Slaughters to fight off competition for top Chinese client

Chinese companies are formalising their relationship with external advisers as more are adopting the panel system commonly used by their multinational counterparts. The latest to join the Western-inspired trend is state-owned conglomerate China Resources, which has traditionally turned to the likes of Slaughter and May and Reed Smith Richards Butler.

The panel evaluation and selection process, started at the beginning of this year, is led from the group’s headquarters in Hong Kong. The international panel follows the establishment of the company’s first domestic panel in September 2012, when a number of the large Chinese firms listed in The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150, such as Dacheng and Zhong Lun, were among a long list of panel firms.

For China Resources’ long-standing international advisers, particularly Slaughter and May with Hong Kong partner Benita Yu being a key relationship partner, winning a panel spot could be a mixed blessing. On one hand, the firm’s relationship with the group is likely to be formalised if it picks up a place, but on the other hand, it would have to share the love with many of its international competitors.

Driven by the Chinese State Council’s renewed campaign to establish stronger legal departments and formal external adviser appointment procedures in its large state-owned companies, more Chinese companies, such as China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, Sinopharm Group and China National Agricultural Development Group, have all taken the same route as China Resources.

It all just highlights why Asia continues to be the key market for most international law firms these days. Check out The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150 if you want to know more.

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