Nabarro ditches isolationism for surprise Singapore launch

Nabarro is to open in Singapore later this year in what is a strategic U-turn for the previously UK-focused firm.

Simon Johnston
Simon Johnston

The mid-market firm was granted a foreign law ­practice licence last week to open an office focused on construction, engineering and international arbitration, following in the ­footsteps of its German best friend GSK Stockmann & Kollegen, which already has a base there.

This is an unusual move for Nabarro, which ­currently has just one branded overseas base, in Brussels, although it has best-friend relationships with GSK in Germany, August & Debouzy in France and ­Nunziante Magrone in Italy.

But the firm’s senior partner Simon Johnston argued that international expansion has always been on the table.

“If you go back five years we said we’d look at emerging markets, but it’s taken us some time to get there,” he said. “We don’t put pins on the map for the sake of it. We’re very cautious. Our construction and engineering practice has become more international and clients are becoming increasingly international too.”

Construction partner Emerson Holmes is to lead the Singapore offering, which is expected to open in November. Johnston said the office would be given three years to become a “net contributor” to the profit.