Offshore firm Appleby prepares for Shanghai launch

Appleby is set to become the second offshore firm in mainland China when it opens a Shanghai office on 2 April this year.

The offshore giant is kicking off its People’s Republic of China (PRC) office with fiduciary and administration services.

Group chairman Peter Bubenzer told The Lawyer the firm would monitor the development of business before making a decision on whether or not to apply for a licence to add legal services, but this was “quite possible”.

The move follows last year’s announcement by Channel Islands firm Ogier that it was becoming the first offshore outfit to launch in mainland China (4 July 2011).

The Shanghai office will work closely with Appleby’s existing Hong Kong office, which opened in 1990 and includes both legal and fiduciary services.

As today’s annual offshore survey reveals, Asia is a key region for the entire offshore market with Hong Kong, Singapore and China all increasing sources of work.

Bubenzer said the continuing growth of the Chinese economy means that establishing itself on the ground in the PRC was a key focus for Appleby.

“We expect that others will join us in Shanghai,” he said. “China’s a huge market and it would be astonishing if they didn’t see opportunities there.”

Bubenzer added that Shanghai had been chosen over the Chinese capital Beijing for its profile in financial services.

“We did consider Beijing, but more of the financial work that we’ve been seeing has been coming through Shanghai and as a result it seemed logical to follow by going there,” he said.

For more on offshore, see our annual offshore survey.