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Partner exits pile up: Edwards Wildman loses leading Hong Kong insurance partner to Simmons & Simmons

Having been plagued with a series of partner departures from London, Edwards Wildman Palmer has now taken a hit to its Hong Kong offering with the departure of insurance partner Martin Lister, who established the office in 2006, to Simmons & Simmons. Simmons, meanwhile, has also expanded its Africa group with the appointment of Paul Bugingo from Dentons, where he served as co-chairman of the firm’s Africa committee.

With 30 years experience in the insurance sector and specialised in M&A, regulation and compliance, Lister joined Edwards Wildman from local firm Deacons in November 2005 before establishing its Hong Kong office a year later. Acknowledged as a leading individual by Legal 500, he has previously advised the Hong Kong government on various public consultations in relation to the insurance industry and was closely involved in the establishment of the Securities and Futures Commission in 1989. The firm’s insurance practice in the region serves clients including Transamerica Life Insurance and Zurich Insurance Group.

Lister’s exit follows that of IP partner Kenneth Choy who left for local firm Choy, Cheung & Co in August, and corporate partner John Lo who moved to CWL Partners, which operates in association with US firm Nixon Peabody and the mainland Chinese Hylands Law Firm, in June.

On the hire, Simmons & Simmons’ insurance group head James Pollock said: ‘As insurance corporate activity and regulation in Asia and other international jurisdictions increases, Martin’s arrival will add further strength to our existing offering, and our insurance team across the firm.’

‘His experience in this area will be invaluable to our international practice, and to our clients, whose ability and ambitions to expand in the region are, now more than ever, dependant on advice from an experienced and well-regarded regulatory and corporate counsel on insurance issues.’

London departures have also been rife for the Boston-headquartered firm, including partners Ben Goodger to Osborne Clarke, Niall McAlister to Olswang, Stuart Blythe to CMS Cameron McKenna, Shawn Atkinson to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, David Ramm to Morgan Lewis Bockius, and Eero Rautalahti whose next move is unknown.

Redundancies have also started from that office, albeit in small numbers, affecting one lawyer and four staff so far.

Simmons, meanwhile, also continues to build its presence in Africa. Having formed an alliance with Fasken Martineau in early August, a move which provides ‘immediate access to leading Africa practices’, the firm yesterday (12 November) confirmed the hire of Paul Bugingo from Dentons who had helped lead that firm’s Africa ambitions.