Kirkland & Ellis is hoping to launch an office in Hong Kong within a year, although the ambitious plan is still subject to regulatory approval.
London-based private equity partner David Eich is expected to relocate to Hong Kong to head the new office, as first revealed on www.thelawyer. com (24 May). He told The Lawyer that the Chicago-based firm had not yet lodged its application for a local operating licence, but was hopeful the office would be operational by the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2006 or Q1 of 2007.
He said the firm is confident of receiving approval, despite the notoriously difficult licence application process in Hong Kong and mainland China, and is expected to file its application in the summer.
Should the office gain app-roval, Eich will be supported by two US-qualified associates.
Four year-PQE associate Tai Hsia, who has close relationships with CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital, is due to relocate from London, while five year-PQE Chuan Li will move across from the firm's Chicago headquarters.
Eich said the office would focus on private equity in response to demand from the firm's existing Hong Kong-based clients within the leveraged buyout market.
He said the firm had been "incubating" its Asian practice out of the firm's existing US and UK offices for two and a half years, and that Hong Kong would draw on this expertise.
Eich, Hsia and Li will be backed up initially by 10 support staff.