Allen & Overy has said that it has asked four of its Hong Kong partners to leave the firm for economic reasons.
The cuts come amid a continuing slowdown in Hong Kong capital markets activity, which had driven large-scale expansions in the region by many firms less than a year before. Campbell McIlroy, a spokesman for the British Magic Circle firm, said the firm is responding to economic conditions but was not "hitting the panic button."
"This was purely a business decision," said McIlroy. "It is about managing a business and we do manage our business conservatively. I think we have well positioned in Hong Kong with the number of partners we have."
The firm declined to identify any of the partners affected by its decision but McIlroy stressed that their competence in their positions had not been at issue. He said no associates would be affected by the move.
Allen & Overy has more than 100 lawyers in its Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai offices, but the firm has lately been putting greater emphasis on expansion elsewhere in the region. The firm made a major push into Australia two years ago, and recently announced it was opening two offices in Vietnam.
Earlier this year, the firm was in merger talks with Allen & Gledhill, Singapore's largest law firm, but those discussions were later called off.