Our year together

Melissa Keane and Ying Fu

A long-term trusted and collaborative working relationship saw Hanoi-based Allens Partner Melissa Keane and Hong Kong-based Linklaters Counsel Ying Fu seize new opportunities in 2020 - for their clients, for Vietnam and for the planet.


Melissa: Ying and I have worked together for a number of years - sharing knowledge, making introductions and drawing on the skills of our respective teams to help clients get the advice and help they need wherever they need it. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Ying and she is always so responsive. She treats my clients with the same care and respect as she treats her own, which makes working with her not only easy, but really enjoyable.

There's been a steadily growing interest in Vietnam as an investment destination for renewable projects, especially in offshore wind. This year, Ying and I (with the help of our teams) worked on a report on the opportunities, which has generated a new wave of interest and serious consideration by investors from a range of markets all over the world.

While COVID's made travel impossible, it's helped us all see what's possible without getting on a plane. We've had early exploratory 'face-to-face' online conversations with investors from Europe which they may have thought twice about travelling to Vietnam for before COVID. What might have taken weeks or months to plan and involved thousands of air miles in the past can now be pulled together in a matter of days and leave almost no environmental footprint. There's an openness now to doing business in new and different ways, which is accelerating interest and action in this exciting sustainable investment space.

Being able to respond swiftly to this new wave of interest has definitely been made easier because of the existing relationship and rapport Ying and I share. It's been a good reminder that investing in relationships is never time wasted. The world can be turned upside down (as it has!) and your connections will carry you through.

Ying: 2020 has seen the culmination of a number of projects that Mel and I have been working together on for quite a while. We co-authored a report on Vietnam offshore wind, collaborated on an offshore wind webinar, and Mel also contributed to the Vietnam chapter of our latest Asia Renewables Insights brochure. The fact that Mel and I have a great relationship was the key to making everything work this year - our mutual trust and ease with one another helped us to withstand the chaos COVID wrought and push forward together.

And as it happened, our efforts (and those of our respective teams) have come together at the perfect time. While there's been a steady trend towards investment in ‘green’ energy and energy transition more broadly in Asia, this year has seen a real acceleration of this trajectory. COVID has served as an inflection point, and given everyone an opportunity to take stock, refocus and commit to a more sustainable future. One outcome is the massive surge in activity and interest in Vietnam as an investment market for renewables.

For me this year has been a terrific example of how the Linklaters and Allens teams can work together in partnership - there's no 'your team' and 'my team', we're just one team. Leveraging our respective strengths and bringing those together for the benefit of our clients has been hugely rewarding.

I know it's such a cliché, but COVID genuinely has changed the way we work. While there are undoubtedly downsides, it has transformed what we think is possible, which has created so many new opportunities.

10 quick questions about Melissa's 2020

  1. When have you felt happiest this year? When my kids' school reopened in May after three months of home schooling.
  2. How will you see out 2020? I'd love to be on a junk on Halong Bay but most likely I will be in bed; maybe I will stay up long enough to watch the fireworks over West Lake in Hanoi.
  3. How would you define 2020 in three words? More grey hairs.
  4. 2021: optimist or pessimist? Optimist – it can't be worse right!?
  5. What's the most adventurous thing you've done this year? Travelled to Singapore for a girls weekend days before the borders to Vietnam were shut (not that I knew that at the time).
  6. Who's your 2020 pop culture icon? Sammy J.
  7. What's one thing you wished you'd known when you started this year? How hot and so very loooooooong the Hanoi summer is (usually we escape for a few weeks to a cooler climate).
  8. What have you learnt about yourself or others in 2020? There is nothing wrong with catching up with friends with wine in pyjamas via video link - why didn't we try this earlier?!
  9. What is the toughest thing you've had to navigate this year? Grade 1 mathematics!
  10. What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Seeing my family in Australia (I hope).

Ying's entertainment picks

BOOKS Incredible Journeys by David Ogilvy Barrie - get engrossed in the amazing journeys animals make. Highly recommended if you're looking to inject a little awe and wonder into your life.

Leviathan or, The Whale by Philip Hoare - this one's a little bit of everything: history, social commentary, literary criticism, biography and memoir. I spent my honeymoon swimming with humpbacks and have been obsessed with whales ever since!

FILM Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky - a beautiful, poignant film on so many levels; a reminder to take care of our planet and each other.

TV Fleabag: British comedy at its best.

PODCAST Bill Simmons' The Rewatchables - a great movie podcast from the US that will make you want to revisit your old favourites.