HK and China heat up

Mainland China and Hong Kong confirmed their positions as expansion hot spots over the past couple of months with a slew of international firms launching presences in the region.

US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett sparked the flurry, announcing plans to launch on China’s mainland after raiding local law firm Fangda Partners. The New York firm is gearing up to apply for a local operating licence after poaching Beijing-based M&A specialist Shaolin Luo as counsel. Chicago-headquartered Kirkland & Ellis announced similar ambitions to launch in Hong Kong during a conference just weeks later, as revealed on (29 May).

Kirkland London-based private equity partner David Eich, who is tipped to relocate to Hong Kong to head the new office, confirmed that the firm has not yet lodged its application for a local operating licence. However, this minor regulatory hurdle is not stopping the ambitious US firm from a target of having the office operational by Q4 2006 or Q1 2007.

Meanwhile, Gide Loyrette Nouel has grabbed the headlines this week with news that the French firm is to launch in Hong Kong later this month, having been granted a much sought-after operating licence – good news for Continental European rivals, but less thrilling for friends across the pond, which have not been quite as quick off the blocks in securing regulatory approval.

And Gide is not satisfied with merely a Hong Kong office. The French firm’s Turkish managing partner Guillaume Rougier-Brierre is also relocating to Beijing in August.