With only Asia showing any real growth in M&A work for law firms during 2013, it is unsurprising that major international players are focusing their expansion plans in the region. Clifford Chance today (10 January) announced a formal association with Indonesian firm Linda Widyati & Partners (LWP), while K&L Gates has bulked up its Tokyo office with the addition of real estate and disputes partners. Earlier in the week, Duane Morris announced a new office in Shanghai.
LWP is a boutique firm, established by Linda Widyati and Dezi Kirana who have over 20 years’ experience in the core areas of focus for Clifford Chance: corporate/M&A, banking and finance and capital markets.
Clifford Chance has advised clients on Indonesian matters for more than 30 years and this alliance with LWP is not the firm’s first foray into the Indonesian market. It formed a non-exclusive agreement Indonesian firm, Mochtar Karuwin Komar at the turn of the millennium, a deal that is still in place, although a spokesperson for the firm said the new association with LWP would now take precedence.
‘The establishment of this association signals our commitment to provide our clients with world-class legal advice to meet their evolving needs in this dynamic market. LWP share our values and our commitment to the highest standards of legal advice and client service,’ said Peter Charlton, Clifford Chance’s managing partner for Asia Pacific.
The firm also relocated the head of M&A in Amsterdam, Jeroen Koster to the Asia Pacific region where he will lead the association for Clifford Chance. ‘Clifford Chance is strongly committed to Indonesia. The association with LWP will provide significant benefits to our clients,’ he said.
Clifford Chance’s latest move further enhances the firm’s capabilities in the region. In 2012, the firm launched into formal alliance with Singapore litigation boutique Cavanagh Law, giving the firm much-sought-after access to Singapore’s domestic litigation market. The firm also opened in Sydney and Perth in 2011, giving it further access to the lucrative Asia Pacific market.
Indonesia has been a destination of choice in Asia in recent, with Taylor Wessing entering into an alliance with Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners in 2013; and White & Case partnering up with Indonesian firm MD & Partners in January last year, six years after ending its alliance with local firm Ali Budiardjo Nugroho Reksodiputro. Clyde & Co also joined up with Lubis Ganie Surowidjojo in September 2013, while DLA Piper signed an agreement with Ivan Almaida Baely & Firmansyah in May.
Elsewhere, K&L Gates has enhanced its Tokyo offering with the addition of Takahiro Hoshino and Takahiro Tsumagari as partners in its commercial disputes and real estate investment, development, and finance practices respectively.
Hoshino comes from his own firm, Hoshino & Partners. He advises clients on a range of litigation matters including domestic and international labour law as well as a variety of corporate legal matters such as strategic restructurings, joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions. Hoshino was also a judge at the Tokyo and Utsunomiya District Courts
Tsumagari joins K&L Gates from respected local firm Atsumi & Sakai where he led the international trade and tax team. He advises and represents leading Japanese and foreign corporations on real estate and structured financings and matters.
‘This is a real boost to our team in Tokyo and the region more broadly. We are seeing increased business confidence in the Japanese economy, which will inevitability flow through to more activity for clients,’ said David Tang, managing partner for K&L Gates in Asia.
The firm bulked up substantially in Asia Pacific last year, starting with a merger with Australia’s Middleton’s in January which added around 400 lawyers to its ranks, before opening an office in Seoul later in the year. The firm now has 11 offices in Asia and Australia to serve its Asia Pacific clients.
Meanwhile, 600-lawyer Global 100 firm Duane Morris, which enjoyed a 12% rise in revenues in the last financial year, has announced that it is to open its first China office in Shanghai, through Duane Morris & Selvam, its joint law venture in Asia. The firm is currently awaiting approval from the PRC’s Ministry of Justice to open its foreign representative office.
The firm’s joint venture has given the US firm coverage of the south east Asia market with offices in Singapore, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Leon Yee, managing director of Duane Morris & Selvam, will serve as chief representative of the Shanghai office which will be staffed by five lawyers in total.
‘Our launch in China builds upon the firm’s substantial growth and successes in Asia during the past several years, as well as our extensive experience handling China-focused matters for numerous multinational companies,’ said Duane Morris chairman and chief executive officer John Soroko.