Photo Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

PricewaterhouseCoopers has hired Rachel Eng, the deputy chair of the Singaporean firm WongPartnership, to help launch a new local law practice for the auditor.

Eng will leave WongPartnership after 23 years to join the accounting firm’s legal arm at the end of August. She will join former Bird & Bird Singapore corporate partner Joanna Teng and form a new Singaporean law firm, displacing the auditor’s former member firm Camford Law Corp.

Eng specializes in corporate and capital markets transactions in Singapore. In 2013, she advised the underwriters on a $2.06 billion Singapore IPO by Mapletree Greater China Commercial Trust, a real estate investment trust backed by sovereign investor Temasek. In 2012, she advised the underwriters on a $2.1 billion dual listing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Singapore by IHH Healthcare Bhd, one of Asia’s biggest private hospital operators.

She joined WongPartnership in 1995 and became a partner in 2001. Around the same time, she also co-led the Singaporean firm’s corporate practice as former practice head Suet-Fern Lee quit to launch what was later known as Stamford Law Corp. In 2010, Eng became WongPartnership’s first female managing partner; in 2013, she was named joint managing partner with corporate partner Wai King Ng. In 2016, Eng was made a deputy to WongPartnership’s chair and senior partner Alvin Yeo, while Ng remained as sole managing partner.

“We are sad to see Rachel leave us but we are happy to have her join an institution that has been a friend of WongPartnership for many years,” Yeo said in a statement.

WongPartnership has a close relationship with PwC Singapore, he said, having advised on the merger of Pricewaterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand in 1998.

PwC’s legal arm first entered Singapore in 2014 in an association with Camford Law Corp., which was then a 5-year-old local corporate boutique run by a pair of ex-Drew & Napier lawyers. Teng joined Camford Law in 2015 from ATMD Bird & Bird, where she advised on mergers and acquisitions. She left Camford Law in June 2018.

In 2016, the accounting giant also launched a foreign law practice in Singapore and hired partners from Ashurst and Norton Rose Fulbright.

The move in Singapore comes at a time when PwC has been expanding its legal practice in Hong Kong. So far this year, its affiliate firm in Hong Kong has hired four partners with international law firm experience, including attorneys from Jones Day and Mayer Brown JSM.

Big Four rival EY, which recently expanded its legal offerings in China with a six-lawyer team from Troutman Sanders, operates in Singapore in association with Singaporean law firm PK Wong & Associates. In 2016, EY ended its Singapore-based foreign law practice led by former Herbert Smith Freehills partner John Dick.