Salans hands control of Shanghai to Berlin partner after top-level exits

Salans has appointed Berlin partner Hermann Meller as head of its Shanghai office as the firm moves to plug the gap left by the resignation of its two remaining China partners.

The decision comes amid attempts to review the firm’s operations in China, which have been hit by the closure of its Beijing and Hong Kong office in the past months.

Shanghai managing partner Bernd-Uwe Stucken and fellow corporate partner Wei Liu – the firm’s only partners in the country – handed in their notice last week, with their destination currently unclear (6 June 2012).

A four-partner team including global board member Meller is working on plans for the practice, which could see the firm close down in China altogether, although the firm has expressed its commitment to Shanghai.

Corporate partner Meller will take over the role of chief representative of Salans and Shanghai office managing partner, the firm confirmed.

Serving alongside Meller on the China strategy group, originally set up three years ago, are Paris corporate and corporate finance lawyer John Flanigan, St Petersburg corporate and finance partner Glenn Kolleeny and London- and Warsaw-based global real estate co-chairman Eric Rosedale.

A spokesperson for the firm could not confirm whether Meller is set to transfer physically to Shanghai or run the office out of Germany. However, it said this was one of the issues that would be ironed out during the long transition period prompted by Stucken and Liu’s obligation to serve a six-month notice period.

The firm said the China strategy group had already been working on focusing the firm’s operations in the jurisdiction on Shanghai over the past year and that the four partners had “been spending considerable time” on the ground in China.

The spokesperson said: “Salans remains committed to the Chinese market and to our focus on Shanghai as our primary centre there. With our experience based on operating in Shanghai since 2003, we’re very aware of the need continually to adapt to the rapidly changing legal market and economic conditions in this region.”

Salans closed its Beijing office earlier this year (13 April 2012) and followed suit in Hong Kong soon afterwards (10 May 2012). On both occasions the firm commented that it was shifting its focus to Shanghai.