Hong Kong, notes Mayer Brown Asia chair Duncan Abate, is like a village: ‘If you are good, you can do really well, if you are not, everyone knows it.’
A village – it is fair to add – that has had more than its share of reverses in recent years. Much lauded up until the early 2010s as the gateway to China and the effective legal and finance capital for the Asia region, in the second half of the decade it has been dogged by protectionism, cut-throat pricing and an excess of lawyers. Continue reading “Letter from… Hong Kong: Asia’s most-desired village can be tough on the locals but the mood of confidence is back”
The view from Fort Canning Hill is telling. You stand next to an early 20th century lighthouse, a testament to Singapore’s early success as a maritime trade hub. It shut in 1958, as the skyscrapers vaulting up rendered it hardly visible from the sea – a port at the crossroads of India and China was becoming a major financial centre.
Today instead of the sea, the view is of dozens of buildings hosting international banks, insurers, manufacturers, tech companies… and of course, lawyers. A city-state of just five and a half million is home to almost 1,000 national and 150 international law firms, making it one of Asia’s two dominant global hubs alongside old rival Hong Kong. Continue reading “Letter from… Singapore: A warm welcome and slick offering keep Singapore ahead in the race to be Asia global hub”
When Brent Irvin joined Tencent as group general counsel (GC) nearly nine years ago, the Chinese upstart was already a tech wunderkind, boasting revenue close to RMB20bn. But few foresaw the trajectory it would take from there: with dramatic growth in 2017, the company is now valued at more than $477bn.
‘We have always been about combining social and content, but in the beginning we were more games-focused,’ notes Irvin. Continue reading “Asia GC perspective – Tencent on the dollar”
‘You have to, to serve these markets, re-imagine how money can be managed and moved, because there’s going to be more change in the next five years in financial services than happened in the past 30.’
Dan Schulman, chief executive, PayPal
Global investment in fintech companies hit an all-time high of US$27.4bn in 2017, an increase of 18% year on year, with the market showing no sign of slowing. Led by China, the fintech revolution has spread across the rest of Asia, while simultaneously gaining traction in the UK, US and Europe. Continue reading “Special territory: Fintech in Hong Kong”
The clichéd view of the Asia legal market is that it is a very difficult place for international firms to make money. Recent economic underperformance in China has not helped, although the flurry of office openings, hires and deals in the region over the last 12 months would suggest otherwise. Local alliances are the current vogue in China, with the likes of Linklaters and Ashurst opting for these often-complex arrangements.
But while the Asia region is dominated by China, based on recent activity it would seem the so-called secondary markets, like Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia, could be lucrative areas of interest. As Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) Greater China managing partner May Tai notes: ‘China remains the driver of growth and the story of our careers. However, activity in South-East Asia is just as busy, from the developed markets of Singapore and Malaysia to rapidly emerging markets, such as Laos and Cambodia.’ Continue reading “Global 100 Asia Focus: Long-term greedy”