McDermott signals Asia reboot with hire of Squire Patton Boggs' Singapore co-head

Ignatius Hwang will initially join as a partner in London ahead of planned Singapore launch

McDermott Will & Emery has hired Squire Patton Boggs’ Singapore co-managing partner, Ignatius Hwang, as it prepares to relaunch in Asia with a Singapore office focusing on energy and infrastructure.

The move comes less than a year after the firm’s Shanghai joint venture office transferred to Chicago rival Winston & Strawn, ending its on-the-ground presence in Asia.

Hwang – who spearheaded Squire’s 2012 launch in Singapore after moving from Bryan Cave – will initially join McDermott as a partner in London; the firm is understood to have sought regulatory approval to open in the Asia Pacific hub.

He brings with him more than 30 years of experience advising governments and sponsors on public-private partnerships and developing and operating a range of energy, infrastructure and resources projects.

Hamid Yunis, managing partner of McDermott’s London office, said: “Ignatius’ proven track record of providing strategic and trusted advice to international clients makes him a fantastic addition to the firm’s energy and infrastructure team to meet a growing demand. He will play a leading role in developing our offerings in London, Singapore and Southeast Asia more broadly and complement our capabilities in other growth regions, such as India and the Middle East.”

McDermott has been investing in its renewable and conventional energy practices in recent years, including with the hire in 2019 of Los Angeles-based renewables specialist Edward Zaelke from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to become global co-head of energy and project finance.

Mike Poulos, head of strategy at McDermott, said: “Our goal is to provide outstanding service wherever our clients need it, and Singapore is strategically important to us as a thriving existing market and gateway to the Asia Pacific region for both inbound and outbound investment."

Squire, meantime, said Singapore remained a strategic growth market for the firm, with Hwang’s former co-managing partner Barry Stimpson becoming sole Singapore head. Stimpson became co-managing partner back in September having joined the firm from Reed Smith in January 2019 to help set up a global commodities and shipping group.

Earlier this month, Squire hired Eversheds Sutherland’s former arbitration co-head, Rodman Bundy, from Singapore firm Harry Elias Partnership while it hired Clifford Chance’s former Asia Pacific maritime head, Kate Sherrard, in January as part of its ongoing commodities and shipping focus.

Other firms have also been stepping up their presence in Singapore. India’s Khaitan & Co and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas have both announced plans to open in the city state this year. HFW also made its second Singapore appointment in as many months in February with the arrival of disputes partner Dan Perera from Reed Smith.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Allen & Overy announced the launch of a Los Angeles office after hiring a highly-rated six-partner US project finance and renewables team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

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