The tables below rank law firms and in-house legal teams for the FT Innovative Lawyers Apac awards.

Accessing New Markets and Capital:

Rank Law firm Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT King & Wood Mallesons Represented the World Bank and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on the issuance of Bond-i (Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument), the world’s first public bond to be created and managed on the blockchain. The firm designed a legal framework that provides certainty around the location of the bond in cross-border transactions, and handled discussions with regulators and investors to ensure multi-party buy-in on the A$110m issuance. The potential reduction in underwriting costs allows the bank to put more money towards development projects in developing countries. Commended: Scott Farrell 9 8 7 24
STANDOUT Gilbert + Tobin Overcame regulatory hurdles to guide Yancoal, Australia's largest pure-coal producer, through its HK$1.6bn initial public offering and listing on Hong Kong's stock exchange (HKEX). The transaction is the first dual primary listing on both the HKEX and the Australian Securities Exchange. Commended: Costas Condoleon 8 9 6 23
STANDOUT Nishith Desai Associates Advised the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on a new listing platform for start-ups.  The firm created governance procedures for the start-ups to be eligible to list, requiring them to meet internal compliance and reporting standards that are less intensive than the requirements for listing on the main boards. 8 9 6 23
HIGHLY COMMENDED Mori Hamada & Matsumoto Advised Hoosiers Holdings on a partially underwritten rights issue, which made the issuance feasible for Deutsche Bank by requiring only 20 per cent of the issued rights be underwritten as opposed to the standard 100 per cent. Other Japanese issuers have since adopted the structure.  7 7 8 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Orrick With clients GPI and Pattern Energy, the firm successfully lobbied the government for permission to build a wind farm on grade 1 agricultural land in Japan. This is also the first equity-backed leveraged project financing transaction in Japan. 7 8 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Sullivan & Cromwell Advised Australia Pacific LNG Processing on a $1.4bn debt refinancing. This is the first US private debt financing for a liquefied natural gas project in Asia-Pacific. The firm integrated a US private placement debt financing by an issuer into existing project financing. 7 8 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Allen & Gledhill Working with the legal team at Azalea Asset Management, the firm structured the Astrea IV transaction allowing retail investors in Singapore to invest in private equity for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. The structuring overcame the liquidity problem faced by private equity investments by making the bonds graded and tradable on the Singapore stock exchange. 7 7 7 21
HIGHLY COMMENDED Assegaf Hamzah & Partners Advised on Indonesian law for the issuance of the world's first sovereign bond that is compliant with shariah finance as well as environmental ethical standards. The $1.25bn issuance is part of a move towards a low-emissions economy in Indonesia, one of the countries most susceptible to the effects of climate change. Worked with Clifford Chance. 7 7 7 21
HIGHLY COMMENDED Baker McKenzie Advised the government of the Republic of Fiji on the 2018 listing of $48m in green bonds on the International Securities Market of the London Stock Exchange. The transaction represents the first international sovereign green offering from an emerging economy. 7 7 7 21
HIGHLY COMMENDED Latham & Watkins Chinese textiles company Shandong Ruyi wanted to monetise its holding in fashion group SMCP while retaining majority control. The firm crafted a legal structure that preserved voting rights and made 6 per cent of the share capital available to investors in exchangeable bonds. 7 7 7 21
COMMENDED Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Advised China Tower, a project designed to encourage the three largest mobile networks in China to share infrastructure, on its initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The $6.9bn IPO will fund refurbishment of the network and accelerate adoption of 5G. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Latham & Watkins Advised Clifford Capital on the structuring of Bayfront Infrastructure Capital, which combines a collateralised loan obligation structure with a portfolio of project loans. The new asset class allows institutional investors other than commercial banks to invest in the portfolio of infrastructure projects. 6 7 7 20
COMMENDED Mayer Brown Structured Virtus Medical Group's shareholder agreements so that senior doctors would have a share in the business, while allowing investors to retain sufficient control. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Paul Hastings Represented underwriters Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on the $1bn global depositary receipts offering by Kakao Corp, the leading operator of mobile and online platforms in South Korea. This was the largest overseas-listed equity offering by a South Korean issuer in a decade. 6 7 7 20
COMMENDED Shearman & Sterling Advised the Asian Development Bank, sole lender on the $215m Eastern Indonesia Renewable Energy project, which combined four solar projects with a larger wind initiative. The firm adapted a mechanism to release money to the lender if the buyer fails to meet certain financial targets, incentivising them to maintain solvency. 6 7 7 20
COMMENDED White & Case Structured a $30m investment fund to invest in early-stage blockchain projects for Japanese tech company Gumi. The fund is structured as a "GK-TK", a unique Japanese investment structure that allows individual investors to remain anonymous while gaining tax advantages, risk diversification and transparency to reassure regulators. Commended: Nels Hansen 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Allen & Overy Advised banks Credit Suisse and HSBC on an export credit loan backed by the German government for Vietnamese automotive manufacturer VinFast. This is the first time a private Vietnamese company has obtained coverage without a guarantee from the Vietnamese ministry of finance. 7 6 6 19
COMMENDED Baker McKenzie The firm advised on the financing of Indonesia's first high-speed rail project. The project is three-quarters financed by a loan from the China Development Bank, and the rest is arranged by the project developer Kereta Cepat Indonesia China. Once completed, the railway is expected to cut the journey between Jakarta and Bandung from up to five hours to 45 minutes. 6 7 6 19
COMMENDED Eversheds Sutherland

Developed a model with Standard Chartered bank, private infrastructure group GuarantCo and three Bangladeshi banks, to finance Technaf Solartech, the first grid-connected solar project in Bangladesh. The structure provides a template for complex financings in developing countries involving both domestic and international banks.

6 6 7 19
COMMENDED DFDL With international counsel at Morrison & Foerster, DFDL advised Japan Tobacco International on the $1.5bn acquisition of Akij Group's tobacco business. The firm worked with Bangladeshi regulators and the central bank to obtain clearance for the deal, helping to create a framework for foreign direct investment in Bangladesh. 6 6 6 18
COMMENDED Gilbert + Tobin Helped accounting software company Xero become the first to use a "call spread" structure outside the US to for its $300m capital rise. The structure relies on a series of "call and put" options, where a holder has the right to buy or sell shares at a specific price until a specified date, between Xero, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, lowering the risk of diluting stocks through the offering. 6 7 5 18
COMMENDED Morrison & Foerster Working alongside local firm DFDL, it advised Japan Tobacco International on the $1.5bn acquisition of Akij Group. It navigated Bangladesh’s strict foreign exchange controls by designing a bespoke structure to enable JTI to buy the tobacco assets using a local entity. 6 6 6 18
COMMENDED Rajah & Tann  Advised Insurance Australia Group on its A$75m catastrophe bond, the first such issuance in Singapore. The regulations permitting this type of US-centric product had previously gone untested in Asia. 6 6 6 18

Accessing New Markets and Capital (In-house):

Rank Company Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT ING Bank Launched the Philippines' first fully digital retail bank despite the country's heavy reliance on cheques. Lawyers developed a model to enable customers to cash cheques at competing banks' branches. The team analysed the regulatory environment to avoid bottlenecks and ensure the bank met know-your-customer requirements. 8 8 8 24
HIGHLY COMMENDED Bank of China (Hong Kong) Advised on the issuance of a $3bn tier 1 capital issuance at the same time as a public offer of outstanding subordinated debt. Lawyers had to overcome cumbersome tender offer rules in the US, which require a time lapse between retiring the old notes and issuing new ones. 6 8 7 21
COMMENDED Go-Jek Expanded into new markets, tackling different regulatory landscapes and data privacy laws in each country. The ride-hailing company's legal team addressed challenges translating and updating terms and conditions, balancing the need for increased regulatory requirements to ensure a seamless merchant onboarding process. 6 7 7 20

Explore the Innovative Lawyers Asia-Pacific rankings 2019


  • FT Most Innovative Law Firms
  • Rule of Law and Access to Justice
  • Most Innovative In-house legal teams
  • Collaboration

Business of Law

  • Data, Knowledge and Intelligence
  • Managing and Developing Talent
  • Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion
  • New Business and Service Delivery Models
  • New Products and Services
  • Strategy and Changing Behaviours
  • Technology

Legal Expertise

  • Accessing New Markets and Capital
  • Enabling Business Growth and Transformation
  • Managing Complexity and Scale
  • Litigation and Disputes
  • Creating a New Standard
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