Orrick targets Asia's renewable energy sector with Singapore office launch

Former Watson Farley & Williams partner to head up new venture in city state
Solar panels energy field at singapore public park with blue sky, New alternative energy from natural, Singapore

By N_Sakarin

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe has opened an office in Singapore, underlining its commitment to the Asia market following its Hong Kong exit last year. 

The new office will be helmed by Jon Thursby, a former Watson Farley & Williams partner, who is joining the San Francisco-based firm’s energy and infrastructure practice following eight months on secondment to Blueleaf Energy, a subsidiary of firm client Macquarie Capital.

Thursby, who spent seven years at Watson Farley’s Singapore office, specialises in the development and construction aspects of offshore wind and other large-scale renewables projects in the region, including notable projects like the $3bn Changfang and Xidao project in Taiwan. He will start out as the Singapore office’s sole practitioner with plans to expand the team through local hires as the firm continues to expand its Asia footprint anchored by its renewables team in Tokyo, an Orrick spokesperson told The Global Legal Post. 

The move also reunites Thursby with former Watson Farley energy colleagues Evan Stergoulis, Simon Alsey and Ravinder Sandhu, who joined Orrick in March last year in a significant boost to its London energy and infrastructure credentials. 

Blake Winburne, Orrick’s energy and infrastructure sector leader, said the decision to set up shop in Singapore was part of a strategy to broaden its offshore wind projects focus outside of Europe by looking to the US and Asia Pacific markets. 

“Capital is clearly flowing through Singapore to support the acute need for energy transition and infrastructure modernization in Southeast Asia, and we look forward to supporting our clients internationally who are focused on this growing market,” he explained. 

Orrick's entry into Singapore echoes that of McDermott Will & Emery, which in March hired Squire Patton Boggs’ Singapore co-managing partner, Ignatius Hwang, in order to open an office focusing on energy and infrastructure. Hwang transferred to London pending the firm receiving regulatory approval to open in Singapore.

Last week, Latham & Watkins also invested in energy capabilities in Singapore by picking up an energy and infrastructure partner trio from Shearman & Sterling and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Orrick closed its four-partner Hong Kong office in March 2020 after conceding defeat on its strategy of growing a technology and innovation practice in the city. The move followed months of upheaval in Hong Kong, first due to the anti-government protests and then by the spread of the coronavirus. 

Other notable departures from the city over the last five years include those of Cadwalader in 2017 and Fried Frank in 2016. 

But not everyone is calling it quits, with firms like RPC and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher hiring lateral talent to boost their benches in Hong Kong earlier this year. London-headquartered RPC brought on partner Andrea Rall from Hong Kong independent Gall to set up a local employment practice, while Gibson Dunn hired a quartet from Herbert Smith Freehills to strengthen its financial services regulatory practice in the region.

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