Photo: John Disney/ ALM

Global accounting firm Deloitte’s legal arm has registered a foreign law practice in Singapore as it prepares to catch up to fellow Big Four auditors in the city-state’s legal market.

Within the past two weeks, both EY and PricewaterhouseCoopers announced plans to launch Singaporean law practices with ex-partners from prominent local firms.

Deloitte Legal has formed Deloitte Legal International Pte. Ltd. as a foreign law practice in Singapore. The firm will join Deloitte’s global legal network which the accounting giant said has over 2,000 legal professionals in more than 80 countries.*

The firm, which is legally independent, is run by managing director Rashed Idrees, who specializes in cross-border transactions in Southeast Asia.* Idrees joined Deloitte in 2017; he was a partner with Southeast Asian law firm DFDL between 2010 and 2015 and oversaw practices in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Singapore. Before that, he was a Singapore partner with legacy Deacons Australia and left the firm before it merged in 2010 into Norton Rose Fulbright.

Idrees, who is registered as a foreign lawyer in Singapore, focuses his practice on project development. In 2013, he gave Thai and Bangladeshi law advice to New York-based private equity firm SK Capital Partners and co-investors on their acquisition of three specialty chemical divisions of Swiss chemicals maker Clariant A.G.

Currently, PwC operates a foreign law practice in Singapore with former partners from Ashurst and Norton Rose Fulbright. EY ended its Singapore-based foreign law practice, which was led by former Herbert Smith Freehills partner John Dick, in 2016.

But both EY and PwC recently announced plans for new Singaporean law practices. EY said earlier this week it will form a new association with former Dentons Rodyk & Davidson senior partner Evelyn Ang, and PwC has recruited veteran WongPartnership partner Rachel Eng to help launch a new local law firm.

*Updated 8/2: This story has been updated with Deloitte Legal’s announcement of launching foreign law practice in Singapore.