Herbert Smith has founded a US corporate finance capability in its Hong Kong office. The move is intended to take advantage of the new wave of privatisations and initial public offerings (IPOs) that are expected in the Chinese market this year.
As part of the move, Herbert Smith has relocated of counsel Kevin Roy and associate Zhou Zuo to Hong Kong from its London office. Historically, Herbert Smith has serviced clients on the US aspects of Kong Kong and China-based deals out of its London office, and when necessary has flown lawyers out to the region.
London-based partner Jim Wickenden, who will be responsible for the new local practice, conceded that this has not worked particularly well because of the time difference and the costs involved.
Wickenden admitted that some clients preferred to instruct a firm that has lawyers with US equity capital markets experience in Hong Kong.
He also admitted that Herbert Smith recently missed out to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett on advising Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan on the US aspects of the HK$1.9bn (£129.2m) Jinxi Iron & Steel IPO because the banks wanted locally-based lawyers.