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30 April 2020

Asia round-up: Withers grows arbitration in Hong Kong while Ashurst targets Singapore funds work

King & Wood Mallesons and Latham & Watkins also add to the roster of Asia lateral moves with M&A hires

By Ben Rigby

Portrait of Sherlin Tung

Withers recruit Sherlin Tung is former deputy counsel for the secretariat of the ICC International Court of Arbitration

Withers has hired international arbitration specialist Sherlin Tung as a partner in its Hong Kong office. Tung is a registered foreign lawyer in Hong Kong and a US qualified attorney in both California and New York. 

She has joined the firm from CMS Hasche Sigle — CMS’s German arm — and her background spans institutional experience work as deputy counsel for one of the world’s largest arbitral institutions, the secretariat of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, where she was a founding member of the New York case management team.

She also has in-house experience and worked as tribunal secretary for the distinguished arbitrator Pierre Karrer.

Tung is the latest arbitration lawyer to join the firm’s 11-partner practice, following the hires of New York lawyer Emma Lindsay from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and veteran Baker McKenzie litigator Soo Khim Keoy in Hong Kong. They both joined in 2018.

Elsewhere, the firm announced the April hire of Japanese real estate partner Toshi Tsuchiya, who joined from Orrick, together with a team of lawyers specialising in real estate investment, including acquisitions and development projects, as well as on bank finance transactions.

Earlier this month, Orrick’s 10-lawyer property team transferred to London property firm Forsters, while in March it announced it was pulling out of Hong Kong, although it said it was committed to growing in other Asia markets.

The US firm is pursuing a strategy of building its expertise around the tech & innovation, energy and infrastructure and finance sectors.

Ashurst build funds expertise in Singapore

Singapore, meanwhile, has seen a flurry of activity, with Ashurst scooping up renowned funds lawyer Danny Tan to lead the firm’s funds practice in Asia Pacific. Tan joins from national heavyweight Allen & Gledhill where he carried out a similar leadership role.

His industry nous is strong, having spent more than twenty years working for, and with, investment funds. His experience covers fund formation and restructuring, fund investments and fund regulatory matters; and he is described by his new firm as the 'go-to' advisor for fund management.

Piers Warburton, global head of investment funds, said Tan’s hire was consistent with the Ashurst’s strategy to be best in class in that field. Tan will liaise with partners in Hong Kong and Australia, with business development clearly in mind.

Patrick Phua, regional head of Asia, added: "Singapore is one of the fastest-growing asset management hubs for private investments in Asia and it is an attractive location for global investment managers and investors, including sovereign wealth funds and pension funds.”

King & Wood Mallesons and Latham & Watkins hire M&A partners

Singapore has also witnessed two senior corporate hires with King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and Latham & Watkins adding to their teams.

Jake Robson has joined KWM from Morrison & Foerster after six years at the US firm, having previously spent 15 years at Norton Rose Fulbright.

The move gives KWM instant heft in a key regional centre in Robson’s fields of fintech, financial institutions, technology and telecommunications.

Global chief executive partner Sue Kench said: “Singapore is a key market for our clients given its role as a financial hub and a gateway for investments in and out of China, Australia, South and Southeast Asia.”

KWM's office opened in 2015 and currently lists five partners and two special counsel as being based there. In September, the firm hired Singapore banking and finance partner John Shum from White & Case. 

West Coast US giant Latham & Watkins has also bolstered its Singapore corporate team having secured partner Mark Cooper from Hogan Lovells.

A Linklaters alumnus, Cooper has spent time in London, Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong; all key markets for the corporate specialist. His M&A experience has a particular focus on infrastructure, power and resources.

He joins the US firm after “five great years at Hogan Lovells, with some terrific colleagues”, according to a recent LinkedIn post.

The move builds on a corporate hiring spree across the US and Europe that saw Latham secure seven partner-level laterals in the first quarter from firms including Kirkland & Ellis, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Bird & Bird.

CMS looks to IP

Also in Singpore, CMS has hired Sheena Jacob from local firm Juris Asia, which has an association with Gowlings WLG.

Jacob, who headed the firm’s IT, privacy, and data protection team, will work alongside recently relocated life sciences partner Sarah Hanson in Singapore.

The arrivals make up for the departure of telecoms specialist Jeremy Tam from CMS’s alliance partner Holborn Law to Bird & Bird in February.

They also build on the hire of a three-lawyer team led by IP litigator Jonathan Chu from Stephenson Harwood in Hong Kong in January.

Toby Grainger, CMS’s Singapore managing partner, said: "With the demand for patent filings in the region growing year-on-year and the expansion of our IP practice in Hong Kong, we felt it was the right time to set up the new IP offering in Singapore.”

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