In an historic-first, the newly minted Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) had its inaugural listing of shares when the First Myanmar Investment Co, Ltd (FMI) began trading in March. The start of trading on the YSX coincided with Myanmar’s peaceful transition of government to the National League of Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I am happy to see Myanmar transitioning towards a more open and democratic society,” Mr Benson said.
“It is pretty rare to work on a truly historic transaction, so I was very proud to lead the Duane Morris & Selvam team on the deal. The process took more than 15 months, so I was also happy to see all of our hard work pay off.”
Mr Benson is an Australian-born US lawyer who heads the Indian practice desk of global firm Duane Morris & Selvam, which advised FMI’s listing in Myanmar. As a partner based in Singapore, he also leads the firm’s US securities law practice.
For lawyers looking to make the move from Australia to South-east Asia, Mr Benson’s advice is that good domestic grounding is key.
“I would get a few years' experience in Australia first before looking to make the move. Australian lawyers are very well regarded in South-East Asia, so there are plenty of opportunities for lawyers looking to broaden their horizons,” he said.
Over past 12 years Mr Benson has worked on more than 50 offerings by Indian issuers. Exposure to work with offerings in the Asian region widened during his time as Special Counsel for London’s Dorsey & Whitney LLP, where he focused on international capital markets deals and cross-border M&A transactions.
“Given I was working on so many deals in India [at the time], it made more sense for me to be based in Singapore, so I moved to Duane Morris & Selvam in Singapore in 2012,” Mr Benson said.
Duane Morris & Selvam LLP is a joint law venture consisting of international law firm Duane Morris LLP and Singapore-based Selvan LLC. The firm serves clients throughout Asia, as well as companies based in the Americas and Europe that are conducting business in Asia and Asian entities and individuals doing business in the Americas and UK.