Ashurst's Singapore ally snaps up M&A team from Allen & Gledhill

Team lead Tao Koon Chiam joins ADTLaw as head of M&A for Southeast Asia alongside two other partners and a counsel

(l-r) Xiaozheng Ko, Yi Ming Choo, Tao Koon Chiam, George Kho Image courtesy of Ashurst

Ashurst’s Singapore ally ADTLaw has hired a senior M&A team from local powerhouse Allen & Gledhill. 

The team is led by partner Tao Koon Chiam, who has joined the firm as head of M&A for Southeast Asia. Partners Xiaozheng Ko and Yi Ming Choo have moved over with him alongside counsel George Kho. 

Ashurst described the hires as a ‘key milestone’ in its strategy to become a leading international firm for M&A transactions in Asia. 

Chiam brings almost 20 years’ experience as a lawyer and entrepreneur to his new firm. His practice covers M&A, joint ventures and corporate restructuring with a particular focus on deal structuring and execution for cross-border private equity transactions. He spent almost 15 years at Allen & Gledhill and served as co-head of the firm’s venture capital practice.   

Ko acts for private equity funds on transactions throughout Southeast Asia and across industry sectors, including financial services, digital economy, projects and infrastructure. He joined Allen & Gledhill in 2011 shortly after graduating from the National University of Singapore. 

Choo, meanwhile, focuses on M&A for sovereign wealth funds and large cap corporates in joint ventures and acquisitions of targets with an emphasis on real estate platforms. She became a partner at Allen & Gledhill in 2020 having joined the firm in 2013 from a role as a clerk at the Supreme Court of Singapore. 

Kho is a counsel for high growth startups and venture capital transactions across industry sectors including food & beverage, education, healthcare, insurance and construction. He joined Allen & Gledhill eight years ago at the start of his professional career. 

Ashurst's Asia regional head, Jini Lee, said the new arrivals’ combined technical expertise and client relationships and would “greatly strengthen” one of the firm’s strategic areas of growth for its Southeast Asia practice. 

“These new hires bring a wealth of experience to the firm, with a track record of building and growing a practice. They significantly expand our capabilities and enable us to capitalise on the opportunities in the market," she added. 

The team's arrival comes off the back of record results for Ashurst for the 2020/21 financial year, when, buoyed like its peers by a record deal market, the firm grew revenue 12% to £798m and upped PEP by 13% to 1,175k. 

The firm said at the time that more than 85% of its work is now carried out in its five key industry sectors: banks and private capital; real estate; infrastructure; energy and resources; and the digital economy.  

The firm highlighted the UK, Australia and Continental Europe as regions recording strong performances but has been adding partners across Asia in support of its growth in the region. Among them was Yan Yuan, who specialises in complex cross-border M&A transactions and joined the firm in Shanghai in June from Clifford Chance. 

Earlier this month, the firm added Tom Wilson to its international projects group in Tokyo from the Asian Development Bank’s public-private projects group, having hired dispute resolution partner Alexander Dmitrenko in the city earlier this year from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. 

And it hired Jessica Li, whose practice focuses on debt capital markets in Greater China, from Allen & Overy at the end of last year in Hong Kong.

The arrival of the team in Singapore brings ADTLaw’s lawyer headcount to 14, according to its website. Chiam, Ko and Choo have joined the firm as directors and will become partners following regulatory approval, while Kho has joined as an associate director and will become counsel following regulatory approval.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]