Osborne Clarke’s Singapore associate firm, OC Queen Street, has launched a competition practice with a former director of the city-state’s competition regulator.
Harikumar Sukumar Pillay joins as a director after almost a decade at the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS). He had been with the CCCS since 2009 and was most recently a director in the enforcement division.
During his time at the antitrust watchdog, Pillay supervised investigations and decisions involving cartel conduct, abuse of market power and mergers and acquisitions. He also conducted dawn raids and interviews.
Before joining the CCCS, Pillay was an associate at top Singaporean firm Drew & Napier and also clerked at the Court of Appeal—Singapore’s highest court.
“Setting up this competition practice could not have come at a better time, given recent market transformations and the growing importance placed on the enforcement of competition law in Singapore, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the wider Asia Pacific regions,” Pillay said in a statement.
Singapore’s Parliament passed a bill in April expanding the regulatory powers of the CCCS—then called the Competition Commission of Singapore. The regulator’s new role includes the administering of consumer protection and unfair trade practice laws in addition to its existing role of administering and enforcing Singapore’s Competition Act.
OC Queen Street said in the statement that the launch of its competition practice is timely, as competition authorities in ASEAN are focusing on competition issues arising out of the rapidly growing area of digital businesses.
In July, the CCCS provisionally found that the March merger between ride-sharing apps Uber Technologies Inc. and GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. in Singapore had substantially reduced competition in the ride-hailing platform services. The regulator said the deal might have to be unwound and it might need to impose financial penalties on the companies.
In addition to Pillay, OC Queen Street has hired Poh Lip Hang, who joins as principal economist from Drew & Napier, where he was assistant head of the firm’s competition and regulatory economics practice. Poh also previously worked at the CCCS as a senior assistant director of the policy and markets division, advising government agencies on competition law matters.
Last month, OC Queen Street added banking and finance consultant Valerie Kwok, also a former Drew & Napier director.
London-based Osborne Clarke has targeted Asia for expansion in recent years. In addition to its Singapore association in 2016, the firm entered into associations with Koh Vass & Co in Hong Kong in 2015 and into an alliance agreement with Indian firm BTG Legal in 2014. More recently, Osborne Clarke entered China last year via a tie-up with Shanghai firm Zhang Yu & Partners.
Revenue from outside the U.K. accounted for 42 percent of Osborne Clarke’s £240 million, or $309 million, total turnover in the 2017-18 financial year.