Hong Kong

Chinese firm Jingtian & Gongcheng has launched a new Hong Kong association with a local firm led by former Mayer Brown JSM senior partner Elaine Lo.

Lo has formed L&C Legal with former Mayer Brown securities partner Nicholas Chan; former Mayer Brown senior associate Li Fai is also a partner with the firm. L&C Legal is expected to fully merge into Jingtian & Gongcheng as its Hong Kong office in early 2019, pending regulatory approvals.

Most of L&C Legal’s six lawyers focus on Hong Kong Stock Exchange listings and related compliance work. Lo, the former head of Mayer Brown’s China practice, specializes in inbound foreign investment into China and projects-related work.

In August, Jingtian & Gongcheng concluded a three-year association with Mayer Brown’s Hong Kong office and announced plans to launch its own Hong Kong law practice. Under Hong Kong law, non-local firms are required to operate in association with Hong Kong firms for three years before offering local law advice on their own.

Beijing-based Jingtian is best known for its work as Chinese counsel in the Hong Kong and U.S. listings of Chinese companies. Since May this year, the firm has advised on at least 13 Hong Kong initial public offerings, including as the underwriters’ Chinese counsel on smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.’s $4.7 billion debut in July. The firm also served as Chinese counsel to the underwriters of online retailer Pinduoduo Inc.’s $1.6 billion Nasdaq listing.

Lo left Mayer Brown in June after nearly four decades with legacy JSM. She was the firm’s senior partner between 2007 and 2016; and helped negotiate JSM’s merger with Mayer Brown in 2008. Starting Sept. 1, after a decade of operating as Mayer Brown JSM in Asia, the U.S. firm decided to drop the JSM name in its English language branding.

Several Chinese firms have recently launched or expanded presence in Hong Kong following the stock exchange’s listing rule changes in late April. In June, Tian Yuan Law Firm, also a strong player in overseas listings work, launched a Hong Kong association with former Shearman & Sterling lawyer William Ji. In August, Beijing-based Han Kun Law Offices expanded its three-year-old Hong Kong office with former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett capital markets lawyers Ethle Tang and Tao Li.

In addition, Beijing-based DHH Law Firm entered Hong Kong last week with an association with local firm YTL & Co. In June, Anjie Law Firm formed a similar association with former Dechert partner Basil Hwang.