Hong Kong’s 25 largest law firms 2012

Baker & McKenzie has topped Hong Kong Business inaugural top 25 law firm rankings for 2012, beating out Deacons and Mayer Brown, who took second and third spots.

Foreign law firms have topped Hong Kong Business inaugural top 25 law firm rankings for 2012 with only five local firms making it to the list.

US law firm Baker & Mckenzie lands the top spot in Hong Kong Business’ list of biggest law firms in Hong Kong with 273 law professionals, beating out other foreign firms Deacons and Mayer Brown, who took second and third spots.

The biggest local law firm was Woo Kwan Lee & lo but only came in 10th in the list with 76 law professionals.

Together the top 25 law firms employed 2,575 people in Hong Kong, according to figures compiled by Hong Kong Business. The average number of employees in the top 25 firms was 63.

Baker & McKenzie bags biggest deals

Key deals for the top ranking Baker & McKenzie over the last year included advising Yuexiu Group on the investment by Yuexiu REIT in Guangzhou International Finance Center, one of the ten tallest skyscrapers in the world; China Eastern Airlines on its US$198 million 50/50 joint venture with Australian carrier Qantas Airways to establish Jetstar Hong Kong; and State Grid Corporation of China on the acquisition of seven high voltage electricity transmission assets in Brazil.

Other deals of note included the US$200 million global offering by DYNAM Japan Holdings, one of the biggest pachinko hall operators in Japan as well as for Cheung Kong Bond Securities on the issue and offering of HK$1 billion 5.25% guaranteed senior perpetual securities.

Deacons defies downtrend

Coming in second was Deacons with 252 law professionals. Deacons executive partner Jeremy Lam said 2012 has been a busy year for the firm, especially for its Corporate Financepractice which has defied the general market trend of a slowdown in capital markets work. “One of the highlights of the year was advising Dynamo Japan Holdings on its global offering and Main Board listing on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, the first Japanese incorporated company to achieve a primary listing in Hong Kong,” he says.

Mayer Brown shines in acquisitions

Rounding out the top 3 was Mayer Brown JSM employing 200 law professionals. Some notable deals that Mayer Brown has in the past year include advising Nestlé on its acquisition of Pfizer’s infant nutrition business for US$11.85 billion, which was one of the largest acquisitions announced to date in 2012.

Other deals included the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia’s US$300 million issuance of senior notes; MIE Holdings Corp US$100 million acquisition of Sino Gas & Energy, and Hanergy Holding Group, the largest privately-owned cleanenergy developer in China on its acquisition of Solibro, a manufacturer of copper indium gallium diselenide co-evaporation technology and thinfilm unit of insolvent German solar group Q-Cells SE.

Finally, Mayer Brown advised Hong Kong-listed China State Construction International Holdings on its top-up placement of 300 million shares to independent third parties raising approximately US$280 million or HK$2.2 billion.

Coming in fourth was Linklaters employing 183 law professionals. Linklaters has advised the China Minmetals Corp, one of the world’s leaders in the production of zinc.

The group acted through its subsidiary Minmetals Resources, a Hong Kong listed Chinese company, concerning its $1.3b public tender offer of the total capital pertaining to the copper manufacturer, Anvil Mining. It is also one of the law firms which acted on Astro Malaysia Holdings’ $1.5 billion initial public offering, Malaysia’s third largest IPO this year.

Coming fifth in the rankings was King & Wood Mallesons, the newly minted firm named after merging Australian law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Chinese law firm King & Wood.

The firm employs a total of 163 law professionals in Hong Kong, but boasts of a much larger Chinese presence and partner David Bateson notes that it’s the first firm to receive a license to practice Australian law, Chinese law and English law.

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