Legal news in brief


Skadden aids JBIC bond issue

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom advised Citigroup Global Markets, Daiwa Capital Markets Europe, Goldman Sachs International, and JP Morgan Securities as the underwriters on a US$2 billion offering of 0.625% guaranteed bonds due 2023 by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

The bonds were listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, and offerings closed on 22 May 2020. The Tokyo-based Skadden team on the transaction was led by partner Kenji Taneda with Asia-Pacific counsel Ken Kiyota and associates Akira Tago and Kyle Huh.

Firm closes Beijing office

Stephenson Harwood shut its Beijing office as it revamps its practice in Hong Kong to focus on litigation, corporate M&A and asset finance work, after a review of its Asia operations earlier this year.

The review resulted in the firm closing its Beijing office of seven years after its only resident partner, Lin Chun-hui, left the firm. Meanwhile, Jamie Stranger, a restructuring and insolvency specialist was appointed as the firm’s Greater China managing partner, replacing Voon Keat Lai. Under his leadership, the firm aims to refocus its Hong Kong office to better align with its overall core practices.

Temasek backs plant-based meat

WongPartnership acted for Temasek as lead investor in the US$8 million funding round of Growthwell Group. The plant-meat manufacturer will use the funds to set up a local research and development (R&D) centre and launch a new product line with an Israeli start-up.

Partners Mark Choy and Kyle Lee led the firm’s team in the transaction. Growthwell, established in 1989, specializes in vegetarian food solutions for businesses in Singapore, Australia, India and the US.

Myanmar punishes non-compliance

The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), the company registrar under the Myanmar Companies Law 2017 (MCL), announced the striking off and dissolution of 810 Myanmar-incorporated companies for continued failure to file annual returns.

If companies wish to be reinstated, they need to make an appointment with the DICA for a consultation to review their case. The DICA is working with specialist litigation firm Myo & Myo, which has litigators with experience in company reinstatement applications.

Pandemic sparks product expansion

WongPartnership represented Japan’s Saison Capital as lead investor in its US$10 million series A funding round of Helicap, a Singapore based fintech start-up.

Helicap is an online investment platform specializing in alternative lending in Southeast Asia and Oceania. To date, it has total fundraising of US$18 million. The fintech intends to expand towards the private debt space, in light of market dislocations brought about by the pandemic. WongPartnership partner Ong Sin Wei led the transaction team.

Korea’s Hana in power deal

Nishimura & Asahi acted as lead legal counsel to Hana Financial Investment, a member of one of Korea’s largest financial conglomerates, Hana Financial Group, on its acquisition of Yamaguchi Shin Mine, an operating 56.3MW solar power plant in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan, from Canadian Solar.

The transaction was valued at approximately US$205 million (including debt financing). As part of the deal, Canadian Solar will continue to provide asset management, as well as operation and maintenance services for the plant after the transaction. The team advising on the deal was led by partners Norio Maeda, Sadayuki Matsudaira, Ryoji Moroi and Nathan Schmidt, with Bong Sang-kyun supporting.

V&E latest to exit China

US law firm Vinson & Elkins (V&E) has closed its Beijing office as it further reduces its Asia presence following a significant drop in the region’s oil and gas work, which it focuses on almost exclusively.

Its Hong Kong office is now by appointment only, with no resident lawyer. V&E, like many international law firms, are currently reconsidering their plans in the region given changes in deal flow, protests in Hong Kong, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Back-to-back IPOs for HFW

International sector-focused law firm Holman Fenwick Willan’s (HFW) new Hong Kong capital markets team led on two recent IPOs that closed within five days of each other.

The firm counselled Zhongtai International Capital as sole sponsor on its HK$125 million (approximately US$16.1 million) IPO of Malaysian eyewear retailer MOG, which closed on 15 April, while consecutively acting for Asia-express Logistics on its HK$60 million IPO, which closed on 20 April.

The team on both transactions was led by Hong Kong partner Wing Cheung and comprised Carmen Liang, Jacqueline Chung, Brian Ng, Joey Sze, Johnnie Ho, Karen Ip and Justin Chung.

Cambodian collaboration

Cambodia’s ZICO law network member firm, SokSiphana&associates (SSA) entered into a collaboration with international boutique firm Appleton Luff to aid clients on international trade and investment.

SSA, founded by Cambodia’s former commerce secretary, Sok Siphana, in 1998, advises clients on market entry, commercial transactions, trade and investment. Appleton Luff similarly specializes in international trade and investment, with offices in Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva, Kampala, Seattle, Singapore, Warsaw and Washington DC.

Mubadala’s buys into Jio

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom represented Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment on its US$1.2 billion investment in Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s largest private sector company.

The investment gives Mubadala a 1.85% stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis, with an equity value of US$65 billion. The Skadden team was led by partners Jonathan Stone (Hong Kong) and Rajeev Duggal (Singapore), with counsel Parveet Gandoak and associate Kim In-Ho (Singapore), partners Michael Leiter (Washington DC), Andrew Foster (Hong Kong), and Pamela Endreny and counsel Trevor Allen (New York).

Mishcon in coal deal

Mishcon de Reya Singapore represented Bakrie Capital Indonesia and Ithaca Resources in its agreement with US industrial gases provider Air Products, to build a US$2 billion coal-to-methanol production facility in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Under a long-term build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) agreement with Air Products, Bakrie Capital and Ithaca Resources will supply the coal feedstock and offtake the methanol production. Managing partner Tahirah Ara led the Mishcon team, supported by consultant Justin Smith, special counsel Lawrence Altman and associate Luke Lim. Partner Clarinda Tjia-Dharmadi led the Latham & Watkins team advising Air Products.