November Private Practice Review

Insurance firms take different routes to growth in Asia

Kennedys has been quietly strengthening across Asia in recent times. A two-partner team hire in Singapore from Withers KhattarWong in November came a year after a similarly sized team arrived from Kelvin Chia Partnership in the city state. This itself came a year after the firm opened in Bangkok with a two-partner team hire from DLA Piper augmented by the relocation of another newly-promoted partner from the firm’s Singapore operation.

Kennedys’ Singapore office now numbers 34 fee earners including 14 partners, with 11 partners in Hong Kong, and insurance and reinsurance remains the core of the firm’s activities. Consistent and stable growth has been the reward for not straying too far from the firm’s acknowledged strength and its branding has been rewarded by this focus.

Elsewhere another firm strong in the insurance space has made an altogether more surprising move. HFW has stripped US firm Locke Lord of the majority of its Hong Kong fee earners with a seemingly staggered move for Wing Cheung’s team and, shortly after, that of Matthew Wong. The move brings a hefty Hong Kong corporate finance presence to HFW which had previously focused on its recognised strengths in transport, construction, energy and insurance. The presence of Senior Partner Richard Crump in Singapore can only have encouraged the incoming team about the firm’s commitment to expansion in the region, not only in pure numbers but in scope of legal services. It is a bold move but does follow another firm known for its shipping capability making a foray into the Hong Kong capital markets arena recently, with Hill Dickinson taking on board Kurt Lau as a partner from Eversheds Sutherland in September. Ongoing confrontations on the streets of Hong Kong have not deterred faith in the markets it would seem.

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