International law firm Ashurst has been granted permission to form a Joint Operation Office (JOO) with Chinese firm Guantao in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone.The two firms formed a “strategic alliance” in 2008 and have been co-operating closely since then, but the JOO enables Ashurst to practise local law in China. This is the fourth JOO approved by the Chinese authorities. The first was between Baker Mckenzie and FenXun in 2015.
Founded in 1994, Guantao has expanded rapidly following recent mergers with Zhongmao Law Firm and Shenda Partners and is known for its work in capital markets, corporate and M&A, restructuring & insolvency, projects, infrastructure and energy, and international trade. It has around 600 lawyers and150 partners in 15 offices in China, as well as offices in Sydney, New York and Toronto.
London headquartered Ashurt, which has 25 offices in 15 countries, has had a presence in China for 20 years. It has acted in high-profile transactions in the region, including Itochu and CP Group’s US$10.4 billion acquisition of 20% of CITIC Limited, the largest acquisition of a Chinese state-owned enterprise by a foreign investor to date. It has expanded its presence in Asia over the last year, with the formation of a Formal Law Alliance with Singapore law firm ADTLaw in May 2017 and bolstered its Greater China finance practice, hiring restructuring and insolvency partner Damien Whitehead, and banking and finance partners Eric Tan and Daniel Lau.
Commenting, Ashurt’s managing partner, Paul Jenkins, said the development “demonstrates our full commitment to further growth in the Greater China region”.
Liguo Cui, Guantao's managing partner, said it was “confident that the JOO will bring us continued success in the domestic and international legal markets".