Rowe & Maw is making its first foray into the Asian market by establishing a presence in Hong Kong.
The City practice told The Lawyer in November that it was in talks with a firm in the region (15 November 1999).
It is now close to signing a deal with leading banking and finance firm Koo & Partners.
Rowe & Maw's head of construction, Michael Regan, has been leading the talks.
He says: “We have been looking further to internationalise our construction and projects work for some time. This represents a wonderful opportunity to establish our presence in Hong Kong.”
The firm has worked with Koo & Partners in the past but Regan says: “A formal association could reap significant benefits for both firms.”
Clients of Koo & Partners include the majority of local banks as well as the Bank of China Group.
Donald Koo has been leading the talks on behalf of the domestic firm. He says: “We are aware that Rowe & Maw's construction & engineering practice is highly regarded in the UK.
“We have been looking for a top UK firm to work closely with us and believe this association is the first step towards a long and profitable relationship.”
Regan confirms both parties are discussing profit sharing.
“In so far as it is possible, making a profit out there is something we are interested in,” he says.
Local legislation forbids a combination of the firms' names.
Rowe & Maw's international regulation and EC department has won a major contract.
In the two-year deal, the firm will advise the European Commission on establishing Trips, the World Trade Organisation's initiative to co-ordinate global patent and trademark regulations.
Developing countries have until 2006 to implement the agreement.