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City firm Kennedys is believed to have become the first UK firm to open an office in New Zealand.
Following the opening of its Hong Kong office in February, the firm is expanding its international presence with the new office, based in Auckland's financial and commercial centre.
The main focus of the Auckland office will be to service existing clients in the New Zealand insurance market, as well as attracting new work locally. Specialist areas will include professional indemnity, construction and IT.
Ivan McCracken, executive partner at Kennedys, says: "[Other UK firms] don't recognise that New Zealand is a mature market, that it's booming. I don't think they sufficiently recognise that New Zealand is actually a good springboard for other areas out there."
The new office will be headed by New Zealanders Gary Wadsworth and Mark Dennett. Both have worked in London, but Dennett returned to his homeland to practise on his own before he was invited to take part in the new project.
McCracken says: "Gary Wadsworth is one of our highest-billing fee-earners in London, and he has an enormous appetite for hard work and delivers a total quality job. We'll be recruiting a senior assistant fairly promptly, and then it's a case of settling in and seeing how much work we can bring in."
McCracken says the response of clients to the latest move has been enormous, with nine or 10 companies assuring the firm that they will send work in its direction. "They've all encouraged us to go out there," he says, "and they've said that they'd welcome additional representation in the Far East.
"We can certainly take on any size [of work]. It would be foolish to say that one can take on any quantity, but we certainly have the expertise in both the [New Zealand and Hong Kong] offices, and shortly in India as well, to take on any size of project."
The move gives Kennedys strategic positioning on both sides of the Pacific Rim, as well as key access to an otherwise ignored market. As soon as regulations allow, the firm plans to open another office in India, where it will be well placed to offer coverage to Indonesia and Australasia, as well as to the Far East and Asia.
The firm also has associated offices in New York, San Francisco, Paris, Madrid, New Delhi, Beirut and Dublin.