Cameron McKenna is sending two insolvency partners to its Hong Kong office to build its first insolvency practice in the region in the wake of the Asian financial collapse.
Partner David Kidd, who has advised on the administration of Polly Peck, will head the practice. Dan Hamilton will join him for three months to help gather clients before returning to London.
Although Clifford Chance sent partner Mark Hyde to Hong Kong to handle the Peregrine administration, and Lovell White Durrant last week sent insolvency partner Richard Shean to Singapore on a temporary basis (see page 3), Camerons is believed to be the first foreign firm to deliberately start an insolvency practice in the region following the crisis.
Hamilton said the aim was to hire local Chinese assistants and send some assistants out from London later in the year as the workload built up.
“From the research we have done we have little doubt the work will start flowing,” he said. “There are problems in the Hong Kong domestic market itself. There are lots of banks based in Hong Kong dealing with failures who can benefit from the experience we've had in the UK's 1989 recession.”
The Hong Kong office, set up by McKenna & Co, and run in association with Australian firm Minter Ellison, currently has five partners and 17 other fee earners dealing in corporate, major projects, banking, litigation, intellectual property, construction and conveyancing.
Hamilton said there were no plans “at the moment” to return anyone from Hong Kong, despite the downturn. He said the existing construction team would be able to help in any construction disputes that arose out of the crisis.