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Significant hires: KWM lands JP Morgan’s Asia-Pacific vice chairman

Eager to convince Western investment banks, hedge funds and private equity houses that it has the lawyers to handle the most complex mandates in Asia, Hong Kong-headquartered King & Wood Mallesons has hired JP Morgan’s Zili Shao as co-chairman of its China management committee.

Shao’s arrival provides a major boost to the firm’s hopes of winning more high-value finance and M&A work and is designed to send a strong message to the investment banks after a record year for M&A in China. According to accountants PwC, China M&A hit record levels in 2014, both in terms of the number of deals (6,899) and their total value ($407bn).

Wang Ling, China managing partner of KWM, said Shao ‘will play a key role in the globalization of the firm’.

Shao leaves JP Morgan after five years at the bank, having arrived as China chairman before being named Asia-Pacific vice chairman in April 2014. Shao oversaw JP Morgan’s China expansion, including the formation of a domestic securities venture, the purchase of stakes in a trust and a guarantee company, and the establishment of a locally incorporated bank.

‘His breadth of experience across the legal and corporate sector and deep knowledge of the region provides him with the ability to help lead KWM through its next stage of development in China, and to help to integrate the China practice into the global KWM firm,’ said Stuart Fuller, KWM’s global managing partner.

Prior to his time at JP Morgan, Shao held posts as Linklaters Greater China managing partner before being promoted to Asia managing partner in a 12 year stint at the Magic Circle law firm. He has also been a partner at legacy Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, which merged with King & Wood in 2013. As a lawyer, he specialised in China-related M&A and corporate restructuring.