By Richard Tyler. The Asian crisis has forced Clifford Chance to bring the head of its Singapore corporate finance practice and two associates back to London.
David Eatough and the two corporate finance associates have returned to London, leaving Clifford Chance with 22 lawyers in Singapore.
Sam Bonifant, senior partner in Singapore, said if given the choice he would have preferred to keep Eatough in Singapore. He added that the two associates were scheduled to return to London but were not replaced because Singapore-based corporate finance work had been badly hit.
He said: “In the short term it's a sensible re-allocation of resources. It doesn't mean we can't recall them.”
Hong Kong has not escaped the drought in new funding work, although City firms report they have not yet been forced to recall any corporate finance specialists back to London.
David Mullarkey, managing partner of Linklaters' Hong Kong office, said: “The worrying thing is that what is happening here is happening in other markets. It's not a question of moving lawyers around to another market – the risk is global. It's frightening the life out of bankers.”
Last month, US firm Chadbourne & Parke closed its Singapore office and moved its lawyers to Hong Kong. But some City firms like Lovell White Durrant and Freshfields are actively expanding despite the slump.