Eversheds, Walkers launch in Singapore

Singapore’s legal market is set to welcome two new law firms, with Eversheds and ­offshore firm ­Walkers both launching new offices in the country.

Singapore’s legal market is set to welcome two new law firms, with Eversheds and ­offshore firm Walkers both launching new offices in the country. Eversheds has opened with the hire of DLA Piper’s former Singapore managing director Desmond Ong.

Ong said: “We’re already involved in many international transactions with Eversheds’ global clients Brady, Motorola and Rolls-Royce.”

The office will open with six lawyers. Bryan Hughes, chief executive designate of Eversheds, said: “Our Singapore office will become a hub for Eversheds and our clients in South East Asia.”

Meanwhile, Walkers has moved John Rogers to its new Singapore base from Hong Kong. Rogers, a former Clifford Chance lawyer, was Walkers’ first finance lawyer in the Hong Kong office when it opened in 2003. He will be responsible for the finance team in Singapore.

Global managing partner Grant Stein said the move was a “logical step” in the firm’s global expansion plans and would respond to a growing demand from the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands (BVI) for legal and corporate services in Singapore.

Stein added: “Singapore has enjoyed excellent growth in recent years and we have no doubt it will ­continue to do so in the future, despite more difficult current conditions.”

Rogers commented: ­“Singapore’s position as a key South East Asian hub for many international law firms and financial institutions will provide an excellent ­platform for growth in Singapore and India. With the new office, Walkers is affirming its long-term ­commitment to the region.”

He will be joined by Ashley Gunning, who will be responsible for the ­corporate and investments funds group.

“As our clients move into a more complicated economic environment, we believe we can be of more value to our clients by being on the ground,” said Gunning.

According to Rogers, Asia demonstrated its economic buoyancy when it shrugged off the economic impact of the deadly Sars virus in 2003. “We’ve seen the resilience of the Asia markets,” he stated.

The Singapore office will be a hub from which ­Walkers intends to target a range of work emerging from Asia, including private equity and banking work from India and project and banking financing work coming out of Indonesia.

The move is a significant boost to Walkers, which has concentrated on growing its Asia business throughout 2008. Last year it made a number of key lateral hires, including the strategic appointment of private equity financing partner Everton Robertson, who joined the firm from Maples and Calder.

Rogers explained that the firm had set up in Hong Kong with two lawyers five years ago. It has since grown to house a 20-lawyer team. “We’d like to see Singapore grow at the same pace,” he insisted.

Singapore has become increasingly popular as an offshore destination.

Bermuda-headquartered Conyers Dill & Pearman was the first to open in Singapore, in October 2001. It was the sole ­offshore firm in the ­country until Isle of Man-headquartered Cains opened there in July 2008 (The Lawyer, 21 July 2008). Offshore firms are in expansionist mood. Conyers, for example, launched its first office in Brazil last December.