More than 250 general counsel from across Asia met at the annual U.S.-China Legal Summit on February 25. Coupled with Legaltech Asia, the conference was chaired by two influential members of Hong Kong’s general counsel community, Michelle Wei of Flextronics and William Hay of Baring Private Equity Asia. Legal practitioners in the region had their say on all the market headline hitters from the past year – from M&A and disputes to corruption and cybersecurity.
It kicked off with a lively talk on Fin(Legal)Tech by Associate Professor of Law at Illinois Tech - Chicago Kent Law, Daniel Martin Katz, who emphasized that predicting and staying ahead of the risks by implementing data and algorithms is just as important for law as it is for finance and trading, and that, by doing so, lawyers can gain an immense competitive advantage.
Honourable Justice Kevin Zervos SC, a judge of the High Court of Hong Kong, took to the stage next with his perspective on the differences in laws and enforcement among jurisdictions and how they are affected by globalization and changing social/political landscapes.
The panel discussions dove headfirst into the controversial topic of corruption in a dialogue moderated by chief legal counsel of KPMG Sarah Bower and joined by the managing director of the Mintz Group Jessica Pyman and legal director of NetApp Vivian Ng. They gave real-life, practical tips on implementing compliance standards throughout an organization on the ground in the mainland, dealing with whistleblower situations, internal investigations and Chinese and U.S. regulators, and treading the fine line between gift-giving and bribing in today’s world.
KPMG’s Bower transitioned smoothly into the next segment with her impressive and condensed power briefing on China’s key regulatory trends and Five-Year Plan – and why it is absolutely crucial for businesses to center their business strategy around the Plan in order to succeed.
And as the country races toward the path of becoming the world’s largest economy, Chinese investors, as hungry as they are, have their own challenges to overcome when going overseas. In an interactive voting session hosted by U.S.-headquartered McGuireWoods and its China affiliate firm FuJae Partners, partners Scott Westwood, David Liu and Patrick Rowan offered sell-side, tax-planning and U.S. regulatory/CFIUS perspectives on outbound M&A. Raymond Min-Yaw Goh, director of global investments and legal & compliance at Anbang International (the group that acquired the Waldorf Astoria in New York), provided valuable buy-side input.
The focus then turned inbound. Stephen Winegar, chair of Paul Hastings’ Hong Kong office, led the discussion as Citic Capital’s managing director and head of legal & compliance Yong Kai Wong, Baring’s William Hay and Generali Asia’s general counsel Johnny Cheung provided an effective swoop of China’s hottest sectors for private equity and M&A, as well as the regulatory environment in terms of capital and currency restrictions, investment structures and approval procedures. Humorous anecdotes on successes – and failures – were also shared.
The final topic was one that affects all investors: cross-border dispute resolution – or rather, dispute prevention. The diverse and experienced set of speakers included Shaun Wu, partner at global litigation firm Kobre & Kim, Jim Jamison, general counsel at Deloitte in Hong Kong, Stephanie Sheng, executive director and senior legal counsel at Goldman Sachs, and Mustafa Hadi, head of disputes and international arbitration for Greater China and North Asia at the Berkeley Research Group. The four panelists explained the importance of placing safeguarding measures at the outset: by gaining the upper hand in structuring deals and contracts, conducting thorough due diligence and communicating effectively with headquarters.
The conference ended with a closing address by Professor Pauline Reich, founder and director of the Asia-Pacific Cyberlaw, Cybercrime and Internet Security Research Institute, who provided in-house lawyers, IT directors and law firm leaders key takeaways for managing data privacy issues presented by the digital world, by drawing from cross-border case studies and regulatory developments in cybersecurity.
ALM, publisher of The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, Law.Com, Legaltech News, The Asian Lawyer and China Law & Practice, would like to thank all sponsors, association partners and attendees to the event.
Download Session Presentations Below:
- China Key Regulatory Trends Session
- CFIUS Session
- KEYNOTE - Fin(Legal)Tech –Law’s Future from Finance’s Session