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US and Asia focus: Linklaters’ new executive committee shakeup brings fresh regional targets

Linklaters is to renew its focus on the US and Asia following its appointment of a new global head of US practice, Tom Shropshire, and an Asia regional managing partner, Nathalie Hobbs, to its executive committee in a shakeup of the firm’s top management group.

Shropshire replaced Scott Bowie to lead the New York and Washington DC offices and is now responsible for further developing the firm’s global US practice.  Bowie is due to leave Linklaters at the end of July.  

Together with dispute resolute partner Satindar Dogra and global head of environment Vanessa Havard-Williams, Shropshire also leads the firm’s operational intelligence group, a multi-disciplinary global team combining regulatory risk, governance and compliance expertise, launched in January 2014.

The committee, which is responsible for key management decisions, makes recommendations to the Magic Circle firm’s partnership board.

Managing partner Gideon Moore continues to chair the group, to which the appointments were made at the end of June.

Shropshire, who began his career at Linklaters in 1998 and became a London-based US corporate partner in 2006, described his role within the firm’s operational intelligence group as a ‘great fit’ within the US: ‘We want to help our US clients manage global risk, whether they invest in the US or Asia or Europe, develop solutions that will work globally.’

‘We are trying to develop a team of lawyers that can help clients who have to manage risk across a whole range of different jurisdictions,’ Shropshire told Legal Business. 

Building a credible US practice, however, was one of the main issues facing Moore and senior partner Charlie Jacobs when they took over the leadership of Linklaters in 2016. The role of global head of US practice was established around that time.

‘We thought about how we could better approach US clients by working with them on a global scale,’ said Shropshire.

Linklaters’ New York office opened in the 1970s and the firm heavily invested in expanding its US presence in the early 1990s. ‘Our US clients and their activity have been very predictable, consistent and attractive, and therefore increasingly important for the practice,’ Shropshire told Legal Business.

Hobbs, a senior banking and private equity partner based in Hong Kong, specialises in cross-border leveraged finance and acquisition financing and took over from Marc Harvey. Last month Moore said that she and her team would support the firm’s clients in Asia to take advantage of the region’s ‘many growth opportunities’.

Speaking to Legal Business about the opportunities Asia presented, Hobbs said: ‘Chinese companies have made significant investments in European and US assets – such as the ChemChina/Syngenta acquisition, for which we did the financing.

‘Although there is now increased scrutiny in the PRC – which has led to a slowing of outbound acquisitions, those which are strategic and in line with the core business of the buyer are still going ahead and we think this will continue.’

‘There are some key sectors such as energy and TMT which remain areas of strong growth in the region. Chinese technology companies are growing at a very fast rate and regional M&A in the tech and telecoms space has been a trend over the last few years – which we feel is likely to continue.’

She also pointed to specific developments in the area which gave the firm opportunities to assist clients in adapting to changing regulatory and legal environments: these included the new insolvency and restructuring regime in Singapore and the manager in charge regime in Hong Kong.

Shropshire and Hobbs joined a 12-strong group, including the heads of the firm’s three divisions – Michael Bennett from dispute resolution, corporate’s Aedmar Comiskey from and Michael Kent from finance and projects.

The committee also includes regional managing partner for Western Europe, Claudia Parzani, Germany senior partner Andreas Steck, client and sector partner Sarah Wiggins, chief finance and operations officer, Peter Hickman and HR director, Chris Lynch.