Yulchon

South Korea

Analysis

Overview

Yulchon keeps steady in the ‘Outstanding’ bands for competition, litigation, private equity and tax this year. Its famed dispute resolution practice has over 250 professionals and keeps apace with an evolving market, creating new disputes practice areas that are novel and innovative. For example, it has established a ‘police investigation action team’ as a proactive response to the recent adjustment of the prosecution-police investigation right. Other nascent disputes groups focus on mobility, blockchain, and sports and entertainment, to name a few.

In high profile recruitment, Yulchon nabbed partner Geen Kim from Lee & Ko to add punch to its capital markets and securitisation offerings. 

Another coup for the firm was the joining of senior advisor Joon Ho Kim, who was the former chairman of the Self-Regulation Committee of Korea Financial Investment Association and a former top-ranking officer of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC). Kim was part of a hiring spree in 2020 to fortify the firm’s TMT expertise, which also included two senior associates from the KCC, partner Yoon Yung Huh from Bae Kim & Lee, and Si-Mok Kim a former officer of the Financial Supervisory Commission in fintech. The firm is committed to developing new technology field practices, with niche specialties in AI, big data, cloud computing, fintech, blockchain, and online gaming.

On the back of its elite standing for antitrust matters, the firm bolstered its unique healthcare antitrust practice with the recruitment of senior advisors Yang Ji Ryu and Sun Jin Kim, from the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Biopharmaceuticals and Herbal Medicine Bureau, respectively. Competition partner Yoon Young Huh lateralled over from Bae Kim & Lee, while partner Sung Il Kang and senior advisor Sung Jae Han joined from the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

Client feedback

“It has many attorneys who have worked in the government, therefore, has a strong understanding of the regulators within Korea. It also has strong connections within the regulators to make things easier to ask questions to the regulator on a no-name basis.” – Banking and finance

“The firm is deeply knowledgeable and combines excellent legal skills with authoritative and commercially-orientated advice.” – Competition/antitrust

“It offered us good local practice advice and evaluated on our activities from the KFTC's perspective.” – Competition/antitrust

“The firm was very responsive and proactive.” – Competition/antitrust

“The lawyers were knowledgeable and experienced, they had a good rapport with us.” – Competition/antitrust

“They know their stuff, they are very realistic in their predictions and they got the deal done.” – Competition/antitrust

“Yulchon is very knowledgeable in the M&A space in South Korea, specifically involving the insurance sector. They also are responsive and efficient.” – Corporate and M&A

“Yulchon responded to all of our requests almost in real-time, around the clock. It also asks questions, not confining themselves to just answering our questions. It can do this because it understands our business and tries to see things from the client's perspective. It is also very cost-efficient, meaning usually one or two junior partners with ample ‘field’ knowledge take care of our needs instead of wasting our money for research work by associate lawyers directed by a too senior partner to pinpoint issues.” – Corporate and M&A

“Yulchon has firm knowledge and experience for M&A transactions. The firm always listens to the client's needs and is trying to duly and properly respond to the client's requests.” – Corporate and M&A

“The most satisfactory element of Yulchon's M&A team was how it kept our commercial and financial, as well as legal interests in mind when assisting us. We think this is what separates it apart from other law firms in Korea. The Yulchon team provided us with exceptional assistance in structuring and executing this rather complex transaction, performing a major role in discussing not just legal, but also commercial and business issues. We won an industry award for this transaction, and Yulchon's help was essential.” – Investment funds

“It responded to requests and emails very quickly. The lawyers were very thorough and knowledgeable, and they understood our business objectives.” – Regulatory

Cecil Chung

“He is very knowledgeable and proactive in responding and making suggestions. He is willing to go the extra mile to provide advice.”

“He is so friendly, very knowledgeable and he understands client objectives well.”

“He is very knowledgeable and realistic, very pleasant to work with.”

“Cecil is a highly impressive lead partner. He is authoritative and decisive, and highly respected, while still responsive and commercial.”

Nina Kim

“She was able to coordinate a large team of lawyers to work efficiently and in a timely fashion.”

Sun Hee Kim

“She is a great liaison between the Korean attorneys at the firm and the foreign client. She is whip-smart, so she can learn a new field quite quickly. Her Korean and English speaking skills are outstanding.”

Hyung Ki Lee

“Hyung Ki Lee was the lead lawyer in our transaction. We were impressed by his expertise in a wide range of legal issues as well as his commercial shrewdness, which is why we continue to retain him.”

Jin Kook Lee

“Jin Kook was the lead partner for our transaction. He provided full support for the deal, and guided us with very practical and reasonable solutions at every moment.”

Seuk Joon Lee

“Possesses client-friendliness, knowledge, flexibility and experience.”

Sung Bom Park

“He offers quality services with reasonable charges.”

Tax
Work highlights

Acted for SK E&S and Posco in a dispute over a pricing scheme unique to long-term LNG supply agreement and the appropriateness of dutiable value of LNG imports.

Represented several commercial banks including Woori Bank, KEB Hana Bank, KDB Bank and Export-Import Bank of Korea in a tax litigation to cancel a withholding tax assessment of $24 million on interest paid in connection with refund guarantees. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the clients. 

Key clients

Asiana Airlines, Janssen Korea, Nexon Korea Corporation

Private equity
Work highlights

Represented IMM Private Equity on its $616 million minority stake investment in Shinhan Financial Holdings.

Advised TPG Capital Asia’s private buyout of Health Balance, a Korean health supplement and baby food business, from Anchor Equity Partners.

Acted for the founders of local pharmaceutical wholesaler Geo Young Corporation in the sale of their 46% stake to Blackstone for $945 million.  

Key clients

Altos Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Meritz Securities, Praxis Capital Partners

Labour and employment
Work highlights

Successfully represented SK Hynix in litigation brought by its employees alleging that the client underpaid their severance because it failed to include their profit-sharing bonuses in the calculation of severance.

Intellectual property
Work highlights

Successfully represented golf simulator company Golfzon in a patent infringement litigation seeking an injunction and monetary damages against competitors SGM and Kakao VX.

Defended SK Networks against a patent infringement suit filed by payment systems entity Smartro seeking partial damages of $13 million. Ultimately, the court awarded a judgement in favour of the client and significantly lowered the amount of damages.

Key clients

HiCon Corporation, Seoul Semiconductor

Dispute resolution
Work highlights

Successfully represented Glaxo Group and GlaxoSmithKline Korea in a preliminary injunction proceeding Involving trademark infringement and unfair competition claims against a domestic pharmaceutical company.

Acted for Schaeffler Korea before the supreme court and successfully had all sanctions vacated that were imposed by the Korea Fair Trade Commission for price-fixing allegations.

Key clients

British American Tobacco, NH Investment & Securities, SOCAR

Investment funds
Work highlights

Advised Mirae Asset Global Investments in a $6 billion transaction involving the acquisition of 15 luxury hotels located in the US from An Bang Insurance of China through a Korean private equity real estate fund.

Represented Mirae Asset Daewoo and its affiliates in their $68.6 million subscription of shares issued by Naver Financial Corporation.

Key clients

CJ CGV, Hillhouse Capital Management, Unison Capital 

Restructuring and insolvency
Work highlights

Represented Cheil General Hospital & Women’s Healthcare Center on all rehabilitation matters, including filing the petition for commencement of rehabilitation proceedings and on a comprehensive stay order to enjoin creditors from enforcing their claims against the debtor.

Successfully acted for Seoul Guaranty Insurance Company in a litigation against financial institution creditors that participated in the workout procedure for 21st Century Shipbuilding.

Key clients

Heungkuk Securities, KB Kookmin Bank,  Samjong KPMG

Corporate and M&A
Work highlights

Advised chemical and pharmaceutical holding company SK Discovery on its merger with SK Syntec valued at $1.1 billion.

Acting for Prudential Financial with the ongoing preparations for the sale of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Prudential Life Korea for at least $1.7 billion. This transaction is expected to be the largest M&A deal of 2020 when completed.

Represented financial investors Hillhouse Capital Management, Altos Ventures, GS PIA and others to sell their collective 87.3% equity stake in online food delivery platform Woowa Brothers to Germany-based Delivery Hero for $3.48 billion.

Key clients

Geo Young Corporation, Line Plus, Net 1, Silicon Mitus

Capital markets
Work highlights

Represented co-lead managers Nomura Securities, HSBC and Korea Investment Securities in the $345 million IPO transaction of Lotte REITs.

Advised defence group Hanwha Systems on its $331 million IPO transaction.

Acted for Hyundai Card as originator counsel in connection with the $330 million securitisation of credit card receivables.

Key clients

GS Caltex, Japan Tobacco International, SNK Corporation, Stic Investments

Competition/antitrust
Work highlights

Defending Qualcomm as co-defence counsel against the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC)’s allegations of abuse of dominance in mobile communication technologies, first before the KFTC in its record-setting $920 million fine decision, then at the Seoul’s high court and now before the Korean Supreme Court. 

Representing Thermo Fisher in its $11.5 billion global acquisition of Qiagen to obtain antitrust clearance from the authorities.

Key clients

Hitachi Automotive Systems, Schaeffler Korea, Woowa Brothers

Banking and finance
Work highlights

Advised Goldman Sachs with respect to a loan facility provided to US-based City Storage Systems acquiring multiple real properties in Korea.

Acted for KTB Investment & Securities and KTB Asset Management in connection with the acquisition of shares in an Austrian company that owned T-Center, a commercial building in Vienna.

Key clients

KTB Investment & Securities, KEB Hana Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Korea

Construction
Work highlights

Successfully represented a consortium of Hyundai E&C, GS E&C and SK E&C in an action raised against Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and won all claims for additional payment of $171 million regarding the construction of Shin-Hanul nuclear power plants.

Representing Khan Bio Corporation on all aspects of an avocado farm project and processing factory in Myanmar.

Key clients

Daelin Industrial, Doosan Heavy Industries, Korea Development Corporation