A&O cuts four Hong Kong partners as regional focus shifts to Singapore

Allen & Overy (A&O) has reduced its Hong Kong partnership by four, letting the long-serving partners go after seeing a drop in demand in the market.

Following the exit of the four partners, A&O will have 21 partners in Hong Kong. According to the firm there will be no associate layoffs.

“We want to set a right balance across the region. Hong Kong has become a straight China play, while Singapore has emerged to be a more attractive regional hub, and a number of emerging markets such as Indonesia and Vietnam have become increasingly important within their own rights,” said an A&O spokesperson.

“It’s an unfortunate business decision we had to make. We fully respect these partners and wish them the best.”

The spokesperson added that it is normal to see partner turnover of 1-3 per cent each year. The firm is looking to promote five partners internally in Hong Kong in the coming years. Earlier this year, the firm elected Beijing banking lawyer Cindy Lo and corporate lawyer Vivian Yiu to the partnership in its global promotions round (30 March 2012).

In recent years, the firm has lost a number of partners to US firms, including partner Ashley Young and senior associate Douglas Murning to Kirkland & Ellis last year (9 August 2011) and seven partners to Latham & Watkins in 2008 (10 October 2008).

In Singapore, the firm is still seeking to expand following its aborted tie-up talks with local player Allen & Gledhill (28 May 2012). Elsewhere in South East Asia, the firm has recently hired Mayer Brown JSM’s Vietnam managing partner Dao Nguyen to launch two new offices in the country (24 May 2012).