Asia Business Law Journal names the top firms in Indonesia for 2020, Putro Harnowo reports
Indonesia is renowned for its low-cost manufacturing base, burgeoning consumer market and vibrant fintech scene. However, much like the rest of the world, covid-19 has thrown a wrench into the works of one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
With the virus hitting hard in March 2020, economic activity was crippled, affecting sectors such as household consumption, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), investment and financial institutions. Businesses to varying degrees – with certain sectors like hospitality and tourism, food and beverage affected the most – were unable to function and owners were unable to fulfil credit obligations.
The corporate sector was severely disrupted, especially in manufacturing, trade and transportation, causing the termination of employment, and bankruptcies. Financial institutions also experienced liquidity problems, causing a depreciation of Indonesia’s rupiah, volatility in financial markets, and capital flight.
Last year, the World Bank projected Indonesia’s economy to grow at 5.1%, rising to 5.2% this year. However, the country’s real gross domestic product plunged 5.32% in the three months ending in June 2020 from a year earlier. The slowdown follows 2.97% growth in the previous quarter. It was the first contraction in the economy since 1999, as public health measures to contain the coronavirus crisis dealt a body blow to the economy.
While the government has set aside a stimulus package and the central bank has cut rates several times, the economy is expected to continue to struggle as the rising number of coronavirus patients forces municipalities to maintain social restrictions.
Bank Indonesia, the central bank, is predicting a “U-shaped recovery”, with the economy likely to languish for some time. A recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, would be the country’s first since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998. In a worst-case scenario, the government expects a full-year contraction of 0.4%.
So, what has been the ripple effect for Indonesia’s legal landscape? Logic dictates that certain practices such as bankruptcy and litigation see an uptick in work, while others like M&A (which saw a huge increase last year) decline.
Against this backdrop, Asia Business Law Journal’s 2020 Indonesia Law Firm Awards presents an interesting mix of traditional independent law firms, big international players and disruptive startups, a picture reflective of a diverse legal market. We have identified one Law Firm of the Year, and four other firms that have proven to be overall among the best in the country. In 21 other categories, we have four winners each of equal standing.
Assegaf Hamzah & Partners (AHP) is renowned locally and regionally as a top-tier full-service Indonesian law firm. Founded by Fikri Assegaf and Chandra Hamzah in 2001, the firm grew its reputation by representing first-class clients in accessing capital, advising financial institutions, and counselling government institutions in ground-breaking transactions.
AHP has been a part of the regional strategic alliance of Rajah & Tann Asia since 2014. The 23-partner firm has again confirmed its pre-eminent position in Indonesia by navigating blue-chip corporate clients, high net worth individuals and public enterprises through the current global uncertainty.
AHP is a leading force in Indonesia’s banking and finance sector, advising on all manner of structured financing transactions. Recently, the firm acted for the dealers in the second issuance of the Euro medium-term notes programme amounting to US$500 million by Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest state-owned bank.
The firm also advised Bank Danamon Indonesia on the sale of nearly 180,000 non-performing loans to Collectius Group. During the coronavirus crisis, AHP represented joint lead managers in the US$600 million debut global bond issue by state-owned infrastructure developer, Hutama Karya.
The firm advised Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) in the largest issuance from the country this year to date, a US$2.5 billion notes offering.
AHP also has a strong litigation team made up of experienced courtroom advocates, arbitrators and mediators. The firm recently represented the president of the Republic of Indonesia as co-defendant in a class action lawsuit brought by 132 households, arising from expropriation for an infrastructure project in Jakarta.
“We have been with AHP more than 10 years,” says Marina Budiman, CEO of DCI Indonesia, a data centre provider.
“They provide legal services in many areas to us. Our experience is that each [member] of the AHP team is competent in his/her area, very responsive and dependable.
“They understand our needs and go beyond our expectations. It is not uncommon to receive a personalized touch from them. AHP gives us peace of mind that we are well taken care of.”
Ali Budiardjo Nugroho Reksodiputro (ABNR) is one the oldest full-service law firms in Indonesia.
It is also one of the country’s top three firms by number of lawyers, with 25 partners and more than 100 lawyers. With more than 50 years of experience, the firm build its name over the years handling large and complex deals across the spectrum of practice areas.
ABNR has played an important role in the evolution of regulation in Indonesia, and this year the firm is adopting a policy to hire an equal number of male and female employees. The new recruitment policy is intended to evolve the firm into an era of gender equity. ABNR has also actively provided pro bono assistance to civil society, environmental and social empowerment organizations, as well as providing bursaries to law students from disadvantaged areas.
ABNR represents foreign and domestic banks and other financial institutions in all aspects of banking and finance, including international financial organizations and development banks. The firm acted as counsel to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, for their US$150 million, four-year debt facility to Bank BTPN.
“I have known Theo [Theodoor Bakker, a foreign counsel at ABNR] for over a decade now, and during all that time ABNR has been my go-to firm in Indonesia” says Marc Ladislau Mezey, the principal counsel at IFC in Hong Kong. “They provide solid advice across the board on the types of transactions we do, and issues we deal with.”
The firm has also acted for APRO Financial (a South Korea-based consumer credit company) for the merger of Indonesian publicly listed lenders Bank Dinar and Bank Oke Indonesia – both banks had previously been acquired by the client.
“Our group had the privilege of working with ABNR for the past five years, and it has been a pleasure working with them, especially during M&A and setting up a company within our group,” says Lim Cheol Jin, the president director at Bank Oke Indonesia.
“I would be honoured to provide a complete endorsement as needed of ABNR capabilities across a broad range of corporate legal issues” says Lim.
“Their assistance with due diligence on the M&A transactions allowed us to expedite the process in a fair and equitable manner for both parties. My most sincere thanks for ABNR counsel and their expertise in this area,” he says.
Another South Korean client, the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), also endorses ABNR. The firm assisted the bank’s acquisition and merger of Indonesian lenders Bank Agris and Bank Mitraniaga to form Bank IBK Indonesia.
“It does not take a long time to be impressed with ABNR’s support, help and performance,” says Kim Nam Hoon, senior vice president, adviser of compliance, AML, legal, customer protection, anti-fraud and internal audit at Bank IBK Indonesia. “They did their best to support or help me and they got the best performance for the project.”
ABNR’s aviation practice is widely commended, especially with assisting major aircraft financing deals. Recent notable deals include working as Indonesian counsel to Castlelake for a US$2.4 billion debt financing of 21 new Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, and representing Air Lease Corporation for a number of aircraft-based securitization transactions worth US$2.1 billion.
ABNR has played a major role in the financing of most of the significant Indonesian power projects in the past decade, including traditional fossil fuel plants and renewable energy sources. The firm acted as counsel to a consortium of domestic and international banks for the US$1.84 billion “trustee borrowing scheme financing” provided to Pertamina EP, a subsidiary of state-owned energy producer Pertamina, for the development of the Jambaran-Tiung Biru gas project. The financing consisted of conventional and Shariah-based Wakala facilities.
“ABNR has been assisting us in many legal matters for years,” says Mohamad Yudhi Firmanuddin, government relations and external affairs at Pinang Coal Indonesia. “It is one of the trusted firms in the mining industry, especially for external affairs. So far, we have found their service is really commendable.”
Hadiputranto Hadinoto & Partners (HHP Law), a member firm of Baker McKenzie International, has more than three decades of local experience, and has cemented its place as one of the largest firms in the country. With its strong presence across practice areas, the firm has the resources to deal with large and lengthy transactions through its Asia-Pacific network.
Its 18 partners and nearly 300 employees have embraced technology, which gives them 24/7 access to all of the firm’s resources and enhances their ability to service clients by accessing important documents online and address their needs.
“HHP should be one of the best since they are one of the largest and well-known firms in Indonesia,” says Avianto Pramana, an associate at SS&R Legal Consultants in Jakarta. “They have assisted big and major transactions in Indonesia.”
HHP represents companies and institutions from various industrial sectors. The firm recently counselled joint sellers Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and Astra International on the US$2.14 billion sale of Bank Permata to Bangkok Bank, Thailand’s largest bank by assets. SCB and Astra sold their stake of 89.12% as a “one-step” sale to Bangkok Bank, making it the first major overseas bank acquisition by a Thai bank.
HHP’s insurance work in both non-contentious and contentious matters was notable. Recently, it advised as lead counsel to state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia in its strategic partnership in Asuransi BRI Life with FWD Group via a competitive bid process, and managing complex stakeholders during the covid-19 pandemic.
The firm also advised Zurich Insurance on its acquisition of an 80% stake in Asuransi Adira Dinamika, and acted as lead counsel for Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance in relation to the purchase of an additional 30% stake in Asuransi Jiwa Sinarmas MSIG.
SSEK Indonesian Legal Consultants is one of the largest independent law firms and one of the most highly regarded firms in the country. It has nearly three decades of experience helping foreign and local companies navigate Indonesia’s complex regulatory environment to minimize risk, maximize investment and achieve their business goals. Some key clients include General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Pertamina and SoftBank Vision Fund.
Recently, it acted for TSH Resources, one of Malaysia’s largest plantation companies, as the seller in a US$110.1 million Indonesian landbank transaction. The firm also advised KEB Hana Bank Korea, South Korea’s largest bank by assets, in connection with the acquisition by LINE Corporation, through its subsidiary LINE Financial Asia, of a 20% stake in Bank KEB Hana Indonesia through a share subscription agreement.
“SSEK is a one-stop legal firm with years of experience and a wide range of practices,” says Andini Dewi, the legal lead of LINE Plus Indonesia, a subsidiary of LINE Corporation that handles operational work and support for LINE users in the country.
Dentons HPRP is one of the country’s first post-independence law firms, set up in 1953 as the Law Office of Mr L Hanafiah. The firm reformed in 1990, and again in 2004 as Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners (HPRP). In late 2018, it formed an alliance with Dentons and has now rebranded as Dentons HPRP.
The firm has represented prominent airline companies, including the Indonesian national flag carrier, in leasing, purchasing and financing. One of its most notable deals was assisting Nordic Aviation Capital, a leading aircraft leasing company focused on propeller aircraft, in its purchase and lease transactions involving Indonesian airlines including Garuda Indonesia (Persero), Citilink Indonesia, Transnusa Aviation Mandiri, Travira Air and Trigana Air.
Nurjadin Sumono Mulyadi & Partners (NSMP), previously known as Nurjadin Sumono Mulyadi Pratanto, was founded in January 2006 by Iwan Nurjadin, Ilya Utama Sumono and Mulyadi. Since its inception, NSMP has handled various transactions and high-profile cases that have led to its recognition in both local and international markets.
In the past 12 months, NSMP has led various aviation transactions involving more than eight registered aircraft in Indonesia, including advising Carlyle Aviation Partners on various transactions, and advising and assisting BOC Aviation on the sale of aircraft currently registered in the country.
TNB & Partners is the associate office of Norton Rose Fulbright Australia in Indonesia. While its core strength has been handling corporate and banking and finance transactions, the firm has strong aviation and dispute resolution practices as well.
The firm advises on major aircraft financing and leasing transactions, bolstered by its aviation disputes group, which advises on all aspects of aviation industry disputes including delivery disputes, lease defaults and repossessions, airline passenger claims, risk management, and contractual and insurance issues. TNB partner Tasdikiah Siregar is widely recognized as one of the leading aviation lawyers in Indonesia.
Established 10 years ago, Ginting & Reksodiputro, an associate of UK-based international firm Allen & Overy, has built a strong place for itself among top-tier legal firms in Indonesia. The firm assists national, foreign and multinational clients in achieving business objectives through value-added advice on the complexities and challenges of the Indonesian legal environment.
The firm’s founder and managing partner, Daniel Ginting, is recognized for his work in financial services advisory, especially banking and finance, structured finance and securitization, and capital markets. Ginting’s corporate and commercial law practice, headed by partner Harun Reksodiputro, is also highly regarded for work in M&A, joint ventures and commercial deals.
The firm has acted for the mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners on a US$2.85 billion standby senior financing to fund the Indonesian government’s acquisition through its state-owned mining company, Indonesian Asahan Aluminium (Inalum), of a majority stake in the Grasberg copper mine in Papua province. The deal is a record corporate.
“Ginting Reksodiputro is a top-notch law firm and has been brilliant in assisting infrastructure projects,” says Ray Aryaputra Singgih, senior legal officer of Adaro Energy in Indonesia.
The firm also advised online marketplace unicorn Tokopedia on its US$1.1 billion Series H fundraising, led by Softbank and Alibaba. GO-JEK, another of the country’s unicorns, was advised by the firm on its Series F funding round led by Google, JD.com and Tencent.
Makes & Partners is an independent law firm that was established by Yozua Makes in 1993 with a focus on corporate and commercial, financial services and dispute resolution. The firm has acted in numerous global public offerings (debt and equity) by Indonesian companies listed on international private placements.
In 2014, the firm teamed up with Singaporean law firm WongPartnership to gain a network that spans from the Middle East and ASEAN to China.
The firm advised Gajah Tunggal in Indonesia on its new bond issuance, which amounted to US$250 million in the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading (SGX-ST), due 2022. Another notable deal is aiding the public bond offering in Indonesia of Global Mediacom for US$365 million.
The leading capital markets law firm Melli Darsa & Co (PwC Indonesia) focuses primarily on financial services, and corporate and commercial advisory. It has a strong reputation in M&A, capital markets, corporate advisory and finance. Established 18 years ago, the firm has been in the PwC Indonesia network for three years.
It recently acted for Maybank Indonesia on the issue of its third continuing senior bonds issuance. The firm represents big names such as Bank Central Asia, Bank Mandiri, Citigroup Global Markets Singapore, and Nomura Singapore.
Lubis Ganie Surowidjojo (LGS) was formed in 1985 by Timbul Thomas Lubis, Mohamed Idwan Ganie and Arief Tarunakarya Surowidjojo. Since then, it has rapidly flourished as one of Indonesia’s largest and most dynamic law firms. With more than 100 experienced lawyers, LGS has been involved in some of the largest and most complex commercial transactions in the country.
Last year, the firm signed an alliance with one of the big four professional services firms, KPMG, after finishing an association with the UK’s Clyde & Co since 2013. The firm undertakes high-level legal work for a variety of clients, ranging from domestic to multinational corporations, public and private companies, to government instrumentalities and state-owned enterprises.
Walalangi & Partners (W&P), which is associated with Nishimura & Asahi, is recognized for its remarkable capacity to advance its position into the spotlight just a few years after its foundation in 2018. Advising inbound investment, especially from Japan, is one the firm’s specialties, apart from mergers & acquisitions and capital markets.
The boutique law firm advised Mitsubishi Corporation in its superblock urban development project of more than US$350 million in a 12-hectare area of Vasanta InnoPark in Indonesia, and acted as counsel to Toyota Tsusho Corporation in its real property and phase III residential expansion in industrial area Cikarang, with a total investment value of IDR910 billion (US$61.7 million).
AKSET grew from four partners and two associates in 2010 into 40 lawyers in a decade, showing its proven versatility in the legal market.
In 2016, an international relationship was established officially by the collaboration with Japan’s Mori Hamada & Matsumoto. The firm stems its expertise in corporate practice, from finance to employment to settling disputes.
The firm’s technology, media and telecoms (TMT) practice is also widely recognized by international companies such as Google and Sony, as well as homegrown unicorns such as Gojek, Traveloka and Tokopedia.
K&K Advocates is a boutique firm that is recognized as a leading specialist in intellectual property (IP). The firm has frequently advised clients from a wide array of industries regarding policy, confidentiality, data privacy and data protection issues.
K&K’s IP portfolio has earned a reputation with both international and national clients, with particular strengths in the registration and enforcement of copyright, patent and trademark, with a focus on banking, fintech, telecoms and media.
Soemadipradja & Taher (S&T) has extensive experience in assisting clients with commercial litigation and arbitration. The firm also provides advice on bankruptcy law and proceedings in the commercial courts, and has considerable experience representing clients at creditor meetings during periods of suspension of payments and bankruptcies. The firm’s expertise extends to commercial arbitration matters under the Badan Arbitrase Nasional Indonesia (BANI Arbitration Centre) and international arbitration rules.
Recently S&T successfully defended an Indonesian subsidiary unit of Stolt, a bitumen distribution company, in a civil claim collectively brought by its top four customers, claiming about US$9.7 million in damages.
ADCO Law has a proven track record in advising clients on delivering national and global leading oil and gas projects across the full upstream and downstream lifecycle, from licensing and exploration to production, sale and decommissioning.
Mining and energy are also core areas of focus at ADCO Law. The firm recently advised Berkah Kawasan Manyar Sejahtera on its engineering, procurement and construction contract with WOG Technologies, involving the construction of a seawater desalination water treatment plant.
“ADCO speaks with clear language to help you easily understand anything, whether to capture the clients’ interest, the unseen risks, and the best options for the project structure scheme to fit the needs. Hats off to ADCO,” says Gilbert Tranggana, corporate legal & licence at Pamapersada Nusantara (Astra International Group).
With 40 years of experience in business law, Makarim & Taira S’ renowned name can be traced back to its founders, Nono Anwar Makarim and Frank Taira Supit. The Harvard University graduates built a strong network with a number of prominent clients, offering a full-service legal advisory covering corporate law, banking, and litigation and non-litigation matters.
To strengthen its regional presence, the firm has formed regional legal alliances with blue-chip firms Drew & Napier in Singapore and Shearn Delamore & Co from Malaysia.
“ADCO law and Makarim & Taira S are excellent solution providers,” says Naresh Anchalia, operations director at Berkah Kawasan Manyar Sejahtera, which developed and operates Java Integrated Industrial and Ports Estate (JIIPE), an integrated industrial area with deep sea port and residential estate in Indonesia.
Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung is a leading commercial law firm with a longstanding association with Herbert Smith Freehills. The firm is known for its expertise across a wide range of competition and antitrust work, including representing clients in major investigations before the Indonesia Competition Commission (ICC, or domestically known as the KPPU). Entrusted by multinational and domestic clients, it also handles abuse of dominance and price-fixing cases, along with merger notifications and competition audits.
The firm has advised telecommunications provider Indosat on the sale and lease back of 3,100 telecommunication towers for about US$452 million to Mitratel and Protelindo, which Indosat will then lease back.
In state-owned company projects, the firm advised a Pertamina-Rosneft joint venture on the award of engineering contracts for a new US$16 billion refinery in Indonesia, and Perusahaan Listrik Negara’s (PLN) US$1.5 billion bond issue for joint lead managers and bookrunners.
Acemark was founded in 1999 with a focus on domestic and international IP. The firm offers the full cycle of IP-related matters, from initial development, registration, brand protection, and enforcement in the courtroom. The firm has represented multinationals such as Bajaj, Air China, Panasonic, Sharp and GS Group. It is affiliated with Amir Syamsuddin & Partners (ASP), which provides full services in litigation, banking, commercial, corporate and criminal issues.
Suryomurcito & Co is an IP specialist firm associated with an international network of IP services via Rouse & Co since its establishment in 1997. Investigations of infringements and enforcements of IP rights have been its fields of expertise, as well as court representation on invalidation, and cancellation of infringing IP registrations by third parties. The firm’s clients include Starbucks, Adidas, Harley-Davidson, Sheraton Group, Davidoff, Prada and Intel.
Biro Oktroi Roosseno was established in 1951, making it one of the oldest IP-focused firms in Indonesia. It has more than 120 employees including qualified lawyers and 30 technical experts from various disciplines. Its clients include Toyota.
SKC Law is an IP specialist law firm that has built a commendable reputation in IP protection practice since its inception in 2011. Several domestic and international brands have trusted their litigation and advisory work including Honda, Yamaha, FIFA and Nike. The firm has three partners, Purnomo Suryomurcito, Nidya Kalangie, and solicitor and foreign advocate Andrew Conduit.
Founded in 2003, Ivan Almaida Baely & Firmansyah Law Firm (IABF) has grown to be one of Indonesia’s most prominent law firms in civil and commercial litigation. The firm advises and represents clients in various arbitration cases, both domestic and international. IABF has a strategic alliance with international law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) to service global clients’ legal interests in Indonesia, where international firms are not currently permitted to operate.
A notable case that IABF has been involved in is representing Niro Ceramic Nasional Indonesia as the plaintiff in a breach of contract lawsuit against its ex-director for allegations of breaching non-competition, solicitation and confidentiality clauses. This is important because it can be used as a precedent for similar cases in Indonesia and tests whether non-competition law is recognised by Indonesian courts or not.
Mochtar Karuwin Komar (MKK) is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Indonesia. The firm was founded in 1971 by Mochtar Kusumaatmadja, before he served as minister of justice, from 1974-1978, and minister of foreign affairs, from 1978-1988.
MKK marked a milestone in the country’s commercial law development by representing issuers in the first IPO in Indonesia.
The firm has been renowned for its stellar reputation in financial services business, especially its restructuring and refinance practices.
Hermawan Juniarto was established in 2005 to render legal services across banking, corporate and commercial, M&A, capital markets, commercial disputes, restructuring and IP areas. It changed its name to Hermawan Juniarto & Partners when it joined the Deloitte Legal network in October 2018, and since then the firm has managed to work across various offices in the region, executing Indonesian-related work.
The firm recently acted for an Indonesian deposit insurance corporation on the regulatory framework for a bank restructuring programme (Program Restrukturisasi Perbankan, or PRP) incorporating design review, the structure and working mechanism of the PRP, and short-term strategy for crisis handling during systemic financial situations in Indonesia.
UMBRA has shown tremendous growth since its establishment in 2017 by managing partner Pramudya Oktavinanda. The independent firm has handled more than 200 deals with a total value of more than US$24 billion, representing major state-owned enterprises, as well as domestic and international private companies.
“Navigating the Indonesian fintech market can be tricky, especially with the various regulations and best practices at play, and UMBRA has been instrumental in our successes,” says Mackenzie Tan, a co-founder of Impact Credit Solutions in Singapore.
“I have been very impressed with the excellent service provided by the UMBRA team, particularly under Putu Raditya Nugraha, as the firm’s banking and finance partner. “Not only are they helpful on the legal aspects, they have also been very insightful with commercial considerations in the market.”
UMBRA is the first law firm in Indonesia to introduce the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in doing due diligence, created by Luminance Technology, and has created a name for itself as a leading specialist in the TMT sector.
“UMBRA is an agile, young boutique law firm that can cater to small agile organizations such as IT startups,” says Andini Dewi, a legal lead at LINE Plus Indonesia. “Their insight on how regulations are played out in practice is worth praise.”
Bagus Enrico & Partners is active in corporate and commercial practice. However, it is the firm’s expertise in technology and telecoms that has earned it a reputation among local and international clients.
Bagus Nur Buwono and Enrico Iskandar are key contacts. It advised WhatsApp on data protection issues and regulatory compliance, and assisted Lycamobile with its commercial agreement with Axiata. The firm also advised Vodafone on regulatory and licensing issues relating to VoIP services, fixed IPVPN services and direct internet access.
The judging process