Celebrating 50 years of Law Debenture in Hong Kong
We are immensely proud to celebrate this milestone of 50 years operating in Hong Kong. The region has seen significant change during this period and it is testament to the quality of our team and the service they deliver that we continue to be a valued brand. More recent notable developments from our side include the 2019 appointment of Winnie Wong to head up the Corporate Trust business in Asia and the expansion of our Corporate Secretarial Services into the region in 2021. Over the next few months we will be taking the time to highlight the great work we do in Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region and to celebrate our golden anniversary.Denis Jackson, Law Debenture CEO
How we have been delivering peace of mind for clients
Opening for business in 1973 our Hong Kong office delivered Corporate Trusteeship for high profile and often complex situations.
An early hospitality industry security trust appointment helped us to build our reputation as a high quality, independent trustee.
This momentum continued following the Hong Kong Government’s decision to develop a “Cyberport” at Telegraph Bay to help local businesses to capitalise on the rapid growth of the internet. We were appointed security trustee to a partnership agreement in order to construct an office complex, shopping mall, hotel and residential housing. We have held this role for nearly 20 years.
We were also appointed security trustee on financings relating to a mortgage company’s residential mortgage business. Our relationship with them continues today and has developed as their operations have expanded.
Other projects included the restructuring (including a debt for equity swap) of a commercial property group holding security in Hong Kong as well as Vietnam and other locations. Interestingly, where it was not possible to locate certain creditors, Law Debenture also held the shares in question under the terms of a separate share trust.
In 2003 a flagship property development company issued the first of several retail bonds under a programme which, at that time, was a novel process. Not only were we appointed Trustee the then Law Debenture director-in-charge appeared on a Hong Kong television news report!
Law Debenture also has a long history of providing specialist bespoke share trustee services to assist in M&A transactions. Such experience includes the holding of shares under a declaration of trust separating economic benefits from voting-rights. This structure allowed an investment from a US Brewer in a local beer brand. To get the regulator’s approval we enabled a structure which ensured voting rights (held by Law Deb) would only be exercised as the regulator required.
Escrow agency services have been provided in Hong Kong for many years, supporting M&A and other commercial activities, and remains, a core business line in the region.
We continue to support employers wishing to incentivise and retain key employees through share schemes. Shares are held under a trust arrangement before vesting in the employee name at the designated time if they remained in employment. We act as Trustee on such arrangements, which have been very popular, particularly when the labour market is tight.
What does Law Debenture in Hong Kong look like today?
As the Corporate Trust business in Hong Kong, led by Winnie Wong, has grown so has our team and the range of services we deliver to our clients in APAC. Corporate Trust – Asia has leveraged existing products, combining them to provide innovative, efficient solutions.
The repeated custom from well-recognised names in the international markets is evidence of the professionalism and quality of service we deliver. Our client list has now expanded to state departments, sovereign wealth funds, multinational conglomerates, industry leaders, top global investment managers, insurance companies, to name a few.
Our Service of Process business, led by Judy Yu, has been supporting transactions including Subscription Agreements, Facility Agreements, Aircraft Purchase Agreements, Shareholders’ Agreements, etc. for nearly 50 years. Clients include city law firms, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Herbert Smith; HK listed companies; famous tycoons and many more.
We also deliver this service from our London, Dublin and New York offices ensuring coverage 24 hours a day.
In 2021 following the acquisition of the Corporate Secretarial Services business from Konexo we began to offer this governance service in the region. Marc Cormack-Bissett leads our team of 5 (and growing) experts who ensure compliance with local regulation and currently support organisations in a range of sectors, from Luxury FMCG to mining, construction to technology.
Safecall, our whistleblowing hotline, training and investigations business also supports clients in the region and offers local language support for all whistleblowers.
What’s next for Law Debenture?
We are hugely proud of the businesses we have built in Hong Kong and believe there is still more opportunity for us to deliver our expertise to clients in the region.