PRC and US Firms Take Aim in Hong Kong


Posted on May 26, 2011 at 4:05 PM

As capital markets continues to boom in Hong Kong, firms from mainland China and the US are starting to fight for a piece of the market.  Shanghai-based, AllBright Law is the most recent PRC firm to enter the market, following in the footsteps of King & Wood, Jun he Law Offices and Zhong Lun Law Firm. AllBright partner Victor Wang told The Lawyer the firm was exploring its options through merger !discussions with Hong Kong rivals and is also considering a liaison office staffed by the firm’s own lawyers.

Several US firms have also started catching up to their UK counterparts, by establishing local practices in Hong Kong.  Last week Simpson Thacher became the most recent US firm to launch a Hong Kong arm,  hiring lawyers from Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus.  The other firms with recent Hong Kong launches include Cleary Gottlieb and Davis Polk. Proskauer Rose is also in on the activity with their recent hires of Hong Kong-qualified capital markets partners, Seung Chong and Jeremy Leifer from White & Case.  Lawyers in Asia’s finance capital believe more US firms will follow suit as IPO activity continues to boom.

These moves, mark a change as US firms have traditionally not focused on Hong Kong law practices on the ground, with a few firms pulling out of Asia during the downturn in 2003.  While some of these have moved to rebuild, others, including Cravath Swaine & Moore, are still absent from Hong Kong.

Additionally, Some Chinese companies are using Hong Kong as a vehicle to make the transition between Mainland China and international investments. However, Hong Kong is growing in itself and in 2010, Hong Kong Stock Exchange had a record year that benefited many firms, reversing the 2003 negative trend that pushed firms to withdraw from the island.

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