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Relying on new friends: Dentons to close Singapore office ahead of Dacheng combination

Within months of announcing a combination with one of China’s biggest law firms, Dacheng, Dentons is closing down its Singapore practice as it plans to rely on its new partner’s presence in the country.

The move will see the firm use Dacheng Wong Alliance – a joint venture between Dacheng and Singapore firm Wong Alliance – in the city-state to service clients, once the combination has gone into effect.

Denton’s Singapore office largely focuses on banking and trade finance with the team headed by banking and finance partner Matthew Cox. The office also acted as the contact point for work with Indian firms to provide service across the region.

The office closure will impact a team of six in total, which also includes partner Markus Blenntoft – who also heads up Dentons’ India group in Singapore and has extensive experience of Indian finance transactions – and one counsel, two associates and one legal officer. Staff are currently being offered the opportunity to relocate to other Dentons practices.

Dentons said in a statement: ‘Through the integration process with Dacheng, we have been evaluating our offering in Singapore, an important market that we believe we can leverage more effectively for our clients through a larger presence with a broader offering than before.

‘As is the case with any combination or merger, the firm is evaluating the best path forward for locations where we have two offices. In this case, we are transitioning to the Dacheng Wong Alliance once the combination with Dacheng is complete, and continue to examine ways to expand in Singapore in the future.’

In terms of legal expertise, Dentons managed its first top-tier recommendation in The Legal 500 for China since 2009 in corporate and M&A for 2014, but Dacheng has not been top tier in a practice area since ranking highly for corporate and M&A in 2012. Dacheng is, however, recommended for banking and finance in Beijing and Shanghai; capital markets, corporate and M&A, disputes in Beijing and Shanghai; and shipping in Shanghai.

News of the combination that will form a 6,600-lawyer giant operating under a Swiss verein structure was reported earlier this year. The new entity is expected to have offices across 50 countries with combined revenues in the region of $1.7bn.