The first Chinese-owned law firm is about to open in London, the FT reports.
YangTze Law is wanting to help Chinese investors looking to invest in Europe and the UK and is part of a 40-strong law firm network with over 3000 lawyers in China. But the firm will now have access to UK lawyers and is operating under the UK’s ‘alternative business structure’ model permitted under its deregulated legal environment.
The move comes as more international law firms are seeking to advise Chinese companies on real estate deals and mergers and acquisitions in the west. Many Chinese companies do not have close ties with foreign law firms, but are looking to invest abroad.
For now, YangTze Law is starting small, with an office by Chancery Lane.
“When we get strong support from the investors in China, then the office will grow,” said Steve Ng, one of the founders of YangTze Law. “We can also make London more readily understandable to Chinese, who might find themselves here in London for the first time in their life. So building up friendship and trust — when there’s trust, there’ll be more investment.”
YangTze Law is not the only law firm from the region in London. King & Wood Mallesons, a law firm with 11 offices in China, acquired the British firm SJ Berwin in November 2013, creating a 2,700-lawyer operation. King & Wood was the first from China to merge with a sizeable western firm when it joined forces with Australia’s Mallesons in 2011.
Dentons, one of the world’s largest law firms by number of lawyers, is awaiting regulatory approval to merge with Dacheng, the biggest firm in China. The combination would create a firm with more than 6,000 lawyers, the largest in the world.
Elliott Portnoy, global chief executive of Dentons, has said the tie-up would give clients of the 44 offices of Dacheng access to their extensive network of lawyers in the rest of the world.
Baker & McKenzie, one of the other biggest global firms, has focused on giving its clients access to Chinese legal advice through a joint operation with FenXun Partners.
Read more at The Financial Times