Welsh practice wins work on Taiwanese inward investment

UK lawyers are continuing to win work advising Asian inward investors, despite the Asian financial crisis.

Welsh firm Morgan Bruce has been appointed to advise Taiwanese computer peripherals manufacturer Acer on buying a factory site in Cardiff.

Morgan Bruce's property partner Robert James, who is leading his firm's team, said the practice won the appointment after an informal presentation to Acer's Taiwanese representatives in London. A City firm and another Welsh firm also took part in the beauty parade.

James acknowledged that inward investment would slow down as a result of the Asian crisis. But he added: 'Taiwan has been the most stable of all the Asian countries over the past three months.'

Wales was in competition with the north east of England and the Netherlands to win Acer's planned factory said to cost £25m and create 1,000 new jobs. It will manufacture parts for computers such as monitors and mice.

The Welsh Development Agency provided a grant and land in Wentloog, Cardiff for Acer to buy.

Morgan Bruce is the founder of the Association of European Lawyers, in which five UK practices have associations with European ones.

The firm was able to use the Brussels expertise of Dutch firm Nauta Dutilh and Lafili van Crombrugghe to confirm that the Welsh Agency's grant would not constitute state aid under EU law.

Acer is carrying out the legal work on the construction contracts for the factory in-house although James said: 'We will be keeping an informal watching brief on the construction project.'

He said that Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean companies tended not to instruct outside lawyers on foreign construction projects, preferring to work in-house.

On the construction side, he said: 'It's a case of reminding them that we're here if they have any problems.'

Morgan Bruce's head of construction, partner Jeremy Williams, and solicitors Simon Nichols, of the European Group, and commercial property assistant Paula Bowen also advised on the project.

The Welsh Development Agency was advised by Eversheds' Cardiff office.

See issue, page 9.