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Asia: CC’s Charlton on high Asian promotion rate; Winston takes on DLA team; BLP enters Indonesia; Wragge LG ends Singapore tie-up

In a fortnight that has so far seen Winston & Strawn hire a four-strong corporate team from DLA Piper in Hong Kong; Berwin Leighton Paisner enter into an association in Indonesia; and Wragge Lawrence Graham end its association in Singapore with PK Wong & Associates, Clifford Chance’s Asia managing partner Peter Charlton also spoke to Legal Business about the firm’s heavy promotion rate in the region.

The Magic Circle firm’s latest partner promotion round of 21 saw a third of those promotions fall in the Asia Pacific region, with two in Singapore, two in Hong Kong, and one in Beijing, Bangkok and Perth.

It puts Clifford Chance marginally ahead of Magic Circle rival Linklaters, which made up six of its 21 new partners in Asia, and Allen & Overy, which also promoted a third of its smaller 16-strong round in the region, with three in Hong Kong, one in Perth and one in Sydney. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer promoted one partner in Perth, while Slaughter and May’s only promotions outside of its London office were the two associates made up in Hong Kong.

Charlton told Legal Business: ‘Thirty percent of our promotions were in Asia as it is strategically very important. We have doubled in size in five years from 50 to 100 partners and also doubled our revenues.

‘Asia now makes up for 15% of the firm’s revenues, but our aim is for it to be 20%.’

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, Winston & Strawn’s four-strong corporate team hire last week from DLA includes DLA’s local office chief and Asia head of corporate Mabel Lui. Lui moves across to the US firm with senior associate Daniel Tang, who joins Winston & Strawn as a partner, of counsel Polly Chu and associate Natalie Tsang.

David Hall-Jones, Asia managing partner of the firm said: ‘The addition of this group is in line with our growth strategy for specific practice areas in Asia and significantly expands our capabilities within the corporate practice globally.’

The team focuses on cross-border M&A transactions, and general commercial and corporate matters. It represents further Asian expansion this year for Winston & Strawn, which opened an office in Taipei last month.

Meanwhile at newly-merged Wragge Lawrence Graham, which went live on 1 May, the firm has ended its formal law alliance (FLA) originally entered into by Lawrence Graham (LG) and Singapore’s PK Wong. The FLA began in 2010, creating Lawrence Graham PK Wong Alliance and was LG’s only Asian office.

In contrast BLP, following a tie-up with Myanmar’s Legal Network Consultants in March, has entered into a more recent alliance with Mataram Partners in Jakarta.

Mataram is based in the Jakarta stock exchange building and is led by senior partner Andi Zulfikar, with the firm practising a wide range of civil and commercial law with expertise in mining, an area of focus for BLP.

‘Indonesia is a key market for the firm and this relationship will provide the local knowledge that is key for the work we are doing in the country, especially in the mining sector,’ said Alistair Duffield, head of the firm’s Singapore and South East Asia practice.

BLP now has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, which in addition to the firm’s growing network of Asian alliance firms gives the firm a credible presence in the region.

The tie-up comes as Appleby, following its launch in Shanghai in 2012, since when it has only been licensed to offer fiduciary services, has become the first offshore firm to be awarded a Chinese legal practice certificate, with most of its direct competitors servicing China from Hong Kong. The firm’s greater China team includes over 15 partners and fee-earners based in Hong Kong, although current managing partner of the firm’s Mauritius and Seychelles office, Malcolm Moller, will now lead the development of the firm’s offering in China, supported by fee-earners in Shanghai.

‘Being able to practise from within China will catapult our strategy for Asia and China forward, and we are very excited about this prospect,’ said Frances Woo, the firm’s chairman.