Singapore's Central Chambers and China's largest firm by headcount, Dacheng, have formed a JV designed to capture clients expanding to India and China.
The firm, named Dacheng Central Chambers, is based within Central Chambers' Singapore office and currently counts 14 lawyers and seven partners qualified to advise on Singapore, China, India and Thailand laws. It is the first China-Singapore JV firm, and one of the few Chinese firms with Indian lawyers.
"What we're trying to do is basically capitalise on the shift in focus to this part of the world from US and Europe, especially to the Indian market through the trade relations with the ASEAN and China," said managing partner, Aloysius Wee (pictured, fourth from right, at the signing ceremony). "Our strategy right now is to support Indian businesses in China so we'll have Indian lawyers based in Shanghai taking care of them there."
"We're looking at an outflow of Chinese businesses into Southeast Asia and this activity has picked up in the last two or three years. So it's probably more of an opportune time now to set up this JV."
The two firms had been working as strategic partners since 2004 and the idea for the JV came in 2007. "It's taken a good two years to get the documentation and partner meetings in place," said Wee.
In June the Singapore partners met in Nanjing to discuss the firm's business model, which will operate as "an overseas model" with six partners to contribute equal capital. A development plan for the firm was also realised.
"This model–in which the firm would have a direct equity participation rather than in a strategic alliance basis–would be the first for Dacheng outside of China and serve as a model for subsequent offices," explained Wee.
However, Wee did not feel that Dacheng will venture further into Southeast Asia with new offices–rather it will take a cautious approach through associations with local firms. "We're definitely looking at Southeast Asia, but waiting for the political situations in Thailand and Malaysia to stabilise. Before we venture and set up anywhere we'll have some kind of link or association with a local firm to see the work is sustainable, but right now were doing that out of our Singapore office and working with our associate firms."
Singapore - Joint Venture Firms (as at May 09)