February 7, 2017

International law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing announces new Partner and Foreign Lawyer hires

Leading international law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing announced today the addition of Partner (Foreign Lawyer) Mr Gerallt Wyn Owen, Mr Ben Constance, and Foreign Lawyer Mr Gilad Shay.  The new hires complement the Firm’s focus on developing industry-focused capabilities for clients and will help enhance a reputation for understanding clients’ businesses and for delivering innovative services that anticipate their needs. All three lawyers also have proficiencies in handling complex cross-border transactions.  RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Mr Tan Chong Huat commented, “We are excited to welcome our three new hires - all exceptional lawyers in their field. Their individual expertise will be a welcomed addition to our global team and will continue to strengthen the services that we can offer clients. They boast world class capabilities in their respective industries, blending well with the Firm’s vision of being an international law firm based in Asia. Gerallt, Ben and Gilad will contribute invaluably as expert legal advisors and will be seen as “go-to” industry practitioners by our clients. This is a significant addition to our bench strength.”  Gerallt is a senior international corporate crime and regulation lawyer with more than 21 years of experience. His strengths are in domestic and international investigations, fraud, corporate and financial crime, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, disciplinary proceedings and regulation. Gerallt has previously been listed as one of 'The Lawyer - Hot 100'. He was also recommended by Chambers & Partners Global 2014 and 2015 for dispute resolution in both Singapore and the UK, in addition to being ranked by Who’s Who Legal as one of the top ten most highly regarded business crime defense lawyers in the world based outside the UK/US. Gerallt will be part of the Firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice.  Ben joins the Firm’s Corporate Practice, bringing with him close to 15 years of experience in handling matters relating to cross-border M&A, equity capital markets and general corporate law. He has advised on transactions in Asia, Australia and throughout the Middle East in various sectors including banking and financial services, hospitality, information technology and energy. Ben has written various articles for International Law Office, Dubai SME magazine, Allorya.com and Australian Business Council Dubai. With over 10 years of experience, Gilad is an addition to the Firm’s Capital Markets, Corporate and Intellectual Property & Technology Practices. He has extensive experience in cross-border commercial and technology-focused transactions, M&A deals, joint ventures and in advising on intellectual property matters. He is especially engaged in matters relating to Israel, Singapore and the ASEAN region and has advised Fortune 500 companies, investors and start-ups. Gilad was part of the professional team in the first Initial Public Offering of an Israeli technology company on the Singapore Stock Exchange in over a decade. --- This press release is featured in the following news reports: "SG: RHTLaw adds Withers’ head of international regulatory" - Asian Legal Business, 7 February 2017
February 3, 2017

Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shares with The Business Times how leaders should use social media strategically

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views in this week’s topic in the Business Times’ weekly column, Views from the Top. This article was first published in The Business Times on 06 February 2017. Sharing insights and influencing people FEB 6, 2017 5:50 AM THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: How should leaders - political or business - employ social media as strategic tools? Tan Chong Huat Managing Partner RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP SOCIAL media's power to persuade and influence is clearly evident with the newly minted US president and his election campaign, and what a cracker of a week this has been. With Donald Trump getting Twitter-happy and running his country and conducting diplomacy with a press of a few buttons on his mobile phone, the time is right to look at social media etiquette for business establishments. First, remember there is nothing secret or sacred in the online space. Anything and everything you post can come to haunt you one day. Second, keep your views professional. Try and avoid personal takes. Third, be clear about the different platforms and what you want to use them for. Twitter is for short-burst teaser announcements like new product launches. Facebook is for longer posts that can elaborate on what you have tweeted. And finally, KISS...Keep It Short and Simple. The thing that got Mr Trump elected is not so much his shoot-from-the-hip style of tweeting but his data-driven approach to social media. His hiring of the digital agency Cambridge Analytica, the same agency that helped bring about Brexit, was the secret weapon that his uncouth communication style has successfully masked. The lesson here really is the use of the platforms as a treasure trove of user data and to strategically target them based on their bias and nuances. A wise man will make tools of what comes to hand...in this case the wisdom verdict is still out there.
February 3, 2017

Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat and Associate Raymond Ting co-authored a Business Times opinion piece on the key challenges of completing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project by 2026

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat and Associate Raymond Ting co-authored an opinion piece titled "The HSR project - a complex jigsaw puzzle" published in The Business Times. The article was first published in The Business Times on 3 February 2017. The HSR project a complex jigsaw puzzle Getting the high-speed rail up and running entails getting the involved entities to gel, sorting out profitability and land acquisition issues - and politics. Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 3 February 2017 Author: Tan Chong Huat and Raymond Ting THE signing of the bilateral agreement for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) last Dec 13 marked a significant milestone in the development of the project, with discussions having begun more than three years ago between the governments of Singapore and Malaysia. While the terms of the project have been cemented in the bilateral agreement, the actual execution of the project has only just begun, and the process would certainly not be without challenges, the key ones among which are highlighted below: Many moving parts In a joint press conference for the signing of the memorandum of understanding on the project, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred to the undertaking as a "very complicated jigsaw puzzle". Based on a joint factsheet by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) of Malaysia, the operating structure of the HSR project would involve no fewer than five main entities: Two entities appointed by the governments of Singapore and Malaysia to oversee the designing, building, financing and maintaining of the civil infrastructures and operation of the HSR stations within their respective territories. These entities will be LTA and MyHSR; A privately-financed assets company (AssetsCo) that will design, build, finance and maintain rolling stock and rail assets; and Two service operators (Operators) that will separately run the inter-country and domestic services. This structure does not include the various contractors to be appointed by the respective governments for the civil engineering and construction works in each country and the sub-contractors thereunder, the various advisors for the project, the Joint Development Partner and the various entities responsible for carrying out feasibility and advanced engineering studies. The complexity of the project is evidenced by the cross-border relationships and payment flows among the different entities, which creates a web of inter-linked legal rights and obligations between the various stakeholders. It is foreseeable that disputes may arise among the various parties, and issues such as the appropriate forum, seat, governing law, as well as joinder of parties to the dispute resolution process must be considered. Any possible complication in the resolution of disputes may cause delays to the project and substantial losses for the parties concerned. It would therefore be prudent to ensure that the dispute resolution process is fair, transparent, objective and efficient. Long-term profitability The HSR project is a massive undertaking. LTA and MyHSR each bears the burden of financing the civil infrastructure in their respective jurisdiction, and AssetsCo bears the burden of financing the rolling stock and rail assets. Such financing will be over an extended period, as it is envisaged that the construction will take at least seven to eight years. The cost of constructing the civil infrastructure will be recouped by LTA and MyHSR via the concession fees to be paid by the Operators, while the cost of constructing and procuring the rolling stock and rail assets will be recouped by the AssetsCo through the train-leasing fees to be paid by the Operators and the availability payments to be made by LTA and MyHSR. The availability payments thus serve as a guarantee by LTA and MyHSR of the amounts to be received by AssetsCo, should an Operator be in financial difficulty and be unable to pay the track-access charges. Given the high development costs, it is likely that the project will turn profitable only in the long term. In fact, some other high-speed rail projects in the past have struggled to turn profitable, quite notably the Eurotunnel linking Britain and France, which became profitable only after 26 years. While the present demand for travel between Singapore and Malaysia exceeds the capacity of the existing infrastructure, and such demand is expected to grow at an average rate of 3 to 5 per cent per year (comparable to the growth in gross domestic product of Singapore and Malaysia), the long-term fare and non-fare revenue from the HSR project might be affected by a myriad of factors such as changing economic conditions or the presence of competition from other modes of transport. Global economic slowdowns might also affect revenue growth, or even cause revenue to shrink for all market players concerned. It is envisaged that the bulk of the revenue would be from travel fares. The pricing structure of these fares will thus play an important role in ensuring that the revenue is sufficient to turn a profit and yet garner strong demand from customers plying the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route. This issue is compounded by the volatility of the Malaysian ringgit vis-à-vis the Singapore dollar, which last year sank to a one-year low of RM3.1206 to S$1, and the differences in the purchasing power between the residents of both jurisdictions. It is also likely that travel fares will be subject to regulatory controls. It is unclear in what proportions the inter-country service and domestic service would each contribute to the total revenue of the HSR project. To ensure its economic viability, it is crucial to address at the outset the potential legal issues surrounding the availability payments to be made by LTA and MyHSR. Firstly, given that 335km (or 95.7 per cent) of the 350 km-long HSR line will be in Malaysia, the apportionment for the liability for the availability payments to be shared between LTA and MyHSR should be worked out. Secondly, it should be specified whether such liability will be joint, several or joint and several. Thirdly, any limits on the exposure to LTA and/or MyHSR with regard to the availability payments should be clarified. Land acquisition The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has announced the acquisition of the sites of the Jurong Country Club (JCC) and the Raffles Country Club to make way for the HSR project. It has been reported that the JCC is appealing against the SLA's compensation of S$89.8 million, which was just over half of JCC's claim of S$168.1 million. The more challenging land acquisition issues are, however, likely to arise in Malaysia, as seven of the stations in the HSR line will be situated in Malaysia. Under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, land management is the responsibility of the state government. As the HSR line will pass through the states of Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Selangor, four state governments will be involved. The timelines for land acquisition by each state government, as well as any appeals against the compensation awarded by each state, will therefore need to be taken into account. While the ruling Najib administration supports the HSR project, the parliamentary opposition does not and this could mean that the opposition-controlled state government of Selangor are unlikely to expedite land acquisition in and around Kuala Lumpur. The need to manage the interests of both the federal and state governments of Malaysia might complicate the process of land acquisition and lead to delays or even an impasse. Political issues The governments of Singapore and Malaysia might have slightly different aims in relation to the HSR project. As most of the HSR line is in Malaysia, the Malaysian government might place greater emphasis on the domestic service within Malaysia and promote the HSR project as one that connects the various Malaysian cities and thus primarily benefits Malaysia. On the other hand, the emphasis of the Singapore government would be on the direct route between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and the convenience afforded to both domestic and international travellers. It is unclear how the infrastructure and train-related assets will compete for such use of the infrastructure and assets. There might also be political costs linked to the public discontent arising out of a failure of any of these objectives. In Singapore, two former transport ministers have both stepped down from the Cabinet amid public discontent over Singapore's public transport system, including the repeated failures and technical lapses on the Mass Rapid Transit system. As the HSR project is for the long term, the continued support of both the Singapore and Malaysian government is instrumental in ensuring its success. While the current ruling government of Malaysia supports the HSR, the parliamentary opposition does not. In fact, the opposition has stated that it would prefer to invest the money in connecting Sabah and Sarawak by rail, arguing that these two states are in greater need of transport links. While the next Malaysian general election is required to be held only by mid-2018, Prime Minister Najib Razak has signalled that the polls might be brought forward. Following the 1MDB scandal that has plagued his administration and against the backdrop of the current economic climate, it is unclear how the elections will play out. The HSR project heralds the deepening of bilateral ties between Singapore and Malaysia, and a closer level of economic integration within the Asean community. The process of fitting the pieces of the complicated jigsaw puzzle has just begun and and the amount of resources and effort required for the undertaking will certainly be immense. It is imperative for the governments of both countries to work out a fair and transparent process to address and resolve the legal issues that will likely arise as they work towards completing the project by 2026. The writers are respectively managing partner and an associate of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP
February 2, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing featured as 2017 Emerging Markets Expert by Asian Legal Business

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing has been featured in an article published in Asian Legal Business titled “2017 Emerging Markets Experts”. In this article, Asian Legal Business highlights a list of firms who are armed with the right network, client list and expertise to lead emerging markets as Asia’s frontier economies. The article was first published on Asian Legal Business January 2017 Asia edition. 2017 Emerging Markets Experts Source: Asian Legal Business © 2017 Thomson Reuters Date: January 2017 Author: Raj Gunashekar With the amount of legal work in developing economies, particularly in Southeast Asia, increasing, law firms need to have the right network, client list and knowhow to succeed. ALB compiles a list of firms that are making a name for themselves in Asia’s frontier economies. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Established in 2011, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing boasts of 30 partners with Tan Chong Huat as the managing partner of the firm. The firm has demonstrated expertise in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Some of its clients include Alpha JWC, Nippon Paint, PT Berau Coal Energy, PT Uangteman, Standard Chartered Bank Indonesia and UOB Indonesia. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing has advised Nippon Paint on its investments in Indonesia, and Alpha JWC, an Indonesian-based venture capital firm, on its investments in both Indonesia and Singapore. It is also working with Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) and FinTech Association of Indonesia to provide inputs on the development of fintech regulations in Indonesia. View the full article published in Asian Legal Business January 2017 Asia Edition here.