron and Steel Group, and CRRC. The firm had more than 380 partners in 2019, which was a 10% increase over 2018, while its total business income last year had an increase of 35% over the previous year.

In December 2019, Tahota won the bid for a PPP project for the renewal of a network of rivers and roads in Taiyuan city, with a total investment of RMB15.3 billion. Tahota says that the project is the largest PPP project invested in Shanxi province to date. As for BRI projects, Tahota acted as the legal adviser for China Heng Sheng Singapore Development, and provided full legal services for the company’s proposed investment in Grenada for a national tourism resort project.

Zhonghao Law Firm has served many clients in major cities in western China, such as Chongqing and Chengdu, including Chongqing’s Financial Supervision and Administration, Chong-qing Trust, Sichuan Tongyong Electric Power, and Chengdu Jiaozi Financial Holding Group. In June 2019, Cheng Dichang, director of Chongqing Jiwei Law Firm, led most of his law firm’s lawyers to join Zhonghao, and then set up a new office for the firm in Chongqing.

K&H Law Firm, headquartered in Chongqing, has developed rapidly in recent years. The cases represented by the firm have been selected as classic annual cases by the Chongqing Bar Association. According to the firm’s data, its income per capita for a lawyer in 2019 exceeded RMB1 million, and total annual revenue exceeded RMB240 million.

BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (HONG KONG)


BEST OVERALL LAW FIRMS (HONG KONG)
Deacons
Wilkinson & Grist
Woo Kwan Lee & Lo

The winners of “Best Overall Law Firms (Hong Kong)” are (in alphabetical order): Deacons, Wilkinson & Grist, and Woo Kwan Lee & Lo.

For Deacons, 2019 began with the promotion of three new partners with specialties in IP, corporate finance and dispute resolution. It also welcomed Benjamin Choi, who had been practising IP property law for 20 years, as a partner to the trademarks practice.

Deacons advised about 1,460 clients on trademark matters last year, and has filed more than 3,000 trademarks per year on average in the past three years.

Last year, Wilkinson & Grist was utilized by corporations in Hong Kong, mainland China and around the world. In the field of copyright, it acted for Universal Music in successfully obtaining a summary judgment and injunction against a large chain karaoke establishment in Hong Kong, which continued to use the client’s repertoire despite termination of a licensing scheme.

Woo Kwan Lee & Lo focuses on the conveyancing practice in real estate projects, and litigation matters. Its clients include CK Hutchison and Huayi Tencent Entertainment.

FIRMS TO WATCH


FIRMS TO WATCH
CM Law Firm
Kewei Law Firm
Saelink Law
Twelve Tables Law Firm
Wang Jing & GH Law Firm
Yuanhe Partners

The winners of “Firms to watch” are (in alphabetical order): CM Law Firm, Kewei Law Firm, Saelink Law, Twelve Tables Law Firm, Wang Jing & GH Law Firm, and Yuanhe Partners.

Shanghai-based CM Law is a young firm with strength in capital markets, and has assisted many new economy companies in their financing at all stages of their development. The clients they served last year include Chinese live streaming service Douyu, online brokerage platform Futu Securities, and online medical aesthetic platform So-Young International. Its Beijing branch was officially set up last year.

Last year, three IP partners, Zhang Hairuo, Andy Xiang and Bob Jin, left China’s LexField Law Offices and co-founded Twelve Tables Law Firm, a boutique focusing on complex IP litigation and antitrust cases. All three worked at King & Wood Mallesons before making their way to LexField.

Zhang Hairuo has more than 10 years of experience in IP litigation and enforcement. She was the litigator in three Annual Top Trademark Cases of the Supreme People’s Court. With experience working as IP in-house counsel for multinational companies, Andy Xiang represented Qualcomm against Apple in more than a dozen patent infringement cases from 2017 to 2019.

Bob Jin specializes in IP litigation involving patents, trade secrets, technology-related antitrust, and represented a large number of multinational enterprises such as Qualcomm, Emerson, Nokia and Nikon.

Grand & Holders recently welcomed Wang Jing and his team to join the firm, enhancing the firm’s capability in maritime and shipping. The firm hence rebranded its English name to Wang Jing & GH Law Firm, with the Chinese name unchanged.

According to Wang Jing & GH, the number of practising lawyers at the firm increased to 43 last year, and in October last year it started a co-operation with DTL Law Office, with the latter as an overseas branch of the firm, to expand the coverage of legal services for Chinese enterprises in Thailand. In terms of firm management, Wang Jing & GH has independently developed a CRM (customer relationship management) system to share clients’ resources among various practice areas within the firm.

In the construction and infrastructure sector, Shang Dongning, general manager of the legal department of Agile Group, says Wang Jing & GH “is a law firm with a high degree of integrated management”.

“[Wang Jing & GH] has accumulated rich experience, especially in the field of commercial real estate mergers and acquisitions, and urban renewal projects, and is regarded as a leader in the industry,” says Shang. “Meanwhile, the firm has done a good job in knowledge management in this field, refining practical experience into key points and flow charts, providing a valuable reference for the frontline management teams of real estate companies.”

Yuanhe Partners maintained rapid development last year. At the beginning of 2019, it welcomed one new partner and promoted five others. In the IP sector, one of the firm’s development priorities, Yuanhe represented Tencent Technology in a squatter registration case on WeChat’s “facepalming” emoji, and the firm initiated the legal procedures and won the decision from the Trademark Office of The State Administration to stop the infringement.

NOTABLE ACHIEVERS


NOTABLE ACHIEVERS
Anli Partners
Fangben Law Office
Huang & Huang Co Law Firm
Zhihe Partners

The winners of “Notable achievers” are (in alphabetical order): Anli Partners, Fangben Law Office, Huang & Huang Co Law Firm, and Zhihe Partners.

Headquartered in Shanghai, Fangben Law Office launched two more branches in Jiangsu province, further increasing its service capability in the Yangtze River Delta region. Apart from adhering to the advantages it has gained in foreign business fields, Fangben is expanding its domestic business, including in capital markets, sports law and entertainment.

Last year, a certain fitness nutrition of Decathlon was sued by professional anti-counterfeiters from seven provinces and cities across China. Fangben represented Glanbia, Decathlon’s supplier in the cases, and achieved favourable results.

In June 2019, a new team of partners absorbed Shanghai Huayuan Law Firm and renamed it as Zhihe Partners. At the end of September 2019, the firm’s Los Angeles office began operations. Last year, the firm served clients include Minmetals Logistics (Shanghai), and Rohm and Haas (China) Holding.

In 2019, Anli Partners continued to expand. It merged with Sinobridge PRC Lawyers, which brought in three partners, strengthening the firm’s capability in competition and antitrust, corporate mergers and acquisitions, and capital markets.

In addition, Anli attracted nine partners and their teams from law firms such as Dentons, Chance Bridge Partners, and Global Law Office. Last year, Anli merged with Guangdong Wemo Law Firm, and officially launched its branch in Shenzhen. According to Anli, branches in Shanghai, Kunming and Hainan are under preparation.

PRACTICE AREAS

ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION


ANTI-BRIBERY & ANTI CORRUPTION
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Anli PartnersBaker McKenzie FenXun
Fangda PartnersCovington
FenXun Partners Freshfields
Han Kun Law OfficesGibson Dun
Hui Ye Law FirmHerbert Smith Freehills
King & Wood MallesonsKobre & Kim
MWE China Law OfficesShearman & Sterling
Zhong Lun Law Firm Winston & Strawn

King & Wood Mallesons is one of the few law firms in China with a team devoted specifically to corporate investigation and anti-corruption practice, according to the firm’s information. The firm has worked with multinational and domestic clients in civil and criminal anti-bribery cases and internal investigations. In 2019, it represented various clients to deal with alleged violations under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and multiple anti-bribery enforcements.

Hui Ye Law Firm assisted Fortune 500 companies, foreign enterprises, large state-owned groups and leading private enterprises on anti-bribery and anti-corruption issues last year, among which nine were major compliance projects.

The firm set up eight new offices around the world last year, and is focusing on promoting services in industries such as large-scale retail, new-energy vehicles and medical devices.

Zheng Chuankai, the head for criminal and civil cases at Anli Partners, focuses on providing clients with comprehensive legal services on criminal cases. Zheng has provided anti-bribery and anti-corruption advice to many state-owned enterprises (SOEs), foreign-funded enterprises and listed companies. For example, Anli assisted a client in discovering and sorting out the criminal evidence of corruption acts committed by one of its project leaders, and successfully filed the case with the authorities.

Baker McKenzie FenXun represented a leading online accommodation services provider as defendant in a litigation case in connection with disputes over booking service contracts before the Qingdao Shibei Court, and the plaintiff finally withdrew their complaint. This is the second case that Baker McKenzie FenXun has successfully handled on behalf of the company before China courts.

Baker McKenzie FenXun “can combine international practices with the realities of Chinese companies, provide efficient and professional services for Chinese enterprises and improve their corporate compliance in a short period of time,” says Duan Mingren, a legal counsel from the managing director’s office at China Merchants Industrial Holding.

Kobre & Kim’s team, led by former US Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor, Wade Weems, often advises Chinese companies with foreign interests, or that are involved in US government inquiries and enforcement actions. For example, the firm advised China Machinery, one of the largest SOEs, on the implementation of independent compliance monitoring after the World Bank imposed a four-year ban on the company for fraudulent practices in the US$300 million Shandong energy efficiency project.

BANKING AND FINANCE


BANKING & FINANCE
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Global Law OfficeAllen & Overy
Guantao Law FirmClifford Chance
Jingtian & Gongcheng Freshfields
Jin Mao Law FirmsDorsey
JunHeGallant
JunZeJun Law Offices Linklaters
King & Wood Mallesons Simpson Thacher
Llinks Law OfficesWatson Farley & Williams

JunHe has been well recognized by clients and peers for its performance in the banking and finance sectors. The firm advised leading Chinese banks and financial institutions on the offerings of significant panda bonds in 2019 by foreign banks and institutions like Crédit Agricole, Malayan Banking and BMW Finance. JunHe also acted for banking institutions in capital market, M&A and other sectors, for example, in assisting Bank of Guizhou in issuing overseas listed foreign shares, and listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Jin Mao Law Firm’s banking and finance practice has won the trust of clients. Ying Hao, the general manager for legal compliance at COSCO, says, “Jin Mao’s team can guide us to handle and view problems with legal thinking, and provide opportunities for clients with their unique perspectives. With a professional law firm such as Jin Mao, which can provide us with a series of legal services, we don’t have to worry about any possible problems.”

Guantao Law Firm has been serving as the legal consultant to major PRC banks for years. Its long-term clients include the People’s Bank of China, China Development Bank, China Citic Bank, and Agricultural Bank of China. Guantao has participated in 13 notable projects, including the issuance of second-tier capital bonds (phase I) in the national interbank bond market by Chang’an Bank, with a transaction amount of RMB1.5 billion (US$211.6 million).

Gallant has acted for various financial institutions on a number of financing deals involving project financing, M&A financing, general financing, etc. For instance, Gallant acted as the Hong Kong legal counsel of a PRC bank and advised on a syndicated loan facility of RMB8.5 billion to a PRC company in March 2019, which was a cross-border transaction involving the laws of the PRC, France, Luxemburg and Hong Kong.

“Gallant has a team of lawyers covering various areas with comprehensive legal services, particularly in the banking and finance sector, and with a good understanding of regulatory policies,” says Kathy Lum, an in-house counsel at Bank of China (Macau). “Lawyers from Gallant always have good communication with our staff, they are very responsive and provide effective solutions to avoid risks.” Gallant’s Philip Wong was recommended by clients for his experience and responsiveness.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer plays an important role within the high levels of Chinese investment overseas. It represented a consortium led by ANTA and FountainVest in handling €2.2 billion (US$2.35 billion) from an Asian lender. Freshfields also represented China Development Bank and China Eximbank on the €20 billion-plus project financing for the Amur Gas processing plant in Russia.

CORPORATE COMPLIANCE


CORPORATE COMPLIANCE
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
East & Concord PartnersBlank Rome
FenXun PartnersGibson Dunn
Global Law OfficeHerbert Smith Freehills
King & Wood MallesonsHogan Lovells
Llinks Law OfficesMorrison & Foerster
Tian Yuan Law FirmSidley Austin
Young-Ben Law FirmSteptoe & Johnson
Zhong Lun Law FirmWinston & Strawn

Zhong Lun Law Firm has a strong compliance practice. Most notably, the firm built a compliance management system last year for Inner Mongolia Guohe Power, which aims to be a player in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.

“Based on a thorough understanding of our company’s organizational structure and system, Zhong Lun assisted us to build a tailored overseas operation compliance management system that meets our requirements and the needs of developing overseas markets,” said an in-house counsel of a state-owned power company.

The client also recommends Zhang Guoxun of Zhong Lun. “Zhang has rich experience on compliance and can maintain close communication with our company during a project. He can also provide targeted legal services on compliance based on our actual needs.”

Young-Ben Law Firm provided legal services to more than 100 well-known Chinese and foreign companies on corporate compliance. Its clients include Shanghai Electric, Shanghai Huayi, Shanghai Cable Research Institute, and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport Company. Young-Ben advised Shanghai Tengrui Pharmaceutical Group in 2019 in its acquisition of Boehringer Ingelheim’s pharmaceutical base in the US. The firm conducted overseas due diligence and assisted in completing the US national security review of foreign investment.

Steptoe & Johnson’s global international regulatory compliance practice includes export controls, economic sanctions, anti-money laundering, anti-corruption, immigration, and Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) reviews. A significant part of Steptoe’s resources in China is dedicated to anti-corruption and regulatory legal work in Asia, including compliance counselling, transactional assistance and investigations. The firm helps companies to navigate the complex regulatory and political environment in China.

An executive from a large fund in China recommends Ed Krauland and Brian Egan of Steptoe & Johnson, who “have extensive experience in economic sanctions and export control, and have a clear mind when analyzing problems, and can give practical advice in combination with practice”. Clients also praised Susan Munro in the Beijing office, who “is familiar with the business of financial institutions and can communicate well with the clients”.

Winston & Strawn bolstered and further consolidated its compliance expertise following the relocation of partner Steve Grimes in late 2018, and the addition of associate Christy Leung in June 2019. The year saw the firm working on many sensitive compliance matters in China, with its lawyers assisting clients in conducting compliance risk audits, developing global and local compliance programmes, and due diligence analysis for corporate transactions and projects in Asia.

CAPITAL MARKETS (DOMESTIC)


CAPITAL MARKETS (DOMESTIC)
PRC FIRMS
AllBright Law Offices
DeHeng Law Offices
ETR Law Firm
Grandall Law Firm
Grandway Law Offices
Jincheng Tongda & Neal
King & Wood Mallesons
Zhong Lun Law Firm

Since the launch of the Star Market, China’s Nasdaq, Jincheng Tongda & Neal has assisted several clients in emerging industries to become the first companies to be listed. 2019 witnessed the firm working on ground-breaking transactions such as China Construction Bank Corporation’s RMB83 billion tier II capital bond, China’s first public affordable housing assets-backed note, and the first green bond by a high-quality enterprise in Yangtze River Delta.

ETR Law Firm has won praise from clients for its performance in domestic capital markets. “In 2019, Guangzhou Metro issued its first asset-backed securities in the rail transit industry based on income rights of ticket fees,” says an executive with Guangzhou Metro. “As our legal adviser of the asset securitization financing, ETR showed a high degree of professionalism in legal compliance verification and asset trading aspects. Its efficient communication and co-operation with other agencies contributed to making our asset securitization financing work.”

This client recommends Zhang Xuefang. “As the person in charge of the project appointed by ETR, Zhang arranged experienced lawyers to follow up with the project. During execution, the team showed a high degree of professionalism and ensured the smooth progress of our project.”

King & Wood Mallesons supported several clients in their capital markets deals, such as the A-share offerings of China General Nuclear Power Corporation and China Satellite Communications, Bank of China’s non-public offshore preference shares issuance, and Portugal’s inaugural issuance of RMB2 billion Panda Bonds.

CAPITAL MARKETS (OVERSEAS)


CAPITAL MARKETS (OVERSEAS)
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Commerce & Finance Law OfficesBaker McKenzie FenXun
Haiwen & PartnersClifford Chance
Han Kun Law OfficesLinklaters
Jia Yuan Law OfficesShearman & Sterling
Jingtian & Gongcheng Sidley Austin
JunHeSimpson Thacher
King & Wood MallesonsSkadden
Tian Yuan Law FirmWilson Sonsini

Commerce & Finance Law Offices launched its new Hong Kong office, aiming to enhance its services for Chinese clients investing overseas. The firm has assisted enterprises in 41 listings in Hong Kong and the US, and the issuances of more than 42 overseas bonds. Among them are the Hong Kong IPO of Jinxin Fertility Group, the Hong Kong listing of CMGE, and the Nasdaq listing of Canaan Technology, the world’s second-largest designer and manufacturer of Bitcoin mining machines, and the first blockchain-related Chinese company to go public in the US.

Han Kun Law Offices completed several notable deals in 2019, including Tencent’s US$6 billion global medium-term note programme, DouYu International Holdings’ US$775 million IPO, and NIO’s US$750 million note offering.

“The overseas capital market team of Han Kun has rich experience in this field,” says a client and legal counsel of one of the country’s top carmakers. “In the process of providing services to our company, they can always respond to us to meet our needs and tackle problems.” The counsel recommends Wang Taoran for her professionalism, strong business sense and practice advice.

Skadden’s Asia equity team advised on eight US IPOs in 2019, including GSX Techedu’s US$208 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange and So-Young International’s listing on the Nasdaq. In addition, Skadden advised on various Hong Kong IPOs for clients like BeiGene, Bank of China, NIO, and iQiyi.

Simpson Thacher assisted Alibaba in its record Hong Kong listing, which had a base offering size of HK$101 billion (US$13 billion). The global offering is the largest Hong Kong listing in nearly a decade. In 2019, Simpson Thacher also advised clients like Zhongliang and Binjiang Service Group in connection with their IPOs and offerings in Hong Kong.

COMPETITION AND ANTITRUST


COMPETITION AND ANTRITRUST
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AnJie Law FirmAllen & Overy
Dare & Sure Law FirmFieldfisher
Fangda PartnersFreshfields
Lantai PartnersGreenberg Traurig
Lifang & PartnersHaldanes
T&D AssociatesHerbert Smith Freehills
Tian Yuan Law FirmSkadden
Zhong Lun Law FirmSlaughter and May

Dare & Sure Law Firm gets high praise from its clients, including Great Wall Motors. Zhang Tianli, a legal counsel at Great Wall Motors, praises David Lin. “Lin and his team have a good understanding of our difficulties, which has created favourable conditions for improving work efficiency and preventing risks,” he says.

Zhang Jing, from the legal affairs office of Peking University, also recommends Lin. “Lin’s team is able to provide efficient and professional services to the university, with a high ethical standard and from the perspective of clients,” she says.

Lifang & Partners is frequently involved in competition and antitrust cases. The firm has represented Samsung in dozens of wireless standard essential patent (SEP) litigations and invalidations against Huawei before several courts in China.

Its antitrust team is responsible for FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) issues in these litigations, where the firm expects these sophisticated cases will shape the understanding of FRAND issues in China. The firm is representing Xiaomi in ongoing antitrust and rate-setting litigations by Xiaomi against Sisvel, filed before the Beijing IP Court.

Haldanes is one of the first few Hong Kong law firms with substantive experience in advising clients on competition and antitrust issues, after the city’s Competition Ordinance came into force in 2015. The firm advised an international fashion brand and an international watch and jewelry group on the competition implications of potential anti-competitive agreements, and provided practical solutions to avoid a contravention. In another case, its team worked with US attorneys to defend an investment banker in a cross-border price-fixing case involving complex financial products.

Skadden’s Hong Kong antitrust and competition practice has longstanding experience in handling complex, cross-border transactions, as well as advising on cartel and monopoly issues. In 2018 and 2019, Skadden advised on 16 merger control filings to the State Administration of Market Regulation, with a total value of more than US$70 billion. Skadden also advised Red Hat on its US$34 billion acquisition by IBM in July 2019.

DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY


DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
East & Concord PartnersBaker McKenzie FenXun
Hui Ye Law FirmBird & Bird
King & Wood MallesonsCMS China
Llinks Law OfficesFieldfisher
MWE China Law OfficesHogan Lovells
TransAsia LawyersMayer Brown
Watson & Band Law OfficesNixon Peabody
Zhong Lun Law FirmNorton Rose Fulbright

East & Concord Partners has provided international organizations and enterprises with legal services on data protection and privacy, covering matters like face recognition, personal credit and data transfer. In a rare criminal enforcement case on the basis of trade secret misappropriation with an amount of RMB10 million, the firm assisted a high-tech and global engineering group by organizing raids against the infringer in Shanghai, which resulted in the seizure of infringing material as well as hundreds of infringing drawings.

MWE China maintains high recognition for its targeted legal advice and customized services regarding cybersecurity and data compliance to clients from various industries and jurisdictions. In 2019, MWE China represented a top international auditing firm in a high-profile Sino-US trade war and export control-related case, where a great deal of sensitive data was involved, and the case had no precedent for enforcement under China laws.

Bird & Bird continued to win significant data protection mandates in 2019, particularly for clients that were affected by the Cybersecurity Law and related national standards and regulations released last year. The firm also saw an increase in significant instructions advising implications of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Recently, the firm advised a leading airline in Hong Kong in relation to its data protection compliance programme, and a fast-growing online travel booking platform on business expansion into Hong Kong and China, relating to data localization, local data protection requirements and data transfer issues.

Fieldfisher provided legal services on data compliance to various companies in 2019. “Fieldfisher’s lawyers are familiar with data protection laws and regulations in China, as well as those of other countries, especially the EU,” says one client.

Chen Luling, who belongs to the legal team on cross-border affairs at Xiamen Airlines, one of Fieldfisher’s clients, says: “Fieldfisher is the expert in Chinese law, GDPR [the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation] and the aviation industry, they can combine practice areas and industries professionally.”

DISPUTE RESOLUTION (DOMESTIC)


DISPUTE RESOLUTION (DOMESTIC)
PRC FIRMS
DeHeng Law Offices
DOCVIT Law Firm
Hylands Law Firm
Jingtian & Gongcheng
Kangda Law Firm
Tian Yuan Law Firm
Tiantai Law Firm
Zhong Lun Law Firm

DOCVIT Law Firm in the past year completed about 500 dispute cases, around 30 of which involved more than RMB100 million each, with the total amount reaching RMB10 billion, the firm says. Its lawyers have helped clients minimize huge losses in these cases, some of which have become model cases for relevant industries. The firm acted for China Communications Materials & Equipment in a RMB1 billion dispute with 13 parties and safeguarded the client’s interests and benefits.

Hylands Law Firm has completed several major projects in the past year, including three debt disputes for Tahone Capital. “In a lawsuit filed by our company to the Shanghai Financial Court, the team of Hylands assisted us to complete the preparation of materials, file an appeal, and the court accepted the case within a week, which saved us a lot of time,” says Zhu Xiaowei, the chief investment officer of Tahone Capital. Zhu recommends Xu Yu of Hylands.

Kangda Law Firm represented more than 7,000 dispute resolution cases in 2019, one such notable case was when Chengdu Yijiali Technology and Leshan Shawan Yijiali Technology sued the government of Shawan district in Leshan city, Sichuan province, for the termination of an investment agreement and demanding compensation for economic losses, which has been listed as a guiding case by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).

DISPUTE RESOLUTION (CROSS-BORDER)


DISPUTE RESOLUTION (CROSS-BORDER)
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesBaker McKenzie FenXun
DentonsClifford Chance
DHH Law FirmDavis Polk
Fangda PartnersDorsey
Hui Zhong Law FirmGall
King & Wood MallesonsHerbert Smith Freehills
Tiantong & PartnersHogan Lovells
Zhenghan Law FirmLatham & Watkins

Hui Zhong Law Firm provided dispute resolution services in more than 100 cases for clients from different industries in 2019, involving a total amount of more than RMB10 billion. “Hui Zhong has provided superior service and expertise on Chinese law issues related to several international disputes I have handled,” says Timothy W Blakely, a partner at Morrison & Foerster.

“This includes a very significant international dispute, with litigation happening in Korea, Hong Kong, the Caribbean, and in China [all the way to the SPC],” he says. “Hui Zhong has played a leading and co-ordinating role for international actions, expertly litigating those issues in Chinese courts while parallel litigation runs its course in other jurisdictions.”

DHH Law Firm has dispute resolution as one of its core practice areas, handling more than 1,000 dispute cases covering criminal, civil and administrative issues. Many of the firm’s cases involved amounts of more than RMB100 million. In parallel proceedings of a HK$170 million case involving parties in mainland China and Hong Kong, the firm worked with Hong Kong lawyers for a Fortune 500 company to adopt innovative litigation strategies to secure the client’s interests. DHH also represented clients in various cross-border disputes in leading Chinese arbitration centres.

Gall is a specialist dispute resolution firm with one of the largest litigation teams in Hong Kong. It specializes in complex disputes, many of which involve multi-jurisdictional litigation. In the past year, the firm has continued to work on and secure high-profile and significant litigation matters. For example, the firm acted for Zhang Lan, one of the most prominent businesswomen in China, against CVC Capital Partners.

Dorsey & Whitney has 16 offices in the US, Canada and Europe. It has represented companies like China Life, PICC Property & Casualty and other insurers in a variety of high-profile and major civil actions, product liability litigations, coverage disputes, and regulatory consultation matters in the US and Canada.

Li Chaotian, deputy general manager of the compliance department at Generali China Asset Management, who has many years of insurance experience, says it is important for law firms to understand federal and state laws. “Dorsey & Whitney is well aware of the rhythm of the US lawsuit and the potential risks,” says Li. “They assisted us and the client to obtain a settlement at an earlier time in a case and saved millions of dollars for us, and this case was finally closed in 2019.”

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR


EMPLOYMENT & LABOUR
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Baohua Law FirmBaker McKenzie FenXun
DeHeng Law OfficesBird & Bird
Lanbai Law FirmFaegre Drinker
Lantai PartnersHogan Lovells
PW & PartnersMinter Ellison
River Delta Law FirmMorgan Lewis
TransAsia LawyersSeyfarth
Young-Ben Law FirmSimmons & Simmons

Young-Ben Law Firm has gained the trust of its clients in the field of employment and labour law, especially in the handling of large collective events. For example, it represented a French equipment manufacturer’s subsidiary in China in the handling of a factory shutdown by employees, and it represented a well-known internet finance company in China when dealing with a headhunting dispute.

“The labour law team of Young-Ben is not only proficient in national labour laws and regulations, but also very familiar with the local labour arbitration agencies and standards of the court,” says Clark Li, executive general manager, legal department, at New World Department Stores.

River Delta Law Firm has focused on the practical and theoretical study of labour and employment law since its establishment. The firm acquired a number of new clients in 2019 including Ant Financial, Pernod Ricard (China) Trading, WeBank and WeWork. It has also provided legal services on labour law for Columbia Sportswear Company, Lenovo (Shenzhen), and Shiseido China.

River Delta also provided legal services in labour law for a large state-owned enterprise (SOE). The firm’s lawyers conducted due diligence on the overseas employment of 44 Chinese employees and issued a legal due diligence report. It has also produced legal opinions on confirmation of employment relations and legal risk assessments of employees dispatched by large Chinese central enterprises, and provided legal advice on the adjustment of employment relations.

Lantai Partners has served Beijing Federation of Trade Unions and other similar parties for 10 years, and handled more than 7,000 labour mediation cases in 2019. It also assisted a chain store brand to tackle collective employment issues involving more than 200 employees. In another dispute, the firm represented a Fortune 500 company in a series of cases and obtained a final victory.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius won recognition for its cross-jurisdictional capabilities and comprehensive employment law services. The firm has advised corporates on challenging workforce questions and issues for many years. It advised a multinational technology company on issues including social benefits, immigration, and dismissing shadow employees. It also advised a global corporate investigations and risk consulting company on the impact of the Cybersecurity Law, which also involved employment issues.

MinterEllison expanded its labour law practice with the addition of Desmond Liaw and other lawyers in January 2019. “We’ve engaged with MinterEllison on several employment and litigation matters, and they’ve helped us resolve those efficiently and at reasonable cost,” says Fiona Lee, legal counsel at Guotai Junan International Holdings. “We would highly recommend Liaw. He is very approachable, gives us sound advice, and is willing to help us deal with any particular situation. He intuitively knows what needs to be done, and he will get it done.”

IP (TRADEMARK)


IP (TRADEMARK)
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
An Tian Zhang & PartnersBaker McKenzie FenXun
Chang Tsi & PartnersDeacons
Corner Stone & PartnersDorsey
Globe-Law Law FirmMayer Brown
Hengdu Law OfficesPerkins Coie
Tiantai Law FirmRouse
Twelve Tables Law FirmVivien Chan & Co
Wanhuida Intellectual PropertyWilkinson & Grist

Wanhuida Intellectual Property has worked with the Comité Champagne for many years. “As a well-known geographical indication, the protection of ‘Champagne’ in China is very challenging,” says Wang Wei, director of the Comité Champagne China office.

“Wanhuida makes full use of its expertise and level to formulate strategies for the maximum protection and actively implement it. Whether in administration or justice, the protection of Champagne is advancing, and many cases have created the precedent geography marks of protection in China, such as in the case of ‘little champagne’ drinks.”

Tiantai Law Firm’s IP team has more than 100 lawyers, and has relevant qualifications for trademark, patent and copyright matters. The team provided various clients with legal opinions on IP protection strategies in 2019, represented a large number of cases, and won the trust of clients.

“We are co-operating in a criminal case involving multiple criminal suspects,” says Lucy Liu, Asia-Pacific trademark counsel at Essilor China. “For each suspect’s situation, Tiantai lawyers have made analysis and summarized in Excel, according to the case, which is convenient for us to have a general understanding of the situation. They always give us opinions and suggestions for each step.”

Corner Stone & Partners represented Nestle Waters and won both first and second trials of a trademark infringement and unfair competition case. Jean-Pierre Maeder, a counsel of Swiss law firm Troller Hitz Troller who has worked with Corner Stone & Partners for 15 years, says: “Great professionalism, always responsive, always available, customer-focused and sharp in analyzing the issues and recommending appropriate actions. Corner Stone & Partners have won many difficult high-profile cases up to the Supreme [People’s] Court.”

Deborah Greaves, a partner at Brutzkus Gubner, adds: “Their responses include a great deal of insight, and they flag issues that I may not have even thought about, or issues about which I was not aware, that have a bearing on strategy and cost.”

Wilkinson & Grist has represented local and international clients in handling a large number of trademark matters in 2019, and their clients include China Everbright, Bacardi & Company, Adidas, and Inter IKEA.

“They have been managing our trademark portfolio in China and Hong Kong for more than 10 years. With all the complexity for a non-Chinese speaker, they have been of great help to us to manage the portfolio,” says Cecilia Emanuelson, legal counsel for Inter IKEA Systems.

IP (PATENT)


IP (PATENT)
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Beshining Law OfficeBird & Bird
Beyond Attorneys At LawDeacons
CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law OfficeFinnegan
China Patent Agent (HK)Morgan Lewis
King & Wood MallesonsOrrick
Liu Shen & AssociatesPerkins Coie
Long An Law FirmRopes & Gray
Sanyou Intellectual Property AgencySteptoe & Johnson

Long An Law Firm obtained victories in various patent litigations for clients in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, and leading companies in industries like technology and medicine. In a landmark patent infringement lawsuit, a Chinese high-tech medical equipment company was ordered to pay RMB30 million in damages by the court of first instance, marking one of the highest amounts for this type of case. Long An represented the client before the Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court and overturned the ruling so that the infringement was not determined and the client did not need to pay damages.

Liu Shen & Associates provided legal services in many well-known patent cases for tech giants in the sector. On 16 April 2019, Qualcomm and Apple announced a settlement to cease their global lawsuits that had dragged on for more than two years. Liu Shen & Associates is one of the firms representing Qualcomm in China. It also acted for Samsung in patent infringement and invalidation disputes with Huawei, and was signed by ASM, Nike, Osram and GM as a patent service provider in China in 2019.

CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law Office successfully handled the invalidation trial of Chinese patent for Hodogaya Chemical. “I would like to recommend Long Chuanhong, Liu Ji, and Li Ying … they always gave us practical and relevant suggestions so that we could get the suitable decision during a difficult case,” says Chen Jing, deputy manager of the IP department of Hodogaya Chemical.

Eva Veenstra, head of the IP department at Rolic Technologies, also recommends CCPIT, especially partners Deng Yi and Yang Guoxu. “Deng Yi has extensive experience assisting multinational companies in structuring their cases, and she also has a quick understanding and accurately grasps the key points, which helps us to achieve our goals,” says Veenstra. “Yang Guoxu is a very proficient, experienced and careful litigator. We like to work with him in infringement cases, where he works with a very solid methodology and a profound experience.”

Ropes & Grey handles a wide range of transactional IP mandates for leading companies in the life sciences sector, regularly facilitating the commercialization of life sciences assets. About 75% of their work in IP is related to this sector.

The capabilities at the intersection of IP and life sciences at Ropes & Grey can be seen in a range of matters. One outstanding case it worked on was for Innovent Biologics, on a collaboration and licensing agreement for three clinical products discovered and developed by Incyte, a Delaware-based biopharmaceutical company.


Fangda Partners is highly recommended by peers in the copyright sector. The firm represented clients in dozens of copyright litigations involving well-known companies in 2019. It represented Apple in a series of disputes concerning the copyright infringement of online works recently. The firm also defended Himalaya Network Technology, an innovative Chinese podcasting platform, in copyright lawsuits.

Dare & Sure Law Firm completed several major projects in the field of copyright in 2019, including disputes between Youku and Baidu, and Kingsoft and Foxit Software. “I highly recommend Dare & Sure’s professionalism in the field of intellectual property (copyright), and the complex and large amount of projects we commissioned to them have achieved ideal results for us,” says one client. “Dare & Sure always responds to our needs in a timely and efficient manner, and can effectively solve our problems.”

Landing Law Offices has 19 lawyers in its IP team consisting of senior lawyers, trademark agents, patent agents and other professionals. Landing focuses on providing comprehensive legal services for enterprises on internet, high-tech, cultural, media, telecoms and others. Landing acted as the IP property consultant of Shanghai Yuan Ju Network Technology, or Manhuadao.com, in 2019, handling a large number of copyright infringement disputes, which was recognized by the client.

“We once had an urgent incident, and after contacting Landing Law Offices, its lawyers rushed to our office to help solve the problem, and put forward professional legal opinions and suggestions helping us achieve good results,” says Yang Xiaojuan, legal affairs officer of Shanghai Yuan Ju Network Technology.

Perkins Coie’s China IP practice began when China IP head Scott Palmer and his team joined the firm. They represented clients across diverse industries, including automotive, hospitality, pharmaceutical and telecoms sectors. The collective China IP team, which has grown to 16 attorneys and paralegals in the past year, has experience in regularly supporting clients in high-profile litigation matters in China involving IP.

The team has seen some significant recent courtroom and administrative victories, and has assisted on several complicated cross-border transactions, such as a major copyright litigation dispute involving the distribution of audiobooks on a Chinese e-book platform.

“We are very satisfied with their IP work, in particular their work in the domain name industry area,” says Xu Gang, legal director at VeriSign Internet. “Perkins Coie provides consistently excellent legal advice for our company, and Scott Palmer is very knowledgeable, reliable and responsive.”

INTERNATIONAL TRADE


INTERNATIONAL TRADE
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
DentonsAkin Gump
East & Concord PartnersBaker McKenzie FenXun
Gaopeng & PartnersGrunfeld Desiderio Lebowitz Silverman & Klestadt
Hiways Law FirmInce
Jincheng Tongda & NealStephenson Harwood
JunZeJun Law OfficesSteptoe & Johnson
Lantai PartnersVVGB
Zhonghao Law FirmWhite & Case

JunZeJun Law Offices worked on WTO disputes over US aluminum, steel and additional tariffs in 2019, which affected the global aluminum trade, the global steel trade, as well as China’s increased tariffs on certain products imported from the US.

“JunZeJun represented us during the compulsory response to the US fifth round of anti-dumping case; the final tax rate was lower than the preliminary tax rate by more than 10 percentage points, and more than 3% lower than the prepaid tax rate, effectively reducing the industry’s average tax rate,” says Li Zhigang, a legal head of Risen Energy.

Gaopeng & Partners assisted clients in completing a number of major projects, including international trade disputes against the US on behalf of the central government. In 2019, Qian Wenjie, of Gaopeng & Partners, represented China Iron and Steel Association in response to the Eurasian Economic Union’s announcement of the final ruling on the safeguard investigation of imported flat rolled steel, and successfully secured immunity for Chinese enterprises.

Steptoe & Johnson has provided legal support for many international trade disputes on US-China trade and EU-China trade, for clients from sectors including energy, healthcare, and industrials and manufacturing. Ralf Widmer, senior legal counsel at Wacker Chemie, has been working with the firm, and recommends Sue Esserman in the US and Huang Ying in China.

M&A (INBOUND & DOMESTIC)


M&A (INBOUND & DOMESTIC)
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Commerce & Finance Law OfficesBaker McKenzie FenXun
DeHeng Law OfficesClifford Chance
Fangda PartnersCMS China
Grandall Law FirmGide Loyrette Nouel
Haiwen & PartnersHerbert Smith Freehills
Jincheng Tongda & NealMorrison & Foerster
Jingtian & GongchengProskauer
JunHeRajah & Tann

Haiwen & Partners acted for tech giants such as Tencent and Baidu for various investments into emerging startups in 2019. It also assisted leading financial and banking institutions in attracting investments, including the introduction of RMB5 billion strategic investment into China SDIC GaoXin Industrial Investment, and China Guangfa Bank’s issuance of additional shares that raised RMB29.78 billion. The firm also completed Diageo’s RMB13 billion acquisitions of more stakes in Sichuan Shuijingfang.

DeHeng Law Offices acted on more than 200 deals in domestic financing and M&A in 2019, involving a total transaction value of more than RMB500 billion, including CMB Qianhai Financial Asset Exchange’s investment of RMB145.8 billion into Qianhai Shekou Free Trade Investment, China National Nuclear Corporation’s merger with China Nuclear Engineering Group, and the restructuring of China Minsheng Investment Group.

Gide Loyrette Nouel advises on all sorts of M&A transactions with clients include Air Liquide, Legrand and Renault, and across a range of sectors including automotive, banking and insurance, and manufacturing.

“The services provided by Gide are highly qualified and client-oriented, they are very used to the M&A practice in China,” says an executive who works on M&A matters at Legrand. “I would definitely recommend David Boitout and his team. He has long M&A experience and is very reliable throughout the process.”

Morrison Foerster provided M&A advice to Alibaba, Ant Financial, SoftBank, Airbnb, China Telecom Global and other companies. The firm acts on deals in the fintech sector, a notable one being Alibaba’s acquisition of a 33% equity interest in Ant Financial. Morrison Foerster also assisted Trusted Doctors (Xingren) in its strategic merger agreement with Tencent Doctorwork.

M&A (OUTBOND)


M&A (OUTBOUND)
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesAshurst
DeHeng Law OfficesBaker McKenzie FenXun
DHH Law FirmClifford Chance
Fangda PartnersFreshfields
Global Law OfficeMorgan Lewis
JunHeOrrick
King & Wood MallesonsSimpson Thacher
Zhong Lun Law FirmSkadden

Zhong Lun Law Firm acted as legal adviser for Guangzhou Metro in its subscription of Yuexiu Property’s new shares, with a value of RMB6.2 billion. This is one of the largest cross-border investments for Guangzhou enterprises into Hong Kong, after China launched its Greater Bay Area (GBA) plan, according to the firm. Zhong Lun also played important roles in other significant transactions, such as the acquisition of JD.com’s luxury platform Toplife by Farfetch, and Sinomine’s acquisition of Cabot Corporation and its subsidiaries.

Clifford Chance is a frequent legal adviser in high-profile cross-border M&A deals. It acted as international counsel to GIC for its acquisition of JD logistics warehouses, and in Suning’s acquisitions of Carrefour China, Clifford Chance was foreign legal counsel to Carrefour China.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s China-focused M&A team consists of 30 people, from China-based attorneys to experts based in Europe, the US and Asia, to assist clients in cross-border and outbound deals. The projects cover energy, infrastructure and technology, and in the past year Orrick has been involved in M&A from major Chinese SOEs such as Silk Road Fund, China-LAC Co-operation Fund, BOE Technology Group, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, and China National Nuclear Corporation.

Ashurst’s Greater China team was involved in cross-border transactions across at least 21 jurisdictions and a range of complex industries in 2019. While most of the team focused on transactions across Asia, it also advised on transactions into the US, Mexico, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Pakistan and India, with projects covering infrastructure, fintech, energy, mining and real estate.

“I would strongly recommend Michael Sheng of Ashurst,” says Xian Bu, managing director and co-founder of SYNthesis med chem. “Michael understands my business and my needs. He has rich experience advising on cross-border transactions involving China and Australia, and he is also easy to work with.”

PRIVATE EQUITY AND VENTURE CAPITAL


PRIVATE EQUITY & VENTURE CAPITAL
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Commerce & Finance Law OfficesBaker McKenzie FenXun
Fangda PartnersCooley
Global Law OfficeGoodwin
Han Kun Law OfficesKirkland & Ellis
Llinks Law OfficesMorgan Lewis
Merits & Tree Law OfficesMorrison & Foerster
PacGate Law GroupPaul Weiss
Shihui PartnersProskauer

Commerce & Finance Law Offices has traditional strengths in securities, investment and financial legal affairs. In the private equity (PE) business, the firm acted as adviser to many new economy companies. Their clients include AI medical company Synyi Medical Technology, Chinese B2B e-commerce platform Yijiupi, Bloomage Biotechnology, the world’s largest hyaluronic acid raw material manufacturer, and AI logistics robotics provider Geek+.

Early last year, Commerce & Finance assisted Ping An Asset Management in its RMB4 billion stake increase in China Fortune Land Development.

Global Law Office added five partners last year in its PE and venture capital (VC) practice, enhancing the firm’s service offerings. Liu Xianlai, who joined the firm last year, has worked in PE funds for several years, and his clients include leading PE funds, banks and financial institutions, investment institutions and startups. Yuan, another new addition, has assisted well-known investment institutions in setting up their first RMB funds and special funds for various types of investment projects in the Chinese market.

Cooley completed 55 financing transactions in Greater China and Asia in 2019, helping companies raise a total of close to US$3 billion. Cooley also worked on more than 70 financing deals, representing both company-side and investor-side clients, especially in the areas of life sciences, financial services, online retail and other high-tech sectors.

A managing director at a VC company gives high praise to Cooley and recommends Zeng Xun and Xu Jingyi for their “professionalism, expertise, extensive industry knowledge, and excellent client service”.

“Cooley has demonstrated world class professionalism, exactly what you would expect of a global firm,” says the client. “You can tell from working with Cooley that they have years of experience and a good grasp of the VC industry dynamics.”

The client adds that Cooley can always provide timely and detailed responses. “There were thousands of emails back and forth – with our internal team, each LP, and each of the LPs’ internal and external lawyers. I am pleased and impressed to say Cooley managed every single email, [and] they didn’t miss anything at all.”

PE/VC is among Morgan Lewis’ core practice areas, and its clients include Warburg Pincus, Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and Bank of China International. Last year, Morgan Lewis advised Warburg Pincus on the US$140 million financing round of Gaosi Education Group, a Chinese educational and training institution focusing on middle and primary schools. It also represented Sequoia Capital in the US$1.5 billion financing of Chehaoduo Group, a leading one-stop service platform for automobile consumption in China.

Goodwin Procter has earned a reputation for handling notable PE/VC deals in key sectors such as technology, healthcare, financial and business services, consumer and manufacturing. The firm’s work highlights include its representation for various investors in the US$5 billion financing round of ByteDance, and for FountainVest Partners, jointly with Primavera Capital, in their acquisition of the Laobaixing Pharmacy chain, a leading pharmaceutical retail chain listed in China.

ASSET MANAGEMENT


ASSET MANAGEMENT
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AnJie Law FirmBird & Bird
Anli PartnersDeacons
DOCVIT Law FirmKirkland & Ellis
Jingtian & GongchengMourant
JunZeJun Law OfficesRopes & Gray
Silkroad Law FirmShearman & Sterling
Tahota Law FirmSimpson Thacher
Tian Yuan Law FirmWithers

Anli Partners undertook nearly 200 trust deals and dozens of insurance fund investment deals in 2019. In the field of insurance asset management, Anli’s clients include ChinaLife Investment, Ping An Real Estate, Ping An Annuity, and PICC Asset Management.

A legal counsel from Generali China Asset Management says that the company has worked with Anli for years, and recommends the firm’s partner, Zhang Huanwei, as “an industry expert in the field of non-standard investment of insurance funds”.

“Anli Partners is very professional in the field of insurance asset management, and their service is also very good,” says the client. “They always help us to prompt compliance issues and solutions in advance, and provide very professional and sound suggestions in conjunction with relevant cases or judgments.”

Jingtian & Gongcheng assisted in dozens of multimillion-dollar asset-backed securitization projects and trusts for well-known enterprises and financial institutions, including the issuance of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) by Sinar Mas Paper (China) Investment, which is the largest CMBS in China by size. The firm also served asset management companies in various sectors, for example, it advised Beijing GAM Asset Management for its acquisition of an industrial park in Hangzhou for about RMB710 million.

Deacons specializes in asset management projects, especially those related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). With the largest investment funds team in Hong Kong, they act for international and local asset managers including Invesco Hong Kong, Aberdeen Asset Management, PIMCO, CSOP Asset Management and Value Partners.

Ropes & Gray is known for advising sovereign wealth funds on fund investments, the formation of high-value separate accounts, co-investments, and secondary transactions. Under the stewardship of partner Vincent Ip, the firm currently represents more than 30 fund sponsors and 10 sovereign, large institutional investors.

Shearman & Sterling has worked on about 100 fund formation projects and advised sponsors and investors on PE/VC funds with global, Asian or country strategies in the past year. They advised several major financial institutions including Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, Export-Import Bank of China, and China Development Bank.

Shearman & Sterling’s team is led by Lorna Chen, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the investment funds practice. She regularly leads discussions with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission on legislative reform affecting PE funds.

STRUCTURED FINANCE AND SECURITIZATION


STRUCTURED FINANCE AND SECURITIZATION
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law Offices Allen & Overy
ETR Law FirmAshurst
Global Law OfficeBaker McKenzie FenXun
Jia Yuan Law Offices Clifford Chance
Merits & Tree Law OfficesDavis Polk
SG & Co PRC LawyersHarneys
V&T Law FirmLatham & Watkins
Zhong Lun Law FirmLinklaters

SG & Co PRC Lawyers has provided asset securitization-related services to many issuers in the past year including China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, SAIC-GMAC Automotive Finance, and Ping An International Financial Leasing.

Among the projects, the Shanghai Yupei (Group) 2019 phase I asset-backed notes (ABN) project was issued in the national interbank bond market in June 2019. SG & Co acted as adviser to the project, and the size of the issuance was RMB650 million. This is the first logistics real estate commercial mortgage-backed medium-term notes project of the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII).

Yang Kaiyu, executive director of the retail asset securitization business within the debt financing department at China Merchants Securities, says he is “very satisfied” with the service SG & Co provided, and gives high praise to Lawrence Lu and Wang Bin at the firm. “SG & Co has co-operated well with us in countless credit asset securitization and corporate asset securitization projects since 2016,” he says. “They provide clients with long-term, stable, creative and visionary legal services.”

Jia Yuan Law Offices provided related legal services such as transaction structure design, basic asset verification, and legal documents drafting, for the offering of about RMB60 billion worth of products in 2019. The achievements include the offering of the China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group’s RMB4 billion phase I of ABN 2019 in NAFMII, and CICC-CRRC Supply Chain Finance’s RMB10 billion phase II asset-backed securitization plan.

A client from China Railway Group says the asset securitization services of the company were mainly provided by Jia Yuan in the past three years. “During the offering of the company’s first receivable debts ABN that is off balance sheet, with revolving structure and no credit enhancement, Jia Yuan was able to fully assist clients in demonstrating the transaction structure, and creatively designed a transaction plan to the company’s request,” the client says.

Zhong Lun Law Firm is a significant player in this sector, and handled more than 100 structured finance projects, including asset securitizations, in 2019. Among them are landmark projects that could set precedents for products of their types, such as China’s first real estate investment trust (REIT) project involving an expressway, the first infrastructure REITS, and the first credit assets securitization project via transaction arrangement of “re-investment plus revolving structures”.

Ashurst’s teams in Beijing and Hong Kong have been working with leading policy banks, investment banks, commercial banks and financial institutions on a variety of matters in this field. Patrick Phua, managing partner of the firms’ Beijing office, has more than 15 years of practice experience, and is a member of drafting groups tasked by various industry associations to prepare industry-standard documentation.

RESTRUCTURING AND INSOLVENCY


RESTRUCTURING & INSOLVENCY
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Chen & Co Law FirmCarey Olsen
DeHeng Law OfficesClifford Chance
DentonsConyers Dill & Pearman
Fangda PartnersKirkland & Ellis
Hui Ye Law FirmLatham & Watkins
King & Wood MallesonsONC Lawyers
Tian Yuan Law FirmStephenson Harwood
W&H Law FirmTanner De Witt

As the Chinese economy enters a period of structural adjustment, the number of bankruptcy and restructuring cases has been increasing. According to Xinhua News Agency, in Shanghai alone, a total of 750 bankruptcy cases were heard in 2019, an 83.4% increase year on year.

Dentons was one of the earliest law firms in China to be involved in non-performing asset disposal, bankruptcy reorganization and liquidation. Led by senior partner Zheng Zhibin, the team participated in the restructurings of Highsee Iron and Steel Group, Amoi Technology, and Northern Heavy Industries Group.

In June 2019, the reorganization plan of HOROC Group was approved in the creditors’ meeting and investors’ meeting, and private company Zhongze Group was introduced as a strategic investor. Due to the influence of industry cycles, the company’s current assets were insufficient to settle short-term due debts, and its debts exceeded RMB30 billion. As a member of the administrator group, Dentons led the entire reorganization process.

Dentons also participated in the restructuring of Yunnan Coal Chemical Industry Group, a large SOE directly under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Yunnan province. Due to the economic downturn and production surplus, the company experienced continuous operating losses with an overall debt of nearly RMB70 billion.

Meanwhile, the group had several bonds issued in the open market that were about to trigger default or early payment. Dentons acted as legal counsel to the SASAC of Yunnan at first, and later the administrator of reorganization, resolved the bond issue through an innovative “bond shift” method, and finally pushed the group into a judicial reorganization procedure.

Chen & Co Law Firm, as one of the registered bankruptcy administrators of Shanghai Higher People’s Court, has a team for bankruptcy reorganization and special asset investment formed by lawyers specializing in company law, investment funds, securities law, labour law, real estate law, etc.

Chen Mingxia, the partner who leads the team, previously handled reorganization projects for domestic entities of overseas listed companies, the dissolution of foreign financial institutions, and other liquidation projects. He is currently the vice president of the Shanghai Bankruptcy Law Society.

In January 2019, Hsin Chong Group, one of the oldest construction companies in Hong Kong, filed an application to the Supreme Court of Bermuda to go into provisional liquidation, and got approval. Carey Olsen acted for VMS Investment Group in proceedings before the court to secure the appointment of RSM Corporate Advisory (Hong Kong) as joint provisional liquidators for restructuring purposes over Hsin Chong.

As an offshore firm, Carey Olsen provides services relating to restructuring, reorganization and recovery across offshore jurisdictions of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey.

Stephenson Harwood has one of the biggest insolvency practices in Hong Kong and is working on a number of restructuring and insolvency matters arising from the slowdown in China. The firm acts for the joint provisional liquidators of Shanghai Huaxin Group (Hongkong), and assisted in the sale of assets owned by the company and its subsidiaries, including a portfolio of 10 Hong Kong properties worth about HK$2.8 billion.

In another case, it is acting for CECEP COSTIN New Materials in relation to Hong Kong aspects of provisional liquidation and restructuring.

TAXATION


TAXATION
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
ETR Law FirmBaker McKenzie FenXun
FenXun PartnersCMS China
Haiwen & PartnersDLA Piper
Hwuason LawyersGide Loyrette Nouel
King & Wood MallesonsHogan Lovells
M&T LawyersJones Day
Tiantai Law FirmMayer Brown
Zhong Lun Law FirmO’Melveny

Haiwen & Partners advised an overseas listed company on possible Chinese tax issues under a “poison pill” shareholder rights plan in 2019.

According to Haiwen, the “poison pill” plan is a rare arrangement in the capital market, and each specific arrangement includes special mechanisms and terms, which creates uncertainty about how the relevant mechanisms and arrangements are handled in tax law. The taxation issues involved in this project included corporate income tax, personal income tax, value-added tax and surcharges.

Hwuason Law Firm combines the specialties of taxation and law. After establishment of the law firm, Hwuason Tax Agent Firm (Huashui TA) and Hwuason Group were also launched.

In early 2019, Huashui TA started the “100 cities and 100 offices” strategy, and has set up more than 50 subsidiaries in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and other major cities, forming a national service network together with Hwuason Law Firm and Hwuason Institute, the firm’s tax law training institution.

Taxation is one of the dominant practice areas for Tiantai Law Firm. Last year, Tiantai participated in more than 100 tax-related administrative reconsiderations or actions, assisting tax authorities and taxpayers in resolving a large number of tax disputes. The firm also provided nearly 100 lectures on tax law to clients.

Gide Loyrette Nouel’s team provides tax-related advice on a range of transactions, including group reorganizations, M&A, tax planning and structuring, joint ventures and major projects, and project financing. Some European Fortune 500 companies are in their client base from industries ranging from mining and metallurgy to pharmaceutical.

CMS China’s tax practice area group is led by Gilbert Shen, and supported by partners Nicolas Zhu and Ulrike Glueck. The firm has advised well-known multinational companies, especially in industrial and high-tech sectors, on legal and tax implications in their business operations, document drafting and special transactions.

INDUSTRIES

AVIATION


AVIATION
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesA&L Goodbody
Anli PartnersAllen & Overy
DentonsBryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Grandall Law FirmClifford Chance
Han Kun Law OfficesFieldfisher
JunZeJun Law OfficesHolman Fenwick Willan
Rui Bai Law FirmPillsbury
Wintell & CoStephenson Harwood

Grandall Law Firm represented Air China in completing 10 aircraft leasing transactions with four leasing companies, with a total value of US$1.4 billion, including the delivery of the first A350 aircraft to mainland China.

The firm negotiated and finalized transaction documents and aircraft delivery on behalf of Air China. It also provided legal services to Xiamen Airlines, the lessee, in its lessor change of four aircraft with ICBC SPV (the former lessor) and Taiping & Sinopec Financial Leasing SPV (the new lessor).

Anli Partners’ aviation legal team represented China Civil Aviation Airport Group in the construction of overseas airports, including the Nepal Pokhara International Airport Project and the Pakistan Gwadar New International Airport Project. The former is the largest business co-operation project between China and Nepal, and the latter is the largest foreign aid project by value since China’s reform and opening up.

Significantly, the Beijing Lawyers Association had appointed Anli Partners’ Zang Hongliang as the deputy head of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH730 claims negotiations from 2014 to 2016.

The firm also represented a well-known domestic airline in handling a dispute on overdue payments under an aircraft management contract for a BVI company. According to Anli Partners, the aircraft in this case was seized by authorities, and sealed by customs authorities for taxation issues. Although the aircraft was a special tangible property and had not been registered for rights, Anli Partners, as the plaintiff’s adviser, implemented the preservation of the aircraft smoothly.

Fieldfisher’s expertise in the sector is widely recognized by clients. In 2019, the firm included China Eastern Airlines, Juneyao Airlines and Tibet Airlines to its list of clients. Fieldfisher advised China Eastern Airlines on its joint venture agreements with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

A client from a large international aviation group also recommended Fieldfisher’s managing partner, Zhou Zhaofeng, for his professionalism. Fieldfisher provided compliance and data protection services for China Southern Airlines. “The establishment of a qualified compliance system, general management regulations, and the advice on every significant area by Fieldfisher, helped us a lot,” says Chen Yu, a deputy manager in the legal standards department of China Southern Airlines.

Pillsbury has an aviation, aerospace & transportation team that addresses every aspect of aviation law on a global scale, and has advised leading Chinese airlines and other companies on aviation-related matters.

“In some US-related lawsuits with lengthy procedures and complicated legal relationships, the firm not only won us all stages of court motions and rulings with outstanding professionalism, but also provided our company with supporting facilities for the disposal of an aviation parts assets service,” says a legal counsel of a leading Chinese asset management company. The client also recommends the firm’s co-leader of China practice, Geoffrey Sant, for his performance and communication skills.

SHIPPING


SHIPPING
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
China Commercial Law FirmClyde & Co
East & Concord PartnersGide Loyrette Nouel
Hai Tong & PartnersHolman Fenwick Willan
Huang & Huang Co Law FirmInce
Sloma & CoNorton Rose Fulbright
Wang Jing & CoReed Smith
Wincon Law FirmStephenson Harwood
Wintell & CoWatson Farley & Williams

China Commercial Law Firm has represented clients in several complex maritime disputes and transactions, which included a contract dispute involving multimodal transport covering the UK and Mexico.

In this case, a batch of electronic components was transported by sea and rail from China to Guadalajara, Mexico, but the consignee found only mud in the boxes when unpacking the products. After China Commercial Law Firm made a plea representing the carrier, the collegiate panel analysed the evidence and decided that the most likely loss of the cargo occurred in the Mexican rail transport sector. Therefore, based on the apparent litigation risks, the parties finally settled the dispute through reconciliation.

China Commercial also last year successfully filed a claim for the loss of a soybean shipment by a ship owner and leading Chinese property and casualty insurer. The client says: “The team successfully handled a soybean shipment damage case and successfully recovered nearly RMB10 million (US$1.4 million) of huge claims from the responsible party for our company. The lawyers focusing on the shipping area not only need to have a solid legal background, but also abundant practical experience and high-level language skills. The lawyers in China Commercial Law Firm are professional and provided our company with excellent suggestions in shipping practice and business operation.”

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has a reputation for its strong shipping and maritime practice. The firm’s clients include China Merchant Bank Financial Leasing, ICBC Financial Leasing, BNP Paribas Hong Kong branch, ANZ Bank, and Minsheng Financial Leasing. The value of some of the disputes it has handled have reached RMB1 billion.

Jay De Silva, director of treasury at Pacific Basin Shipping (HK), says: “The facility was expertly managed by WFW and they once again delivered a successful closing within a tight timeframe. The WFW team has always provided us with legal services of the highest standards, and have established themselves as strong legal advisers with regards to shipping finance for our company.”

Ince has advised in many significant transactions, which attracted much attention in the market in 2019, from dry and wet shipping, marine insurance and international trade to ship finance and other projects. For example, Rosita Lau, the firm’s Hong Kong office partner, led a team of lawyers advising a client, as owner of a vessel, in a precedent case where the vessel was sold to a buyer with an express clause that the buyer later breached. The firm also acted for a Hong Kong-based leading international shipowner in a dispute case that set a precedent for the international maritime industry.

CONSTRUCTION AND INFRASTRUCTURE


CONSTRUCTION & INFRASTRUCTURE
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Boss & Young Attorneys at LawAshurst
City Development Law FirmBryan Cave Leighton Paisner
DHH Law FirmDeacons
DOCVIT Law FirmHerbert Smith Freehills
Guantao Law FirmHolman Fenwick Willan
Hui Ye Law FirmMayer Brown
Wang Jing & GH Law FirmMinter Ellison
Zhong Lun Law FirmPinsent Masons

DOCVIT Law Firm provided legal services to several clients last year, including setting up projects, check and acceptance, and operation of a 1,500-acre rail vehicle production base for high-end rail transit manufacturing company Hebei Jingche Rail Transit Vehicle Equipment. The company has the largest production capacity and the most advanced business capabilities in northern China. The firm also provided legal services for the exit from a PPP project, the G569 line from Beishan (Mengganjie) to Xianmi Temple (Ganqingjie), of CCCC Second Harbor Engineering.

Zhong Lun Law Firm participated in a number of major international infrastructure projects in 2019, including: TBEA Shenyang Transformer Group’s investment in the BOT (build-operate-transfer) project of Guinea’s Amalia Hydropower Station; representing China-LAC Industrial Co-operation Investment Fund in its investment in the San Gaban Hydropower Project in Peru; China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation’s (Sinosure) underwriting to a major engineering project in Ivory Coast; and China Overseas Infrastructure Development and Investment Corporation’s (COIDIC) project in Pointe-Noire Special Economic Zone of Congo (Brazzaville). The firm also provided legal services for a waste-to-energy BOO (build-operate-own) project in Indonesia, and a waste-to-energy BOT project in Mauritius.

Hui Ye Law Firm is also well known in this sector. In April 2019, the firm successfully advised a subsidiary of CIFI Group in winning and obtaining land use rights certificates following a judicial auction of land on Chanba Road No. 1, in Xi’an.

The firm claims the RMB1.2 billion deal was the largest foreclosure project in Shaanxi to date. Hui Ye advised CIFI Group on the entire transaction, from pre-bid, risk pre-judgment, bidding, forced liquidation by the enforced party, and written notice of other courts, to suspend transactions, tax payment, land transfer, administrative litigation due to transfer, etc.

Pinsent Masons continues to support its long-standing clients, including SOEs and contractors, in significant disputes and investment projects. The team acted for Chinese contractors in the construction industry concerning projects across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, South America and Europe, and international arbitrations seated in various jurisdictions such as Geneva, London, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Many clients are delighted with the firm’s legal services. A referee from China Machinery Engineering Corporation says Pinsent Masons participated in the coal-electricity integration project led by the company and its Pakistani partners. “In the design of the SPV structures and investment paths, and the drafting and signing of joint development and equity agreements for the project, we had extensive and in-depth co-operation with Pinsent Masons. With their assistance, this project has secured rapid financing and was completed ahead of schedule, and Pinsent Masons played an important role.”

A referee from China National Petroleum Corporation says: “[Pinsent Masons] has rich experience and a high reputation in the market, and can always handle issues from the perspective of clients. During our co-operation in several overseas projects, they were able to integrate transnational resources.”

Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) advised on numerous construction projects in 2019 including assisting: a Chinese development company on its proposed investment in a major underground railway project in the Philippines; a Danish construction company on an offshore project in Taiwan; a UK-headquartered international contractor on projects in Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia; and a heavy lifting and transportation company on projects in Singapore and Hong Kong. Its construction team also represented the Hong Kong Housing Authority in the SAR’s Court of Appeal in a successful defence of an application for permission to appeal an arbitral award in the housing authority’s favour.

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES


ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Anli PartnersAshurst
Chance Bridge PartnersBaker Botts
DentonsBaker McKenzie FenXun
East & Concord PartnersEversheds Sutherland
Guantao Law FirmGide Loyrette Nouel
Jincheng Tongda & NealHerbert Smith Freehills
Sunshine Law FirmPillsbury
Zhong Lun Law FirmShearman & Sterling

Zhong Lun Law Firm has provided legal services for several large-scale transactions in the energy industry. For example, the firm represented Yunnan Provincial Energy Investment Group in its acquisition of a photovoltaic power plant of GCL New Energy Holdings in China, and advised Xinhua Power Development Investment in acquiring a wind and photovoltaic power generation project with a total installed capacity of 366MW from Panda Green Energy Group.

Zhong Lun also assisted Sinomine Resource Group in its acquisition of several subsidiaries of caesium miner Cabot Corporation in June 2019. This transaction made Sinomine the largest mining company in the world for caesium garnet mines, and the world’s largest producer and supplier of the alkali metal’s products. Zhang Jinwei, the vice president of Sinomine, said of his own satisfaction with the law firm and the transaction: “We need professional lawyers in the field of overseas mining investment to manage the potential high risks in foreign mining mergers and acquisitions.”

Chance Bridge Partners helped many large and medium-sized enterprises forge co-operation in the field of energy and natural resources in 2019. Its clients include China Power Grid Investment, PowerChina Construction Group, Sinohydro Bureau 3, and Natus Electric.

Sunshine Law Firm has long been a legal adviser to investors, owners, financing parties and other participants in the development and construction of domestic and overseas energy projects related to power, coal, oil and natural gas.

In 2019, Sunshine participated in many cross-border energy and natural resource projects, such as Shanghai Electric Power Construction’s wind, photovoltaic and coal-fired power plant projects in Argentina, Ukraine, the Philippines and other countries, and in the Java 7 coal-fired power plant project in Indonesia, in which China Energy Engineering Group Zhejiang Thermal Power Construction was the leading party of EPC Consortium.

In the US$2.5 billion S. ALAM coal-fired power station project in Bangladesh, Sunshine acted as leading counsel to Sinosure. This is the largest single-unit thermal power unit, and the largest coal-fired power plant project, in Bangladesh.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman performed strongly in the infrastructure projects, strategic investments and commercial transactions of leading Chinese and foreign energy companies. Pillsbury’s China and London teams represented the Sino-French consortium formed by China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation and French company Framatome, and won the Tokamak Assembly Contract No. 01 (TAC1) for the installation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) built in France.

ITER is the world’s second-largest scientific engineering project in terms of construction scale, behind only the International Space Station. It is also the most significant contract for a nuclear energy project that Chinese companies have bid for in Europe to date.

Hu Yaofang, a representative from the legal department of China National Nuclear Corporation, says: “[Pillsbury] provided us with high-quality and efficient legal services with its superb legal professionalism, diligence and dedication.”

Baker McKenzie FenXun represented CITIC Metal on its acquisitions in relation to Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines, including of a 19.9% stake and additional subscription of 10%, separately. The firm also advised CIC Capital in connection with its investment in the Nam Dinh 1 coal-fired power project in North Vietnam, by acquiring 20% equity interest of Nam Dinh First Power Holding from its current shareholders, ACWA Power and Taekwang Power.

EDUCATION


EDUCATION
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Chance Bridge PartnersBird & Bird
CM Law FirmCMS China
Commerce & Finance Law OfficesHerbert Smith Freehills
DaHui LawyersHogan Lovells
ETR Law FirmMills & Reeve
Fangben Law OfficePinsent Masons
JunHeSkadden
Tian Yuan Law FirmWilson Sonsini

CM Law Firm last year represented a homework management product, Knowbox, in completing its series D round financing of US$150 million, led by Alibaba and Yunfeng Fund. One of Knowbox’s executives says that CM provided “extremely high-quality services and suggestions” throughout the financing process.

CM Law Firm also completed a more than US$55 million series C financing transaction on behalf of online parenting education service platform, Kai Shu Story, last year. The firm also represented the English online learning service provider BaiCiZhan in its series D US-dollar financing of RMB670 million.

Tian Yuan Law Firm stands out in the domestic and overseas listings of educational institutions. Tian Yuan assisted Offcn Education Technology, Koolearn Online, Genshuixue and Youdao in their domestic or foreign capital markets listings. It also submitted A-share IPO applications representing IT vocational training company Itcast, and Hong Kong stock IPO applications on behalf of Neutech Education.

Tian Yuan is active in the private education sector. The firm acted for Yuhua Education in its acquisition of Shandong Yingcai University, the largest private university in Shandong. The firm says that this was one of the most significant M&A transactions for private colleges.

Tian Yuan also represented Yuhua Education in acquiring Stamford International University, a subsidiary of Laureate Education Group. It advised Hope Education’s acquisition of the College of Science and Technology of Guizhou University, Suzhou Tuopu Technology College/Kunshan Technology School, and in making Hope Education the listed company with the most number of private universities.

Pinsent Masons has played an important role in the internationalization of Chinese education. The law firm advised China Education Group, the country’s largest listed higher education group, in its acquisition of King’s Own Institute (Australia). The acquisition placed China Education Group among the country’s leading private higher education groups with an international footprint.

Wilson Sonsini was involved in a number of high-profile corporate transactions in China, with a primary focus on emerging industries such as education. The firm acted for the underwriters in the IPO for GSX Techedu for a total offering size of about US$200 million, which marks the largest US IPO for China-based education companies to date, according to the firm. Prior to this, in early 2019, its team participated in the Hong Kong listing of China Gingko Education Group, a private college and vocation firm based in Sichuan province.

FAMILY WEALTH MANAGEMENT


FAMILY WEALTH MANAGEMENT
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesConyers Dill & Pearman
AnJie Law FirmHarneys
Commerce & Finance Law OfficesHerbert Smith Freehills
DentonsNorton Rose Fulbright
Hylands Law FirmTaylor Wessing
Jiali Law FirmVivien Teu & Co
Landing Law OfficesWilkinson & Grist
Shanghai FO Law FirmWithers

AllBright Law Offices provided legal services to the family trust business of several trust companies last year. Yao Jili, from the risk management department of Shanghai AJ Trust, says: “AllBright participated in the whole process of the establishment and gradual improvement of our company’s business in the field of family wealth management. The firm provided comprehensive and professional legal services on model research, business design, contract drafting, and other aspects.”

A representative of another trust company adds: “[AllBright] provided superb legal services for the innovation and expansion of our family trust business, especially the all-round legal support on trust laws and family trust tax regulations in our pioneering establishment of family trusts by taking a family enterprises’ stakes as trust properties.”

AnJie Law Firm has a family wealth management team led by Echo Zhao, who is qualified to practise law in California and China, and has a management and tax-related background. In addition to providing legal services to high-net-worth clients, Zhao’s team also provides services such as training, legal and cross-border tax services, supporting CITIC Bank’s private banking department, Taikang Life Insurance’s banking and insurance and high-net-worth client departments, and CITIC Prudential Life’s high-net-worth clients department.

Herbert Smith Freehills provided legal services to the Lo family, one of Asia’s wealthiest families by net worth. The widow of the founder of Great Eagle Group commenced proceedings in the High Court of Hong Kong and requested that HSBC International Trust be removed as the trustee of the family trust. The trust holds a majority stake in Great Eagle Group, which is valued at about US$1 billion.

Harneys regularly advises many of the world’s leading trust and fiduciary companies, major financial institutions and high net worth individual (HNWI) private clients. It represented the Hong Kong High Court-appointed joint administrators of the estate of the late Nina Wang, a high-profile property investor. The firm also advised in relation to the removal of a BVI-based trust corporation as trustee of four Cayman Islands trusts, the assets of which included interests in businesses in China and the US, with a total combined value of more than US$200 million, according to the firm.

FINTECH AND BLOCKCHAIN


FINTECH & BLOCKCHAIN
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesFreshfields
China Commercial Law FirmHogan Lovells
Commerce & Finance Law OfficesMorrison & Foerster
Duan & Duan Law FirmNorton Rose Fulbright
Jin Mao Law FirmPaul Weiss
Shihui PartnersRajah & Tann
Tahota Law FirmSimpson Thacher
Tian Yuan Law FirmSkadden

Tian Yuan Law Firm is active in the fintech sector. Jiayin Finance Technology, the operator of the Niwodai platform, completed its US listing and became a leading Chinese company on internet finance listed in the US in terms of market capitalization. Tian Yuan acted as the underwriters’ Chinese legal adviser for the listing, assisting the underwriters and the company to overcome challenges against the US federal government’s stricter regulation on online loan platforms and closing.

Tian Yuan has been active in fintech, in the domestic and overseas capital markets, for the past three years, including the listing of Qudian. Victor Jiang, a representative of the banking and investment department of China International Capital Corporation, says that Tian Yuan has a deep understanding of China’s regulatory changes and law enforcement practices, and rich transactional experience, providing clients with valuable legal advice.

China Commercial Law Firm is also working on making a mark in the field of blockchain. The firm established a blockchain law research institute, the first of its kind, led by law firms in the country. The firm’s senior partner, Huang Wenbiao, and his team assisted various technology companies such as Ding Xuan Cryptography Testing in blockchain applications in the financial services and other sectors.

Shihui Partners has participated in several significant projects, including acting as PRC legal adviser on Pintec’s listing in the US, which was the first B2B business model fintech company listed last year, and advising Huaxing Growth Capital on its investment into WeShare’s series B round financing, during which the firm provided overall legal services such as transaction structure design, due diligence, document drafting, and delivery of the project.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised on US law for Chinese blockchain mining machine manufacturer Canaan Creative with its Nasdaq listing in the US in 2019, which raised US$90 million. Canaan’s listing was a first for companies in the global blockchain sector, and it is also China’s first blockchain-related enterprise to complete an IPO in the US.

The firm also represented the underwriters for the Nasdaq IPO of Jiayin Group, a leading online individual finance marketplace in China, and advised on the investment in Asiaray Media Group on behalf of fintech unicorn Ant Financial.

Morrison & Foerster has one of the few dedicated operational fintech teams in China, catering to a stellar list of industry-leading companies such as Alibaba, Ant Financial, SoftBank and others. It assisted in Alibaba’s acquisition of a 33% equity interest in Ant Financial, China’s leading financial services company, and Ant Financial’s US$14 billion series C fundraising. It also advised Hong Kong-based financial services and technology company Oriente on its US$105 million initial funding round in December 2018.

HEALTHCARE, PHARMA AND LIFE SCIENCE


HEALTHCARE, PHARMA & LIFE SCIENCES
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
CM Law FirmBird & Bird
Global Law OfficeCooley
Han Kun Law OfficesCovington
Hansheng Law OfficesDavis Polk
Kangda Law FirmGoodwin
Merits & Tree Law OfficesPaul Hastings
PacGate Law GroupRopes & Gray
Tian Yuan Law FirmSidley Austin

Merits & Tree Law Offices has an active presence in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. A recent notable healthcare deal for the firm was advising Riverhead Capital in its investment into Chaoju Medical Technology, an ophthalmic chain service agency with a presence in six provinces and more than 30 cities in China.

Due to its long history, large numbers of business entities and extensive geographical coverage, Merits & Tree analysed related matters to be rectified, and reorganized and located relevant risks, assisting the client in securing the deal.

A senior executive at a well-known biopharmaceutical company says that Merits & Tree was very professional when communicating and co-ordinating with different investors. “The firm has deep research in the field of biopharmaceuticals, so it can weigh and balance the interests of all parties and complete complex transactions with high quality in a short period,” says the client. Jin Youyuan, a leading partner at the firm, has also been recommended by clients for his professionalism and management capacity.

Kangda Law Firm serves as legal counsel to several domestic first-class public hospitals, including Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Guang’anmen Hospital of China’s Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, and Haikou People’s Hospital.

“As a partner of our hospital for many years, Kangda’s professionalism is admirable,” says an executive at Beijing Cancer Hospital. “In many medical disputes, Kangda successfully helped reduce our economic losses. Also, regarding co-operation among medical institutions, their understanding of relevant laws and regulations for the hospital has helped us avoid risks.”

Kangda’s Wei Min has been recommended for her services in litigation and non-litigation cases, and for her contribution in drafting training textbooks and outlines on laws for public hospital professionals.

PacGate Law Group has also shown a stellar performance in the sector. PacGate advised new pharmaceutical retail company Dingdang Medicine Express (Beijing) Technology in its series B round of financing, and was responsible for designing and reviewing the transaction structure and plan, drafting, revising and negotiating with the law firms of various investors.

PacGate also represented New Horizon Health, an innovative biotech company, in completing its overseas restructuring and financing, which the company claimed to be one of China’s biggest deals, in terms of value, in the field of early cancer screening.

Cooley has been working alongside leading life sciences companies in Asia and across the globe. Apart from a number of life sciences and healthcare-related VC financing deals, the firm has represented innovative and disruptive companies in more than 10 corporate partnering and licensing transactions, with deal values exceeding US$1.8 billion. For example, it advised C-Bridge Capital on its licensing agreement with Samsung Bioepis to develop and commercialize next-generation biosimilars in China.

Sidley Austin is the only counsel to have advised on five Hong Kong IPO projects of biotech companies since the launch of Hong Kong’s new listing regime in April 2018, the firm says. It has assisted Alphamab Oncology, Shanghai Henlius Biotech, Viva Biotech Holdings, CanSino Biologics and Ascletis Pharma on their listings. The firm is also actively working on financings, M&A and other significant matters for companies in this sector. For instance, it represented Ascletis on its exclusive promotion agreement with Roche China, in connection with one of Roche’s leading Hepatitis C Virus drugs.

INDUSTRIALS AND MANUFACTURING


INDUSTRIALS & MANUFACTURING
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Beshining Law OfficeClyde & Co
Chang Tsi & PartnersFaegre Drinker
East & Concord PartnersGide Loyrette Nouel
Guantao Law FirmHerbert Smith Freehills
JunHeMorgan Lewis
Kewei Law FirmPinsent Masons
Lifang & PartnersSimpson Thacher
PW & PartnersTaft

PW & Partners has had a presence in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) for more than 20 years, and has provided legal services to many manufacturers, for example, acting as legal adviser to Mars Wrigley, Jabil Circuit, Jatco, Daido Steel, Util Group, Renolit, and Zhongsheng Pharma. The firm also acted for a subsidiary of dietary supplements company By-Health in handling liability disputes on fish liver oil products.

Guantao Law Firm’s clients in the industrial sector include formidable names such as Shaanxi Chemical Industry Group, Dagang Holding Group and Puyang Refractories Group. Guantao provided legal services in the 57.1135% equity sale of Zhongce Rubber Group, a transaction that constituted a significant asset reorganization and acquisition of a listed company, last year.

Guantao also advised on the asset purchase of Beijing Ctrowell Tech. The company said that Guantao had conducted in-depth research on the process of assets purchase, declaration of military matters, and special legal issues for central military enterprises, which played a vital role in completing the reorganization.

The client recommended the firm’s partner Hao Jingmei, saying that she “has been working on companies in the military industry for many years” and “contributes to the completion of major asset reorganization and securitization in the aerospace industry”.

JunHe has performed strongly in helping industrial companies with domestic and overseas listings. The firm advised Impro Precision Industries, a top manufacturer of high-precision and complex machined components, on its HK$1 billion (US$128.78 billion) Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing. As the Chinese legal adviser to the issuer, JunHe conducted legal due diligence, participated in the review and revision of the prospectus, provided legal opinions to the issuer, and resolved issues related to notes financing, security incidents and environmental compliance.

Morgan Lewis has provided counselling on about 40% of patent matters for a Chinese electrical appliance manufacturer at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), according to the firm’s information. In dispute resolution, it achieved a significant victory on behalf of smartphone manufacturer OnePlus Technology (Shenzhen), defeating a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Bragi GmbH, a wireless headphones manufacturer. In another case, it achieved victory on behalf of Tachi-S, a Japanese car seat manufacturer.

INSURANCE AND REINSURANCE


INSURANCE & REINSURANCE
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AnJie Law FirmClyde & Co
ETR Law FirmConyers Dill & Pearman
Huang & Huang Co Law FirmFreshfields
Jincheng Tongda & NealHolman Fenwick Willan
Kangda Law FirmHowse Williams
Wang Jing & CoInce
Wintell & CoKennedys
Zhonghao Law FirmReynolds Porter Chamberlain

Zhonghao Law Firm represented various insurance companies in 394 cases (excluding mediation and settlement cases) in 2019. It has clients such as PICC Property & Casualty, ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance, Taikang Online Property Insurance, Tianan Life Insurance Company and several other insurers.

Zhang Xiaochen, a representative of China Pacific Property Insurance, says that during its nine-year co-operation with Zhonghao, the firm has provided high-quality legal services. The client says the firm “has an experienced and relatively fixed team of lawyers, which not only guarantees the quality of its services in handling cases, but also achieves good results in minimizing losses, and has won good comments from courts, parties, companies and other parties.”

Huang & Huang Co Law Firm handled dozens of different types of insurance cases last year, including insurance recovery and claims cases involving large sums of money. Huang & Huang’s clients recommended the firm’s partner, Huang Hui, with one client saying that he showed outstanding professional capacities and a high degree of dedication, which not only reduced losses but also won the respect of insurance companies and their clients.

Marine insurance remains a crucial area of practice for Huang & Huang. “Based on the feedback of our branches, the firm provides a high level of professionalism and a strong sense of responsibility in providing legal services such as litigation and recovery of marine insurance,” says Cheng Mingquan, a manager in the claims department of PICC P&C. “The lawyers have good communication skills and the fees are reasonable.”

AnJie Law Firm introduced Samuel Qi and Li Gang as partners last year, expanding its coverage in insurance to marine insurance including ships and marine transportation. The firm has advised leading Chinese insurance companies on important transactions. For example, in the case of Hynix co-insurers using subrogation rights to recover a fire accident claim, AnJie represented the five co-insurers, and the Supreme People’s Court ruled that the contractor should bear the corresponding compensation liability to the insurers. This is the largest insurance claim by value in Asia’s insurance industry to date.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer specializes in the fields of bancassurance and insurer compliance. The firm’s deals in 2019 include assisting Allianz Insurance to acquire Goldman Sachs’ stake in Taikang Insurance Group, and establishing the first wholly foreign-owned insurance holding company approved in China, Allianz (China) Insurance Holding. The firm also assisted Ping An Medical Insurance on its offshore restructuring and first round of pre-IPO financing, which raised US$1.15 billion.

REAL ESTATE AND REIT


REAL ESTATE & REIT
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesDLA Piper
Boss & Young Attorneys at LawGallant
DHH Law FirmMayer Brown
Grandway Law OfficesMorrison & Foerster
Llinks Law OfficesMourant
V&T Law FirmPaul Hastings
Zhong Lun Law FirmSidley Austin
Zhonglun W&D Law FirmWilkinson & Grist

Zhong Lun Law Firm continues to maintain its leading position in the real estate field. In the past year, Zhong Lun provided legal services for China Jinmao Holdings Group’s investment in the Sanya Nanfan Science and Technology City project. It also advised on the Ping An-Luofushan Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Industrial Park project, the renovation project of Hewan North Area in Futian district of Shenzhen, and the development of One Museum Place, a new landmark in Jing’an district, Shanghai.

In addition, the firm advised on the asset-backed securitization plan of Sichuan New Hope Real Estate Development. In Singapore, with Keppel Land’s acquisition of commercial properties in Guangzhou, Zhong Lun acted as legal counsel to Keppel Land. The project is valued at about HK$140 million and involves the laws of mainland China, Hong Kong and the BVI. It is the company’s first entry into the Guangzhou real estate market.

AllBright Law Offices actively provides legal services for companies in different industries in the real estate field, and has also received praise for its performance from clients. “In a market with the frequent emergence of new rules and regulations, [AllBright’s] updated professional knowledge is paramount to our getting the job done right,” says the assistant general manager of a flagship real estate company based in Hong Kong. AllBright provided legal services for the company’s bid for land on Huaihai Middle Road, Huangpu district, Shanghai. The project is worth RMB13.6 billion.

DHH Law Firm advised on various deals in the real estate sector in 2019, including more than 30 real estate investment projects for Everbright Xinglong Trust, including Hongteng No. 2 Collective Fund Trust Plan, Guisheng No. 4 Collective Fund Trust Plan, and Yurong 3 Trust Plan. DHH conducted legal due diligence, designed transaction structure, negotiated, provided legal opinions, and drafted and revised trust and investment documents.

Gallant assisted clients in multiple transactions last year in the sales, mortgages and loans of real estate projects. The firm helped buyers of HK$1.45 billion worth of residential land in southern Hong Kong to redevelop the plot. Gallant advised the client on the stamp duty implications and negotiated on the terms and conditions of a deed of mutual grant. The firm also advised a Hong Kong bank on a construction loan of up to HK$1.4 billion, which will finance the redevelopment of an industrial site in Kowloon.

A representative from Toyo Mall, which has worked with Gallant for decades, says: “They have excellent teamwork and are highly efficient, perform well under pressure and meet deadlines, and always provide sound advice and do high-quality work.”

Clients recommend Annie Wong, Gallant’s partner and head of the real estate department, saying that she “provides very accurate advice very efficiently”, “works smartly”, and “can look at issues from a commercial viewpoint”.

Wilkinson & Grist assisted in several large real estate transactions. For example, the firm represented a buyer with an investment portfolio of 28 properties, with a total price of more than HK$500 million, for reconstruction. It represented another buyer in the purchase of an industrial building in Kwai Chung for approximately HK$900 million, which is expected to be rebuilt as a data centre. Wilkinson & Grist also represented a private hospital in Hong Kong and assisted it in acquiring a group of companies that owned a parcel of land in Kwun Tong for about HK$550 million.

One of the firm’s clients says: “[Wilkinson & Grist] has a designated real estate team with specialists to offer bespoke legal advice … It once provided our group with a tax-efficient scheme by leveraging on an intragroup stamp duty relief in Hong Kong to restructure our real estate companies. During the exercise, it demonstrated its expert knowledge about the relevant Hong Kong tax rules and its invaluable experience to deal with the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department in a frictionless manner.”

INTERNET AND E-COMMERCE


INTERNET & E-COMMERCE
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Anli PartnersCMS China
CM Law FirmDavis Polk
ETR Law FirmMayer Brown
Haiwen & PartnersNixon Peabody
Han Kun Law OfficesSimpson Thacher
PacGate Law GroupSkadden
TransAsia LawyersWilson Sonsini
Zhihe PartnersWoo Kwan Lee & Lo

CM Law Firm participated in various projects in the internet domain last year. A notable deal it advised on was assisting fashion-focused e-commerce platform Mogujie’s listing on the US stock market, raising about US$67 million. It also advised So-young, a medical beauty service online platform, on its US listing, advised Tencent in its series E investment into travel website Mafengwo.com, and worked as Futu Securities’ PRC legal adviser in its US listing in March 2019, making it the first internet brokerage company to list overseas.

Haiwen & Partners advised Baidu in its acquisition of a 5.26% stake in Shanghai HAND Enterprise Solutions in 2019. Baidu became the third-largest shareholder of HAND after the completion of the transaction. Haiwen & Partners did legal due diligence, transaction structure design, document drafting, negotiation, information disclosure, and other compliance management services for the transaction.

Baidu’s in-house counsel, Yu Qian, says there was good communication with Haiwen & Partners while working with the firm. “[Haiwen] can often take an extra step in thinking about issues. To meet the different needs of multiple parties, the firm can design a perfect transaction structure. They can also handle relevant issues very well.”

TransAsia Lawyers acted as Airbnb’s legal adviser on China affairs on structure and regulatory matters, new product, “Experiences”, user terms and policy updates, data procurement, licensing, government relations, cybersecurity and other compliance issues in all sub-markets of its business.

TransAsia also provided legal services for all significant rounds of financing of Danke Apartment, a leading online apartment rental platform, including the more than US$500 million series C round financing led by Tiger Global Management and Ant Financial, and the US$190 million series D financing led by CMC and Primavera.

Skadden has handled dozens of transactions for various Chinese internet and e-commerce companies in the past year. In both capital markets and M&A sectors, it has an active presence, and has participated in the IPOs of GSX Techedu, AMTD International, So-Young International, Yunji Inc, Futu Holdings, 9F Inc and others.

The firm advised Ke.com in its US$800 million series D financing led by strategic investor Tencent, and acted for YY (China), a leading live streaming social media platform in China, in its US$1.5 billion acquisition of Bigo Inc.

TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMS


TECHNOLOGY & TELECOMS
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
DaHui LawyersGoodwin
GoldenGate LawyersLeaf
Guantao Law FirmMayer Brown
Han Kun Law OfficesMorrison & Foerster
Hylands Law FirmNixon Peabody
Jingtian & GongchengReynolds Porter Chamberlain
Lifang & PartnersShearman & Sterling
TransAsia LawyersWilson Sonsini

Han Kun Law Offices’ representative transactions in the technology and telecoms sector include: Tencent’s US$6 billion global medium-term note plan; Tencent’s RMB8 billion investment in CMC funds; Megvii’s US$750 million series D round financing; NIO’s issuance of US$750 million notes; and Qudian’s US$345 million senior convertible bonds offering.

Jingtian & Gongcheng assisted Meitu in the acquisition of 57.09% of Dajie.com in a stock and cash deal. The transaction involved regulatory and compliance issues for listed companies in Hong Kong. At the same time, Dajie also needed to withdraw and reorganize related businesses, which involved various legal issues such as reorganization, listing company supervision, and stock swap, all of which took considerable time.

After completion of the acquisition, Dajie will operate independently within Meitu, and the founder will be the chief operating officer of Meitu. This transaction will allow Dajie to get the users and financial support of Meitu. Meanwhile, Dajie will provide Meitu users with value-added services like social job searching and vocational training.

Jingtian & Gongcheng also advised US luxury e-commerce platform Moda Operandi to set up its subsidiaries and operations in China. The firm’s other deals include Montage Tech’s listing on China’s Star Market in July.

Shearman & Sterling represented China Telecom in its US$5.4 billion joint venture with Udenna Corporation, involving telecoms projects in the Philippines. Chen Li and her team provided legal services on structure design and financing of the joint venture, especially China Telecom’s structural investment in Philippine new telecommunications supplier DITO (also known as Mislatel).

The project posed challenges not only due to its huge deal value, but also because China Telecom is a state-owned enterprise. However, the law firm successfully assisted the company in obtaining the necessary approvals from Chinese regulators.

Leaf also received praise from clients for its professionalism. A client from a leading global mobile operating system company says that Leaf provided high-quality services in various areas such as contract review, privacy terms and conditions, and M&A, while charging reasonable fees. Leaf is also willing to use modern communication technologies (such as VOIP and instant messaging services) to simplify the communication process and respond quickly and promptly, the client adds.

Mayer Brown has a proven track record in the technology and telecoms sector, working with leading technology companies, as well as pioneering start-ups in China and abroad. It assisted Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology in its ITC section 337 dispute with iRobot, and achieved a victory based on the final determination rendered by the ITC on 30 November 2018, according to the firm. It also served Alibaba and its subsidiaries in a wide range of technology transactions, covering telecoms licensing, data privacy, domain name matters and others.

MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORT


MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
Beijing TA Law FirmBird & Bird
Guantao Law FirmDeacons
Hylands Law FirmGreenberg Traurig
Jingtian & GongchengLatham & Watkins
Merits & Tree Law OfficesLoeb & Loeb
MHP Law FirmManatt
SG & Co PRC LawyersMorgan Lewis
Tiantai Law FirmProskauer

The rapid development of the cultural industry has also led to the growth of legal services in the media, entertainment and sports industries, with some benchmark cases coming up. The trade secret protection case surrounding the film Wu Kong lasted three years, and TA Law Firm won the case on behalf of its client before Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing. This is the first trade secret infringement case due to a source leak of films and television dramas in China.

TA Law Firm is a boutique firm focusing on the intellectual property and pan-entertainment industries. Allen Wang, the managing partner of the firm, handles many well-known cases in the industry, including an M&A between Huayi Brothers Media and Giant Interactive Group involving the online game King of Kings, and a movie adaptation rights dispute over The Lost Tomb, written by famous online author Kennedy Xu.

Hylands Law Firm also remains active in this field, and in 2019 acted for a well-known company on its cultural and creative projects, participated in a new type of internet case, and a copyright dispute case for a hit movie in China.

Jingtian & Gongcheng performed well last year in the sports law sector, and an executive from football club SIPG FC gives the following recommendation for the firm: “As a wholly owned subsidiary of a state-owned listed company, our club is facing supervision from not only the Chinese Football Association, but also the stock exchange and state-owned assets authorities. Jingtian & Gongcheng is able to provide comprehensive business-wide legal support and advice on special supervision through its all-round talent pool in sports and entertainment.”

Deacons represented a world leading entertainment company on several IP-related cases last year. The firm has been actively managing the clients’ portfolios, and succeeded in various opposition and invalidation cases against third-party trademarks, which were similar or identical to its clients’ trademarks.

Latham & Watkins has worked to strengthen its entertainment, sports and media practice group in the Greater China and Asia-Pacific regions. It has advised the arrangers on term loan facilities in connection with Mascot JVCO (Cayman) Limited’s acquisition of Amer Sports Corporation, a sporting goods company, by a consortium, including China’s biggest athletics apparel producer, Anta Sports, and Chinese private equity firm FountainVest. In the capital market, it advised in US$500 million convertible senior notes due 2026 by Bilibili Inc, an iconic brand of online entertainment for youth in China.

RETAIL AND CONSUMER


RETAIL& CONSUMER
PRC FIRMSINTERNATIONAL FIRMS
AllBright Law OfficesBaker McKenzie FenXun
Chang Tsi & PartnersGide Loyrette Nouel
East & Concord PartnersHerbert Smith Freehills
Fangben Law OfficeMorgan Lewis
JunHeRajah & Tann
Kewei Law FirmReynolds Porter Chamberlain
PacGate Law GroupWilson Sonsini
Shihui PartnersWithers

Chang Tsi & Partners has represented many well-known companies in the field of consumer and retail in trademark infringement disputes.

In the case of Levi Strauss v Shadonggongjue Denim Clothing Storein Tianhe district, Guangzhou, and Huang Yin, Chang Tsi represented the plaintiff Levi Strauss, an American jeans manufacturer, in the first trial of the case. In June 2019, Guangzhou Tianhe District People’s Court issued a civil mediation letter in the case. Both parties settled eight disputes over trademark infringement tried by the Tianhe District Court through negotiations. In addition, Chang Tsi has represented Johnson & Johnson, Michael Kors, 3M and other multinational companies in trademark infringement disputes in China.

Kewei Law Firm formed a joint operation with Herbert Smith Freehills in August last year, strengthening the firm’s international practice. It advised General Mills, a US-based manufacturer of consumer foods, on divestment of parts of its China business last year. According to Kewei, this was a complex deal including sale of both shares and assets, post-completion transition services, and escrow account arrangement. Kewei also advised Inchcape, a London-listed automotive distributor, in the sale of its three retail sites in China in October 2019 .

Rajah & Tann is one of the largest regional networks in China and Southeast Asia. Last year, Assegaf Hamzah & Partners, a member of the Rajah & Tann network, advised Haidilao International, a well-known Chinese hotpot chain restaurant, on entering the Indonesian market. The firm assisted with the establishment of the Haidilao Indonesian subsidiary to open outlets in Jakarta, advising on employment issues and Indonesian company law.

Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) consolidated their strength in this area and represented a large number of retail clients across Asia in 2019. RPC was involved in several deals including advising a European fashion group on the takeover by a new authorized dealer in northeast China, and finalizing a management and operational services agreement for new outlets and an online platform of a high-end fashion retailer in China.