Hammonds and DLA target Asia market with new offices

Hammonds chooses Hong Kong for its first non-European office; DLA applies for licence to open in China

Two UK national firms are expanding in Asia. Hammond Suddards Edge is opening an office in Hong Kong, while DLA is planning to open in China.
DLA, which has UK offices in London, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmimgham, has applied for a licence to open an office in China.
If the licence is granted, the firm will set up a base in Shanghai. Through its D&P network, DLA already has a presence in Singapore.
Meanwhile, Hammonds is set to open its first office outside Europe. The national firm has unveiled expansion plans to set up an office in Hong Kong. The office will open on 1 December under the name Li Brandt & Co.
Li Brandt will be jointly led by Hong Kong lawyer Myra Li as managing partner, and London-based construction and engineering partner Keith Brandt as senior partner. Li has left Raymond TY Chan Victoria Chan & Co to set up Li Brandt. She brings her client portfolio and support staff with her. Brandt also has experience of practising in Hong Kong.
The move targets South East Asian markets as growth areas for the firm. Brandt said: “China is an emerging force in the Far East. You can't possibly enter the market without having a focus on the Chinese business.”
The new office will be staffed with experienced Chinese personnel. Local law capability is fundamental to the firm's strategy in the region.
Brandt said: “In time we're looking to have an office that stands on its own in its environment.”
The practice will initially concentrate on the local and international construction market, projects work, dispute resolution and mainland China. Brandt said that the practice was a response to client demand and a way to exploit new markets.
He said: “Once the office has started to demonstrate its capability, the firm will demand that we expand our interests.” Construction would prepare the ground and corporate finance practitioners could then join an established office.
He added that the practice base will broaden over time. “We have a five-year plan for the development of the business which we intend to stick to.”
The geographical focus of the office will broaden as well. Hong Kong and China provide the immediate interest for Hammonds, but Brandt says the firm will pursue other South East Asian markets.
Hammonds' strategy beyond Europe has taken more than three years to reach fruition. Brandt acknowledged that during that time, opportunities could have been lost, but is confident the office will make up any lost ground. He also conceded that it was not the most suitable time to enter the market.
In less than 12 months the firm has completed two mergers – with French firm Hausmann et Associés and Italian firm Rossotto e Associati. It has also opened offices in Berlin and Munich.