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This is the largest restructuring to emerge from the People's Republic of China's economic crisis, signaling the continuing strength of Allen & Overy's (A&O) Asian practice. The Guangdong Enterprises deal is announced just a week after the firm completed what is believed to be the largest restructuring for an Indonesian debtor since the country's economic crisis in 1997, where A&O advised the steering committee of creditors to PT Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa (The Lawyer, 15 January).
The Guangdong deal has taken the firm two years to complete, and was led out of Hong Kong by head of the Asian business reconstruction group Mark Sterling. More than 100 of the firm's lawyers were involved at some stage, including head of the Chinese banking practice Mitchell Silk and Hong Kong-based restructuring partner Moira Taylor. The restructuring of Guangdong and Nam Yue involved the privatisation by the government of Hong Kong's monopoly supplier of water, the financing of a $600m (£408.2m) renovation for the water project and the issue of $1.8bn (£1.22bn) of debt and 19 per cent of the privatised water project to the existing creditors of the groups. It also included massive M&A work, with 400 asset transfers, 40 property transfers and 100 security documents. Sterling says that about half of the firm's banking work in Asia now revolves around restructuring, with himself and Taylor as the two dedicated partners in the practice.