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US firms Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are shutting the doors of their Singapore offices following a continued dearth of work
For Orrick the closure means the redundancy of two fee-earners and eight support staff and the termination of joint venture Orrick Rodyk, which it ran with local firm Rodyk & Davidson.
At the time of closure the office had two partners, two other fee-earners and eight support staff. Of these, project finance partner Bruce Schul-berg has joined Jones Day Reavis & Pogue's Singapore office (see story below) and the office's managing partner Marie-Anne Birken is transferring to Tokyo.
Orrick chairman and chief executive Ralph Baxter said: "The rest will be finding new jobs in Singapore and we're helping them."
Baxter added that the joint venture (JV) itself had been a success and the firms would still continue to work together on an informal basis. Helen Yeo, managing partner of Rodyk, said her firm would now look for another JV partner.
Orrick has, though, further bolstered its Japanese office with the appointment of White & Case senior associate Laurent Develle as a partner.
Simpson Thacher's closure was prompted by the decision of its managing partner Alan Brenner to return to New York.
The firm also employs one counsel and four associates in the office, who will all be transferred to the firm's Hong Kong office.
One source said that, following Brenner's decision, management decided that it made better economic sense to service Singapore clients out of the Hong Kong office.
A source at a local firm in Hong Kong said: "The US firms are having a very tough time of it. A number of other firms are currently considering their options."
News of the closures comes at the same time as CMS Cameron McKenna announced it was shutting its Beijing office, making 40 lawyers in Hong Kong redundant.