Milbank builds M&A offering in South Korea with addition of quartet from Dechert

Hong Kong office head moves over to lead effort in Seoul along with a special counsel and two associates
Gangnam square,South Korea

By CJ Nattanai: South Korea

Milbank has expanded its focus in Seoul with the addition of an M&A specialist from Dechert to lead its office there along with three other lawyers.

David Cho served as Dechert’s Asia co-managing partner and head of its Hong Kong office before joining Milbank along with special counsel Spencer Park and associates Amos Yu and Susan Yoon.

The firm said he was temporarily based in Los Angeles, but would 'ultimately' move to the firm's Seoul’s office, assuming the role of office managing partner.

Cho’s practice focuses on M&A, corporate finance and capital market transactions including public offerings registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Rule 144A offerings and regulation.

“David is a leading M&A attorney, so it definitely means that we are expanding beyond our focus on traditional project finance and energy in Korea,” said David Zemans, managing partner of Milbank Asia. “His connections and relationships are very deep in Korea and will generate significant M&A opportunities for us there with major Korean companies and private equity players looking to invest in Korea.”

Cho represents clients across a range of industries including private equity, technology, life sciences, manufacturing and energy. He has advised on a number of high-profile transactions for Korean companies, including OCI Resources’ IPO in New York in 2013 and SK hynix’s $18bn acquisition of Toshiba’s memory chip business in 2018.

“The Korean market has always been an important part of Milbank’s practices and strategy in Asia, and with the addition of David, we expect it to become even more important and provide us with significant opportunities for inbound and outbound mergers and acquisitions and other opportunities,” added Zemans.

Cho joined Dechert in 2012 from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he was a partner, and earlier served as an associate in the Hong Kong offices of Debevoise & Plimpton and Skadden Arps Slate and Meagher & Flom.

“Milbank is known for its global reach and seamless service to multinational clients,” Cho said in a statement. “I look forward to expanding my practice and working closely with attorneys across the company’s offices and practice areas on innovative cross-border transactions. I also look forward to returning to Seoul, which will allow me to work closely with my clients.”

The arrival of the quartet from Dechert has boosted the Seoul office’s lawyer headcount to six, including four partners. Cho will take over as head of Milbank’s Seoul office from David Gartside, who joined the firm in 2019 from Sidley Austin and will continue to lead its project financing and energy practices in Seoul.

The move follows Milbank adding the co-heads of Clifford Chance’s Asia Pacific private equity practice along with Linklaters’ global head of banking in Hong Kong last March as it sought to build its M&A, private equity and leveraged finance business in Asia.

Last year, Clifford Chance closed its Seoul office, nine years after having become one of the first international law firms to set up shop in South Korea. The UK Magic Circle firm said the decision had followed a detailed review of the office which led to a decision to ‘unwind’ its operations. 


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