Tahirah Ara was recently appointed Managing Partner of the Singapore office of Mischon de Reya, the firm’s newly opened first office in Asia. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Ara explains the firm’s goals for Asia, and how it plans to compete in Singapore’s highly competitive legal market. She also details her practice focus on cross-border M&A and finance, and the firm’s provision of comprehensive strategic legal services to wealthy families and individuals.
You were recently appointed the Managing Partner of the Singapore office of Mischon de Reya, the firm’s newly opened first office in Asia, as part of the firm’s 10-year vision for Asia. Tell us more about this
Despite the current situation, the investment in the Singapore office is part of our Firm’s 10 Year Vision that was set out over three years ago. It reflects global economic developments that include changes in the legal market and Mishcon’s ambition to connect more deeply with its growing target market in Asia. Having a physical presences in Asia represents our commitment to the region, which is a key growth area for our Firm, and will help us to keep building meaningful relationships with our clients and intermediaries that are based here in Asia.
Singapore is a highly competitive legal market. How will Mishcon de Reya seek to distinguish itself in this competitive climate?
Our Singapore office will focus on three core areas: cross border transactional work, private wealth and disputes. We believe these areas are best suited to us, as we can leverage the Firm’s expertise and experience in these areas. The service areas will include international tax and succession planning and advising clients and their businesses on cross border capital investments and financings. As a licensed Foreign Law Practice in Singapore, the office will not be undertaking Singapore law related work save in those areas permitted by its licence, such as international commercial arbitration. Culturally and operationally, the Singapore office will be an extension of our Firm’s London office.
Your practice focus is primarily in restructuring and corporate finance. Tell us more about this.
My own practice includes advising clients on cross border M&A and financings. I am well known in the Indonesian market for representing large Indonesian corporate borrowers in complex debt restructurings. I have experience with both court supervised restructurings, including PKPU proceedings in Indonesia, and out of court consensual arrangements. Some of the transactions I work on involve refinancing a single loan but in most cases I am advising clients on restructuring all of their debts simultaneously including syndicated bank loans and international bonds and I work closely with trustees and clearing systems for amending and/or exchanging existing securities and the issuance of new securities. A good example is the work that me and my team did for our client, PT Bumi Resources Tbk, where in 2017 we assisted the company in restructuring US$4.5 billion of loans and bonds, which was one of the largest and most complex debt restructurings ever completed in South East Asia. My goal on these transactions is to assist management to right-size the company’s capital structure so that management can then focus on rebuilding their business.
Mishcon’s Asia practice was in large measure established to provide private wealth management advisory services. Tell us more about this.
That is correct, in part. Our Firm is well known for advising wealthy families and successful entrepreneurs. But in many cases our work for these clients extends beyond private wealth work to advising their businesses both on transactional matters and in disputes. As we build relationships with our clients our aim is to become their trusted advisor for their most critical legal needs, whether that be for them in their personal capacity or for their businesses.
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