Orrick offices in Washington, D.C. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has recruited new partners in its China and Africa practices.

Private equity and mergers and acquisitions specialist Jeff Zhang joins from King & Wood Mallesons, where he was a partner primarily based in New York. He advises Chinese companies on outbound acquisitions, privatization deals and capital markets transactions. He will split his time between Orrick’s Beijing and New York offices.

U.S.-qualified Zhang joined King & Wood Mallesons in 2016 from state-owned Citic Securities’ U.S. operations, where he served as general counsel and chief compliance officer. During that time, he worked on Citic’s $1.65 billion bid to buy U.S.-based asset manager Russell Investment Management. Before that, he practiced with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Linklaters and also worked as an in-house lawyer with China Ping An Insurance Co.

In early 2017, Orrick lost a team of China-focused corporate and capital markets lawyers to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Hong Kong. Following the exodus, the San Francisco-based firm decided to shift away from Hong Kong law capital markets work and focus lateral hires on practices that are more aligned with the rest of the firm’s clientele.

The firm has since hired two corporate partners—former Davis Polk & Wardwell partner Mark Lehmkuhler and former Jones Day partner Scott Peterman—in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong securities law market is starting to gather momentum again after a few quiet years, following the city’s stock exchange implementation of a major rule change to boost deal flow.

King & Wood Mallesons picked up its own U.S. corporate practice head, Rocky Lee, the former Asia managing partner of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, in 2017 following the New York-based firm’s decision to exit Asia.

Meanwhile, Orrick’s affiliate firm in the Ivory Coast, Orrick-RCI, has recruited project finance partner Yacouba Coulibaly from the African Export-Import Bank, where he was a senior manager in the legal services division. He has worked on financing matters for infrastructure and energy projects in West and Central Africa. Earlier in his career, he practiced with Hogan Lovells in Paris. 

Orrick RCI was launched in 2014, making Orrick one of the few Big Law players to maintain a physical presence in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa. With Coulibaly’s arrival, there are seven lawyers in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.