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The magic circle firm had earmarked the closure of its Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offices as part of a major review of Asia. Although the offices are profitable, they were thought to be vulnerable because the Mekong Delta is not key to Freshfields’ strategy.
However, according to Freshfields, the firm has decided not to withdraw from the country. “We’ve made a commitment to stay in Vietnam,” said one source.
As first reported in The Lawyer (19 April), Freshfields is axing its three-partner Bangkok office as part of the review. The firm is expected to close the office by the end of the year, resulting in 81 staff being made redundant under Thai law.
Following the conclusion of Freshfields’ Asian review, the firm is focusing on growing its domestic Japanese and Chinese practices.
As a result, the firm recently relocated the head of its China arbitration practice Mike Moser from Hong Kong to Beijing, where he will spend 75 per cent of his time. Meanwhile, partner Tom Jones, a China regulatory specialist, has been relocated from Hong Hong to Beijing on a permanent basis.
Freshfields has avoided the need to make redundancies in its Hong Kong office. However, it is understood that a handful of partners are expected to retire over the next couple of years.
The Asian review, which has now been concluded, also saw Singapore downsized, with retiring partners not replaced and others being relocated to London.