Boss & Young launches OBOR alliance to target Chinese development strategy

Shanghai-based firm Boss & Young has initiated an international alliance in a bid to seize new opportunities promised by China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) development strategy.

Boss & Young will work together with network International Referral (IR) on the OBOR initiative. It plans to establish referral relationships with one or more leading firms from 66 countries covered by the Chinese government’s OBOR concept. The term refers to the ‘silk road economic belt’ and ‘21st century maritime silk road’ and consists of mostly developing countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Boss & Young is a Chinese member of IR and will leverage IR’s existing referral network, which already has member firms in many of the OBOR countries, such as India, Kazakhstan, Russia and Saudi Arabia. The OBOR alliance will be a loose referral programme with firms working together on a project-by-project basis.

According to IR’s business development director Ross Nicholls, there are a number of countries where IR currently lacks a member law firm, such as Myanmar, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, but it will identify suitable independent firms in these jurisdictions jointly with Boss & Young.  

Managing partner of Boss & Young Xu Guojian said the initiative was an alternative way for Chinese firms to gear up its offerings to the growing number of outbound investing clients.

“OBOR is China’s key foreign and economic development strategy. It will encourage tremendous trade and investment ties between China and many developing countries,” said Xu. “Our OBOR alliance initiative is driven by the foreseeable increase in Chinese companies’ outbound investments into developing countries.”

As part of China’s OBOR development blueprint, the country has also set up a $40bn Silk Road infrastructure fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could fund infrastructure projects and boost investment across Asia.

Xu said he believed that Chinese firms stand a good chance to play a leading role in the new wave of outgoing investment under China’s OBOR strategy, because big global firms are yet to have a presence in many of the developing countries.

Boss & Young’s move comes amidst a recent surge in internationalisation by Chinese firms, including Dacheng’s merger with Dentons (22 January 2015) and FenXun’s joint venture with Baker & McKenzie (15 April 2015).

Boss & Young currently has 166 lawyers, including 64 partners, and is among Asia Pacific’s largest 100 law firms by lawyer number (30 June 2014). Xu said the OBOR alliance is one of the firm’s efforts in building out its international business. The firm is also actively exploring other options, such as setting up a joint venture with a foreign firm in Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

“Foreign firms are highly interested in the Chinese legal market, and we are constantly talking to potential suitors and reviewing options for our next development,” Xu said.