As part of our commemoration of the firm’s 40 years in Asia Pacific, we interviewed Charlie Wilson, co-managing partner of Sidley’s office in Singapore and head of the M&A and Private Equity group in Asia. He has advised private equity funds and corporates on their investments across the Southeast Asia region for more than two decades.
What initially led you to Sidley?
I joined Sidley because I wanted to work at a high-quality law firm with a collaborative and respectful culture. I believe that clients prefer working with law firms where there’s a high degree of chemistry and trust among the partners and lawyers doing the work. At Sidley, that chemistry and trust are very apparent, and this contributes to teams’ being better able to deliver stronger outcomes for our clients.
Is there something unique about the office culture in Singapore?
We have a good balance of experience and skills. We have people like me and Matt Sheridan, who have been in the Asian markets for almost 25 years, and we have younger partners, both from within the region and abroad, who bring a different mix of skill sets, perspectives, and legal acumen. We recognize the value that everyone brings to the table, and we all work together to achieve the best possible results for our clients.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do here?
We frequently work with major international private equity funds, and we also advise sovereign wealth funds, global corporates, and regional corporates. Each client has a different perspective, and each deal is different. We have to use our expertise and “deal sense” to help clients reach the best outcomes. It’s this variety I find energizing, along with the sense of fulfillment when I can help our clients achieve their objectives.
So is there a marked difference in doing transactional work here compared to the rest of the world?
In a number of other developed markets, there’s often a more established way of approaching a transaction, whereas in Asia, you normally have more moving pieces and challenges that make each deal a little different. I view M&A and private equity work in this part of the world as more of an art than a science.
Thinking about the future, what are your goals for Sidley in Singapore?
I want Sidley to be widely recognized as one of the premier law firms in the region, and I would like our lawyers and staff to continue to feel proud of working for a firm that values their contributions and well-being. It’s important that we remain committed to delivering excellent client service and to cultivating an enjoyable and diverse work environment where everyone can feel safe and valued.
Why is Sidley’s celebrating 40 years in Asia Pacific important to you?
It’s a tremendous achievement. Not only does it demonstrate our institutional commitment to the Asia-Pacific region as a whole — and Singapore in particular, as Singapore was the first office Sidley set up in Asia Pacific — but it also shows the considerable experience we have as a firm and how our clients benefit from that experience. We are very grateful to our clients for their trust and support these four decades, and I want to ensure that we continue to build on the solid foundation we have established in Singapore and the wider Asia Pacific.