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Salans has closed its Hong Kong office weeks after pulling out of Beijing as it shifts the focus of its China practice onto Shanghai.
Last month, The Lawyer reported that Salans’ partners voted to close its Beijing representative office at the end of March (13 April 2012). Two weeks later, the firm closed a second office in Greater China.
On 1 May, the firm closed its physical presence in Hong Kong, where it opened an office in April 2009 and entered into an association with local firm Pang & Co. Due to the closure of its Hong Kong office, the firm has ceased its association with the local firm. However, the firms have signed a co-operation agreement that will see Salans refer any Hong Kong law work to Pang & Co.
Salans’ Hong Kong office was mostly staffed by the team from Pang & Co and was headed by partner Benny Pang, founder and sole partner of Pang & Co. Salans hired arbitration partner Darren Fitzgerald from Bird & Bird in 2010. He left the firm in April just before the closure of the Hong Kong office.
“Salans will continue servicing clients’ Hong Kong legal matters through co-operation with Pang & Co, which has been working with us closely for three years,” a firm spokesperson said. “Pang & Co will refer international law related work to us. After the transition, there won’t be much actual difference in terms of client service experience.
“The decision to put all of our resources into Shanghai is driven by the needs of our clients. Shanghai is very much where their focus is.
Shanghai is now Salans’ only office in China and Asia. The firm has two partners and 13 other fee-earners based in the Shanghai office, which is headed by managing partner Bernd-Uwe Stucken.
The latest development coincides with Salans’ ongoing merger discussions with SNR Denton, which has offices in Beijing and Hong Kong (14 February 2012).