Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is to close its two-partner Singapore office to focus its Asia strategy on China.

As first reported on (21 September), the shock move will result in the relocation of the two partners to Hong Kong, while staff have also been offered positions there.

The move is in response to the changing patterns of demand for legal services in the region and comes less than two years after the firm shut the doors on its Bangkok office.

It is understood that the Singapore office made only a small operating profit before partner drawings.

Freshfields partner and ex-chief executive Hugh Crisp said: “China’s where the biggest demand for legal work is. Growth in our China practice has been substantial thanks to the booming IPO market and the surge in M&A activity.”

Freshfields’ Singapore exit will result in the termination of its joint venture with Singapore firm Drew & Napier. The firms are negotiating plans to continue their relationship under a new arrangement.