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

Creating a New Standard:

RankLaw firmDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STAND-OUTHSA AdvocatesAdvised Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society on a project to increase mobile connectivity in the Indian state. The project involves distributing smartphone handsets to 5.5m people in the region, which has the lowest mobile penetration in the country. The structure devised by the firm combined government funding with telecom companies, which set up more than 1,500 telecom towers across the region.77923
HIGHLY COMMENDEDNishimura & Asahi

Supported US private equity group KKR in its acquisition of semiconductor equipment maker Hitachi Kokusai Electric by combining an equity carve-out of particular business elements with a compulsory sale of shares by minority shareholders and then a share buy-back. Although carve-outs and compulsory sales are common on their own, the combination of both was unprecedented in Japan.

87722
HIGHLY COMMENDEDNorton Rose FulbrightAdvised the Asean Financial Innovation Network, formed by the International Finance Corporation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Asean Bankers Association, on setting up a software-development platform. The platform brings emerging market banks and fintechs together to test and develop technologies in an effort to increase financial inclusion across south-east Asia. 78722
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAnand and AnandAdvised Microsoft on international cyber crime event where English-speaking customers were scammed by call centres in India posing as technical support, threatening the reputation of Microsoft as well as India as an outsourcing hub. Using data from customer complaints, the firm worked with law enforcement to support successful raids on several call centres. Other technology companies affected by similar scams have followed suit.77721
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAshurstAdvised buyers on the $4.1bn acquisition of the Hong Kong skyscraper The Center. Structuring the financing as a bond issuance with loan features allows investors with various risk appetites to invest. The structure presents an alternative funding source for property acquisitions. 87621
HIGHLY COMMENDEDJunHeAdvised Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on its Hong Kong stock exchange initial public offering. The issuance of a Chinese depositary receipt would have made Xiaomi the first dual-listed Chinese unicorn, but was halted because of regulatory concerns. Xiaomi successfully listed on HKEX and the legal work provides a blueprint for similar transactions.87621
HIGHLY COMMENDEDKing & Wood MallesonsEnabled HKEX in its launch of the Qianhai Mercantile Exchange, the new commodities spot trading platform, which helps bring together disparate trading platforms in mainland China. The firm advised on new trading rules, membership agreements, regulation and the required warehousing documentation.77721
COMMENDEDBaker McKenzieActed as the sole legal adviser to a consortium of 18 banks to establish the Thailand Blockchain Community Initiative. The platform acts as an online system for generating and storing legally compliant letters of guarantee, which govern payment obligations between parties.77620
COMMENDEDHogan LovellsIn China, a trademark is typically granted to the first entity to file an application. ZF TRW's trademark was hijacked in 2004, and the courts rejected the automotive company's attempts to overturn the hijacker's registration. The firm demonstrated that the hijacker had known of ZF TRW in 2004 and made the application in bad faith, convincing the court to overturn the decision and setting a precedent for lower courts. 77620
COMMENDEDAllen & OveryAdvised buyers on the $4.1bn acquisition of the Hong Kong skyscraper The Center. Structuring the financing as a bond issuance with loan features allows investors with various risk appetites to invest. The structure presents an alternative funding source for property acquisitions. 76619
COMMENDEDAshurstNegotiated with several parties on behalf of Phoenix Energy to enable Australia's first waste-to-energy project. Ashurst used its relevant experience in other jurisdictions to educate and ensure all parties were comfortable with the finance. The project took inspiration from Europe's stringent emissions and environment standards, helping to set similar benchmarks for waste-to-energy projects in Australia. Commended: Richard Guit67619
COMMENDEDMayer BrownRepresented technology company WeSurance on its application to become an insurance agent in Hong Kong, enabling the company to market insurance products directly to consumers on mobile apps rather than traditional bank or brokerage partnerships.66719
COMMENDEDMori Hamada & MatsumotoNegotiated with Thailand's central bank and ministry of finance on behalf of Japan-based tech company Line Corporation regarding its joint venture with KBank. This enabled the newly formed Kasikorn Line Company to offer a broad range of digital banking services, breaking new ground for fintech ventures in Thailand.76619
COMMENDEDWongPartnershipProvided technical advice to the Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol, which provides a framework to mitigate delays and costs in major infrastructure projects in Singapore.66618

Creating a New Standard (In-house):

RankCompanyRSG DescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTAsian Development BankEstablished new governance procedures enabling the bank to expedite financial assistance to the government of Bangladesh during the Rohingya refugees crisis. Lawyers helped the bank provide a $100m grant despite not being a relief organisation to help the government provide basic nutrition, sanitation and medical care. The bank has since provided financial assistance to Lombok and Central Sulawesi in the wake of natural disasters.78924
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAsian Infrastructure Investment BankThe team established international best practice for the bank's governance, operations and investment portfolio. This helped allay concerns that the bank's ownership by multiple borrowing economies would lead to lower standards. The team took the unusual step of establishing a UNs treaty as the bank's foundation, giving it credibility. The lender has more than 86 member countries.78722
COMMENDEDHSBCOverhauled retail banking terms and conditions. The team applied design thinking and used customer focus groups to sense-check the new policies and worked with copywriters to ensure clarity. In an Australian pilot, the team removed more than 400 pages of redundant or low-risk conditions and helped turn these into a user friendly infographic compatible with mobile phones.78621
COMMENDEDUberAddressed the lack of an employee safety net in the gig economy in India and Australia by partnering with insurance companies to introduce Uber Care and the Partner Support Package for drivers. Uber Care allows drivers to access loans and insurance at lower rates than the market and the Partner Support Package offers eligible drivers insurance by Chubb for accidents. Neither requires classification as an employee.77721
COMMENDEDAirbnbWorked with the Japanese government to influence new legislation on short-term lettings. Known as the minpaku law, the new regulations are an important step as Japan expands its hotel alternatives ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.67720
COMMENDEDMicrosoftThe legal team made the documentation and advice they provide on cloud systems to Microsoft's internal sales teams available online for free. This effort aligns with a more collaborative approach to compliance and security.76619

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Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
About this Special Report

The ‘Asian century’ promises opportunities for law firms. Plus: fast-growth tech companies seek ‘full throttle’ legal skills; AI masters character-based text; how to build an emerging markets mega-deal; meet the region’s leading legal innovators

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