18 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – AUGUST 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM COVER STORY leadership on various critical business topics. Japanese energy company Inpex Corporation’s legal team successfully faced new regulatory and legal challenges, supporting the company’s energy transition policy on over 700 matters, including significant acquisitions of wind, geothermal and gas projects in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North and South America. The 17-member team, led by general counsel Hiro Kato, is built on the philosophy of hiring lawyers with significant top-tier private practice experience who can manage complex transactions independently. The unit’s “One Legal” principle allows it to leverage its in-house network of experienced lawyers to support acquisitions, projects and disputes globally. The team comprises 14 attorneys in Tokyo, 12 in Australia, three in Indonesia and one each in Abu Dhabi, Rio De Janeiro and Oslo. It also plans to grow the legal team to support Inpex’s outposts in Singapore and London. Another unique aspect is the unit’s flexible, non-hierarchical working model, and commitment to maintaining mental health and diversity and inclusion protocols. The global legal and ethics team (GLET) at Jollibee Foods Corporation comprises eight lawyers and three paralegals in the Philippines. It is led by global general counsel Valerie Feria Amante and serves as the regional legal advisor not only for the Philippines’ business units, but also for offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. As the legal support unit for the Philippines’ biggest fast-food operator, GLET was one of the key drivers of Jollibee’s digital transition, as physical stores remained shuttered during the pandemic. This included critical financing, regulatory compliance, availing of government incentives, pivoting to ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products, and addressing rapidly evolving situations. GLET also led the legal compliance for Jollibee’s vaccination program in the Philippines, facilitating the administration of thousands of vaccination doses nationwide in cooperation with government regulators. Apart from assisting on multiple acquisitions, GLET in 2022 oversaw the launch of Jollibee’s integrated Ethics and Compliance Program, a first in the company’s 45-year history. The legal team at Malaysian power investor Leader Energy Holdings comprises three members, led by legal head Cheang Chee Kong. In 2022, despite its size, the unit simultaneously managed two concurrent power project transactions in separate jurisdictions – a $118 million acquisition of a transmission project in Cambodia, and a $ 35 million acquisition of a solar project in Vietnam. The legal team envisages adding lawyers in each jurisdiction where assets are located to enable the team to function like a local law firm. To increase organisational efficiency, the team also works with local law firms to create standardised agreements for day-to-day business-related matters and more complicated transactions. Singapore-based real estate investment management company Mapletree Investments has a 10-attorney legal team across offices in Singapore, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Sydney. Led by group chief corporate officer Wan Kwong Weng, the team guided a series of investments by Mapletree in the Information Technology office space sector in India. The investments are through a joint venture with Ivanhoe India Equities with projects located in Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune. Global fast-food giant McDonald’s legal team in South Korea, led by general counsel Churl Kim, is setting industry standards on how legal counsel can support their companies in strengthening brand trust, the centre-piece of McDonald’s growth policy especially in the digital age, where internet comments can ruin reputations. To address false claims online about food quality and people practices, the legal team led the ideation and establishment of an online monitoring system in June 2022. The tool allows the legal team to survey activity on specified URLs, identify potentially problematic content, assess the associated risks and inform counsel to request temporary removal of the posting for 30 days to the service provider. The legal unit also pays special attention to keep in mind Korean business traditions while signing contracts in the country, with one of the most vital being stamping of a company seal on a document instead of affixing a signature, a practice that causes significant hassle to clients. To incorporate this practice without reducing efficiency, the team introduced self-inking seals, which did not need to be dipped on an ink pad every time. After checking with the authorities that these were legally valid, the team quickly replaced the traditional seals and deployed them within the company. The legal team then also digitised the sealing process and introduced the option of e-stamping. The 10-attorney legal team at newage finance investment platform Micro Connect had their work cut out in 2022. The company last year set up a new microfinance exchange, Micro Connect Macao Financial Assets (MCEX), in Macau, which aims to connect the 70 million small and medium business owners in China, largely offline stores and retail operators, with global financers. To this end, the company also created a new asset class, Daily Revenue Contracts (DRCs), which will allow global investors to obtain returns from borrowers’ revenues on a realtime basis, using automated payment technology. Under the leadership of general counsel and chief operating officer Ling Taotao, the legal unit concluded over 4000 DRCs, ensuring the new product is compliant with existing regulations. The team also led the establishment of MCEX, designing a complex and unprecedented legal structure for global investors to gain access to Chinese shop owners. The unit also collaborated with the technology team to create an internal