Richards Butler HK finally succumbs to Reed Smith

Reed Smith” />US firm Reed Smith has finally signed up the Hong Kong arm of Richards Butler nearly a whole year after merging with Richards Butler’s UK operations.

Reed Smith’s partners were informed last Thursday (18 October) of an agreement to merge with Richards Butler Hong Kong on 1 January next year.

“We’ve got our deal done,” Reed Smith’s firmwide managing partner Greg Jordan told The Lawyer last week. “We’ve signed piles and piles of papers effecting the full merger.”

All of Richards Butler’s Hong Kong partners will join the global Reed Smith equity partnership. Richards Butler Hong Kong operated as a separate operation to Richards Butler UK, but this agreement means the firms will be fully integrated financially.

The deal will add around £30m to Reed Smith’s annual turnover.

Hong Kong partners Will Barber and Graham Winter will join Reed Smith’s executive committee, while senior US partner Tom Todd will relocate to Hong Kong as part of the integration process.

Todd is the relationship partner for Bank of New York Mellon, one of the firm’s key clients that has helped drive much of Reed Smith’s international expansion. The management of the Hong Kong office is yet to be decided on.

Richards Butler Hong Kong has long remained sceptical about the benefits of a merger with a US firm, but months of negotiations have finally borne fruit. A breakthrough was reached in the summer, as first revealed by The Lawyer (16 July).

Richards Butler Hong Kong senior partner Chris Howse explained: “We had the advantage of seeing how the merger played out in the UK and it’s obviously been very successful.”

The firms now intend to push forward in mainland China, where Richards Butler has up until now had just a small office in Beijing. The firm is also seeking a licence to open in Shanghai.