AS British firms open offices in Australia in a bid to launch into Asia, others are upping the competition and opening new offices on the ground.
Global law firm Mayer Brown has announced plans to open its eighth Asian office, in Singapore.
The firm will launch there in the fourth quarter of this year. Kevin Owen, head of the firm's Asia construction and engineering group, will relocate from Hong Kong to head the new office.
Mayer Brown JSM already has a strong presence in Asia. It has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai. Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Bangkok, which came to the firm as a result of its 2008 merger with Hong Kong practice Johnson Stokes & Master (JSM).
The new Singapore branch will focus on asset finance, project finance, energy, and international arbitration.
The firm's Alastair MacAulay, a Hong Kong-based banking and finance partner, will also spend time in the Singapore office.
"Singapore is a global hub for asset finance, notably in the shipping and aviation sectors, and an important regional center for project finance, particularly for emerging markets in Asia and in the offshore and energy sectors," MacAulay told Asian Lawyer.
Unlike some other international firms with offices in Singapore, including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith, White & Case, Norton Rose, and Clifford Chance, Mayer Brown JSM will not operate as a qualifying foreign law practice (QFLP). As a result, it not be able to employ Singapore-qualified lawyers to practice local law.
"Singapore is the Southeast Asia regional headquarters for many of the world's leading financial institutions and multinational corporations," said Hong Kong-based Elaine Lo, chairman of Mayer Brown's Asia board and senior partner of Mayer Brown JSM, in a statement.
"Many of our largest global clients have their regional headquarters in Singapore and others also have significant operations there."