Kim & Chang

South Korea

Analysis

Overview

Kim & Chang is a firm that needs no introduction as the largest and most dominant full service law firm in Korea. It remains unchallenged across the board, maintaining its ‘Outstanding’ ranking in all practice areas and sectors. It is a veritable first-choice firm for many international multinationals, brands and domestic conglomerates. Its sheer size allows the firm to house multiple top-notch specialists in every niche area of legal practice and push the boundaries of innovation with landmark and sizable matters. One peer said: “One way to benchmark it is if Kim & Chang is found anywhere on a deal or case, you know it’s a significant matter.” Noteworthy hires last year include international arbitration stars Sae Youn Kim from Yulchon, and Matthew Christensen from Bae Kim & Lee, senior foreign attorney and capital markets specialist Youngjin Sohn from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and competition expert Min-Ho Lee from Lee & Ko.

Client feedback

“Kim & Chang is the only law firm in Korea that is capable of devising and formulating a new type of transaction in accordance with the requirements of a new legal or financial regime. Other firms can do well to the extent the transaction is effected within the confines of already well-established transactional framework.However, they are not capable of formulating or devising a new legal or financial regime which requires an overall high-level legal expertise.” – Banking and finance

“Kim & Chang set up a dedicated outbound project team a few years ago, building impressive achievements in the field. Kim & Chang nowadays likens to other top-tier global firms, as they now provide a similar level of service as the global firms. It distinguishes from other local firms given the excellence of its legal service.” – Banking and finance

“Without any doubt, Kim & Chang is the top law firm in Korea and has extensive experience in international project finance transactions. Kim & Chang has strong capabilities for all legal matters. In this regard, we can have a one-stop service from Kim & Chang. In these days, most legal matters get complicated and cannot be resolved by one of two professionals. Kim & Chang has many lawyers having different specialities, which has been very helpful for us.” – Banking and finance

“The firm has handled various complicated legal matters with an exceptionally wide knowledge of international project finance transactions. It represented our company with the highest standards compared to other Korean firms. It is now at the level of international top-tier law firms rather than one of the Korean firms in terms of advising on international project finance transactions. Not only is it  highly experienced, responsive and professional, but also has a solid understanding of our business.” – Banking and finance

“The firm protected our company from risks. As a result, we could improve our process with sustainability.” – Competition/antitrust

“It gave us a shrewd response to an issue, a careful analysis and a solution.” – Construction

“It provides effective and efficient advice based on the understanding of the legal issues and the regulatory requirements, as well as an up-to-date knowledge of Korean financial regulations. It offers a full range of service for insurance regulatory compliance and competition law issues, among others.” – Corporate and M&A

“The firm has the smartest lawyers in the market, who have their hands on most, if not all, major deals in Korea. When it comes to structuring and executing sophisticated M&A transactions in Korea, Kim & Chang is in its own league.” – Corporate and M&A

“It has an excellent network for problem-solving and excellent expertise.” – Corporate and M&A

“Kim & Chang provides excellent, on-the-point advice. Its legal expertise, as well as their practical support in getting things done, is highly appreciated. Kim & Chang is an excellent choice, especially for a foreign company investing in Korea.” – Dispute resolution

“Organised, effective and intelligent.” – Dispute resolution

“Legal advice at the highest level, always very precise and on time. Perfect English language abilities and the possibility to provide efficient teams with changing lawyer numbers as required.” – Dispute resolution

“Has expertise, resources and experience.” – Dispute resolution

“The firm has very competent attorneys who have a lot of knowledge and experience in dispute resolution. The firm also has suggested workable solutions for the issues that my company confronted.” – Dispute resolution

“The team has strength in understanding the client's needs as they try to have our concerns reflected in the contract drafting or negotiation process. Also, its advice is not one-sided but rather balanced between legal aspects and commercial viability.” – Energy

“The team has cutting edge knowledge.” – Insurance

“Appreciate its technical know-how and it is well-resourced.” – Labour and employment

“It is a very knowledgeable silk-stocking firm, with consistent solid legal support from senior staff.” – Media and entertainment

“The firm provided us with proper legal advice and solutions to help us negotiate with a counterparty very well.” – Real estate

“The lawyers are highly responsive and presented broad and in-depth knowledge of Korean laws and the regulatory environment with sufficiently accumulated industry experience.” – Regulatory

“Provided timely advice based on experience and knowledge, which was very helpful.” – Shipping

“Firm has diligent and impeccable professionals who understand our needs and perspectives very well. It is highly knowledgeable and the work has always been of the highest quality. The lawyers are very attentive and responsive.  ” – Tax

“I believe Kim & Chang is the best tax adviser in Korea having a great tax team of lawyers, CPAs, and former tax officers. Although the big four accounting firms in Korea have bigger tax teams, their tax service quality doesn't compete with Kim & Chang. If we have important tax issues, we first approach Kim & Chang for tax advice.” – Tax

“The firm possesses a deep understanding of the IT industry, and the lawyers are quick and accurate in their replies.” – Technology and telecommunications

“It guided how us on how the company could work with our customers under the recent regulation changes and now we have clearer views and plans.” – Technology and telecommunications

Jae Ho Baek

“He has strong legal knowledge and ability, listens to us, implements feedback and always meets deadlines.”

Je Heum Baik

“He has lots of knowledge and experience in international tax litigation and always provides on-point advice. He offers creative solutions in a timely manner. He does really good detailed logical analysis.”

Seong-Hyeon Bang

“Excellent knowledge of both law and technology.”

Sup Joon Byun

“He has a ‘can-do’ attitude and is willing to go the extra mile. He has good suggestions and ideas.”

Duck Soon Chang

“He is the best for all aspects as a lawyer.”

Paul Cho

“Paul is the strongest employment lawyer we have worked with both within Korea and the wider APAC region. He understands business needs and the in-house legal environment and tailors advice accordingly. He is also very responsive and communicative.”

Sung Gweon Cho

“He is excellent, very attentive and responsive. He is highly knowledgeable and his work has always been of the highest quality.”

Matthew Christensen

“Bright, hard-working and always works to achieve the best for his clients.”

Jin Yeong Chung

“Precise analysis of legal issues and realistic solution preparation.”

Byung-Moon Jung

“Using his practical experience and expertise in a variety of tax issues, he provided us with very useful and efficient legal opinions relating to our construction project and corporate issues.”

Sae Youn Kim

“She is highly experienced, professional and innovative.”

SongHo Lee

“He shows kindness, has quick responses, thorough analysis, and presents well-thought through solutions.”

Chul-Won Lee

“He is good at listening to the client's needs and giving quick feedback. Also, he has a good understanding of my company’s culture.”

Daewoong Lee

“Daewoong is very modest, interactive and approachable. This is a particularly strong asset when it comes to face-to-face negotiations. Since his early years of experience was in corporate, he understands the needs of our company and the decision-making process.”

Shin Kwon Lim

“He is smart and extremely efficient. He quietly gets the job done, taking care of every detail.”

Jina Myung

“Jina has been instrumental in leading our landmark transaction to success, and, in my opinion, she is the best transaction attorney in Korea.”

Kyoung Won Noh

“He is very responsive and takes any necessary actions quickly.”

Min Chul Park

“He is excellent in his field and understands our business very well.”

Jeong-il Park

“He is a senior tax adviser, a CPA. He always provides tax advice exceeding our expectations, based on his good knowledge of tax and banking, and the finance industry. We feel that he really tries to help us by providing value-added tax advice and relevant legal issues by resourcing lawyers and experts in Kim & Chang. We really appreciate his work for us.

Sangmyoung Shin

“Sangmyoung Shin is leading the firm's outbound project finance team based on his expertise in the field.  He well understands the market and commercial terms, making him be a very reliable legal counsel. He smoothly deals with all major issues of a deal. He also is a good coordinator among firms, banks and other advisories. He is definitely one of the most prominent figures in the field.”

“We mainly worked with Sangmyoung Shin on international ECA finance deals including project finance, ship finance and ECA export credit finance matters. Many of the deals Mr Shin worked on were mega transactions worth billions of US dollars, involving major ECAs and international financial institutions. As Kim & Chang's leading project finance and energy partner, Mr Shin has many outstanding qualities among which his ability to solve complicated issues involving international project finance transactions is very much appreciated by clients. There are not many lawyers with both solid legal knowledge as well as commercial sense in the field of international project finance.”

“Mr Shin is very professional, insightful and has a highly commercial outlook. No rival, he is the only Korean-qualified and US-qualified lawyer in the international project finance market who has knowledge of all the relevant laws, including Korean law and practices. He has been our number one pick for recent years as now he seems to be leading the market.”

“He is extremely knowledgeable and experienced with good communication skills.”

Hyun Wook Shin

“He is highly professional with abundant industry experience and in-depth knowledge. He presented excellent problem-solving skills and coordination support.”

Andrew White

“He is the best litigator and arbitrator in the world. He is the only one who has litigation experience in the US.”

Tax
Work highlights

Acted for the Korean sub-custodian banks of Luxembourg SICAV and SICAF in their appeal against the tax assessment made in connection with withholding taxes on dividend and interest income received. The team led its clients to victories in all three stages of the litigation over a course of six years.

Represented a US-based multinational company in the first Supreme Court case on beneficial ownership in the context of a group restructuring.  

Private equity
Work highlights

Advised the Blackstone Group in the acquisition of shares of Geo Young Corporation for over $873 million from Anchor Equity Partners.

Acted for MBK Partners on its $1.38 billion sale of 22.2% stake in Coway to Woongjin.

Represented KKR on its $979 million sale of 100% equity interests in KCF Technologies to SKC Corporation.

Key clients

Ace Equity Partners, Bain Capital Credit, Blackstone, Glenwood Private Equity, IMM Private Equity, JC Flowers & Co, KKR

Labour and employment
Work highlights

Successfully defended Hyundai Motor Company in a case brought by an employee of a dealer that had executed a dealership agreement with it. The plaintiff claimed he was an employee of the client and that he had been illegally dispatched to work for the dealer.

Assisted DuPont Korea in consolidating the working terms and conditions of its different corporate entities.

Successfully defended Hyundai Heavy Industries at all court proceeding stages over a case related to unpaid wages that focused on the inclusion of overseas onsite work allowance in ordinary wage.

Key clients

Air Products Korea, Pfizer Korea, Qualcomm Korea

Dispute resolution
Work highlights

Represented Samsung Biologics in a lawsuit to revoke a Securities and Futures Commission (SFC)-issued corrective order that found the client had committed accounting fraud in relation to its equity stake in a subsidiary.

Advised Siemens during the KFTC investigation and subsequent appeal seeking reversal of the sanctions imposed by the regulator.

Key clients

Schindler Holding

Investment funds
Work highlights

Assisted Glenwood Private Equity as the general partner as it established a Korean private equity fund called ‘Glenwood Co Investment Private Equity Fund II’.

Advised IMM Private Equity on the formation of its flagship blind fund, IMM Rosegold IV PEF, as well as its parallel investment vehicles.

Key clients

Korea Investment Corporation, Praxis Capital Partners, STIC Investments

Restructuring and insolvency
Work highlights

Advised Philippine lenders BDO Unibank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Land Bank of the Philippines on the acquisition of shares in Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (HHIC) pursuant to the restructuring of the Philippine subsidiary of HHIC.

Acted for Samil PWC to provide legal advice for the creditor financial institutions council of Daiyang Metal during its workout programme.

Representing Korea Development Bank in a confirmatory action with Haengbok during the rehabilitation proceedings of Dongbu E&C and in the appeal that followed.

Key clients

Dongwon Industries, DVB Bank SE, KEB Hana Bank, Wolverine World Wide

Corporate and M&A
Work highlights

Acted as lead counsel to Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors Corporation and Hyundai Mobis in a $4 billion joint venture agreement signed between Hyundai Motor Group and NYSE-listed auto parts maker Aptiv Technologies.

Advising Hyundai Heavy Industries on its takeover bid for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to acquire a 55.7% stake worth $1.7 billion in the target.

Represented Divine Kora Holdings on its $2.3 billion acquisition of the existing shares of Daesung Industrial Gases.

Key clients

Estee Lauder Cosmetics, Lotte Corporation, MBK Partners, Woojin Thinkbig Corporation

Capital markets
Work highlights

Acted as Korean counsel for Budweiser Brewing Company APAC on its $5 billion IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Engaged by KB Securities as the arranger for the $250 million bond issuance of Eastern Air Overseas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines.

Represented Morgan Stanley and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch as the joint lead managers in connection with the $688 million convertible bond offshore private offering by LG Display.

Key clients

DBS Bank, Kookmin Bank, Korea Gas Corporation, KT Corporation, Woori Bank

Competition/antitrust
Work highlights

Advised IBM and open-source software company Red Hat in obtaining an unconditional clearance from the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) for IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat. The global mega-merger was valued at $34 billion.

Representing Danaher Corporation in the Korean merger filing for its $21.4 billion acquisition of General Electric’s Healthcare Life Sciences Biopharma Business.

Advised Booking.com International in the KFTC investigation into alleged use of unfair terms and conditions, and on its appeal of the KFTC's corrective order requiring the company to amend its terms of service. The team helped the client obtain a Seoul’s high court decision reversing the antitrust regulator’s corrective order.

Assisted Xperi Corporation and TiVo Corporation obtain unconditional clearance on their merger. Similarly, the team helped Peugeot obtain its unconditional clearance for its 50-50 merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Key clients

Gemalto, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Momentive Performance Materials, Siemens, Thales

Banking and finance
Work highlights

Acted for Korea Trade Insurance Corporation in relation to its partner Abu Dhabi National Oil Company raising $3 billion in debt financing from Santander.

Advised the senior and junior lenders Mirae Asset Daewoo Securities and Meritz Securities on providing $1.6 billion term loan facilities for Hyundai Merchant Marine to acquire 12 container vessels.

Key clients

Hanon Systems, Kookmin Bank, Korea Development Bank, Standard Chartered Bank

Construction
Work highlights

Represented Kyeryong in a dispute over which company was the winning bidder in a process conducted by the Bank of Korea. The client was being challenged by the second-place bidder, even though it had been based on having the highest technical score and had submitted a bid price that was higher than the estimated price.

Advised developer consortium consisting of Daewoo E&C, Doosan E&C, Pacific E&C and YM General Construction as the plaintiffs in an action against a project owner for claims involving a delay in the construction period and significant changes in design.

Key clients

Eleven Construction, OneCareWorld, Posco Engineering & Construction