2Birds, Simmons and RPC benefit as seven partners quit Clydes in Hong Kong

Clyde & Co has been hit for seven Hong Kong partners, with RPC announcing an office opening on the back of a four-partner team appointment.

RPC is set to launch after tapping up four legacy Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) partners from the firm, while a further three partners are leaving to join Bird & Bird’s Hong Kong office and Simmons & Simmons’ local base.

The moves will come as a blow to Clyde & Co, which had sought to lock partners in following its merger with BLG last year. The seven partners were not bound by the lock-in as they were not equity partners.

The four partners joining RPC in the coming months are Hong Kong senior partner David Smyth, marine insurance partner Andrew Horton, insurance partner Antony Sassi and disputes partner Gary Yin.

Bird & Bird has hired corporate partner Padraig Walsh and disputes partner Richard Keady, while Simmons has appointed disputes partner Tom Fyfe.

In a statement Clydes said: “As part of the merger agreement a transitional period expiring at the end of March 2012 was agreed with the legacy BLG partners in their Hong Kong office. In the event, they’ve decided to pursue their careers elsewhere and we wish them well.”

The transitional period ran to the end of March as that was when the lease on the firm’s building in Hong Kong ran out.

The firm said it has made three partner appointments in Hong Kong over the last year: Asia construction head Ian Cocking from Minter Ellison last February, Stephenson Harwood partner Gilbert Kwok in September (20 September 2011) and Mallesons special counsel Lynia Lau earlier this month (1 March 2012).

The merger was intended to boost the firm’s global presence, with a string of new office openings being planned, including a new base in Australia (24 October 2011).