White & Case has entered into an association with Indonesian firm MD & Partners six years after ending its association with local firm Ali Budiardjo Nugroho Reksodiputro (ABNR).
The firm first forged an association with ABNR in the late 1990s after the Indonesian Bar Association tightened its rules on foreign firms working in the country (15 February 1999).
The firm was forced to rethink its strategy and hired Theodore Bakker, who was then a partner at legacy Benelux outfit Loeff Claeys Verbeke, and seconded him to ABNR (15 November 1999) at end of 1999.
White & Case had previously worked in Indonesia with a number of different local law firms, having advising on the international aspects of transactions in the country for over 35 years since the firm’s erstwhile chairman James Hurlock assisted the Indonesian government on debt restructuring issues in the mid-1970s.
In June 2005 White & Case and ABNR took the mutual decision to end their association after both firms decided they wanted to focus on different types of work.
The new association will see the firm link up with newly established local outfit MD & Partners, which has an office in Jakarta’s central business district. The firm was founded recently by local M&A lawyer Mita Djajadiredja, who was previously a partner at Hadiputranto Hadinoto & Partners, a member of Baker & McKenzie’s international office network. Joining Djajadiredja is Nadia Soraya, who until recently was a partner at well-known local firm Makarim & Taira S.
Commenting on the decision to enter into a new association with a firm in Jakarta, Singapore-based Asia regional section head Barrye Wall told The Lawyer: “We already know the market very well and as relationships in Indonesia are very important we were very careful in assessing what steps, if any, the firm should take. After looking for a number of years we’ve found the right opportunity and right people with whom we want to enter into an association.”
While the firm is looking to hire some more local lawyers to support the two partners on the ground, it is understood that no other hires have been signed off to date.
Wall also confirmed that White & Case has no immediate plans to second any of its lawyers to MD & Partners.
Going forward, the two firms will focus their efforts on drawing on the two local partners’ strengths and developing core practice areas, such as M&A, private equity, corporate, finance and projects, where the firm sees a demand for an integrated offering, added Wall.
The firm will continue to work for a range of state-owned enterprises, multinational corporations and various private equity funds and financial institutions, as well as advising on the international aspects of deals involving Indonesian companies.
“As an environment and a jurisdiction Indonesia lends itself to very complex transactions and we benefit from our extensive experience in the market,” noted corporate partner Charlie Wilson, who leads the firm’s Indonesian practice from Singapore.
“The country is attracting an awful lot of interest from multinationals and private equity funds, but the number of top quality lawyers in Indonesia is relatively limited. Our understanding of the market is something that clients look to and the decision to enter into the association was client driven.”
However, Wilson stressed that the new association would not preclude White & Case from working with other local firms as and when the need arises.
Both Wilson and Wall highlighted the importance of the new association for the firm.
“We’re very excited about the association because of the history the firm has in Indonesia and there’s a very strong desire across our firm to work with MD & Partners as it grows and use the association for the benefit of our clients,” said Wilson. “It’s not just exciting from a Singapore perspective, but also really exciting for White & Case globally.”
“All of our major offices, including New York, Washington DC, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Moscow, Beijng, Shanghai and obviously Singapore, have advised on matters relating to Indonesia over the years,” added Wall. “Indonesia is in the firm’s DNA and this association is a very important milestone for the firm. Indonesia has been very important for our firm for over 35 years and it will continue to be so, with the association being the latest very important step in our history of working in the country.”
“We’re very pleased to be exclusively associated with White & Case,” added M&D partner Mita Djajadiredja. “White & Case has a great history in Indonesia and we look forward to working with the lawyers from White & Case’s market leading Indonesia practice.
“Our association with MD & Partners supports our firm’s long history with Indonesia and meets the increasing demands of our clients,” concluded White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier.
Several other international firms have entered into similar arrangements with local Indonesian firms in recent years. Last year Hogan Lovells entered into an association with Indonesian law firm Hermawan Juniarto (19 April 2012), while in 2011 O’Melveny & Myers entered into an association with Tumbuan & Partners (8 November 2011).