Sidley Austin has taken the bulk of the riches in the IPO goldrush sweeping Hong Kong.
The US firm has advised on more IPOs, acting for both companies and underwriters, than any other firm, according to figures released by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) and published by Asian Legal Business.
During 2005, Sidley advised seven listing companies. It also represented the underwriters on seven IPOs, advising on both local law and US law for global offerings.
US firms with the capacity to advise on local and US law featured prominently in the rankings. These include firms such as Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker and Heller Ehrman.
Sidley head of global securitisation and structured finance Tom Albrecht said the firm’s success could be attributed in part to developing a reputation for practising Hong Kong and US law.
“Our strategy in China and Hong Kong has always been to practise local law and not to be a US firm with a foreign office – that’s what being a global firm is all about,” he said. “We’ve found that the combination [of practising local and US law] is compelling for our clients.”
Sidley’s rainmakers in Hong Kong are corporate finance partners Constance Choy and Matt Sheridan, as well as Henry Ding in Beijing.
The firm lists the Chinese government, which has been relinquishing control of a number of state-owned companies, among its key clients.
“We act for the Chinese government and various government branches and departments,” Albrecht said. “Business is booming in both China and Hong Kong. There are new companies popping up everywhere and the need for capital is rife.”
UK firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Norton Rose, Herbert Smith and Simmons & Simmons were ranked among the top-performing firms in Hong Kong.
Freshfields in particular has taken the top advisory role on a number of high-profile IPOs, such as Bank of China’s $8bn (£4.5bn) IPO in January.
Freshfields corporate partner Kay Ian Ng won the bank’s instruction after a competitive tender process.
The transaction was China’s second-largest flotation on the HKSE, following the $9.2bn (£5.2bn) listing of China Construction Bank last year.