Paul Hastings boosts project finance practice

Raj Pande joins from White & Case to head up Asian practice group.

US law firm Paul Hastings has hired Raj Pande to head up its Asian project finance practice. Pande joins the firm from White & Case in Singapore and will divide his time between Paul Hastings's offices in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Pande specializes in energy and infrastructure projects, and has recently advised on two of the biggest LNG deals in the region. He represents the project lenders - all of the big Chinese banks - on the 3.7 million tonne a year LNG terminal and 213 km pipeline project in Guangdong. The loan agreements for $628 million-worth of non-recourse debt financing were signed at the end of April in Beijing. He is also representing Petronet LNG on its 5 million tonne a year LNG terminal.

The firm already has a sizeable project finance presence in Tokyo, its oldest Asian office, and it acquired local experience in Hong Kong through its merger with Koo & Partners two years ago, but Pande's experience adds another layer to the team, which is part of a 30-lawyer global project finance group.

"Asia has been, and is expected to continue to be, one of the most significant energy markets in the world," says John Hawkins, the firm's global project finance head. "Approximately 70% of the current worldwide demand for liquefied natural gas is in Asia."

That said, Pande is no one-trick pony. Like most Asia-based lawyers he can turn his hand to other things too. During his first stint in Tokyo in the early 1990s he advised on general corporate matters, acquisitions, investments, banking and finance. Like a few others, he was an IT specialist at one point. He also headed up White & Case's India practice at one point. It wasn't until 1996, after a spell back in New York, that he started to specialize in project advice.