Shearman & Sterling strengthens Asia practice

The law firm makes Huang Ling and Sanja Udovicic partners in Asia and also transfers Lorna Xin Chen to Hong Kong.
Law firm Shearman & Sterling has promoted Huang Ling and Sanja Udovicic to partners in Asia and has also bolstered its asset management and fund formation practice in the region by relocating Lorna Xin Chen to Hong Kong. The move confirms that in specific areas such as M&A, project finance and advice for financial sponsors, business in the region continues to be robust for law firms.

Ling currently practices in the M&A group in Beijing and worked on some of the large China M&A deals this year, including the China Netcom-China Unicom merger, the Huawei Technologies joint venture with Symantec and some China outbound deals. Udovicic is part of the project development and finance group in Singapore. Some of the deals she recently advised on include the financing of the Gheco-One independent power project in Thailand and the refinancing of the Santa Rita power project in the Philippines.

Xin Chen will develop the firmÆs asset management capabilities in Asia. She moves from New York where she has advised private equity and venture capital firms, as well as hedge funds on investments in Asia, the US, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

ôEven though the current market is tough, we are still seeing a great deal of interest from both existing and potential clients across the region as the Asian private equity and alternative product market continues to develop,ö says Matthew Bersani, Asia managing partner in a written statement with respect to Xin ChenÆs transfer.

Even though capital markets business at many law firms has diminished in tandem with the reduced activity, restructuring advisory is replacing it. Firms embarking on structured buybacks, renegotiating the terms of the debt on their balance sheets and even bankruptcy filings are all on the increase.

And if 2008 was the year of Asia outbound M&A, 2009 is predicted to be even more of the same û valuations are looking attractive and local banks are still willing to lend.

On the private equity side too, the region continues to be a scouting ground for financial sponsors. Even in very difficult credit markets this year, deals with an Asia element, such as Barings takeover of Nord Anglia or KKR's buyout of Unisteel, managed to secure financing. And that trend seems set to continue as well, albeit selectively.
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