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Dutch firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek has unveiled plans to launch an office in Singapore this September, its fifth foreign office.
The firm is currently in the process of obtaining a licence to practise as a foreign law practice in Singapore. Unlike its other Asia office in Beijing, where it works alongside ‘best friends’ Slaughter and May and Uría Menéndez, De Brauw will operate on its own in Singapore.
The firm has named M&A partner Dieter Wolff, who will relocate from Amsterdam, as head of the new office. He will be joined in Singapore by senior associate Lennard Keijzer, who is also currently based in Amsterdam.
De Brauw’s Singapore office will mainly focus on corporate, M&A, joint ventures and arbitration.
“There’s been a lot of interest from our clients in South East Asia, therefore we want to have a presence there,” said managing partner Martijn Snoep. “We believe Singapore is the best place from where we can support our clients in the region.”
Some of the firm’s Dutch clients, such as Philips and Akzo Nobel, have established their regional headquarters in Singapore, and many other Dutch companies have growing operations in Asia.
“We have no intention to practise local law in Singapore. Our Singapore office will serve as a bridgehead to service our clients and will work side by side with leading local firms when necessary,” said Snoep.
Over the past few years, the firm has built up a close network with several top-tier Singaporean firms, including Allen & Gledhill. Snoep said Allen & Gledhill’s recent decision to end its 11-year joint law venture with Linklaters and to abort its tie-up talks with Allen & Overy (26 March 2012) will allow his firm to continue its close cooperation with Allen & Gledhill.
De Brauw will not be the only Dutch firm in the City state: rival Loyens & Loeff has had an office in Singapore for a number of years.
Loyens beefed up its Asia offering earlier this year with the launch of a Hong Kong office (6 January 2012).