Taylor Wessing is pressing ahead with plans for offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and has sent delegations to the jurisdictions in its search for a merger partner.
The firm is also investigating options in the Middle East, but has put plans on hold in light of the Arab Spring.
Managing partner Tim Eyles said it was a “serious firmwide mission” to expand into the Far East and that the firm would prefer a merger with a local outfit as “it would be great to have an established practice”.
The project is being coordinated by City corporate partner Robert Fenner together with Munich partner Michael-Florian Ranft, who heads the firm’s China group.
Last year Fenner was given the role of territory partner for China and Hong Kong as part of the firm’s programme for expanding its footprint in the ’Bric’ territories of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
A launch in the region would bolster the firm’s private wealth practice as well as its life sciences, capital markets, M&A and disputes offerings.
Eyles said: “We’d like to be deeper in the Far East. Taking advantage of the opportunities arising in emerged or emerging economies is a critical driver for our clients and, accordingly, for our geographic strategy.”
LG is also close to launching in Singapore via a tie-up with a local firm.
Partner Nicholas Jacob said: “We’ve chosen to open in Singapore as we have a lot of clients in South East Asia. The office will cover corporate, funds and dispute resolution but private client will be the main focus in the early stages because that’s the practice in which we have the most traction.”