Firms count down to the ASEAN Economic Community

With the introduction of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) little over a year away, firms in the region are positioning themselves to take advantage of the opportunities a unified market will bring.

Singapore’s WongPartnership has extended its ASEAN footprint , Thailand’s Tilleke & Gibbins has expanded into Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia with plans to launch in Cambodia next year, and Malaysia’s Zicolaw has opened offices and formed associations across the region.

Now Zicolaw’s parent Zico Holdings, which is a legally separate entity to the law firm, is planning a Singapore IPO to raise cash for further ASEAN expansion.

Zicolaw managing partner Chew Seng Kok stresses that the relationship between Zico Holdings and the law firm is that of service provider and client, with the former providing management and support services and licensing services to the latter. However, Seng Kok predicts that the AEC will “accelerate domestic growth, regional trade and foreign investments, which will in turn generate demand for the regional capabilities and services of our group” – and, by extension, the law firm.

The AEC, which will allow the free movement of goods, services, investment and skilled labour as well as a freer flow of capital, will come into being at the end of 2015 and firms in the region are upping their game in anticipation of it.

To find out which firms are having the most success check out The Lawyer ’s Southeast Asia Elite, a showcase of the top firms operating in the 10 ASEAN countries, when it is published in December.

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