Clifford Chance names women as new managing partners of Singapore and Luxembourg offices

Firm veteran Valerie Kong named next leader in Singapore as corporate partner Katia Gauzès takes the helm in Luxembourg

Katia Gauzès(l) and Valerie Kong Images courtesy of Clifford chance

Clifford Chance (CC) has elected two women to lead its offices in Singapore and Luxembourg following a wider leadership shakeup conducted by the firm’s global managing partner, Charles Adams.  

The Magic Circle UK firm said today that M&A and corporate partner Valerie Kong will take over leadership of the Singapore office on 1 October while fellow M&A and corporate partner Katia Gauzès has been made the new managing partner in Luxembourg. 

The appointment of women in roles previously held by men is notable and reflects the ongoing drive by leading UK law firms to improve the proportion of women in their senior ranks.

Kong is a CC veteran of more than 20 years and has spent her entire career with the firm. She specialises in advising financial investors and multinational corporations on their minority investments and majority acquisitions across Southeast Asia, as well as portfolio divestments and strategic joint ventures. She has already held a number of leadership roles at Clifford Chance, including in the partner selection group and the Asia Pacific leadership group. 

Kong succeeds Kai-Niklas Schneider, who has led the Singapore office since 2016. The firm said he will focus on his funds practice and his financial investors role on the firm's top decision body, the executive leadership group, upon stepping down. 

Adams said, "I am confident [Kong’s] leadership experience and market knowledge will pave the way for the firm's continued success across Southeast Asia. 

“I also want to thank Kai for his excellent work as office head and look forward to his continued insight on our global leadership team as revenue from financial investors has nearly doubled over the last seven years," he added. 

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Meantime Gauzès has taken over from Steve Jacoby, who was promoted to regional managing partner for Continental Europe earlier this year after Adams, its previous incumbent, became global managing partner. 

Gauzès advises clients from the private equity and real estate industry on the structuring of complex international transactions, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions as well as the reorganisation and setting up of various company structures and joint ventures in Luxembourg. She joined CC as a partner in 2016 from Luxembourgish law firm Arendt & Medernach. 

Gauzès said: "The Luxembourg office has been growing steadily, attracting diverse talents across all our practices. Our Luxembourg team plays a key role on a local, European and global level, advising our clients on their most critical and complex cross-border matters."

Kong's and Gauzès' appointments follows CC electing two women – London partner Emma Matebalavu and New York partner Sarah Jones – to lead its core financial markets and corporate groups respectively in July. Matebalavu replaced Rob Lee and Jones replaced Guy Norman after the completion of their second terms in the roles. 

At the same time CC also created two new roles – clients, markets and products partner and global operations and business transformation partner – to hone in on the firm’s ‘priorities of growth and operational excellence’. Singapore partner Nicholas Wong and London partner Jessica Littlewood were appointed to these roles respectively. 

Adams, who officially began his term in May, said at the time the appointments were “critical” to the advancement of the firm’s strategic plans to continue growth in the Americas, Europe and across the financial investors segment. 

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