Legacy King & Wood founding partner joins domestic rival

One of legacy King & Wood’s founding partners, Bai Yanchun, has joined Beijing-based Commerce & Finance as a partner.

The move comes almost two years after Bai’s sudden departure from King & Wood at the end of 2011, which coincided with the Chinese firm’s announcement that it was merging with Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques (24 November 2011). Bai’s departure sent shock waves through the Beijing legal market as well as among the firm’s senior partners.

Sources familiar with the firm attributed Bai’s exit from King & Wood to professional disagreement with chairman Wang Junfeng over remuneration, management and the strategic direction of the firm. Wang and Bai together with a couple of other partners left Global Law Office and founded King & Wood in Beijing in 1993.

Bai is a veteran capital markets lawyer, who has advised on more than 150 IPOs and listings on stock exchanges in China and abroad. He was appointed to the listing approval committee of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) in 2008 and served a two-year term. He is also an arbitrator listed on the panel of China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).

Partners at Commerce & Finance noted that Bai joined the firm as a partner at the end of 2013 but the administration process of the transfer was only recently completed.

King & Wood Mallesons did not respond to a request for comment.