Sunrise at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar
Sunrise at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar ()

Stephenson Harwood has announced it will open its sixth Asia office in Myanmar this week.

The firm is launching in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, on Friday (1 September). The new base will be led by corporate and commercial partner Tom Platts.

Platts, who joined Stephenson Harwood from Herbert Smith Freehills in 2014, is based in the firm’s Singapore office, where he will remain while overseeing the new operation.

The firm is also transferring corporate senior associate Ben Hickson from Singapore to work full-time in the Yangon office. He will be joined by associates Su Wai Phyo and Than Aung, who are joining from Myanmar-based firms ZICO Law and Lincoln Legal respectively.

The firm added that of counsel Helen Rhind-Hufnagel, who is also based in the firm’s Singapore office, will increasingly focus on foreign investment into Myanmar while remaining in Singapore.

Platts said: “Continuing domestic legal and regulatory reform, combined with political upheaval in the last decade, has rendered Myanmar a market of significant interest to our clients.

“We look forward to working with new and existing clients as they, like us, expand their footprint across Southeast Asia’s most dynamic and talked about investment jurisdiction. We have brought together a fantastic team of experienced lawyers within Myanmar to assist us in doing so.”

The firm, which currently has an Asian presence across China, India, Japan, Korea and Singapore, outlined its plans for a Myanmar launch last year, after the end of its three-year alliance with local firm U Tin Yu & Associates.

Stephenson Harwood CEO Sharon White said: “This year marks our 21st anniversary in Singapore, and the opening of our Yangon office demonstrates our commitment both to Myanmar, and to the region as a whole.”

In the firm’s latest results, profit per equity partner (PEP) fell 8.5% to £708,000, with the fall coming against an 11% rise in revenue to £176m. The drop followed three years of PEP growth at the firm, including a 42% increase in 2014-15 and a jump of 19% in 2013-14.

Other international law firms with a presence in Myanmar include DentonsAllen & OveryBerwin Leighton Paisner and Baker McKenzie.