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Old acquaintances: Stephenson Harwood enters alliance in Guangzhou with former partner’s firm

Following on from closing its office in Guangzhou in Greater China in September this year, Stephenson Harwood has entered an alliance with local firm Wei Tu.

The move will allow Stephenson Harwood to continue advising existing and potential investors doing business in Guangdong Province and particularly southern China.

Xianming Lu, former PRC partner in Stephenson Harwood’s Guangzhou office and founding partner of Wei Tu, will head the office. Under new rules, the two firms will work together on China-based deals but will not share profits or work under the same brand.

Stephenson Harwood first set up in Guangzhou in 1994 but, after ten years of operating in the region, decided to close citing the ‘changing business conditions’ as the main reason.

Nevertheless, the firm has this year been busy forming new alliances and opening new offices in the region including launching an office in Seoul in August and receiving formal approval to work with Singapore firm Virtus Law earlier this year.

Voon Keat Lai, Stephenson Harwood managing partner for Greater China said: ‘I am very pleased to announce this alliance with Wei Tu. We are seeing increasing demand from our clients for expertise in PRC law and an alliance with a firm we trust enables us to provide our clients with a consistent approach.’

The news comes as Stephenson Harwood posted a 12% increase in turnover to £64m for the first half of the financial year 2014/15 last week [3 December], and said that its Dubai office had seen a particular rise in revenues after opening in 2012. The firm has nine offices across Asia, Europe and the Middle East.