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28 February 2020

Clifford Chance hires Tokyo-based M&A lawyer from Skadden

Michihiro Nishi joins UK magic circle firm as a partner in its corporate practice

By Ben Edwards

Picture of Tokyo

Tokyo: senior lateral hires between international firms in Japan are relatively rare Shutterstock

Clifford Chance hires Tokyo-based M&A lawyer from Skadden

Michihiro Nishi joins as a partner in the firm’s corporate practice 

Clifford Chance has expanded its Tokyo corporate practice by hiring Michihiro Nishi from rival firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

Nishi, who joins as a partner in Clifford Chance’s Tokyo office, will help bolster the firm’s M&A team, having advised on a number of high-profile cross-border deals including Key Safety Systems on its $1.6bn acquisition of Japanese autoparts maker Takata Corporation and Nikkei on its acquisition of the Financial Times.  

Andrew Whan, Clifford Chance’s head of corporate for Asia Pacific, said: “The M&A market in Japan has witnessed sustained activity over recent years as international firms invest in the country, and as Japanese companies expand overseas, including within Asia Pacific. The addition of Michihiro shows our commitment to further developing our Japanese law capability and to investing in our regional corporate practice.”

Nishi also has extensive experience advising private equity funds and public companies on investments, corporate governance, disclosure and stock exchange matters. He advised WeWork on the Japan part of its $4.4bn investment from Softbank Group and Softbank’s Vision Fund. 

Leng-Fong Lai, Tokyo co-managing partner at Clifford Chance, said: “We are delighted Michihiro is joining our Tokyo corporate team… His strong track record working on complex, cross-border M&A transactions with public companies in particular, deepens our bench and strengthens our offering to clients.”

Nishi spent almost 12 years at Skadden, working as a counsel in the firm’s Tokyo office. Prior to that he was an attorney in Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s corporate transaction group.

Nishi said: “I have seen Clifford Chance as a market leader with a truly integrated global platform and reach. I am thrilled to be joining the firm, and I look forward to working with the team, advising clients as they navigate a time of evolution and transformation.”

Such job moves are relatively infrequent in Japan. Another major hire was back in October when corporate and M&A lawyer Isamu Inohara joined Norton Rose Fulbright’s Tokyo office as partner after just over 14 years at Morrison & Foerster.

Last month Japanese firm Nishimura & Asahi announced the opening of two offices in Germany to better serve European clients who are seeking to do business in Asia. Last year the firm also completed a merger in Thailand with SCL Law Group as part of the Tokyo-based firm’s growth plan in Southeast Asia.

In November last year, in a rare international foray for top-tier Latin American firms, Brazilian firm Pinheiro Neto opened an office in Tokyo.

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