Chris Muessel is a US attorney, with a JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. He is one of Southeast Asia’s most experienced foreign lawyers. He has in-country experience in Cambodia (1998-1999), where as a World Bank Counsel, he advised the Council of Ministers on new commercial laws, and in Vietnam (2001-2007), where as a Baker & McKenzie lawyer, he advised MNCs on a broad range of legal matters. As a partner with the US firm Duane Morris LLP, Chris headed the firm’s Ho Chi Minh City office, and later undertook equally high-profile partnership roles with Watson Farley & Williams and Rajah & Tann, where he focused principally on Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. In his 20-year career, Chris has developed an expertise in cross-border M&A (incl. PE funds), real estate, project finance (energy and mining), compliance (incl. FCPA) and trade (treaties and anti-dumping claims).
Chris has previously served on several boards of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), including AmCham Vietnam (Chairman 2007) and AmCham Singapore (Governor 2008-2011). He has been a recommended lawyer by Chambers Asia (Leading Overseas Counsel; Vietnam), Chambers Global (Global Leading Lawyer – Corporate; Vietnam) and the Legal 500 (Leading Lawyer – Corporate; Vietnam).
Major projects that Chris has been involved in:
- Advised a US$2B Vietnam private equity fund on: (1) prospective real estate projects in Vietnam with an Omani sovereign fund; (2) dispute settlement issues with a Vietnamese bank; and (3) commercial real estate structures in Singapore.
- Assisted a multinational with a large real estate investment in Cambodia.
- Advised Vietnam’s largest commercial bank on a minority share sale to a strategic investor and pre-IPO strategy.
- Advised a US-based insurer on the political and project risks related to a 715 MW gas-fired combined-cycle BOT power plant to be constructed in Vietnam.
- Advised a Japanese-based ECA insurer on a time charter (and related documentation) for a first-of-its-kind US$170M limited-recourse project-financed FPSO vessel to be operated in Vietnam by a Japanese consortium.
- Advised an international software firm on intellectual property protection and licensing issues for its software products in Vietnam.
- Advised a major French bank on a US$300M loan facility to the Vietnamese government for Vietnam’s first oil and petrochemical refinery.
- Advised a Singapore-based online game developer on corporate structuring issues to help raise multi-million dollar investments from EU-based “angel” investors.
- Advised a US pharmaceutical MNC on FCPA compliance issues and Vietnamese anti-corruption laws and regulations.
- Advised a global agriculture and chemical corporation on FCPA compliance issues and Vietnamese anti-corruption laws and regulations.
- Advised a leading American brewer on FCPA issues and Vietnamese anti-corruption laws and regulations as they relate to beer importation and distribution in Vietnam.
- Advised a global logistics company on FCPA compliance issues and Vietnamese anti-corruption laws and regulations as they relate to customs clearing issues.
- Advised Itochu on the tax, regulatory and carbon-credits issues involving a US$10 million bio-gas (methane) project in Vietnam.
- Advised Lehman Brothers Real Estate Fund (HK) on: (1) three real estate projects in Vietnam; and (2) lease issues related to a Singapore commercial building.
- Advised Maersk Shipping on corporate tax issues in Indochina and logistics licensing issues in Vietnam.
- Advised Coca Cola on corporate tax and restructuring issues in Vietnam.
- Advised NOL-APL Shipping on the licensing issues related to its logistics and supply chain operations in Vietnam.
- Advised a Belgian-based company on the acquisition of two different animal feed manufacturing facilities in Vietnam.
- Represented multiple US major defense contractors on legal and compliance issues related to the sale of military goods and services in Vietnam.
- Worked on debt rescheduling for Mizuho and other Japanese banks related to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical projects in Qatar and Indonesia, respectively.
- Advised Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi regarding asset-backed securitizations and other cross-border financings and investments.
- Advised Enron on a multibillion dollar LNG project in the US, Japan, Indonesia, India and Qatar.
- Advised the Blackstone Group and other private equity funds and shipping companies concerning the legal and financial aspects of the US Government’s US$12B bond-guarantee project-finance program (the “Title XI Program”), pursuant to which companies from Europe and Asia secured financing to build power barges (50-60 MW) and large ocean-going vessels in the US for use in their respective countries (e.g., US$134M in financing to build four product tankers for a Greek company).
- Undertook World Bank assignments in Cambodia and Mongolia in 1998-1999 in relation to commercial-law and banking reforms, respectively.
Member, District of Columbia Bar (Washington, DC)
Member, State of Pennsylvania Bar
Registered Foreign Lawyer, Singapore
Registered Foreign Lawyer, Vietnam
American Chamber of Commerce, Singapore
- Governor, 2008 to 2011
- Member, 2007 to present.
American Chamber of Commerce, Vietnam
- Chairman of the Board, 2007
- Vice Chairman of the Board, 2006 and 2008
- Secretary of the Board, 2005
- Member of the Board, 2004
- Member, 2001 to present.
British Business Group Vietnam, Member, 2001 to present.
Canada-Vietnam Business Association, Member, 2001 to present.
American Bar Association, Member, International Section, 1998 to 2001.
Maritime Administrative Bar Association, Member, 1990 to 2000.
“Riding Vietnam’s Next M&A Wave: Challenges for Legal Practitioners Operating in Vietnam”, Asian Legal Business, June 2011.
“Update on Vietnam’s Evolving Legal Framework for Clean Development Mechanism (“CDM”) Projects Under the Kyoto Protocol”, Association of Corporate Counsel, August, 2007.
“Vietnam’s Evolving Legal Framework for Clean Development Mechanism (“CDM”) Projects Under the Kyoto Protocol”, 13th Annual Environmental Conference, Chicago, Illinois, USA, June 2006 (also published in the Clean Energy and Climate Change Newsletter (Global), 21st Edition, August 2006).
“Vietnam’s Clean Development Mechanism (“CDM”) Projects Under the Kyoto Protocol”, 12th Annual Environmental Conference, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2004.
Compendium of Cambodia’s Commercial Laws, Internet Website funded by the World Bank, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (1999).
Conferences and professional activities:
Chris is a regular speaker on the lecture circuit on issues related to Southeast Asia, (especially Vietnam), including cross-border investments, private mergers & acquisitions, corporate/commercial law (incl. large real estate projects), project finance, international trade, compliance (incl. the FCPA) and maritime law. Excerpts from Chris’s presentations have been printed in several international and Vietnamese newspapers and trade publications.