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Asia round-up: K&L Gates, Akin Gump, Addleshaws and Milbank bolster presence

A raft of leading UK and US firms boosted their East Asian presence this past week, including K&L Gates, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and Addleshaw Goddard, with Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo a continuing focus of international attention.

On 31 May, Hong Kong corporate partner Virginia Tam moved from White & Case to US rival K&L Gates’ established 19-lawyer office, set up as its first Asian post 15 years ago.Tam is dual-qualified in US and Chinese law and her practice includes cross-border transactions involving publically traded companies, management buyouts and reverse takeovers of listed companies.

David Tang, managing partner of Asia for K&L Gates, which has seven offices across Asia, told Legal Business: ”I was thrilled that Virginia joined. Her experience and skill set are a great match for our cross-border practice and business model. Her practical knowledge of the Hong Kong/China and US markets and legal qualifications in those jurisdictions directly address the needs of clients who are doing business across those borders.’

On mainland China, meanwhile, fellow US firm Akin Gump bolstered its Beijing office – its third Asian presence after Hong Kong and Singapore – with the hire of corporate partner Chen Li from Milbank. Chen, who is also dual-qualified in Chinese and US law, represents Chinese and multinational corporations, public and private companies, sovereign wealth funds, as well as international private equity funds in cross-border M&A transactions, capital market transactions, financing and project development.

‘Outbound M&A is emerging as a key driver of growth and consolidation for Chinese companies. Li has proven skills helping Chinese companies navigate these transactions and a track record as a well-respected lawyer with a profound appreciation of her clients’ needs and goals,’ said Greg Puff, head of Akin Gump’s Asia practice.

However, the highly fluid Asian market has taken with one hand and given with the other, as Milbank within the past week announced the hire of Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Tokyo managing partner Aled Davies, who has been based in the Japanese capital for over 10 years. Davies, who led on the $34bn Ichthys LNG project, a liquefied natural gas facility being developed in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, was a member of A&O’s global project finance group and will become a member of Milbank’s global projects group.

‘As our project finance practice continues to set the industry standard, we are fortunate to gain the talents of Aled Davies, who has led high-profile financings in every corner of the globe, with an emphasis on high-impact energy and natural resource development,’ said Scott Edelman, Milbank’s chairman.

Elsewhere, Addleshaw Goddard’s sustained Middle East and Asia push last week reaped further rewards as the LB 100 top 35 firm formed an alliance with Tokyo-based Hashidate Law Office. This latest move follows office openings in Qatar and Hong Kong last month, Oman in April and Singapore and Dubai last year. This level of activity led the firm in April to appoint Andrew Carpenter, former private equity chief, to the role of managing partner of the firm’s international division.

Carpenter told Legal Business that the Hashidate alliance was largely thanks to Addleshaw’s head of engineering, projects and construction litigation team, Jonathan Tattersall, who has a longstanding relationship with Kenji Hashidate, managing partner of Hashidate Law Office.

‘Hashidate Law office has an outstanding reputation and our alliance is a very exciting development for both firms,’ said Paul Devitt, Addleshaws managing partner.

To be included in further Asia round-ups send your announcements to David Stevenson on the above email.