Asia restructuring sees Freshfields ditch Singapore for China offensive

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has finally closed its Singapore office, relocating the last two partners to its Hong Kong operation.

As first reported by The Lawyer (25 September 2006), the firm decided to close its Singapore office to focus on China. The changes follow the shock departure last week of the firm’s China head Douglas Markel to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to launch its Beijing office.

Freshfields is parachuting into Hong Kong the two remaining partners from the Singapore office, Bruce Cooper and Yeelong Tan, who are both finance specialists. The firm is also promoting Hong Kong-based asset finance partner Paul Ng into the partnership.

Hong Kong managing partner and finance head Clive Rough said: “We plan on further strengthening the practice in the near future.”

Freshfields’ Singapore exit will result in the termination of its joint venture with local firm Drew & Napier.

Freshfields has reassessed its Asia practices, which were a big focus of the firmwide restructuring undertaken in the past year. The firm recently relocated corporate partner James Wood from London to Tokyo to spearhead renewed M&A activity in Japan.