KhattarWong’s Projects (REIC) Practice Group well-placed to meet opportunities and challenges ahead
With the recent global economic downturn contributing to slowing growth and rising construction costs, many developers have adopted a cautious approach to project finance. However, while these changes in the economic climate may have affected the project finance market, they have not diminished its importance with infrastructure continuing to play a key role in the growth strategy of many Asian countries.
In Singapore, for instance, the Government has continued to adopt a long-term view towards infrastructure development, seeing its current investments in infrastructure as means to ensure future growth. In fact, the Singapore Government has indicated that it will be investing S$18 to $20 billion in infrastructure projects this year. In the pipeline are new areas for businesses such as Marina Bay and Paya Lebar, the expansion of seaports and airports, improvements to the public transport system and new parks. Several Asian countries are also planning for major infrastructure developments to cater to the needs of the larger population and expanding economies. Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia are experiencing a surge in projects. In Vietnam, ports are being built while power assets are being sold off in the Philippines. Significantly, in China, following the success of Suzhou Industrial Park, work is underway on Tianjin Eco-city, a joint development between China and Singapore’s governments.
Amidst the opportunities and challenges present in infrastructure development, the Projects (REIC) Practice Group, which deals with matters relating to Real Estate, Infrastructure and Construction, has a unique range of strengths that places it in a strong position to meet clients’ vast and varied needs. The Projects (REIC) Practice Group, which draws on the experience and expertise of lawyers from various departments in KhattarWong, handles project specific transactions for both domestic and foreign clients.
The Projects (REIC) Practice Group’s clients cover a wide range of industries and include infrastructure developers and contractors, agricultural and plantation companies, independent power producers, water treatment companies, pharmaceutical companies, biotech and other technology companies, research laboratories, aviation and aerospace companies, oil and gas, engineering companies, schools and hospitals.
Significantly, the Practice Group is particularly well-placed to meet clients’ varied needs with the presence of a team that provides a full and comprehensive range of services related to projects. This includes the initial formation of project vehicles, due diligence, the acquisition of land, liaison with regulatory bodies, advice on licensing and permits, construction and engineering, contracts and dispute management, and the eventual sale or operations of the competed project. The Practice Group is also able to advise on related tax, intellectual property and regulatory aspects.
“We believe that our attention to details, knowledge of the market and vast experience distinguish us from our competitors,” says Partner and Practice Group leader Chia Ho Choon.
“It is vital, especially in this climate, that we provide speedy, accurate advice that is also insightful. Often, parties in a deal find themselves at an impasse due to conflicting goals. That is when clients often turn to us for pragmatic approaches based on our experience to move things along.”
The other members of the REIC Practice Group are Carla Barker and Anne Chua who bring their vast experience in project finance, building and construction and real estate to the team.
“In corporate real estate transactions, I find that most of the time the client’s requirements do not start and end with single-facet issues. In this aspect, the Projects (REIC) Practice Group comes into play as we are able to advise clients on their project’s end-to-end needs, from lending to land acquisition and leasing to building and final sale or lease of the property.” says Ms Barker, co-head of Banking, Finance & Property Department, and in charge of the department’s extensive en bloc portfolio.
The team has garnered extensive experience in real estate transactions and dispute resolution. Their clients include high profile individuals and corporations in their sale and purchase of residential, commercial and industrial properties both in and outside Singapore, and the construction of buildings on the land for owner-occupation, leasing and sale.
The Projects (REIC) Practice Group has also acted for several infrastructure developers and contractors including a consortium of French, American and Singapore interests in the successful tender, development and financing of Singapore’s first seawater desalination plant; the owner of a proposed power plant in Indonesia in the preparation of an Operating and Maintenance Agreement; and a project supervision agreement with Chinese parties and developers, for whom the team reviewed and advised on standard form construction contracts for use in Vietnam.
The team’s vast experience includes having assisted in the acquisition of palm oil plantations, as well as advised an independent power producer in the development natural gas-fired plant and a client on the partial acquisition of an oil and gas products distributor. In addition, the Projects (REIC) Practice Group has advised global research laboratories and acted as counsel to aviation and aerospace companies with a global reach.
“The project finance market requires high-quality and longstanding knowledge of regulatory environments across the region,” says Anne Chua, who has advised clients from pharmaceutical, power generation, water treatment, aerospace, retail and the property businesses.
‘In order to serve clients and execute complex, challenging deals, we have leveraged on our experience and go the extra mile in order to provide unique solutions to problems.”
The changed economic conditions have also resulted in an increase in international disputes and correspondingly, dispute resolution.
“While globalisation led to more cross-border transactions, the economic downturn has resulted in a rise in dispute resolution. Claims relating to contractual duties and negligence have become more common with companies looking for legal help in the interpretation of their agreements and settling conflicts,” says Mr Chia.
Singapore Office (Main)
80 Raffles Place
#25-01 UOB Plaza 1
Tel: (65) 6535 6844
Fax: (65) 6534 4892
Shanghai Stock Exchange Building
528 Pudong South Road, #22-06
Tel: (86) 21 6869 0028
Fax: (86) 21 6881 7668
Bitexco Office Building
19-25 Nguyen Hue Boulevard
District 1, Suite 1501, 15th Floor
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: (84) 8 3915 1624 / (84) 8 3915 1626
Fax: (84) 8 3915 1627
Hong Kong Office
KhattarWong & Partners (Hong Kong)
Unit A, 17/F South China Building
1 Wyndham Street
Tel: (852) 2869 7772
Fax: (852) 2868 0708