China’s Yingke launches in Israel with local merger

Beijing-headquartered Yingke has launched in Israel through a local merger, making it one of the first foreign firms to have done so following the deregulation of the legal market.

Yingke, one of the largest firms in China, has merged with Israeli boutique firm Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co,for its first step into the jurisdiction. The local firm has rebranded itself as Yingke Israel and will co-operate closely with Yingke’s 20 offices in China as well as the firm’s 16 overseas offices and alliances. It is understood that the merger is a brand merger without full financial integration.

Yingke Israel’s managing partner Eyal Khayat, who founded the legacy Israeli firm in 2001, led the merger discussions with Yingke, which lasted for 12 months. Yingke Israel currently has three partners and five lawyers and is a highly regarded boutique firm focusing on high-technology, venture capital, corporate and M&A transactions.

According to Khayat, China’s financial resources combined with its interest in Israel, especially in the high-tech sector is an important impetus for the tie-up.

Since 2010, Chinese companies, both state-owned and private enterprises have increasingly invested in Israel’s technology sectors, either through acquiring companies or entering into joint ventures for R&D. The biggest investment was the $1.4bn acquisition of 60 per cent of MA Industries by China National Chemical Corporation in late 2011.

Khayat also noted that Yingke’s Chinese client base and expanding global network has made it more attractive than other suiters.

As the first step of integration, Yingke is looking to second Chinese lawyers to the Israel office to offer domestic companies access to Chinese legal advice on the ground, in addition to existing Israeli law capability.

Yingke’s move into Israel is made possible following recently regulatory changes to allow foreign law firms to practice the law of their home jurisdiction on the ground in Israel (6 August 2012).

The Israel launch is the latest international venture by Yingke. The Chinese giant recently expanded into Brussels and Milan (18 March 2013) via local associations. The firm’s international expansion is led by its global managing partner Mei Xiangrong and international managing partner Linda Yang.

Yingke has over 2,200 lawyers and 32 offices. Its 2012 turnover reached RMB450m (£48m).

For more the the changing legal scene in Israel read our feature, The Promising Land