Dacheng becomes Chinese pioneer with Moscow office

Chinese giant Dacheng has opened a branch office in Moscow, making it one of the first Asian firms to have a base in Russia.

Dacheng’s Moscow office is registered as a limited liability company (LLC) under the name of Dacheng Moscow. The office is led by Russian-speaking Chinese lawyer Cai Jiefeng.

Prior to joining Dacheng’s Beijing office in 2009, Cai worked as an in-house counsel in the “Baltic Pearl” property development company, a €1.3bn (£1.1bn) investment by the Shanghai Industry Group in St Petersburg. He also previously served as a diplomat in the Chinese Embassy in Russia.

The Chinese firm’s Russian expansion is led by senior partner Xu Yongqian, who is the deputy chair of the firm’s management committee. Xu will also spend time in Moscow assisting Chinese clients on their ventures in Russia.

Dacheng’s Moscow office will initially be staffed by two lawyers, but in time, the firm wants to expand to have around 20 lawyers and staff with both local hires and relocations. ”We intend to grow the office to a good size and have the capability to provide local law advice and execute transactions and projects on our own,” said Cai.

But piror to reaching the critical mass, the office will operate in close cooperation with mid-sized Russian firm Lidings, which has 25 fee-earners and offices in Moscow and St Petersburg. Dacheng also appointed Lidings to provide it with market-entry advice and assistance. Lidings’ head of dispute resolution Andrey Zelenin is the key relationship partner with Dacheng.

According to Zelenin, both firms will remain independent but will collaborate more closely on client work as Chinese investments into Russia continues to grow.

“There has been great interest from Chinese companies wanting to expand their business to Russia and we’ve already worked with Dacheng on several such projects. Dacheng’s opening in Moscow will increase its exposure in the market and will help further strengthen our relationship,” said Zelenin. He added that the relationship is non-exclusive and Lidings will continue to work with other Chinese firms such as King & Wood Mallesons and Zhong Lun.

Examples of joint work done by Dacheng and Lidings include advising Lifan Motors on setting up a joint venture car manufacturing plant in Cherkessk and representing four Chinese textile companies in a debt collection claim in a Russian court.

The Moscow office will be Dacheng’s eighth branch overseas and 48th firmwide. According to The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150, Dacheng is the region’s second largest independent firm with around 2,200 lawyers in 2012.

With increasing investment from Asia into Russia, the interest from Asian firms to expand into Russia is also growing. Apart from China’s Dacheng, Korean firm Yulchon also plans to open a branch office in Russia soon.