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PwC beats international law firms to complete tie-up in Singapore with local firm Camford Law

Big four giant PwC has made a decisive move to enhance its legal offering around the Asia-Pacific region, and has entered into a tie-up in Singapore with local firm Camford Law.

Specialised in corporate and commercial law, the 10-lawyer local outfit currently has two partners including corporate lawyer Bijay Nawal and capital markets lawyer Natarajan Sundararaman. Having been in talks for nearly two months, the firm has now joined PwC’s global network but will operate as a separate partnership and retain its name.

‘It’s good for us – they have a large network and we have worked with them for over a decade,’ Nawal told Legal Business. ‘We are an independent firm but it was a natural choice to do a tie-up with them.’

On whether there are added benefits to working with an accountancy giant as opposed to an international law firm, Nawal adds: ‘There’s advantages to tying up with an accountant. We are by and large a corporate firm and it makes sense for us to work with another organisation with a similar focus. There will be a lot of synergy given our respective practices.’

Nawal also confirmed that the local outfit had been approached by international law firms prior to its talks with PwC but declined to give any names.

PwC currently offers legal services in more than 80 countries and employs 2,400 lawyers whose practice areas include employment, entity governance and compliance, immigration, international business reorganisation, corporate M&A, banking and finance, litigation, antitrust, and financial services regulation.

On how law firms are faring in the Singapore market, which this year saw multiple firms including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Latham & Watkins, and Norton Rose Fulbright renew their qualifying foreign legal practice licence, Nawal adds: ‘Foreign international firms are definitely feeling tougher competition and pressure on fees. The cost structures of international firms are much higher than local firms. That’s why local firms can be more competitive.’

Fellow big four giant Ernst & Young (EY) is also looking at its options in the Asia region. In December, it hired Herbert Smith Freehills’ Singapore partner John Dick, who specialises in energy & resources, South East Asia regional foreign investment and infrastructure.