Addleshaws to shutter Hong Kong office as DWF enters city with new alliance

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By Aishah Hussain in Hong Kong on


One out, one in 🇭🇰

Hong Kong

Addleshaw Goddard (AG) is to close its Hong Kong office later this year and will adopt a ‘best friend’ approach going forward.

The UK-headquartered firm’s office in Hong Kong will close in September upon expiry of its lease.

AG has been operating from the city-state since 2012 where it now has a total headcount of 36 staff made of seven partners, 20 solicitors and nine business-services professionals. A number of partners and solicitors, including trainees, will be moving to Howse Williams.

The firm said in a statement today that its immediate focus is to support its staff and help them find a new home, with some possibly relocating to nearby Singapore, which it plans to bolster as its key presence in Asia, Dubai or London.

Addleshaw Goddard managing partner, John Joyce, said:

“No firm likes to withdraw from jurisdictions which it has previously identified as important to it, but having carefully considered our position in Hong Kong and the unique set of challenges we face there, we do not feel that renewing our lease, whilst continuing to hope for a dramatic change in outlook, is something we can economically justify.

“Reluctantly, we therefore believe that now, with a lease event upon us, is the right time to make a change.”

Joyce continued: “Today’s news does not change our desire to invest and grow in the markets and sectors that are important to our clients. A clear Asia strategy remains a key requirement for our business and we will revert to a ‘best friend’ approach going forward in order to serve client needs in Hong Kong. We continue in Singapore and will look to build out that office as our key presence for Asia.”

AG has recently expanded in Europe, opening offices in Luxembourg, France and Germany. It merged with Irish law firm Eugene F Collins in March this year.

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As AG looks to close its doors in Hong Kong, fellow UK-headquartered law firm DWF has announced an affiliation agreement with Hauzen, a five-partner specialist firm founded just five years ago and advises clients in the Hong Kong financial markets.

DWF entered into an agreement with Eldan Law in Singapore last year. The move aims to complement this agreement and strengthen DWF’s presence in Asia.

DWF chief executive, Sir Nigel Knowles, said: “We are continuing to build out our international footprint, with the latest agreement signed with Hauzen in Hong Kong. This is a key global financial centre and we see a clear opportunity to increase activity focused on areas where we have sector strength, but without overcommitting operationally.

Sir Nigel continued: “This will strengthen our offering to our global clients with interests in China and Hong Kong, whilst also improving our ability to directly support Chinese clients. We have been assessing this market for some time and believe that Hauzen represent an excellent strategic and cultural fit with DWF.”

Hauzen founder and managing partner, Basil Hwang, who was formerly founder and managing partner of Dechert‘s Hong Kong office, added: “We are delighted to have reached an affiliation agreement with DWF and believe this move will allow us to strengthen existing client relationships and develop new ones. It is a reflection of how far we’ve come since we founded this firm just five years ago and it is a big step forward for us as we seek to grow and globalise our offering.”

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