Slaughters’ Japanese best friend to open in Singapore and Shanghai

One of Japan’s largest law firms, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, is to add three new offices, in Singapore, Shanghai and the Japanese city of Nagoya.

The Japanese firm, which has a close relationship with Slaughter and May (8 May 2007), intends to add these three offices to its offerings in Tokyo and Beijing, subject to regulatory approval.

According to the firm, demand for its services in South-East Asia from clients across financial services, manufacturing and retail means a launch in Singapore is necessary.

“Many of our clients have established a regional headquarters in Singapore to manage their investments and business in the South-East Asian region. The number and value of client matters with a South-East Asia element handled by the firm has doubled over the past two to three years. The new office is in response to our clients’ needs and to strive to improve our legal services.” said banking and finance partner Ko Hanamizu, who will relocate from Tokyo to Singapore to head the new base.

The Bank of Tokya-Mitsubishi UFI, for example, is a long-standing client of the firm and has a large base in Singapore.

Initially, Hanamizu will be joined by an M&A associate in the Singapore office.

Anderson Mori is the last of the ‘big four’ Japanese firm to open in Singapore. In 2011, its rivals Mori Hamada & Matsumoto and Nishimura & Asahi opened in the city-state and Nagashima Ohno & Tsunema followed suit in January this year.

The Shanghai office will be the firm’s second mainland China base, with the firm having a presence in Beijing since 1998. The firm’s China practice started out as an outbound play, but has developed into a Chinese client fee generator in recent years. Recently, the firm has advised Chinese company Tianma on its acquisition of a major stake in NEC and acted for Shanghai Great Wisdom when it acquired medium-sized Japanese listed company T&C Financial Research.

“Shanghai is China’s financial and business centre. We’ve wanted to have an office there for a long time, but now we’re seeing much stronger demand. It’ll help expand our capabilities to handle Japan-China matters, both inbound and outbound,” said Hiroshige Nakagawa, head of the firm’s China practice and Beijing office.

The Shanghai office will also help the firm better services its clients in the manufacturing sector, including companies that produce cars and related components, retail and real estate industries.

The new Shanghai office, which is expected to open in this summer, will be led by corporate partner Akira Moriwaki. The firm will have a total of nine lawyers and two partners across Beijing and Shanghai.

Outbound investment in the industrial and manufacturing sectors is also at the heart of the decision to open an office in Nagoya, known as the “manufacturing heartland of Japan”.

In addition, in light of the firm’s expansion in Tokyo, it is to move into new premises in July. It currently has 310 lawyers including 85 partners.

Although the firm is opening new offices offshore in 2013, it has traditionally followed the Slaughters approach to global expansion. Similar to the UK firm’s best- friends approach, Anderson Mori’s strategy is to nurture strong non-exclusive relationships with top-tier firms in other jurisdictions.

Most recently, it co-counselled with Slaughters and Dutch firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek advising Philips Electronics on the sale of its lifestyle entertainment business to Japanese company Funai Electric (1 February 2013).