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‘Didn’t want someone average’: BLP taps Mayer Brown in Hong Kong real estate push

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is due to launch a real estate and infrastructure practice in Hong Kong this autumn with the hire of Mayer Brown JSM’s rated head of Asia hospitality and leisure, Andrew MacGeoch.

MacGeoch will join BLP as head of Asia real estate, hospitality and leisure. He was made a partner at Mayer Brown in 1999 and represents developers, owners, institutional investors, governments and statutory corporations. He regularly advises owners of hotel brands, including Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Shangri-La, predominantly in Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand.

This hire is a further boost for BLP in Asia. The firm opened in Hong Kong in 2011 with three partners, and today counts eight partners and 59 people in the practice. It moved out of its premises in Central to Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay last October to accommodate further growth and has since made a number of strategic hires, including acquiring the Haley & Co and William Ho boutiques, and adding asset finance and private client expert Marcus Dearle.

BLP’s managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: ‘This is a significant milestone for us as we continue to realise our ambitions as a global real estate and infrastructure powerhouse.’

Another BLP partner added: ‘The firm took its time in Asia as it didn’t want to hire someone average there. The Mayer Brown team is arguably the best real estate team in the region.’

Conversely, in March BLP parted company with nine of its lawyers, including intellectual property (IP) head Simon Clark and head of the brand management and trade marks group Ian Gruselle, who left for TMT specialist Bristows after the firm identified the practice as ‘not a central issue for clients’.

Mishcon de Reya has also recently hired BLP partners David Leibowitz and Joanna Lampert, while US securities partner Bobby Schrader is joining Barclays after less than two years with the firm.

BLP and Mayer Brown’s real estate team in London recently faced each other in March on the £1bn sale of London landmark, the Leadenhall Building (The Cheesegrater), one of the largest Chinese purchases of UK real estate.