MoFo to reopen in Singapore after three-year break

Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) has obtained a foreign law practice license for its relaunch in Singapore, with the firm set to return to the city state after a three-year hiatus.

MoFo plans to relocate two partners from its Tokyo office, Eric Piesner and Eric Roose, to spearhead the opening. Two to three associates from the firm’s other offices will join the two partners. Piesner, who has recently been promoted to Asia managing partner, will head the office.

The new base, which is expected to open within the next four months, will initially focus on corporate, M&A, private equity, fund formation, real estate and tax. The firm intends to add dispute resolution, project finance and energy and resources practices shortly after its launch with more internal transfers.

“It was a difficult decision to close the Singapore office in 2009, but it was never our intention to turn our back on the market permanently,” said Piesner. MoFo’s former Singapore office was staffed with one partner and a few associates.

“It’s the right time to return to Singapore, as it’s stepped up to be a more important regional hub for financial and legal services after the financial crisis. Our clients from other parts of the world are also increasingly active in Singapore and South East Asia. We’re bullish that Singapore will continue to grow and become a major global financial centre. We’re also committed to grow in Singapore.”

Piesner is also head of MoFo’s Asia real estate practice and global co-chair of the practice. Most recently, Piesner led a team that acted for Singapore-based Global Logistic Properties in its $1.6bn joint venture with China Investment Corporation for the acquisition of 15 logistics properties in Japan from a fund managed by LaSalle Investment Management.

According to Piesner, the firm will start making lateral hires once the office is open and will keep an open mind on the possibility of applying for a Qualified Foreign Law Practice licence.

MoFo is the second major international firm to relaunch in Singapore, following Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which reopened a base there in September (12 September 2012).