Chinese firm wins race to Israel

It’s been more than a year since Israel changed its regulations to allow foreign firms to practise the law of their home jurisdiction there. The move immediately opened up the potential for foreign firms to merge with local outfits.

Well, we say ‘immediately’ but so far, few UK and US big guns have taken the plunge. Freshfields, Linklaters and Berwin Leighton Paisner all have a base in Tel Aviv, but they’re primarily liaison and relationship offices.

So, it’s a Chinese rival that has now jumped ahead to take full advantage of the market liberalisation. Beijing-headquartered Yingke has just become one of the first firms to tie up with an Israeli local in the shape of Tel Aviv-based high-tech boutique Eyal Khayat, Zolty, Neiger & Co, which has rebranded itself to Yingke Israel.

Although it’s not a full financial merger, the three-partner Israeli firm will co-operate closely with Yingke’s 20 offices in China as well as its 16 overseas offices and alliances. The move highlights the growing interest from Chinese investors in Israel’s high technology sector, a trend that has driven this tie-up between the two firms.

What’s more, the move also highlights the fact that Chinese firms such as Yingke are pursuing a different strategy to achieve their global ambitions. Unlike the global firms that have established strong presences in the developed markets, Yingke is trying to take on the world via emerging countries and the mid-cap segment of the legal market.

The firm’s overseas locations include Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Warsaw, Budapest, Istanbul and Verona. True, they’re not the typical places for the big global players, but Yingke and its foreign partners are nevertheless looking to capitalise globally. Just in a novel way.

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