Wilde Sapte's Hong Kong office is collapsing following the departure of two partners and the bulk of its fee-earners.
US firm Brown & Wood has poached the head of Wilde Sapte's international banking and finance practice Balbir Bindra along with three associates and one consultant.
Equity partner Bindra, who established the banking and finance group for the firm in Asia, will join Brown & Wood as a partner. He has been with Wilde Sapte since 1991, when he joined from Lovell White Durrant.
Wilde Sapte, which merges with Denton Hall in February next year, now has 15 lawyers based in its Hong Kong office, which was founded in 1994, three of whom are partners.
UK firm Kennedys has also picked up lawyers and will use them to establish its first office in the region. Wilde Sapte insurance partner Rupert Skrine will take three assistants with him to Kennedys in February. Kennedys senior partner Nick Thomas says the firm will maintain a close relationship with its Hong Kong associate firm TS Tong. But he adds: “It will stop being our associate as of the 1 February. We are replacing them with the new office. This was a great opportunity for us to open an office in Hong Kong. We have been looking to move into there for some time.”
The departures leave the Wilde Sapte office with only support staff and a handful of assistants.
The firm is holding dialogues with them to see if they will stay. Whatever is left of the office will be merged with Denton Hall's office.
Wilde Sapte is remaining upbeat about the situation. A spokesman says: “The office is really part of Wilde Sapte's slightly inadequate international strategy whereas Denton Hall has a fairly sizeable operation.”