Private companies

Private companies can be seen as the engine that drives the global economy. From start-ups to long-established family businesses to household-name brands, around 99% of businesses are privately owned.

The next chapter

If you are part of that story, these are exciting times. The world is changing rapidly and private companies are well placed to react quickly to developments in their markets. But as your business evolves you will need to act to protect your interests.

If intellectual property is an issue, you may wish to develop rights via trademarks, copyright, patents or design rights. Or perhaps you need commercial agreements such as supply agreements, or terms and conditions of sale to businesses and consumers. It could be that you are looking to grow your business through acquisition or international expansion, or maybe you are even looking to sell it, throwing up a complex range of legal issues. As a multinational, multidisciplinary law firm – still privately held ourselves – we can assist in every scenario.

A private law firm heritage

Our own story began more than 100 years ago, when a London lawyer named John Withers established his own firm in London, quickly establishing a niche that the firm still occupies, in representing successful individuals and families. Today wealthy people still choose us to handle their private and commercial interests, knowing that we understand the passion that drives them. And we are highly qualified to meet their needs.

Your initial point of contact may be with a Withers lawyer dedicated to (for example) corporate law. Depending on your ongoing requirements, they can also bring in colleagues from our tax, employment law, IP, real estate, finance and litigation teams – or if necessary lawyers from our offices abroad – creating a bespoke team to handle everything under one roof.

We can also connect you with people from our wider network who may be able to assist you, whether as partners or investors. ‘People with lots of money are not sitting on it. They’re happy to invest it,’ explains Ridgeway Barker, a corporate law partner in our US Greenwich office. ‘They’re looking for opportunities and being able to showcase some opportunities that we come across on the corporate side to the capital base is beneficial to both.’

For further help or information

Get in touch

Defining moments

What does it take to be successful and how do we navigate key moments in our lives? We explore stories of success with the FT.

Read more




Their role of advisors to our shipping business has been essential in our growth. The on-going financial legal advice the firm provides, means Lanpan can sail into ever greater prosperity.

Fang Yuan - Director and Founder, Lanpan

The firm’s expertise was fundamentally important to us in resolving negotiations with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. The dedication, meticulousness and practical advice provided saved us expense and further delays, and we’ve been glad to work closely with the team on a number of other projects since then, in which the service provided has been of a similarly high quality.

Asia Development Pte Ltd

The firm provided timely and effective advice to us in the purchase of our current office and other investment properties in Singapore, and we returned to them for assistance when we came to sell some industrial units. The team’s efficiency and meticulous attention to detail greatly helped to simplify the process for us.

CJP International

The firm has been a dependable advisor to HL Assurance across a range of our insurance products. The firm’s knowledge of the insurance industry is second to none, and their service is always flawlessly delivered.

HL Assurance

We have worked very closely with the Withers’ insurance team in developing some of the most innovative insurance strategies in the world.

Crown Global Insurance

As a growing business looking to expand internationally, the assistance of Withers as our legal counsel has enabled us to meet the challenges of this growth and expand our reach into Asia, allowing us to bring our unique water disinfectant technology to new markets. The team manage all of our international matters with experience, skill and speed, guiding us through the process of setting up our corporate structure, contractual documentation matters, capital raising projects and negotiating with Asian parties as required.

Mark Carey - Hydro-dis

I was introduced to Withers by one the UK’s most significant and successful entrepreneurs. He advised me that to develop my business I needed the best lawyers. I took his advice and since then have worked with Withers on several aspects of my business. What I hear from them is, “Kev, we are here to protect you”, and protect me they do very well. Their advice spans further than just legal, they have a network of professionals and high net worth clients and often bring them together. Withers have proved to be a very valuable partner of Checkatrade and nothing at any hour of the day is too much trouble for them. If you need the best on your side, then look no further.

Kevin Byrne, Founder - CEO of Checkatrade

We are proud to deliver innovative new products to the defence industry, and sought a strong litigation firm when one of our key products came under threat from numerous imitations. Withers’ team assisted us in successfully addressing these, as well as representing us in other significant disputes. The litigation team are skilled strategists with a grasp of the many aspects of a case, and provided us with first class service.

Hesco Bastion Ltd

We are very pleased with the team at Withers KhattarWong. They are technically strong, have a keen understanding of the insurance sector and they have helped us achieve numerous favourable results for our claims matters.”

Mary Nelson, Senior Manager, MS First Capital Insurance Limited

We are impressed with the insightful and efficient advice provided by Withers KhattarWong. They have a keen sense of Indonesian cross-border projects and combined with a strong understanding of Chinese parties, they provided pragmatic and well-thought-out solutions

Mr. Hendriyanto, Director of PT PLTG Celukan Bawang

Meet the team

Track record


Italian company Newlat specialises in distribution for the agro-food sector, offering a large point of sale network across Italy and further abroad. Withers offered advice to Netlat to assist during their acquisition of a manufacturing plant in Ozzano Taro, Italy from Heinz.

The founder of an online clothing business

The founder of this highly successful online clothing retail business wanted to sell a large stake to a leading luxury goods conglomerate. As the go-to law firm for fashion entrepreneurs, Withers was brought in to ensure that the value of our client's stake was protected and negotiate a fresh incentive package. We then worked to achieve a tax-efficient strategy for the disposal of part of the founder's interest.

A UK investment manager

A major UK investment manager turned to Withers when it needed to put in place the most tax-efficient strategy for its UK principals. We were happy to devise a strategy based on our in-depth knowledge in this area.

A leading Italian company

We acted for a leading manufacturer of explosives and specialty chemicals in a long-running dispute over the design rights to multiple warhead systems. In an unusual case, the court had to assess the impact of the alleged infringers’ mental capacity when deciding whether their alleged acts amounted to infringement under the law.

An Italian wine producer

Sometimes our litigators’ biggest successes lie in avoiding litigation. At one stage, it seemed that there was no way for an Italian winemaker we represented to avoid a costly court battle after it terminated its longstanding US importer. However, through careful strategic decisions we were able to ease its transition from working with the US partner to its own recently formed affiliate without seeing the inside of a court room.

A multi-generational family owned business

When multiple generations of a family are involved in a business together, the issues can become complex. Withers has a strong track record in this area so when a family-owned business approached us, we were able to address their needs. We helped with inheritance tax planning for the senior generation as well as the separation of assets between the three generations involved. The planning included reclassifying shares, paying a dividend and a de-merger of the business.

Connective Energy Limited

We advised Connective Energy Limited, a venture between Tridios Renewables, Mitsui Babcock and the Carbon Trust, on various UK heat solutions. This included heat supply agreements and industrial gas supply agreements.

Wendon Renewables Limited

We advised Wendon Renewables Limited, a UK developer, on an investment in a UK biomass project.

Master Chem Oil Ltd for the financing and development of an oil receiving terminal

Withers has represented Master Chem Oil Ltd on a range of projects including the financing and development of an oil receiving terminal in the Black Sea, Romania, along with general advice on the company's financing arrangements.

Defending Greek company in Jordan

The termination of a 10-year worldwide agency and distribution agreement led to us representing a Greek company in a dispute with a Jordanian state owned enterprise.

Swiss-based family office in a corporate control contest

We represented a Swiss-based family office in a corporate control contest involving a California-based US$500 million private company in the coatings business. The company has an independent Board of Directors and is owned by three significant minority owners and widely dispersed current and former employees. Our work involved M&A, corporate governance, finance, complex contracts, tax and offensive corporate litigation. We drew on our New Haven, Greenwich and Los Angeles lawyers and implemented a partial contingent billing arrangement.

AAM Advisory

We advised founding members and current shareholders on the sale of AAM Advisory to Old Mutual Wealth. AAM is the largest expatriate advisory firm in Singapore with over 30 advisers and 3,500 clients offering financial planning and fund management advice.

Silicon Valley

Advised in a private label technology development and licensing partnership between a Silicon Valley based semiconductor company and its strategic partner in China.

Venture capital firm

Advised in equity investments by a top-tier Silicon Valley venture capital firm in several US Internet, software, database and e-commerce companies and biotech/medical companies based in San Diego and Silicon Valley.

Radio communication company

Advised in the investment by Canadian and US investors in a radio communication company based in Silicon Valley.

Radio communications company

Advised in the investment by Canadian and US investors in a radio communication company based in Silicon Valley.

Private equity acquisitions

Advised in a series of private equity acquisitions and consolidations for a micro-cap private equity firm based in San Francisco.

Acquisition of a Malaysian company for RM120 million

We advised on the acquisition of a Malaysian company with ownership of a well-known major hotel in Malaysia by a BVI registered investment holding company for RM120 million.

A major corporate restructuring of SMRT Corporation Ltd

Our Singapore team acted for the client, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, in relation to its offer to purchase all of the issued ordinary capital of SMRT Corporation Ltd not held by Temasek Holdings, which resulted in a delisting of SMRT Corporation Ltd. The transaction was complex having been initiated and launched in a very short period of time following an announcement of the corporate restructuring and was conducted by way of a court-sanctioned process. Our advice included the structuring of the transaction, the terms of the acquisition, liaising and dealing with the Singapore Exchange, the Securities Industry Council, coordination on the court process, and the delisting.

Would you like to hear more from us?

Visit our subscriptions page to tell us a bit more about what you’re interested in so we can send you relevant news.