More than 150 in-house counsel attended the 9th annual ALB SE Asia In-House Legal Summit held at the Marina Mandarin in Singapore. The broad theme of the summit was the emerging markets of Southeast Asia, and how to both survive and thrive in the same, as demonstrated by the high-quality panels and workshops that took place throughout the day.

Today, countries in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, have become the focus of leading multinationals. Companies see the region's potential as a production base supplying not just the West, but also China's burgeoning economy. However, the ASEAN region’s emerging economies also have their share of problems, including corruption, mismanagement and a lack of transparency that foreign investors have to be wary of.

Tilleke & Gibbins kicked off the summit with a workshop on labour and employment laws in Thailand and Vietnam, offering employers insights into how best to overcome difficulties and position themselves for success. This was followed by KhattarWong, who discussed cross-border M&As, post-acquisition disputes and contrasts between Singapore and Indonesia. To illustrate the differences between transacting in Singapore and a developing country with a civil law legal system, the workshop also highlighted how transacting in Indonesia changes Singaporean lawyers’ understanding of key clauses.
After a networking luncheon was the day’s first in-house counsel panel discussion on the perceived and real effectiveness of integrated versus separate compliance and legal functions. This featured Samantha Chia of Nokia Siemens Networks, Kiat Seng Lee, an in-house counsel with a healthcare company, Toh Han Pin with Covidien, and the moderator Eric Roring Pesik of Seagate.

This was followed by a presentation by VDB Loi on real-life case studies in structuring market entry, joint ventures and investment projects in Myanmar. The workshop highlighted how actual deals work, how the government really applies foreign investment rules, and what companies can achieve in practice from the authorities. The summit concluded with the second panel of the day on mitigating risk in Southeast Asia’s emerging economies. Led by ALB Editor Ranajit Dam and featuring Michael K. Lee of Tilleke & Gibbins, Marius Toime of Berwin Leighton Paisner and William D. Greenlee Jr of DFDL, the panel discussed how businesses can overcome the challenges and pitfalls of frontier markets in the region.

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