CC rallies the troops for massive Asian onslaught

Strategy aims to double Asia and Australasia turnover by 2014

Malcolm Sweeting
Malcolm Sweeting

Clifford Chance’s ­management gave partners a rousing battle cry to ­pursue the firm’s conquest of the Asian market in its annual partnership ­meeting, which was held in London at the end of June.

Under the slogan ’World of Opportunity’, the strategy addressed the firm’s ambitious plans for expansion in emerging markets, notably Asia and Australasia. It calls on partners to follow clients’ businesses towards the region as part of a plan to double turnover there by 2014, bringing the figure to around 15 per cent of global revenue.

Turnover for the region stood at around £120m in 2009-10, representing some 10 per cent of global income.

The firm launched an Asia-Australasia offensive in February with the opening of two Australian offices through mergers with Chang Pistilli & Simmons in Sydney and Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe in Perth.

In May it made up 12 ­partners across the Asia offices, representing more than half of the firm’s partner promotions this year.

“Certainly we’re very ambitious in terms of our strategy in Asia,” said senior partner Malcolm Sweeting.

At the conference, held at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, partners were also told of the shift of focus towards regulatory work, corporate governance and compliance as part of the firm’s ’Sea of Change’ strategy.

South America and Africa were also on the agenda, while managing partner David Childs is understood to have spoken about the firm’s US strategy, including its approach to lateral hiring.

A major presentation on the Saturday (25 June) detailed how the firm was working together across regions to provide more ongoing compliance advice rather than just transactional work.

Sources said the focus of the two-day event was ­strategy and vision rather than firm finances and internal structures. Partners are understood to be upbeat about the firm’s position, with one partner saying it was “the best conference we’ve had in decades”. Another said partners were “fired up”.

In his keynote address, described by a partner as “brilliant”, Sweeting talked about the firm’s achievements in the past year and its plans for growth.

Although global financial figures have not been announced for 2010-11, ­revenue in Germany was up by 8 per cent, with the ­global figure expected to be ­relatively flat.