Change in rules lets Canadian firm snap up Hong Kong practice

CANADIAN firm Stikeman Elliott has taken over Hong Kong law firm Shum & Co following changes in Hong Kong's rules permitting foreign firms to employ local lawyers.

Shum & Co has adopted the Stikeman name and Stikeman partner Calin Rovinescu says it “has a similar philosophy which is entrepreneurial and with a view to building up something from scratch”.

It is the Canadian firm's first foray into local practice as well as being its first merger with another firm. Rovinescu says the two firms have worked together for four years on various transactions but formally associated two years ago.

“It was a bit of a test case, a courtship to see if the relationship would work out well. We knew the changes were coming and wanted to establish a relationship with a firm,” he says.

The merger would give Stikeman Elliott a “much greater capacity to staff bigger transactions in Asia instead of having to bring over people from North America, particularly in project finance and securities offerings,” he says.

Rovinescu says the firm had “hand-picked” lawyers for Shum & Co during their formal association. “We fed the firm with people we liked as we are constantly on the look out for people who are good in Asia.”

The 300-lawyer firm has seven offices outside Canada.