RPC hires Ashurst's Korea co-head in Hong Kong to set up country desk

UK firm flags 'key strategic hire' as it targets work in world's 12th largest economy


London-based law firm RPC has hired the co-head of Ashurst’s Korea practice in Hong Kong to lead its newly-formed Korea desk.

Peter Kwon brings experience advising Korean financial institutions, industrial conglomerates and investment funds in major cross-border disputes, as well in securities regulatory matters.

RPC said that Kwon’s established reputation in the Korean market would support its focus on expanding its presence in the country. As head of the Korea desk he will co-ordinate the work of fellow Kong Kong- and Singapore-based partners in the country.

"Peter strong relationships with the leading Korean law firms,” said Antony Sassi, RPC Managing Partner Asia. “His addition will open up the Korean market for us and create new opportunities to work for Korean clients and Korean law firms through our referral practice across all our offices."

Managing partner James Miller described Kwon as “a key strategic hire which will not only open up new exciting opportunities with the 12th largest economy in the world, but also put us on the front foot of developing our international presence and responding to evolving market opportunities."

Although Kwon is currently the Korea desk’s sole lawyer, RPC said it has existing relationships with Korean law firms and that he will be supported by a team of partners across its Hong Kong and Singapore offices who also know the Korean market. As for the future of the Korea desk, the firm added it has ‘ambitious plans to continue to invest and grow internationally.’

Kwon’s is the latest in a string of hires RPC has made over the past few years in Asia following the 2019 exodus of the firm’s nine-strong disputes team in Singapore as well as the loss over the year prior to that of 16 lawyers in Hong Kong.

The firm now has 18 partners across its Hong Kong and Singapore offices, nine of whom have joined the partnership in the last 20 months as lateral hires and internal promotions. Among those RPC has added are Bird & Bird commercial disputes partners Boey Swee Siang, Navin Joseph Lobo and Lin Yuankai, who joined the firm in Singapore in May 2020 along with five associates, while last January saw the addition of Andrea Randall in Hong Kong from leading local independent Gall to set up a local employment practice.

Kwon said it was “an exciting time to join RPC with the firm investing heavily in its growth and adding quality lawyers,” adding that he was “thrilled to be part of the firm's journey to grow its international platform and help open up opportunities with Korean clients and working closely with likeminded law firms."

He was head of DLA Piper’s Asia financial regulatory practice prior to joining Ashurst in 2009 with a trio of associates to launch the firm’s securities and structured finance practice in Hong Kong.

Other UK firms to add partners in Hong Kong recently include HFW, which bolstered its disputes team last September with the hire of Karen Cheung from local independent Li & Partners. And earlier in the year, Linklaters made a double partner hire with the arrival of M&A lawyer Xiaoxi Lin from Kirkland & Ellis and leveraged finance expert Alessandro Nolet from White & Case.

Going the other way, Gaven Cheong left Simmons & Simmons in October to be head of investment funds at local independent law firm Tiang & Partners, which collaborates closely with PwC’s global legal services network.

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