LEGAL MATTERS

Malaysia 2017 | EXECUTIVE GUIDE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dato' Azmi Mohd Ali, Senior Partner at Azmi & Associates, on the expected issues with the AEC, its work on Islamic banking, and improving the regulatory environment.

Dato’ Azmi Mohd Ali
BIOGRAPHY
Dato’ Azmi Mohd Ali is a corporate lawyer with extensive expertise in areas of banking and finance, project finance, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate restructuring, privatization, energy, and oil and gas. Prior joining private practice, he spent seven years as an in-house counsel of PETRONAS. He has attended to various high-profile assignments of national relevance. He has also represented multinational Malaysian companies in cross-border transactions. He is a fellow of the Centre of International Legal Studies (based in Salzburg) and was also appointed by Bank Negara Malaysia to sit as a member of the legislative review committee to facilitate the further advancement of Islamic banking in Malaysia.

How has your China Desk developed within your portfolio given the significant increase in Chinese investments in Malaysia?

There has been a great increase in the number of companies and clients from China that have engaged us as their Malaysian counsel with respect to their investments in Malaysia. Our China desk team has a dedicated team of highly qualified, multilingual Malaysians enabling them to carry out effective communication and quality cross-border services. The familiarity of our legal advisors with Chinese social, political, and business culture has positioned the firm at the forefront of legal services for Chinese-speaking markets. Our China Desk team has also previously made trips to visit leading Chinese law firms and clients.

What are your expectations of the effects the AEC will have on the provision of legal services, and will there be more convergence within the bloc?

Although we are heading for better integration amongst other ASEAN members, there may still be difficulties in the convergence of legal services. Due to the different political, social, and economic landscapes as well as various judicial systems of each member state, it will be challenging to implement an overlap of legal services. This is why Azmi & Associates is committed to providing thoroughly researched and excellent cross-border legal services for the benefit of our international clients. The high level of resources available at our firm enables us to undertake certain projects that lean resourced firms are not able to.

Azmi & Associates operates a desk on Islamic banking. Can you provide more details on your practice areas here?

Our Islamic banking practice group prides itself as being the leader in Islamic financial services. We are able to provide sound advice on venture capital, debt or equity financing such as Bai' Bithaman Ajil Financing Facility, Istisna' project financing, Ijarah Al-Muntahiyah Bittamlik, Musharakah, and Mudharabah. Our knowledge and experience extends to both direct financing and private debt securities. Our capabilities are not limited to legal and advisory services; we also have significant expertise in the development of Islamic products and practices for numerous banks and financial organizations. We were recently named the Best Islamic Finance Law Firm 2016 at the Global Islamic Finance Award, which is testament to our success.

Malaysia is currently ranked 23rd in the World Bank's global index on the ease of doing business. What should be done to keep moving up in the ranking, especially from a corporate law perspective?

To improve our ranking, it is imperative to provide a more conducive regulatory environment to the starting and operation of businesses in Malaysia. From a corporate law perspective, it is essential that precise, quality legal services are provided to clients to realize their business goals. It is that very reason that Azmi & Associates is meticulous with our uncompromised research and preparation to ensure our clients are well informed in their decision making. The implication of having the right legal services as well as solutions will improve ease of doing business of local firms and eventually improve the ranking in the World Bank's global index.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

As a rapidly growing, dynamic firm, we have set various goals and ambitions for the upcoming year. We are keen to further strengthen our position as a leading law firm in the nation and broaden our influence to be the preferred international legal service avenue. As part of our growth plans, we first expect to deepen the amount of our high-end premium work specifically on corporate, mergers & acquisitions, and banking matters. Secondly, we aim to broaden our product offering to become a full-service law firm. We also seek to expand the size of the firm to symbolize our strength and earn the respect of society and business community. With the expected increase of investments and cross-border opportunities, Azmi & Associates will continue to deliver the best possible legal services to clients and strive towards unprecedented levels of excellence.