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Asia: DLA Piper builds up its Singapore office while Milbank and Sidley expand in China

DLA Piper, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Sidley Austin have all completed partner raids on rivals in Asia as they seek to expand their presence in the region.

DLA Piper, which undertook a major overhaul of its Asia partnership in 2014 as it moved on underperforming lawyers, secured a coup with the hire of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Singapore partner John Viverito and of counsel Myles Hankin.

The corporate duo joined Gibson in 2008 from Jones Day to launch the firm’s Singapore office and will be joined by their former colleague, capital markets partner Joseph Bauerschmidt, who is departing Jones Day to reunite with Viverito. All three will join DLA Piper as partners.

Viverito will take charge of DLA Piper’s Singapore office, replacing insurance litigator John Goulios, who will now co-head the firm’s Asia Pacific insurance practice.

Meanwhile, Milbank has continued to add to its ranks in Asia, hiring another Allen & Overy Hong Kong partner in the form of M&A lawyer David Kuo.

Kuo, a US and Hong Kong qualified lawyer, made partner at the Magic Circle firm in May 2013. His practice focuses on cross-border acquisitions, focusing on handling work for private equity and hedge funds.

The US firm lured a four-lawyer team from A&O led by capital markets partner Jim Grandolfo at the tail end of 2013 and bolstered its ranks last year with the hire of Stephenson Harwood’s aviation finance chief Paul Ng in Singapore.

Attempts to capture market share in Asia have placed a premium on those with management experience, as a host of firm’s seek to rework strategies that have failed to bear fruit.

With technology M&A having created a surge in legal work at the international law firms able to handle cross-border work, Sidley Austin has hired management experience with the addition of US technology firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s Beijing head Kefei Li.

Li, who earlier in his career had spells at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Dewey & LeBoeuf, ended a three-year stint at the tech law firm to move his capital markets practice to Sidley Austin’s more developed Beijing office. He has headed Wilson Sonsini’s office in the Chinese capital since its opening in 2012.