Withers hires in Singapore as firm posts bumper financial growth

Chenthil Kumarasingam added to disputes roster as profit per equity partner rises 40%

Chentil Kumarasingam (centre-right) and his team

Withers has added experienced disputes partner Chenthil Kumarasingam to the firm’s Singapore office amid a significant rise in global profit.

Kumarasingam, who arrives with his team of three associates, joins the top 50 UK firm from Oon and Bazul, where he practised for more than four years.

Kumarasingam offers a broad spectrum of criminal and civil litigation skills, having previously practised at Quahe Woo & Palmer (and legacy practices) for more than six years, serving as a director, or partner-equivalent, for nearly five of them. 

Shashi Nathan, Withers’ regional head of litigation hailed Kumarasingam’s broad experience and versatility, saying he was confident Kumarasingam would be “a great fit with our firm's entrepreneurial culture and collegiate environment.”

He has also had stints at respected Singaporean firms Drew & Napier and Rajah & Tann, giving him experience at Singapore’s largest firms, as well as leading independents. Those experiences have given Kumarasingam a strong background in advocacy—he serves on professional committees for both advocacy and crime for the local Law Society—and he also assists prisoners accused of capital offences. 

His commercial practice, however, is why Withers have hired him—his mediation practice with the Singapore Mediation Centre is one reason, following the introduction of the Singapore Convention on Mediation last year.  

Kumarasingam’s mix of business-related disputes, spanning high net worth individuals to entrepreneurs and founders, as well as regional businesses, fits neatly with Withers’ own client base, while his three associates, Adeline Goh, Aaron Wong and Johnson Lim, all supplement the firm’s extensive disputes team in the Republic.

With the Lion City acting as a hub, his reach will span South East Asia—in particular, Thailand and Indonesia—and his work will focus on classic cross-border investment and joint venture disputes, company and shareholder disputes, as well as financial services litigation. Of current relevance is his insolvency practice, which will have added importance during the pandemic. 

Peter Wood, the firm’s global head of litigation, said the hire complemented the firm’s existing practice, but stressed areas of potential growth, such as white-collar fraud, regulatory, and cross-border investment matters.

He added: ”Our rapid growth in Asia has been really exciting and we will continue to build a unique practice that sets us apart,” with the firm having hired arbitration specialist, Sherlin Tung in Hong Kong, recently, although it lost two private client partners in Singapore to Mishcon de Reya in May.

Strong financial results

Kumarasingam’s hire comes as the firm reported significant increases in profit, revenue and profit per equity partner (PEP), in which dispute resolution was mentioned as having played a key part.

The firm reported a 13% increase in revenue to just under £220m, while profit was up 33% to £42m. PEP, meanwhile, saw a massive 40% jump to £501,000.

The firm’s chief executive, Margaret Robertson, said: “Going into lockdown, we had a full pipeline of work and had experienced a very good financial year thanks to investments made in the prior few years.”

She added: “Although the final three months of the year were quieter in some areas, client demand actually grew in dispute resolution, technology and estate planning and structuring,” which led to the firm’s current performance. It has hired extensively in the United States of late, including in dispute resolution, with hires in January and a two-partner move in June

However, Robertson concluded: “We are approaching next year cautiously but, as a firm focused on private capital, we find our clients are very active in volatile times and we hope that will continue to fuel our growth.”

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