Vinson & Elkins has announced plans to close its Shanghai office later this year and consolidate its China practice in Beijing and Hong Kong.
“As is the case with all prudent international law firms, we carefully manage our practices to ensure their alignment to client needs and the firm’s overall strategic goals,” firm chairman Mark Kelly said in a statement.
He acknowledged the office closing might lead to some departures.
“Where possible, we will provide opportunities for attorneys and staff to remain with the firm in the region, though we realize our decision to consolidate may result in the loss of some dedicated and talented people,” said Kelly. “We will work closely with all of our Shanghai personnel in the coming months to effect a smooth transition.”
The firm currently has three partners—David Blumental, Jay Kolb and Tju Liang Chua—in Shanghai and 10 associates.
The Texas firm has been a leading player in outbound Chinese mergers and acquisitions in the energy sector. An Asian Lawyer feature from January examined how the firm built strong relationships with China’s state-owned oil companies like China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. Ltd., better known as Sinopec.
In 2011, Vinson & Elkins advised Sinopec on its $3.5 billion acquisition of Brazilian assets of Portuguese oil and gas company Galp Energia SGPS S.A. A year earlier, the firm also acted for Sinopec on its $7.2 billion acquisition of Addax Petroleum.
In his statement, Kelly noted that many of the firm’s energy clients were based in Beijing and that having more lawyers in that office would allow the firm “to more effectively serve those clients.”
Vinson & Elkins currently has five partners, two counsel and four associates in its Beijing office. In Hong Kong, the firm has ten lawyers, including three partners. Worldwide, Vinson & Elkins has around 700 lawyers.