Ashurst former senior partner hired as strategic adviser by Chinese ally

Ashurst’s former senior partner Geoffrey Green has been appointed as a strategic adviser by its Chinese alliance firm Guantao as the firm puts its long-term strategy under review.

Green, who was as Ashurst’s senior partner between 1998 and 2008, will advise Guantao on management, strategic planning and business development issues.

The part-time role will not require Green to relocate to Beijing and he will continue other appointments in London, including non-executive director roles in various companies and providing advice to Ashurst on an ad hoc basis.

Green relocated to Hong Kong in 2008 to become Asia managing partner (4 August 2008). He retired from the partnership in May last year.

During his tenure in Asia, he oversaw the establishment of a strategic alliance with Guantao in 2008 (17 November 2008). The two firms have developed a strong relationship, with Guantao’s senior partners regularly invited to attend Ashurst’s global partnership conferences and high-level internal meetings. 

The appointment comes as the firm prepares to put its strategy under review. “Guantao has just celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. We’re at a point when we need to think long and hard about our strategy for the next ten years, during which time the Chinese legal profession will undergo significant changes,” said Cui.

“Geoffrey has extensive experience managing and leading an international firm. We need international veteran like him to provide strategic advice on our long-term strategy and how we can better manage the firm and its practices.”

During Cui’s recent trip to Ashurst, he held meetings with the UK firm’s new senior partner Ben Tidswell and various department heads, discussing mutual business opportunities.

The two have already been collaborating on a growing number of transactions. This included advising Chinese state-owned energy group CGNPC Uranium Resources’ £756m bid for Kalahari Minerals in 2011. Ashurst acted for the Chinese company, having won the mandate after a beauty contest and with a recommendation from Guantao (9 March 2011).

In 2012, Guantao also assisted Ashurst in obtaining its licence for the Beijing office launch (20 March 2013).

Although the relationship between Ashurst and Guantao is going strong, Cui considered a King & Wood Mallesons style tie-up with its Western ally unlikely.

“There’s still a huge gap between Ashurst and Guantao. We still have a lot to learn and improve from them. But the two firms both value the relationship and are very comfortable with the current level of collaboration. The alliance’s main focus is still on joint marketing and business development,” said Cui.

In recently years, a number of Chinese firms have hired foreign consultants with management experience at international firms or global in-house legal departments to provide strategic advice.

Last year, former Norton Rose Fulbright Beijing head Peter Burrows joined newly established Beijing firm DaHui Lawyers as senior consultant (7 November 2013). In 2012, General Electric’s (GE) former Asia Pacific general counsel Steve Maloy took a senior advisory role at Beijing-headquartered Chinese law firm JT&N with the aim of helping the firm grow its international practice (6 July 2012).