Western firms are still in the early stages of figuring out how to succeed in China and anecdotal mutterings from lawyers seem to suggest that, at present, the country is a money pit, with few tapping the nation’s vast potential to any great profits success.
Now Salans has decided that its scattergun strategy of having offices in all China’s major locales isn’t working, leading it shut down its Beijing base (see story).
Salans opened its Beijing office in 2008, and according to one person at the firm, it was always a bit of a ’try it and see’ venture. The firm will now concentrate all its efforts on Shanghai. The switch comes not long after China’s top economic planning body – The National Development and Reform Commission – expressed its desire to turn the city into a global financial hub by setting new targets in terms of trading volumes in financial markets and more openness.
What Salans’ new strategy means for its Hong Kong office, however, is unclear. According to a spokesperson for the firm, no decision has been taken with regards the future of the office.
One thing is clear, however – if it was to shut Hong Kong, its lawyers there would face a hell of a commute to Shanghai.
For more on China and, crucially, how to make friends with local law practices, see feature.