06 Sep 2021

McDermott expands new Singapore arm with team hire from Squire

Three-lawyer corporate team climbs on board just as Squire celebrates double Asia Pacific commodities hire from HFW

Raffles Place, Singapore

Raffles Place, Singapore chanchai duangdoosan/Shutterstock

McDermott Will & Emery has secured a three-lawyer corporate team from Squire Patton Boggs in Singapore for its newly launched office just as Squire boosts its Asia Pacific commodities team with two partner hires from UK firm HFW.

McDermott's hires follow on from the launch of its Singapore office last week and see corporate partner Alfred Chia and counsel Dawn Tan and Melissa Kwek reunite with Squire’s former Singapore managing partner Ignatius Hwang, who joined McDermott earlier this year in anticipation of the firm’s debut in the city state.

Squire, meanwhile, has continued to grow the commodities and shipping practice it launched in Singapore in 2019 with partner hires from HFW in Singapore and Brisbane.

The trio joining McDermott will reside in its global transactions practice and focus on general corporate work, boosting the energy and international projects expertise offered by Hwang and recently hired energy expert Merrick White, who joined the firm from King & Spalding in July and has relocated from London.

Chia has more than two decades of experience advising on cross-border transactions across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He focuses his practice on projects, banking and finance, M&A, and blockchain and cryptocurrency matters. 

Before joining Squire in 2012, he worked as a consultant for Bryan Cave prior to its merger with UK firm Berwin Leighton Paisner and spent eight years at Herbert Smith Freehills as an associate in Perth and Singapore.

Tan handles corporate law and brings with her more than a decade of experience in cross-border transactions, while Kwek focuses on projects in the petrochemical, energy and infrastructure sectors, as well as M&A and cross-border corporate transactions. 

Michael Poulos, McDermott’s partner-in-charge of firm strategy, said the trio add “great firepower” for its international clients in Singapore’s booming financial and technology market while further strengthening its “ambitious growth strategy” in the Asia Pacific region.

McDermott’s Singapore office will focus on a variety of practices including energy and infrastructure, M&A, capital markets, technology, government investigations and arbitration and private wealth and tax. 

The launch comes a year after McDermott’s physical presence in the Asia Pacific region came to a temporary end when the firm pulled out of Shanghai after Winston & Strawn effectively took over its Shanghai office by forging an alliance with its long-term China partner. 

Squire, meanwhile, has replenished its Singapore bench with the hire of partner Ivan Chia to its commodities and shipping industry group from HFW. He is joining alongside fellow HFW commodities and shipping partner Hazel Brewer, who is moving across to its Perth office. 

A transactions specialist by trade, Chia is dual qualified in Singapore and UK law and focuses on international energy, renewables and infrastructure projects. He also has significant experience advising on the transactional aspects of onshore and offshore wind farms, ports and floating energy assets as well as other infrastructure projects across Asia. 

Barry Stimpson, Squire’s Singapore managing partner and co-head of the commodities and shipping industry group, said Chia is a “key addition” for the firm in the region. 

Brewer, meanwhile, is a disputes specialist, focusing on advising Australian miners and exporters, oil and gas producers and contractors and operators, multinationals, ASX-listed and private companies and marine industry insurers.

Squire launched its commodities and shipping practice group in November 2019 with the hire of partners Stimpson and Jessica Kenworthy in Singapore from Reed Smith.

The firm also hired a team of public international law disputes specialists in Singapore from Harry Elias Partnership earlier this year that included Eversheds Sutherland’s former global co-head of arbitration Rodman Bundy. 

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