Ashurst is one step closer to a Beijing launch after recruiting a Beijing partner from Mallesons Stephen Jaques.
Patrick Phua is the third partner to walk out of Mallesons’ Beijing office prior to the firm’s tie-up with King & Wood, following John Shi and Nicolas Groffman who have joined DLA Piper (29 November 2011).
The departure of Phau means David Olsson is the only Beijing partner of Mallesons to join King & Wood Mallesons’ China partnership. The Sino-Australian tie-up went live today.
The news comes as Ashurst’s tie-up with Australian firm Blake Dawson also became effective today.
Phua, who joins Ashurst’s Australian partnership, is a banking and finance partner, with a strong focus on derivatives and structured finance. He will initially be based in the Shanghai office of Ashurst while the firm waits for the regulatory approval for its Beijing licence.
Phua, dual qualified in Australia and the UK, joined Mallesons as a partner in January 2011 from Clifford Chance’s Shanghai office, where he was a counsel. He has advised Chinese banks on outbound lending transactions and foreign financial institutions on cross-border financing transactions involving Chinese borrowers. Deal highlights include advising CVC Asia Pacific on financing arrangements for its $225m acquisition of a 29 per cent interest in Shenzhen-listed Zhuhai Zhongfu Enterprises, and advising a leading Chinese bank on its financing of Chinalco’s acquisition of shares in Rio Tinto and proposed $19.5bn investment in the Rio Tinto Group.
“Phua is a key part of our plan to build up our presence in the mainland as we’ve lodged an application for a Beijing office,” said Ashurst managing partner Simon Bromwich.
“Asia’s an absolutely key market for us and we have ambitious plans for it. There is huge momentum in the new Ashurst around the world, particularly in Asia given the tie-up with Blake Dawson.”
It is understood that Phua’s associates also plan to join Ashurst. They were relocated from Shanghai and Hong Kong to Beijing by Mallesons on the assumption that they were unlikely to leave when the combination with King & Wood went live.