Legal Business Blogs

Asia moves: Hires for BLP, Milbank and Rajah & Tann as Harneys launches in Singapore

Ever active, the legal market in Asia has seen a number of high profile hires and losses over the past week, including Norton Rose Fulbright asset finance partner Nigel Ward’s move to Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy’s hire in Singapore of Stephenson Harwood’s global head of aviation Paul Ng, and offshore firm Harneys Westwood & Riegels expansion into Singapore.

UK top 20 firm BLP last week hired Beijing-based Ward, who will join the 786-lawyer firm’s finance practice in Hong Kong, its third office in Asia after Beijing and Singapore.

Ward specialises in shipping and offshore asset and secured financing transactions, aircraft, mobile equipment finance, commodity and trade finance, export credit finance and project finance.

Ward will be the firm’s fifth asset finance partner, co-ordinating globally with the firm’s offices in London, Singapore and Beijing. The team’s clients include ICBC Financial Leasing, Minsheng Financial Leasing, Deutsche Bank, China Development Bank, DVB Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Spring Airlines.

‘Nigel’s wealth of experience and the international nature of his work will be invaluable to the asset finance team and the finance department as we look to further our offering to clients globally,’ said Russell Clifford, head of the firm’s asset finance practice.

Ward’s hire to BLP’s Asia practice comes as the finance practice in London has faced a number of partner departures to firms including Jones Day and DLA Piper, with new head Adam Dann facing the task of steadying the ship.

Elsewhere in Asia, US firm Milbank has secured the hire of Stephenson Harwood’s global head of aviation, Paul Ng, in Singapore.

Ng, a rated aviation lawyer described as a ‘leading individual’ in the Legal 500, was previously at Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where he was head of aviation and asset finance before joining Stephenson Harwood in 2009.

Having spent seven years based in London, NG has also practised in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore and is triple qualified in Singapore, English and New York law.

Aviation finance is core to Stephenson Harwood’s increasingly heavyweight banking and finance practice and the top 35 firm has announced that Richard Parsons will be the firm’s new global head of aviation while Saugata Mukherjee will lead the aviation practice in Singapore.

‘We thank Paul for his work at Stephenson Harwood and wish him the best in the future. Our aviation group is an important part of one of the leading international practices operating in the global transportation sector, with teams based in our Asia offices, London, Paris, Piraeus and Dubai,’ said Sharon White, chief executive of Stephenson Harwood.

Milbank has invested heavily in Asia recently, last year hiring Allen & Overy’s Tokyo managing partner Aled Jones, and its head of international capital markets for Asia and Philippines group leader, James Grandolfo.

However, the top 55 Global 100 firm is understood to currently be in talks with the Hong Kong law regulators over giving up its Hong Kong law practice, after launching in 2011. The reports were neither confirmed nor denied by the firm.

In other news, offshore firm Harneys has increased its Asian footprint with a Singapore launch, relocating two of its Hong Kong partners to spearhead the new office.

Global banking head Colin Riegels and funds partner Lisa Pearce will relocate and be joined by another four lawyers, including Shari Hawke and Richard Griffiths, formerly counsel and senior associate respectively.

Harneys is the seventh offshore firm with a presence in the jurisdiction, including Maples & Calder, Bedell Cristin, Conyers Dill & Pearman, Walkers and Collas Crill.

Harneys chairman Peter Tarn said in a statement regarding the offshore firm’s recent achievements: ‘Singapore is a key jurisdiction in terms of cross-border capital flows and private wealth in South East Asia. Our Singapore launch is an exciting development that will further establish the global reach of our expertise in BVI, Cayman, Anguilla and Cyprus law.’

In other news, the former managing partner of Allens’ Singapore office, Marae Ciantar, has joined Rajah & Tann as head of its energy and resources practice, while Legal Business last week (13 March) reported that BLP has entered into a non-exclusive tie-up in Myanmar with local firm Legal Network Consultants.