HK Local Practices Being Built at US Firms
The growing importance of Hong Kong as not only a gateway to China and Southeast Asia, but also as a regional financial center in its own right, has compelled many foreign firms to add a Hong Kong local practice. For the last two years, Hong Kong has been the world’s leading IPO center (surpassing New York and London) and clients are increasingly seeking one firm to handle both the US and Hong Kong side of the IPO. Even General Motors was reported to have seriously considered a Hong Kong listing along with its planned NYSE/Toronto listings, only to drop the idea in part because of Hong Kong’s more restrictive listing requirements. Hong Kong is already the preferred market for international share offerings by China’s behemoth state-owned enterprises, which previously might have considered listing in Europe or the US.
Not all US firms will see an immediate need to acquire a Hong Kong practice as long as they continue to land major deals because of the participation of their US clients (mainly US-based financial institutions) in Asia-based transactions. Yet, as long as Hong Kong continues to be the world’s IPO leader and Asia continues its financial dominance, there will be pressure on foreign firms to add a Hong Kong arm to their practice.
Furthermore, a US firm adding a Hong Kong practice to an already strong US law practice is a throwing down of the gauntlet, so to speak – a signal to the more-established Magic Circle firms that they are committed to Asia and intend to be “all in” as a major regional player. In response, some British firms in Hong Kong have recently invested heavily in expanding their already strong US practice in Hong Kong, with Allen & Overy being a perfect example. Continue reading “The Asia Chronicles: BIGLAW HIRING TRENDS IN ASIA”