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The former head of Rogers & Wells' Hong Kong office, Tom Britt, is quitting the firm to start his own internet venture.
Britt's departure is a big loss for Rogers & Wells so soon after its merger with Clifford Chance earlier this year.
Britt has developed a highly-successful corporate finance practice in Asia, representing dotcom companies in initial public offerings. Last year he advised china.com, the Asian information service, on its high-profile public offering. Britt leaves the newly-merged firm with no Rogers & Wells partners in Hong Kong.
Larry Cranch, regional managing partner for the Americas, says: "Tom and one or two of his acquaintances are starting a new venture in Asia and the purpose of the venture is to make investments into internet companies.
"We hate to lose him, but he has got the practice built up to the point where we have probably got the best internet practice in Asia. For Tom this is a great opportunity to go off and be an entrepreneur in what could be a very successful enterprise."
Clifford Chance's Jeff Maddox, who was made up to partner last year, is left as the only US partner in Hong Kong. Maddox joined Clifford Chance in 1996 from US firm Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts.
Cranch says: "We have got a number of other US lawyers out there who are working with Tom. Jeff Maddox, who is a US securities lawyer, has been working very closely with Tom and we are going to have a seamless transition."
Cranch adds that additional lawyers will be sent to Hong Kong from New York to bolster the US side of the practice. "We are hopeful that Tom's new company will be a big client of the firm," he says.
Apart from New York litigation partner Mark Pomerantz, Britt is the first Rogers & Wells partner to leave the merged firm.