GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Singapore

10 January 2017

Singapore

Singapore’s competition bar is small yet active, and lawyers are busy with a steady mix of domestic and international deals, investigations, market studies and more.

Elite

Regarded as Singapore’s leading competition practice, ALLEN & GLEDHILL has a sterling reputation, given its involvement in almost all of the country’s leading antitrust matters. The team is led by Daren Shiau and Elsa Chen, and in May 2015 they welcomed Lam Chuan Leong, the former chairman of the Competition Commission of Singapore, as senior adviser.

The team says that in the past year they have been involved in every major competition case in Singapore. Recently, they advised Western Digital on its acquisition of Sandisk, and ASML on the chip-making company’s tie-up with Hermes Microvision. They also advised Royal Dutch Shell on the Singapore merger control and competition law aspects of its acquisition of BG Group, and scored conditional approval of a merger between online recruitment agencies SEEK and JobStreet; the latter case marked the first time the authority cleared a deal based on both behavioural and structural divestments. Notably, the firm also obtained merger approval for Singapore Airlines’ acquisition of Tigerair Holdings, which was allowed on the basis of a failing firm defence.

The firm also remains strong on behavioural matters, acting in nearly three-quarters of the cases listed on the commission’s docket from 2014 to 2016. Shiau, Chen and Kirstie Nicholson advised whistleblower DHL in the international freight-forwarding cartel case for which the company escaped sanctions, and represented NSK in the bearings cartel matter, for which the company received a 50% fine reduction. Several cases remain ongoing, both regarding cartels and abuse of dominance in key sectors.

Another firm regularly classed as one of Singapore’s elite is DREW & NAPIER. The group is firing on all fronts and making full use of its capacity as the country’s largest antitrust practice, according to practice co-head Lim Chong Kin. He works alongside practice-co head Cavinder Bull SC and partners Scott Clements, Corinne Chew and Chia Voon Jiet. One economist and 12 lawyers – including Joanne Yong, who rejoined the firm in October 2016 after being an assistant director at the Competition Commission’s legal and enforcement division – round out the highly qualified team.

Lim and Clements obtained clearance from the commission for Visa’s multilateral interchange fee system, which was the first and longest-running published case notified to the enforcer and one that was met with considerable opposition from regulators worldwide. The pair also successfully negotiated behavioural commitments with commission for a merger in the airfield lighting sector. The team also notified commission of the proposed joint venture between Deutsche Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, and acted on Safegate International’s proposed acquisition of ADB BVBA.

Drew & Napier has also been extremely busy on the enforcement side of things. Bull and Clements act for clients in multiple abuse of dominance cases, and the practice group is involved in a number of confidential investigations, dawn raids and market investigations in an array of industries, including fast-moving consumer goods, automotive, petroleum, elevators and financial services. The firm is also advising a multinational client regarding potential abuse of dominance in the food and beverage industry.

Practice head Kala Anandarajah and her team at RAJAH & TANN have a buzzing, vibrant practice in Singapore and across South East Asia. Anandarajah works with deputy practice head Dominique Lombardi, a French competition specialist who brings an in-depth knowledge of European law to the practice, and partner Tanya Tang, the firm’s principal economist.

The team works on a breadth of high-profile cartel cases, merger notifications and market studies in industries that include financial services, hospitality, industrial components, spare parts and more. The team scored a 25% reduction of the financial penalty the Competition Commission had awarded against a client that participated in an agreement geared towards preventing a new player from entering the financial advisory market. They also are advising clients in commission probes into the online food delivery, hospitality, banking and chicken industries – the latter of which has resulted in a provisional infringement decision by the enforcer.

Merger work also continues apace, with Anandarajah and Lombardi coordinating the worldwide merger review of Sinochem International’s acquisition of Halcyon Agri. The team also have led confidential discussions with the competition authority in relation to a number of high-profile international mergers that, though required notifications elsewhere, ultimately did not require a notification in Singapore.

Gerald Singham and Ajinderpal Singh lead the antitrust team at DENTONS RODYK & DAVIDSON. The firm’s predecessor, Rodyk & Davidson, was Singapore’s oldest law firm; it combined with Dentons in April 2016.

Singham and Singh work alongside three other antitrust partners and two associates. The team provides competition law advice to a range of high-profile companies operating in the technology, automobile and food markets, among others. While all their ongoing matters are confidential, they were recently involved in the Competition Commission’s international freight forwarding cartel investigation, and represented Heineken in its acquisition of Asia Pacific Breweries in 2013, which the commission cleared in Phase I.

The bustling competition practice at WONGPARTNERSHIP is led by Ameera Ashraf. Her team includes Chan Jia Hui, who was promoted to partner in 2016; Andrew Riseley, a foreign law consultant and former chief executive at the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities; and four associates. While most of their work is confidential, they represent clients in several cartel investigations and market studies in a cross-section of industries. Alongside the firm’s chairman Alvin Yeo, Ashraf and Chan successfully appealed against a fine on Nachi Fujikoshi and Nachi Singapore before the Competition Appeal Board; they argued that the Competition Commission had incorrectly applied its own guidelines, and scored a fine reduction for their client of more than one-third. The team also worked with the International Bar Association’s antitrust committee in responding to the commission’s guidelines consultations.

The WongPartnership team has been involved in several cartel investigations for companies in various industries before the commission, including the global bearings cartel investigation, in which Ashraf acted for a Japanese company. It was also counsel to Nishi-Nippon Railroad and subsidiary NNR Global Logistics in the international freight forwarding cartel matter; the company received a 50% fine reduction by applying for leniency. Industries in which the competition team has worked recently include commodities, food and beverage, financial services, technology and transportation.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Allen & Gledhill

Daren Shiau

Elsa Chen

1 partner

1 economics partner

1 senior adviser

3 lawyers

3 economists

Daren Shiau

Elsa Chen

 

Applied Materials, GSK, Glencore, Heineken Holcim, Micron Technology, Royal Dutch Shell, Singapore Airlines, Temasek, Volkswagen, Western Digital

Drew & Napier

Chong Kin Lim

Cavinder Bull SC

5 partners

1 economist

12 lawyers

Chong Kin Lim

Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, ADB BVBA, Safegate International, NTN, IMDA

Rajah & Tann

Kala Anandarajah

5 partners

5 lawyers

1 economist

Kala Anandarajah

Dominique Lombardi

Tanya Tang

Coca-Cola, Lafarge, NYK, JTEKT, Sinochem International, FoodPanda

Highly recommended

Dentons Rodyk & Davidson

Gerald Singham

Ajinderpal Singh

5 partners

2 associates

None

N/A

WongPartnership

Ameera Ashraf

2 partners

1 consultant

4 associates

Ameera Ashraf

N/A

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