LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – International firm to take top-five position in key market
International law firm Reed Smith, one of the 15 largest firms worldwide, will have a major presence in Asia through a benchmark agreement announced today with Richards Butler Hong Kong to merge as of 1 January 2008, with all of the Hong Kong partners joining the Reed Smith partnership on that date. The combined firm will have a leading practice in Greater China, with more than 110 lawyers in Hong Kong, an operation in Beijing and plans to seek a license to practice in Shanghai. Overall, with this combination, Reed Smith will have more than 1,500 lawyers worldwide and revenue in excess of $1 Billion.
The deal marks the culmination of months of negotiation and due diligence, led on the Reed Smith side by Firmwide Managing Partner Gregory B. Jordan and Director of Strategic Planning Michael B. Pollack and on the Richards Butler Hong Kong side by a team of partners in Hong Kong. The highly respected Hong Kong practice now becomes a fully-integrated part of Reed Smith and enables the firm to establish a strategic hub in this key market while providing clients of Richards Butler access to the capabilities of Reed Smith lawyers in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.
The merger transforms Reed Smith’s international platform, and consolidates synergies in both firms’ core global strengths in litigation, finance, corporate and shipping. Gregory B. Jordan remains Firmwide Managing Partner; Roger J. Parker, Managing Partner for Europe & the Middle East; and Hong Kong partners Graham Winter and Will Barber will join Reed Smith’s firmwide Executive Committee. Senior US partner Tom Todd has recently relocated to Hong Kong to help oversee the integration process, reprising his role from previous similar engagements during Reed Smith’s integration of the Warner Cranston (2001) and Richards Butler (2006) firms in London.
Currently one of the five largest law firms in Hong Kong, Richards Butler Hong Kong enjoys a leading market position having benefited from a very early entry to market, more than 25 years ago. The firm has led the way on many significant matters including advising on the first wave of Insider Dealing inquiries, successfully defending the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the highest appellate court and participating in the first Hong Kong listings of PRC enterprises. The corporate team has been involved in over 200 IPO’s. The firm established a Beijing office in the early 90’s and maintains an active Chinese practice. Upon completion of the merger, Reed Smith intends to seek a license to open an office in Shanghai.
The merger is another significant achievement for Reed Smith which has long stated its ambitions to develop a robust Far East practice. Today’s announcement marks Reed Smith’s third significant merger in the last 12 months with the addition of over 500 lawyers worldwide.
Commenting on the merger Gregory B. Jordan, Firmwide Managing Partner of Reed Smith said: “A key objective of our strategic plan has been to develop a leading presence in the commercial business centers most important to our clients. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing are clearly among those key markets. This merger gives us a leading presence in Hong Kong, an entrée into mainland China and the ability to provide the high quality services our clients need.
Chris Howse, Hong Kong Partner added: “Richards Butler Hong Kong provides a unique opportunity for Reed Smith to launch operations in Asia in a dramatic way. The guidance and insight that our lawyers on the ground can offer to Reed Smith’s clients about doing business in Asia and particularly in China is unrivalled. At the same time, our Hong Kong corporate clients and our Chinese clients who are making investments outside Asia will benefit from the international platform and capabilities that Reed Smith brings to us.”
Roger J. Parker, Managing Partner for Europe & the Middle East observed: “In a part of the world where the customs and culture are different, there is a comfort level which comes from the personal relationships we have with our Hong Kong colleagues. These close ties, together with the firm’s dominant position in the Hong Kong market and cultural integration make this merger a wonderful fit and tremendous opportunity for both our lawyers and clients.”
Michael B. Pollack, Director of Strategic Planning said: “In this one deal Reed Smith will jump to the pinnacle of legal practice in Hong Kong, with significant capabilities in Asia. This is a major breakthrough for us and a significant step forward in our international strategy. While over the last few months we have been involved in negotiations to complete this transaction, we have also begun close collaboration on key client projects.”
Bradford W. Hildebrandt, Chairman of Hildebrandt Inc., a leading consultant to the legal industry said: “Richards Butler Hong Kong is one of the top firms in one of the most dynamic legal markets in the world. With this move, Reed Smith adds a powerful position in Asia to its growing platform in the United States and Europe. It is a transformative combination.”
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is one of the 15 largest law firms in the world, with more than 1,500 lawyers in 21 offices throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Founded in 1877, the firm represents leading international businesses from Fortune 100 corporations to mid-market and emerging enterprises. Its lawyers provide litigation services in multi-jurisdictional matters and other high stake disputes, deliver regulatory counsel, and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. Reed Smith is a preeminent advisor to industries including financial services, life sciences, health care, advertising and media, shipping, international trade and commodities, real estate, manufacturing, and education. For more information, visit reedsmith.com
United States: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Princeton, Northern Virginia, Wilmington, Century City, Richmond
Europe: London, Paris, Munich, Birmingham, Greece
Middle East: Abu Dhabi, Dubai