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

Accessing New Markets and Capital:

RankLaw firmDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTKing & Wood MallesonsRepresented 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 Farrell98724
STANDOUTGilbert + TobinOvercame 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 Condoleon89623
STANDOUTNishith Desai AssociatesAdvised 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.89623
HIGHLY COMMENDEDMori Hamada & MatsumotoAdvised 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. 77822
HIGHLY COMMENDEDOrrickWith 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.78722
HIGHLY COMMENDEDSullivan & CromwellAdvised 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.78722
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAllen & GledhillWorking 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.77721
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAssegaf Hamzah & PartnersAdvised 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.77721
HIGHLY COMMENDEDBaker McKenzieAdvised 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.77721
HIGHLY COMMENDEDLatham & WatkinsChinese 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.77721
COMMENDEDFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerAdvised 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.77620
COMMENDEDLatham & WatkinsAdvised 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.67720
COMMENDEDMayer BrownStructured Virtus Medical Group's shareholder agreements so that senior doctors would have a share in the business, while allowing investors to retain sufficient control.77620
COMMENDEDPaul HastingsRepresented 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.67720
COMMENDEDShearman & SterlingAdvised 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.67720
COMMENDEDWhite & CaseStructured 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 Hansen77620
COMMENDEDAllen & OveryAdvised 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.76619
COMMENDEDBaker McKenzieThe 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.67619
COMMENDEDEversheds 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.

66719
COMMENDEDDFDLWith 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.66618
COMMENDEDGilbert + TobinHelped 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.67518
COMMENDEDMorrison & FoersterWorking 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.66618
COMMENDEDRajah & 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.66618

Accessing New Markets and Capital (In-house):

RankCompanyDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTING BankLaunched 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.88824
HIGHLY COMMENDEDBank 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.68721
COMMENDEDGo-JekExpanded 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.67720

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