Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has opened its first office in Myanmar and appointed Baker & McKenzie’s former Yangon managing partner Chris Hughes to head up the expansion.
The new opening means the firm will now have a flag planted in 12 countries despite having operated in Myanmar since last year when local firm Legal Network Consultants (LNC) joined its Asia Network. BLP’s relationship with LNC will continue despite the office opening.
BLP head of Asia Bob Charlton said: “The legal market is in growth mode in Myanmar and this provides great opportunities for BLP in a country which is now opening up to increased international investment into infrastructure, real estate, telecommunications and transport to name a few.
“By opening here, we’ll be able to provide world class legal services, helping the development and transition of Myanmar. Feedback from our existing clients in Myanmar, as well as prospective clients across the wider region, shows it’s the right time to have a physical presence in the country.”
Hughes is a corporate lawyer specialising in transactional work in emerging markets. His background includes M&A activity, finance deals and projects work across the energy and infrastructure, power, telecommunications and consumer goods sectors. Chris also acted as the lead draftsman on the Myanmar Company Law reform process.
Bakers launched in Myanmar in early 2014, and earlier this year hired Grant Thornton’s local managing partner Ola Nicolai Borge and senior associate U Than Maung from local firm Kelvin Chia Partnership to bolster its ranks there.
The majority of foreign firms in the country are regional players from jurisdictions such as Singapore, with others present including Allen & Gledhill, WongPartnership and Japan’s Mori Hamada & Matsumoto.
Last month BLP lost two partners in Singapore when finance partner Tahirah Ara and office managing partner Alistair Duffield left the firm. Ara left to join to Withers while it is understood that Duffield is currently exploring other opportunities.
However, in Europe BLP boosted its Berlin office through the hire of six real estate and infrastructure lawyers. The team included partners Norbert Impelmann and Albrecht von Breitenbuch from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.
The move coincides with Myanmar’s landmark election which has seen victory for the National League for Democracy party, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and an end to half a century of military rule in the country.