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LONDON litigation practice Holman Fenwick & Willan has appointed Johnson Stokes & Master partner Gavin Nesbitt as its first-ever head of corporate law in Hong Kong.
Nesbitt, who moved to Hong Kong in 1987 from London firm Simmons & Simmons, plans to expand the practice's corporate portfolio by targeting listed companies in the colony.
He says the four-member corporate team will also handle general commercial work in the region and build on its current client base.
Prior to Nesbitt's appointment the department had operated without a lead partner, but Holman Fenwick's London-based senior partner Archie Bishop says the decision to bring him on board reflects a "growth" in the practice.
Bishop says the last few years have seen a steady expansion of business in the Hong Kong and Singapore offices.
"We've always had individuals dealing with corporate work in the area, but we've not had a head of department.
"This is a sign that we're taking that side of the business more seriously than we have before. We need somebody to take charge and develop it."
Nesbitt says he took the job because of his Hong Kong experience and to develop his own department.
"This gives me the opportunity to have a more close, hands-on part in running a department which is growing quite rapidly," he says. "I will also have the benefit of Holman Fenwick's international exposure. It seemed an attractive fit."
Jim Baird, a partner based in Clifford Chance's Hong Kong office, says competition in the region's corporate market is "intense", but Holman Fenwick's international network may give the Hong Kong office greater access to clients.
"If Holman Fenwick are expanding at a late stage they must have a reason for doing it," says Baird.