GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Malaysia

10 January 2017

Malaysia

Since sputtering to life in January 2012, the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) has created a steady trickle of work for the country’s competition lawyers, though none is dedicated full-time to antitrust.

Elite

The Malaysian prime minister’s brother, Johari Razak, formally heads SHEARN DELAMORE – although its star is Anand Raj. As Malaysia’s rapporteur for the International Bar Association’s antitrust community newsletter and a popular speaker at conferences and in-house antitrust compliance training sessions, Raj’s status is established well beyond Malaysia’s borders. Cynthia Lan, a former partner with a broad competition practice, left the firm in 2016.

Raj works alongside two associates and dispute resolution partner Shanti Mogan, who is also involved in the firm’s competition practice. The team boasts investigation experience before the commission that few other Malaysian competition practices can match. In the past 18 months, the team settled three MyCC investigations, including an alleged exclusive agreement between logistics companies Giga Shipping and Nexus Mega Carriers. The commission ultimately accepted commitments from the companies, and made no infringement finding. Raj and his cohorts also acted for a beauty and wellness products supplier and a skin health pharmaceuticals company in two separate MyCC probes for alleged anticompetitive agreements.

The team is frequently tapped for antitrust advice proper, as well as the field’s interaction with other other practices such as tax – Raj’s other area of expertise. While there is no merger control in Malaysia, Shearn Delamore regularly advises clients on potential abuse of dominance and anticompetitive arrangements in a host of sectors, including financial services, credit rating and investor services, airlines, automotive, insurance, shipping, intellectual property and fast-moving consumer goods.

Along with Shearn Delamore, SKRINE has the most established competition practice in Malaysia, helmed by Faizah Jamaludin, a former in-house senior attorney at ExxonMobil Malaysia who also spearheads the firm’s oil and gas practice group. She works with one senior associate and one associate, and said she prides her team on its quality of work rather than quantity of practitioners.

Indeed, Jamaludin remains one of the best-known competition experts in the country, and has achieved recognition in private practice since joining Skrine. She successfully represented an international shipping owner and operator in the commission’s first ever block exemption order – a case currently pending in judicial review – and acted for the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia and the Malaysian Takaful Association in block exemption orders.

Jamaludin currently represents ICS Depot Services, a container depot operator, in a cartel and abuse of dominance investigation before the commission. She recently advised on joint venture and other collaboration agreements in the automotive, entertainment, beverages, financial services and telecoms sectors, among other industries. While the remainder of her work is confidential, a range of high-profile domestic and international clients consistently call on Jamaludin for her competition law expertise.

TAY & PARTNERS debuts in GCR’s rankings as an elite firm, having appeared on the competition community’s radar after AirAsia chose Tay Beng Chai to represent the airliner in the MyCC’s market sharing case against it and its rival Malaysia Airlines. Tay secured a landmark victory early this year when Malaysia’s Competition Appeal Tribunal set aside a 10 million ringgit penalty against AirAsia, which alongside Malaysia Airline’s identical fine was the commission’s largest-ever sanction.

The firm represented Megasteel, a subsidiary of Lion Group, in a complex abuse of dominance case concerning margin squeeze in which MyCC has proposed a 4.5 million ringgit fine against the steel manufacturer. In April 2016, following an oral hearing by Tay, the MyCC withdrew its allegations and the proposed penalty, and concluded that Megasteel had not abused dominance. Tay and his team have also advised sophisticated domestic and international clients on investigations and compliance in sectors such as logistics and shipping, mobile taxi applications, escalators and elevators, aviation, money services, building material manufacturers and suppliers, pharmaceuticals and life insurance.

Tay started Tay & Partners in 1989, and remains a partner at Bird & Bird’s Singapore office – which he co-founded in 1986. Observers commend him for his breadth of experience and quality of work. He is assisted by senior associate Nicole Leong, although he says partners Leonard Yeoh and Wong Weng Yew from the firm’s dispute resolution practice are becoming increasingly involved in competition work due to a spate of antitrust litigation.

Chew Phye Keat, a partner at RAJA DARRYL & LOH, maintains a thriving competition law practice alongside his work in banking, corporate finance and intellectual property law. Chew is well respected among his peers and sought after by clients for his breadth of antitrust experience. He has headed the competition committee of the Malaysian chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce since 2012.

Though assisted by only one associate, Chew has advised companies in the construction, chemicals and cleaning, automotive, roofing, pharmaceuticals, tobacco and technology sectors on a swathe of competition matters. He also recently acted for a construction company in a MyCC abuse of dominance investigation. His clients include Proton Group, Monier Malaysia, and Japan Tobacco.

Most in the region’s antitrust circles are familiar with Sharon Tan, head of competition and a corporate partner at ZAID IBRAHIM & CO. Tan, Nadarashnaraj Sargunaraj – who was promoted to partner in January 2016 – and two senior associates make up the firm’s impressive competition group. Although their work is confidential, it’s no secret that Tan is a prominent member of Malaysia’s competition bar. She advised the government on the drafting of the Competition Act and Competition Commission Act, as well as the recently enacted Malaysian Aviation Commission Act, which sets up an industry authority with competition law powers and a merger control regime.

Tan and Sargunaraj pride themselves on their technical advice. While they support the firm’s other practices on competition matters, they have counselled a wealth of companies on operational compliance, competition risks, investigation defences, distribution agreements and joint ventures, among others. The team is currently advising a logistics information technology solutions provider in a MyCC cartel investigation. Tan also advised Malaysia Airlines on its defence to the MyCC’s Malaysia Airlines/AirAsia investigation.

Although perhaps better known for her corporate law practice, Yon See Ting co-heads CHRISTOPHER LEE & ONG’s antitrust group with partner Kuok Yew Chen. As part of Rajah & Tann’s Asia network, Yon and her team work with clients and colleagues on a regional basis. They recently acted as local competition counsel on the Malaysian arm of a major global deal, and for a client in a MyCC probe of an alleged exclusive agreement between two logistic companies. On the compliance and advisory side, the firm’s competition group advises clients operating in a range of industries, including financial services, banking, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and automotive.

Raymond Yong and two associates make up the competition practice at RAHMAT LIM & PARTNERS in Kuala Lumpur, which works closely with the firm’s associated Singapore firm, Allen & Gledhill. Yong has advised varied international and domestic clients on competition matters, including a transportation hub in a MyCC investigation and multinational corporations on the Malaysian shipping liner block exemption. He also acts for MyEG Services, which operates the government’s electronic services platform, in the commission’s ongoing investigation into alleged abuse of dominance in the market for the management of online foreign workers permit renewal applications; the MyCC has proposed a penalty of 307,200 ringgit, although a final decision has yet to be reached.

As a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, WONG & PARTNERS receives a steady stream of referral work from network offices in Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore. While Andre Gan is more revered for his corporate and securities practice, he and his team provide consistent competition advice to high-profile clients operating in pharmaceuticals, chemicals and financial services, among other industries. Some of Gan’s clients include MasterCard, AstraZeneca and Daimler. Recently, his team has also counselled an automotive company on minimum resale pricing; a client on non-compete and exclusivity obligations in proposed sale and distribution agreements; and an oil and gas company on a proposed divestment of its Malaysian business.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Shearn Delamore

Johari Razak

3 partners

2 associates

Anand Raj

Giga Shipping, Nexus Mega Carriers, Tesco Stores Malaysia, KFC Holdings, IJM Group

Skrine

Faizah Jamaludin

1 partner

1 senior associate

1 associate

None

 Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Takaful Association, ICS Depot Services

Tay & Partners

Tay Beng Chai

3 partners

1 senior associate

None

AirAsia, Megasteel

Highly recommended

Raja, Darryl & Loh

Chew Phye Keat

1 partners

1 associate

None

CCM Berhad, Proton Group of companies, Monier Malaysia, Japan Tobacco Malaysia, IJM Berhad

Zaid Ibrahim & Co

Sharon Tan

N/A

None

N/A

Recommended

Christopher Lee & Ong

Yon See Ting

Kuok Yew Chen

2 partners

4 associates

Yon See Ting

N/A

Rahmat Lim & Partners

Raymond Yong

1 partner

2 associates

None

MyEG Services

Wong & Partners

Andre Gan

2 partners

1 senior associate

3 associates

Andre Gan

AstraZeneca, Tesco Stores, Emery Oleochemicals, MasterCard, Petroliam Nasional, Daimler

Previous Chapter:Lithuania

Next Chapter:Mexico