Despite the departure of seven partners from its Hong Kong office in April, Clyde & Co is growing its presence in Asia, a critical region going forward, said the firm’s CEO Peter Hasson in an interview with ALB.
“We have seen our income, excluding Barlow Lyde & Gilbert’s, up about 40 percent in the three offices in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong over this year,” said Hasson. “Our partners are up from nine in the region just over a year ago, to over 18 this year.” This figure excludes the seven partners from BLG who handed in their notice.
All seven Hong Kong-based Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) partners who joined Clyde & Co through its merger in November 2011 have moved on to the Hong Kong offices of three UK firms.
A merger agreement between Clyde & Co and the BLG partnership in Hong Kong meant that equity partners opting to leave could do so without a penalty if they resigned from the firm before the end of March this year.
Senior partner David Smyth, litigation partner Gary Yin, and insurance partners Antony Sassi and Andrew Horton are set to establish a Hong Kong office for Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.
Litigation partner Richard Keady and corporate partner Padraig Walsh will join Bird & Bird’s Hong Kong office, while litigation partner Tom Fyfe is set to begin at the Hong Kong office of Simmons & Simmons.
Hasson said the departures demonstrated that Asia was a dynamic and exciting region, and also “a highly competitive one”.
“The view of a lot of European US corporations is that they see the market in Europe as being mature. They are identifying Asia’s emerging economies generally as areas where they needed to establish positions,” said Hasson. “We have been looking at how we respond to that.”
With Asia in growing demand, Hasson stressed the importance of strengthening the firm’s position in the region, particularly in China. “The days when a Hong Kong office alone was sufficient are long gone. Hong Kong is still an important business centre but that has to be linked in with a presence in China.”
Since the merger between Clyde & Co and BLG in November 2011, the firm brought on board several senior lateral hires and conducted senior internal relocations.
Ian Cocking arrived from Minter Ellison to launch and lead the firm’s regional constructionand infrastructure practice, construction partner Gilbert Kwok joined from Stephenson Harwood, Paul Jebely was nabbed from Ashurst to helm Clyde & Co’s aviation finance practice, and Shanghai-based Michael Cripps joined from Insurance Australia Group. Most recently on March 1, the firm hired energy and infrastructure partner Lynia Lau in Hong Kong from King & Wood Mallesons.
Clyde & Co has moved head of corporate insurance Andrew Holderness to Asia and is steadily building its corporate insurance team, Hasson said.