Rajah & Tann hire leaves Linklaters’ Aussie ally Allens partnerless in Singapore

The last Singapore-based partner of Australian firm Allens, Marae Ciantar, has joined local firm Rajah & Tann to head its energy and resource practice.

Ciantar was formerly Indochina practice head of Allens, Linklaters’ Australian ally (23 April 2012). His practice focuses on project development and corporate work in the energy and resources sectors. He has more than 10 years of experience in Asia, including five years on the ground in Cambodia, where Allens operated between 1999 and 2011.

Clients Ciantar has worked for include Shell, Hoegh LNG, Daewoo E&R, Petromin, and BHP Billiton.

He will be joined by Ashley Phelps who has been appointed as a senior associate at Rajah & Tann. Phelps worked with Ciantar at Allens between 2005 and 2010 before moving to Baker & McKenzie’s Singapore office as an associate. Most recently, he worked at the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority to help increase its in-house legal capability.

The two appointments come a week after Rajah & Tann took on a 14-lawyer team in Bangkok from US firm Hunton & Williams (4 March 2014).

Allens’ Singapore office is now left partnerless, after a series of departures since the firm’s tie-up with Linklaters in 2012. The firm has previously announced its intention to wind down its physical presence in Asia and co-locate with Linklaters where it has offices (10 September 2012).

Other partners who quit the Allens’ Singapore office include international arbitration lawyer Matthew Skinner and energy lawyer Darren Murphy, who joined Jones Day in October 2012 (12 October 2012). In February 2013, Asia finance head Rod Howell left to join Herbert Smith Freehills (6 February 2013).

In addition to partner departures, it is understood that the majority of Allens’ Singapore fee-earners, including 11 lawyers, have also either moved on or relocated back to the firm’s Australian offices.

Since 2011, the Australian firm has closed its offices in Cambodia and Shanghai and moved into Linklaters’ offices in Beijing and Singapore. It still has small offices in Mongolia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Indonesia.