What was your first-ever job?
Dduring my studies I cleaned offices to pay the bills
Where did you study?
Bachelor Degree University of Antwerp 1988, LLM University of Brussels 1993
Where did you train?
Belgium and France.
Have you lived or worked outside your home jurisdiction? What did you learn from it?
I worked 10 years in Europe, mainly for Loyens and Loeff. In 1998 I came to Southeast Asia, where I have lived and worked ever since.
When did you become partner?
I had my own firm first in Thailand. I became a partner at DFDL in 2008.
What deal/case in your career stands out the most and why?
The JSM Indochina asset disposal in 2011. The AIM listed fund sold all its properties in Southeast Asia. The deal covered 4 countries, a complex web of legal and tax structures that needed to be navigated. Its where I work best, transactions with a heavy tax component.
What have been your recent deals?
Farm-in by Woodside into Myanmar A-6 block (acting for Woodside); Axiata’s acquisition of Smart Mobile in Cambodia (acting for the seller); bids by a number of majors for oil and gas interests in Myanmar.
What is the biggest challenge facing your market at the moment?
Speaking for Myanmar, problems in raising financing for large ticket deals.
What has been the most significant development in your sector in recent years?
I think that, even though not everything will probably work out as well or as fast as one would hope, the developments in Myanmar have shown that it is possible for a government in Southeast Asia to radically change course, to choose for a new system in a deliberate and organized manner. To see that such a capacity to change from within exists, with all its legal, economical and practical implications, is wonderful.
If you hadn’t been a lawyer, what would you have been?
Lecturer. In fact, I have lectured at 7 universities in Europe and Asia, mostly tax law, international taxation and international investment law.
Which country do you travel to most frequently and which country do you like the best?
My wife likes shopping in Singapore.
What is your favourite book?
Right now Colin Powell’s “It worked for me”.
What is your favourite restaurant?
On a day to day basis I would have to say “Bangkok Kitchen” in Yangon. Try the “Larb Kai”!