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03 June 2020

Milbank hires debt finance specialist from Allen & Overy to expand Hong Kong office

New York firm underlines continued commitment to Hong Kong as it raids magic circle UK rival

By Ben Edwards

Liang Tao

Liang Tao: 'Milbank's capital markets practice has an excellent reputation' Milbank

US firm Milbank has hired Liang Tao to bolster the firm’s Hong Kong office and pan-Asia capital markets offering.

Tao, who is also known as Alex, joins Milbank as partner from Allen & Overy in Hong Kong where he specialised in a range of capital markets transactions, from IPOs through to debt financing and liability management.

James Grandolfo, head of Milbank’s Hong Kong office, said: “This is an exciting development for the practice. Alex’s addition to the Milbank team is testament both to our continued commitment to the Hong Kong and Greater China markets and our ability to attract top talent. Alex will help expand our China capital markets practice, support our growing regional capital markets and M&A practices and drive further growth.”

Prior to his almost four-year spell at Allen & Overy, Tao spent nearly a decade at Davis Polk & Wardwell as counsel in the firm’s New York and Hong Kong offices. He started his legal career at Kaye Scholer in Shanghai.

Tao said: “Milbank’s capital markets practice has an excellent reputation for advising on the most innovative, high profile and complex deals in the region and I look forward to harnessing the firm’s strong US and global platform and contributing to the firm’s continued success.”

Milbank’s Asia capital markets team regularly advises sovereigns, corporates and investment banks on domestic and international debt and equity issuance, asset-backed securities and project finance across its offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.

Scott Edelman, Milbank’s chairman, said: “Alex enjoys tremendous respect in the market for his sharp legal acumen and deep sector and market knowledge. His unique experience and successful track record are well aligned with our practice strengths. His wealth of experience advising on all types of capital markets transactions will bring tremendous value to our clients.”

Hong Kong came under increased international focus last month after China’s National People’s Congress rubbed-stamped a national security law that will allow Beijing to install state security agencies in the city. 

The Hong Kong Bar Association criticised the move, which it said was not compatible with Hong Kong’s Basic Law — put in place in 1997 when the UK handed the former British territory back to China as part of the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement that is supposed to last until 2047.

Last week, A ‘liberal’ grouping of lawyers won four out of five available seats in the Law Society of Hong Kong’s council elections on a ticket to ‘fearlessly’ defend the rule of law and ‘push’ the society to adopt a similar approach.

In April, Osborne Clarke cited 'disruption and uncertainty triggered by the lengthy political protests compounded by the coronavirus pandemic' as reasons for its decision to close its two-partner Hong Kong office, while Orrick signalled its decision to close its office a month earlier.

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