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Japan: Project Finance 2016

Project finance is one of the most active sectors for law firms in Japan. In early 2016 the country witnessed its largest ever project finance deal – involving the construction of two new airports in Osaka – arranged by SMBC and Mizuho Bank and worth US$1.68 billion. Japanese investors have also been looking further afield, and project finance commitments in Africa have risen by 576 per cent in the last five years alone. In this sector, 16 lawyers stand out.

Latham & Watkins sees two of its lawyers recommended. The “outstanding” Joseph Bevash* serves as the office managing partner of the Tokyo office and has worked on landmark power, gas and petrochemical projects across the Asia-Pacific region. He is “incredibly astute” and a “brilliant negotiator”. Michael Yoshii* is also recommended in the project finance field having worked on projects in the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. “He isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in”, according to a client.

At King & Spalding, two individuals stand out in the research. John McClenahan* is the managing partner of the Tokyo office and specialises in the financing of infrastructure and energy projects. He is “incredibly thoughtful” and “always puts his clients’ interests first”. Mark Davies* is “the expert” on ship financing transactions in the region and he is also heavily involved in project finance transactions for power plants.

Two names are featured from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. Alexander Borisoff* heads the firm’s Tokyo office and brings an “international mindset” to his practice representing project sponsors, financial institutions, export credit and multilateral development agencies, among other project participants. He is “incredibly bright” and enjoys a “high-profile reputation” in the market. Aled Davies* possesses “intricate knowledge” of project finance transactions and has experience working on transactions throughout southeast Asia, Australia, North and South America and EMEA.

Allen & Overy’s Scott Neilson* is “sensational”, according to peers who praise his experience and “deep skillset”. “He makes it all look so easy,” commented one client.

Baker & McKenzie is represented by Naoaki Eguchi: head of the banking and finance practice group in Tokyo. He is described as a “go-to adviser for high value and highly complex project financings”.

Etienne Gelencsér* at Shearman & Sterling is noted for his “stellar work” on finance transactions. He is lauded for his “good communication” and “extensive knowledge”.

Head of Morrison & Foerster’s project finance and development group Michael Graffagna* has advised on a wide range of projects including nuclear, gas-fired, geothermal, hydro-electric, rail and mining projects to name just a few. He has a “great appreciation for the cultural nuances of the region”. 

Ashurst’s Matthew Bubb* advises on major infrastructure projects and is noted for his expertise in PPPs. Clients praise his “diligent manner” and “timely responses”.

Hiroshi Maeda heads Nishimura & Asahi’s private finance initiative practice group and has been involved in numerous high profile project finance transactions in the region. He is “top-notch” and “highly skilled”.

Linklaters’ John Maxwell* heads the projects, energy and infrastructure team in Tokyo and is “a true specialist” in the sector. He is “one of the foremost negotiators in Tokyo” according to peers.

Paul Harrison* at White & Case is well known for his work in the oil and gas and power industries. His work has seen him participate in transactions across the globe and he is “a standard bearer of best practice”.  

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Mark Plenderleith* has an enviable client list including high-profile lenders. He delivers “reliable and effective advice” and “expertly guides negotiations to a close”.

Clifford Chance is represented by Ross Howard* who represents sponsors and lenders in connection with project financings. He is a “solutions-oriented” lawyer who “delivers results”.


* foreign-qualified lawyer

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