Davis Polk hires Paul Chow from Linklaters

The US law firm adds to its Hong Kong law practice by poaching the head of Linklaters’ Beijing office.

Davis Polk has hired another high-profile partner from one of its magic circle rivals (referring to the top five London-based law firms) as it strives to build a market-leading Hong Kong law practice. Paul Chow joins the firm from Linklaters where he was head of the Beijing office.

The Wall Street firm launched its Hong Kong law practice on November 1 shortly after hiring Antony Dapiran from Freshfields and Bonnie Chan from the Hong Kong stock exchange. Those two partners specialise in Hong Kong IPOs, while Chow will add considerable experience of M&A transactions in Hong Kong and China.

“As many of us at the firm who have worked with him over the years know, [Chow] brings exceptional knowledge and experience in M&A, capital markets and other corporate matters in the market, and shares our very hands-on and team-oriented approach to working with clients,” said Bill Barron, who heads Davis Polk’s Asia practice.

Davis Polk’s move into Hong Kong law advice, a jurisdiction that until recently has been dominated by British firms, reflects the city’s growing importance as a financial centre and international base for Chinese companies.

For years, Wall Street firms such as Davis Polk made big fees in Asia by advising US clients on cross-border M&A and private equity into the region, and regional clients on raising capital in the US. With a few exceptions, the US firms left domestic markets to local law firms and the global one-stop-shops, which mostly hailed from London.

These days, that model misses out a big piece of the action. Chinese companies can now raise billions of dollars in the Hong Kong market without going through the bothersome process of raising capital in the US. At the same time, Chinese companies are no longer just looking for capital injections. They themselves are now going around the world in search of their own investment opportunities.

Davis Polk wants to capture a bigger slice of this work, and its plan to do so is to hire experienced lawyers from good firms who have the credibility to go out and win the big mandates.

“If we’d made a list of the three people in the market we wanted to get, we could not have done better than the three we’ve hired,” said Barron. “We’ve been fortunate to get people this good. We offer a very strong existing US platform that’s been very successful in Asia and an exciting opportunity to build a Hong Kong platform that can compete at the highest level.”

For his part, Chow brings a broad range of experience on public and private M&A, as well as cross-border and strategic investments. He has also worked on a number of privatisations and takeovers in Hong Kong, advising both Chinese state-owned and private companies, Hong Kong-listed companies, international corporations, sovereign wealth funds and private equity and buyout funds.

“With the expansion of its Hong Kong practice, Davis Polk brings together a truly unique and formidable combination of local, US and UK capabilities that sophisticated China and Hong Kong-based transactions now require,” said Chow.

Chow joined Linklaters as a partner in 2006, switching from the Hong Kong office of Slaughter and May, where he was also a partner. He is qualified in both English and Hong Kong law.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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