Reed Smith snares Richards Butler Hong Kong” />US firm Reed Smith has finally signed up the Hong Kong arm of Richards Butler nearly a whole year after merging with Richards Butler’s UK operations.

Reed Smith’s partners were informed yesterday that an agreement to merge with Richards Butler Hong Kong on 1 January 2008.

“We’ve got our deal done,” Reed Smith’s firmwide managing partner Greg Jordan told The Lawyer yesterday (18 October), “We’ve signed piles and piles of papers effecting the full merger.”

All of Richards Butler Hong Kong partners will join the global Reed Smith equity partnership. Richards Butler Hong Kong operated as a separate operation to Richards Butler UK but this agreement means the firms will be fully integrated as a financial matter.

Hong Kong partners Will Barber and Graham Winter will join Reed Smith’s executive committee and senior US partner Tom Todd, will relocate to Hong Kong as part of the integration process. Todd is the relationship partner for Bank of New York Mellon, one of the firm’s key clients that has helped drive much of Reed Smith’s international expansion. The management of the Hong Kong office is yet to be decided.

Jordan said: “We have a licence to operate in Beijing and we are seeking a licence to operate in Shanghai. Our intention is to have one of the leading operations in China.”

Richards Butler Hong Kong has long remained sceptical about the benefits of a merger with a US firm but months of negotiations have finally borne fruit. A breakthrough was reached in the summer, as first revealed in The Lawyer (16 July, 2007), once the Hong Kong partners started to see the benefits of the Reed Smith Richards Butler merger in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.