Still leading the way in Korean competition law work is Kim & Chang. The firm boasts six Who’s Who Legal: Competition nominations, at least two more than any other practice in Korea. The firm was also voted Regional Firm of the Year – Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa in last year’s GCR Awards. Practice head Kyung Taek Jung is supported by 36 partners, while the wider team includes around 160 lawyers – by some distance the largest firm in the Korean antitrust community. This year In Sung Yoon and Youngjin Ahn joined from the Seoul Administrative Court and Seoul High Court respectively, while seven partners were also promoted.
Notable transactional work included shielding Nokia from merger review during Microsoft’s acquisition of the Finnish company’s mobile handset business, after the KFTC had sought to expand its merger review to examine possible concerns relating to Nokia’s remaining businesses. The team also secured unconditional clearance for Novartis in its multibillion-dollar deal with GlaxoSmithKline.
The firm represented a major oil refining company in a collusive behaviour investigation before the Seoul High Court and the Supreme Court, which overturned the KFTC’s earlier decision against the company. The team also represented several insurance companies, who allegedly conspired to fix commission rates of variable annuities. The KFTC’s decision was overturned by the Seoul High Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court. Also significant is Kim & Chang’s work in abuse of dominance matters, where the firm last year secured Korea’s first ever consent decree in a KFTC investigation, in a case involving Naver, one of the country’s leading internet search portals. This year, the firm successfully defended Visa in an abuse of dominance investigation related to the processing of international payment card transactions – a case which was subsequently dropped by the KFTC.