China and Hong Kong are becoming increasingly challenging places for the global elite as the competition for talent from local shops intensifies. Among the most recent victims were Reed Smith, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Shearman & Sterling, which lost out to Australian firm MinterEllison, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and Fangda Partners respectively.
A six-partner disputes team of David Morrison, William Barber, Nathan Dentice, Alex Kaung, Eddy So and Desmond Yu quit Reed Smith’s Hong Kong base over what Asia-Pacific managing partner Denise Jong described as client conflict issues. They will join MinterEllison at the beginning of next year. Continue reading “Bumpy road for US firms in Asia as Reed Smith, Cleary and Shearman lose out to local players”
‘The thing about China is there have always been those who think the bubble is going to burst and the die-hard optimists on the other side,’ says Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) Shanghai head Nick Poynder. Indeed, though the second group (to which Poynder belongs) has lately been the noisiest. Not that optimists lack evidence for their confidence. With over 100 Chinese companies in the Fortune Global 500 hungry for overseas expansion, the assets of Asian banks surging since the banking crisis and an economy still growing more than twice as fast as the US, the market is impossible to ignore. Says Osborne Clarke (OC)’s Steve Yu: ‘[International firms] have to be there because their clients are there.’
Continue reading “Letter from… Shanghai: Despite high hopes, it turns out there is no such thing as a free trade lunch”
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”