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Reed Smith has launched an office in Singapore with the hire of two partners from Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) and a number of internal relocations from London.
The US firm’s new four-partner Singapore office, which is still in the process of staffing up but effectively launched yesterday, will be headed by international commercial arbitration and litigation partner Gautam Bhattacharyya, who is relocating from London. HFW partners Barry Stimpson and Simon Sloane, who specialise in shipping and international trade, and arbitration and commercial dispute resolution respectively, have also joined Reed Smith, with Sloane already in situ in Singapore and Stimpson set to start work there imminently.
The fourth partner is commodity trading specialist Philip Antcliffe, a former associate in the firm’s London energy and natural resources group, who has rejoined Reed Smith as a partner following his move to Citigroup in 2011, where he was counsel to the global commodities division. An additional London lawyer has also relocated to Singapore while the firm is in the process of adding several associates in the local market to grow local leverage from a low four to one.
Roger Parker, Reed Smith’s managing partner for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, said there had been “a real shift” over the past two years in the types of businesses and individuals that were moving across to Singapore, a trend that had convinced the firm that now was the right time to open an office there.
“It’s a sea change in the pace of change and the extent to which clients are moving across to South East Asia,” added Parker.
Parker said that for Reed Smith the two key sectors that made a Singapore launch attractive were energy and natural resources as well as shipping and logistics.
“The third limb is international arbitration,” he added.
Bhattacharyya emphasised that the Singapore International Arbitration Centre was now regarded by global corporates as one of the most important dispute resolution forums in the world.
“Singapore has become a gateway for commerce with India, one of the world’s largest economies, and will greatly assist us in our current and future engagement with clients in that very important market,” added Bhattacharyya in a statement.
Last year The Lawyer was the first to report that Reed Smith was considering opening in Singapore (13 June 2011).
The firm has leased temporary office space in Singapore and will move into permanent space in Ocean Financial Centre in early 2013. Singapore is Reed Smith’s fourth office in Asia, after Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.