Salans left with no China partners after Shanghai departures

Salans has been hit by the loss of a high-level Shanghai duo in a move that leaves the firm without any partners in its dwindling Chinese practice.

The firm has confirmed that it received resignations from office managing partner Bernd-Uwe Stucken and fellow Shanghai corporate partner Wei Liu in the middle of last week, although their destination is currently unclear.

The duo’s decision to quit will be another blow for the firm, which declared its intention to focus on Shanghai after it closed in Hong Kong last month (10 May 2012), with that news coming on the back of a Beijing closure in April (13 April 2012).

Salans has reacted to the latest development by setting up a focus group of partners reviewing the firm’s options in China. The restructuring may see the firm close or scale back its operations in the country, with the resignations leaving it with a managing counsel, a counsel, three of counsel and nine associates in the city, according to the firm’s website. Stucken and Liu were the only partners in the office. None of these remaining staff are thought to have resigned.

A Salans spokesperson said it would be “premature” to speculate about the firm’s options for China but said: “We’re still committed to China and we think that Shanghai should be our focus in that area.”

It is thought that closing down in Shanghai is one of the options for the focus group, with other possibilities including a tie-up with a local firm. It had a similar arrangement in Hong Kong before the closure, where the firm entered into an association with Pang & Co in 2009.

Salans is understood to have held merger talks this year with SNR Denton, which hosts offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, as well as Singapore (14 February 2012).