Kirkland & Ellis is to open in Shanghai in November to create its second Asia office.
Corporate partner XY Li, formerly of Jun He Law Offices in Beijing and King & Wood, will relocate from Hong Kong to lead the launch. He will be joined by fellow corporate partner Chuan Li.
The move is a significant one for the Chicago-headquartered firm, which has a conservative approach to international expansion.
Its Hong Kong office was opened three years ago on the back of its private equity business. Since then the firm has acted on Asia investments for a raft of private equity houses, including Bain Capital, Oaktree Capital, Golden Gate Capital, GTCR, Silver Lake Partners and Sun Capital.
Kirkland’s move will be seen in its wider context of increasing opportunities for foreign investors into China, with several recent launches of renminbi (RMB) demoninated funds. Earlier this year Blackstone formed its first RMB regional private equity fund in Shanghai.
Hong Kong private equity partner David Patrick Eich told The Lawyer: “China is a complex place in which to do a deal. Boots on the ground are critical.
“It’s pretty simple: we follow our clients, they’re investing heavily in China, and Shanghai is the financial capital of China.”