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Kirkland opens up in Beijing to expand 65-lawyer Chinese operation

Kirkland & Ellis has expanded its sizeable Chinese footprint by opening an office in Beijing, the top 10 global firm announced today.

With 55 lawyers in Hong Kong and 10 in Shanghai, the new Beijing presence will focus on M&A and private equity transactions, international capital markets transactions, fund formation and government enforcement and investigations.

Corporate partners David Zhang, who joined from Latham & Watkins two years ago, and Chuan Li, who is the founding partner of the firm’s Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, will spearhead the Beijing launch.The firm is not expected to hire new lawyers in Beijing for the time being. 

‘Cross-border transactional activity between Greater China and the rest of the world continues to grow, and our strong platform in Asia, the U.S. and Europe positions us to provide the best advice and service to our clients across the globe. Our presence in Beijing expands our reach throughout the region and ensures our ability to serve our clients better,’ said Jeffrey Hammes, chairman of the firm’s global management executive committee.

‘Kirkland has advised on some of the most sophisticated and significant transactions in Greater China in recent years, including the largest leveraged buyout in China to date, the largest Hong Kong IPO this year and the only U.S. IPO from China this year,’ Zhang added.

‘Having a strong on-the-ground presence in Beijing will better position us to access and efficiently serve our target client base and underscores our ongoing strategy in Asia of focusing on diversified high-end, high-value transactional practices that enable us to provide the best advice and representation through diverse market conditions.’

Kirkland has been involved in a number of standout deals in China, including representing Focus Media’s independent committee in connection with its $3.7bn going-private transaction; representing Tudou Holdings Limited in its merger with Youku and representing Koor Industries in its $2.4bn going-private sale of Makhteshim Agan Group to China National Chemical Corporation.

China is a target for many US and UK law firms with both Eversheds and Clyde & Co launched in Beijing this year, although partners regularly report fee pressures in the region and Asia as a whole is still regarded by many as a long term game.