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Linklaters & Alliance has appointed its first managing partner outside the UK in a move that paves the way for a restructure of its global operations pre-merger.
The firm has appointed finance partner Andrew Roberts as its first managing partner for Asia.
He will be based in Singapore and will be responsible for the the firm's offices in Bangkok, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Roberts, who has been based in Linklaters' London office for the last four years, claims the creation of the post reflects the increasing importance of Asia as a market.
He says: "Subject to the renewed growth in the main Asian economies we fully expect the expansion of all our offices in the area to follow rapidly."
Roberts' main role will be to co-ordinate regional marketing and resources. Sources say he will be paying part-icular attention to promoting the corporate and finance practices.
It is understood Linklaters & Alliance is planning to merge its alliance partners and introduce managing partners to run dedicated regions, including Europe.
Linklaters plans what it describes as a "dramatic" development drive in the Asian market.
It says it intends to increase its number of lawyers by nearly 50 per cent, from 170 to 270.
Says Roberts: "We are looking to localise more and we are recruiting in the region. That will be the main thrust. There are still problems but we believe that the demand for legal services is increasing."
As The Lawyer revealed last week (31 January), Nick Syson is joining the firm's Singapore base as a partner from Wilde Sapte's London office. He officially joins the practice in March.
His appointment is a coup for Linklaters. Syson specialises in restructuring and has worked with Wilde Sapte clients HSBC and NatWest.
Syson has been with Wilde Sapte for nearly a decade, making partner in 1994. His practice included workouts, non-contentious insolvency and acquisition finance.