Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, an international law firm with roots in Texas, is setting up shop in Hong Kong and has poached two partners to lead the creation of the new office: Gregory Puff from Shearman & Sterling and Andrew Abernethy from Norton Rose.
The plan to open in the city has been in the works since late last year, but Puff and his team had to wait for a foreign-registered law firm licence from the Hong Kong Law Society before officially unveiling the nameplate outside its office in IFC2. The licence allows Akin Gump to offer advice on US, English and Hong Kong law.
“The firm’s strategy is to develop offices throughout the world that actively support clients in their global activities, which are currently heavily geared towards emerging markets,” said Rick Burdick, the firm’s international managing partner, in a statement. “We see a number of synergies between our well-established Russia and wider international practices and our plans for Hong Kong. Given that our clients are actively expanding their businesses across Asia, this is the ideal time to open Akin Gump’s Hong Kong office.”
Puff’s background is in mergers and acquisitions, including a wide array of public and private mergers and hostile transactions, stock and asset purchases, and joint ventures. While still at Shearman, he represented the chairman of Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a leading interactive entertainment media company in China, in its $2.3 billion going-private transaction last year — and he has an extensive track record of helping Chinese companies to de-list from US exchanges.
Abernethy also has form as an adviser on mergers and acquisitions, as well as private equity transactions and investment fund formation.
If the office takes off, Akin Gump said in the statement that it will expand the practice to advise on hedge fund formation, project and infrastructure development and finance, oil and gas transactional work, international arbitration and wider dispute resolution, and international policy and trade work.