Malaysian firm Zaid Ibrahim & Co (ZICO) has become the first Asian law firm to receive approval to set up shop in Australia.
The firm, which will set up practice in Sydney and Melbourne early next year, marked the occasion with an official handing over ceremony of the approvals from the Legal Services Board of Victoria and the Law Society of NSW. The approvals were presented to the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ms Penny Williams, and they were received by ZICO chairman and senior partner Dato Dr Nik Norzrul Thani and managing partner Chew Seng Kok.
ZICO is Malaysia's largest law firm with more than 130 lawyers, and offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Middle East.
The firm's focus in Australia will be Islamic finance and Shariah advisory services, and it will aim to promote Malaysia as a regional financial centre and strengthen business ties between Malaysia and Australia and the Middle East.
As Chairman Dato Dr Nik Norzrul Thani explained, "We decided to expand our presence to Australia in view of the tremendous interest in Islamic finance and Shariah-compliant advisory services.
"This launch is a significant milestone for us. Through our presence in Australia, we hope to strengthen our relationship with clients from or with interests in Australia, and connect potential investors and businesses from the Middle-Eastern region with Australia," he said.
"As the Australian Government looks at attracting more investments from the Middle East for its major infrastructure projects, our lawyers, through our Dubai office and regional network in Asia, envisage playing a role as a bridge to facilitate these investments."