As international law firms continue their strategic push into south east Asia, Baker & McKenzie has become the latest global player to launch an office in Myanmar.
Bakers today (18 February) confirmed the launch of a branch in the city of Yangon to be led by infrastructure and corporate partner Chris Hughes, who is currently based in Sydney. The decision was made at the firm’s Asia Pacific partners meeting held in Tokyo this year, handing Bakers its 16th office in the wider Asia region.
The branch will focus on energy, mining and infrastructure; information technology and telecommunications; consumer goods, corporate transactions and intellectual property (IP). The 4,000-lawyer firm had already been serving Myanmar from its Bangkok arm but the new office will be staffed by a team of locally-qualified lawyers, supported by the Bakers network, including counsel with Myanmar language skills in Sydney and Singapore.
Myanmar has attracted increasing attention from foreign advisers in the last two years drawn by its rich natural resources and the potential of a country with a population of 60 million. US law firm Duane Morris in September last year became the first non-Asian adviser to launch locally. In addition Singapore leader Rajah & Tann, Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi and London intellectual property boutique Rouse have recently secured local capability.
‘Clients are increasingly looking to Myanmar and south east Asia for growth opportunities, particularly as the ASEAN nations work collaboratively towards achieving the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015,’ said Eduardo Leite, chairman of Bakers’ executive committee.
Other international firms that have expressed an interest in Myanmar include Herbert Smith Freehills, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Hogan Lovells.