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‘Most important strategic step’: DWF breaks into Asia with Singapore start-up

DWF is set to break into Asia for the first time by opening a Singapore office, picking up a four-lawyer team which left Eversheds Sutherland in the city earlier this month, to expand on DWF’s growing regional client base.

Leading the team joining from Eversheds is former Singapore managing partner Oommen Mathew, alongside arbitration and construction partner Iain Black. Associates Charis Tan and Kate Lan make up the launch team.

The former Eversheds team specialises in commercial and investment treaty arbitration and also brings significant expertise in the construction, transport and energy sectors.

DWF managing partner Andrew Leaitherland said that securing a base in the ‘rapidly growing ASEAN region is currently the most important strategic step for us in the development of our international business.’ The firm is continuing its expansive  the start to this year. 

It was also necessary to open in Singapore due to the high number of their clients operating there and ‘growing demand’ in the region, he said.  

Leaitherland also described Singapore as the ‘regional hub for financial services and insurance’, two of the firm’s sector specialisms, and vowed to add teams that focus on these sectors ‘shortly.’

Mathew has a strong history of representing sovereigns, state trading companies and multinationals in international arbitrations, while Black is experienced in litigation and arbitration across Europe. Earlier in his career, Black was instrumental in establishing Pinsent Masons’ Singapore office. Mathew and Black both decided against joining a combination between Eversheds and Harry Elias in Singapore in early June. 

Black said he would build the firm a strong base in Singapore to help clients in the ‘rapidly growing region.’

The Singapore launch is DWF’s first office opening since March of this year, when the firm set up in Berlin.

DWF hired DLA Piper’s financial services partner Nina Siedler and real estate lawyer Irene Schmid to the Berlin office, alongside Wolfgang Richter, who joined DWF Germany following the firm’s 2016 merger with BridgehouseLaw.

In January this year, DWF opened an office in Paris after acquiring four-partner local firm Heenan Paris.

The buyout gave DWF access to Heenan’s expertise in corporate, private equity, commercial, IP/IT and litigation.

Despite the recent geographic expansion, DWF posted patchy results in its most recent financial statements, with global revenue down 2% and profit per equity partner (PEP) up to £331,000 from £325,000.

DWF now employs over 2,600 members of staff over 23 commercial centres globally.