Morrison Foerster adds private equity partner in China from Kirkland & Ellis

Rongjing Zhao joins as US firm’s third PE partner hire in Asia this year

Rongjing Zhao Image courtesy of Morrison Foerster

Morrison Foerster (MoFo) has bolstered its private equity offering in China with the hire of a partner from Kirkland & Ellis. 

Rongjing Zhao has joined MoFo after eight years at Kirkland and will be based in the firm’s Shanghai and Beijing offices. 

She is the third private equity partner to join the firm in Asia this year after the addition of Steven Tran and Tabitha Saw in Singapore from Mayer Brown and White & Case respectively. Her hire also replenishes MoFo’s M&A and PE ranks in China following the defection of partner Li Ruomu for Cooley in Shanghai last December. 

“Rongjing is a US-trained lawyer and Mandarin native speaker with extensive private equity M&A experience in China, Asia and the US,” said Marcia Ellis, global co-chair of Morrison Foerster’s private equity group. “Her strong technical skillset and relationships with private equity funds and leading corporations present significant opportunities and synergies for our clients in Asia and across our global platform.”

Zhao split her time between Shanghai and Hong Kong at Kirkland, where she made partner in 2018 having joined the firm four years earlier from O’Melveny & Myers. She advises private equity firms, institutional investors and corporations on complex cross-border transactions, including control deals and leveraged buyouts, M&A, growth capital investments, spin-offs and distressed M&A transactions. She primarily represents private equity funds on investments and acquisitions in China and the rest of Asia. Zhao also advises clients on take privates of US-listed companies and other US public and private company M&A transactions.

At MoFo Zhao will work alongside corporate partner Paul McKenzie, managing partner of the firm’s Beijing and Shanghai offices, and Shanghai-based Sun Chuan, who focuses on cross-border M&A. 

They work in tandem with the firm’s wider regional M&A and private equity team, which includes key practitioners like global private equity co-chair Marcia Ellis, who is based in Hong Kong and counts GLP, BlackRock and SoftBank Vision Fund as clients, and Japan M&A head Ken Siegel.  

The team is ranked Band 1 by Chambers Asia-Pacific, which noted the Singapore and China offices “continue to impress, maintaining a high-quality offering advising on M&A transactions throughout the region.” 

Zhao commented: “I was particularly attracted to MoFo by the fact that it has, on the ground in Asia, a deep talent pool and all of the practices required to support PE firms and their portfolio companies throughout the entire investment life cycle. 

“I look forward to growing my private equity and M&A practice in China and in other geographies in Asia, while working together with my colleagues across the firm’s global offices to tackle our clients’ most strategic and important transactional needs,” she added. 

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