Morgan Lewis & Bockius has expanded its China practice to Hong Kong by taking nine partners from rival US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.

The team is led by Edwin Luk, former global leader of capital markets at Orrick, who also served as a member of the firm’s executive committee.

Seven of the partners are based in Hong Kong and will launch Morgan Lewis’s new Hong Kong office, while in Beijing and Shanghai the firm will add one partner each.

The seven partners joining in Hong Kong also include Maurice Hoo, who was Orrick’s co-leader of the M&A and private equity practice. Other Hong Kong based partners are June Chan, Keith Cheung, Connie Cheung, Louise Liu and Billy Wong.

The new partners in Hong Kong have formed a local firm named Luk & Partners. Morgan Lewis is in the process of filing an application to become a registered foreign law firm in Hong Kong and will seek approval to associate with Luk and Partners in accordance with the Hong Kong regulations.

Corporate partner Ning Zhang will join Morgan Lewis’s Beijing office and capital markets partner Mathew Lewis will be based in Shanghai.

The new team focuses on corporate, capital markets, mergers & acquisitions and private equity. They also cover securities regulation, ongoing regulatory compliance and debt restructuring.

“We have long recognised the importance of Hong Kong as one of the world’s principal financial centres, and we have been looking for just the right team there,” said Morgan Lewis Chair Jami McKeon.

“Adding this cohesive corporate team of partners furthers this commitment, and continues our strategic and careful growth in China,” she added.

The team hire is the latest expansion by Morgan Lewis in Asia Pacific. In September 2016, the firm took a team of five partners and 18 lawyers from Dentons’ legacy Shanghai office to launch its second base in mainland China.

This followed its merger with Singaporean firm Stamford Law in March 2015 and taking on a group of 10 lawyers and six support staff from Bingham McCutchen in Tokyo at the end of 2014 as part of it acquiring 750 lawyers and staff from Bingham globally.