Shearman & Sterling is attempting to rebuild its Hong Kong law capital markets practice after losing at least 10 lawyers, including its team leader, in recent months.
Sources familiar with the matter said Shearman has been approaching potential candidates from outside the firm. In addition to external hires, the firm will also promote lawyers internally, according to one source, who added that the new Hong Kong law capital markets team will be smaller than the previous one.
The previous team had about a dozen lawyers focused on midsize listings of companies in the health care, biotech and media sectors from mainland China and Hong Kong. The practice was led by former partner Colin Law, who left the firm last month to join China’s Fangda Partners alongside former partner Peter Chen and four additional lawyers. Apart from Law’s team, at least four additional Hong Kong IPO lawyers left Shearman since October.
Among the remaining lawyers specializing in Hong Kong law, associate Sophie Siow primarily works on equity securities deals. She was part of the firm’s team advising Chinese biotech company WuXi AppTec Co. Ltd.’s $1.1 billion Hong Kong IPO. Siow joined the firm in May 2018 from the Hong Kong firm P.C. Woo & Co., where she had trained and practiced since 2013.
High-yields partner Alan Yeung also worked on initial public offerings in the past. In 2016, he worked alongside Law as underwriters’ counsel to electricity generator VPower Group International Holdings Ltd.’s $208 million Hong Kong listing.
The Hong Kong IPO practice, despite its high work volume, has forced out many elite U.S. firms, with intense price competition and low profitability. In 2017, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe refocused its Hong Kong practice away from IPO work; before that, Milbank also did away with its Hong Kong law IPO practice and switched to only advising the U.S. law piece.
Shearman & Sterling did not immediately respond to a request for comment.