Chinese firm Haiwen & Partners has hired away partner Jieni Gu from Ropes & Gray in Shanghai.

Gu, who specializes in mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions, is a U.S.-trained, experienced attorney who has worked for several global firms. Earlier this year, she represented state-owned Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holding Co. Ltd. on a $300 million investment in Pittsburgh-based supplements maker GNC Holdings Inc. In 2017, she also advised real estate developer China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd. on an acquisition of Boston-based tech publisher International Data Group Inc.

Jieni Gu

Gu joined Ropes & Gray as a Shanghai partner in 2015 from Weil, Gotshal & Manges where she was counsel. She moved to Weil in 2014 from Sullivan & Cromwell where she started her career in 2006 after earning a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.

Gu’s arrival at Haiwen is the latest among a string of Chinese-born senior lawyers returning to domestic firms after years of practicing with global firms. Last week, Beijing-based Han Kun Law Offices recruited former Kirkland & Ellis M&A partner Paula Liu in Shanghai.

In 2016, Haiwen recruited longtime Latham & Watkins counsel Lu Guiping as a partner and launched an office in Hong Kong. The firm has recruited former lawyers from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton.

The 140-lawyer Beijing-based firm reported $51.8 million in gross revenue in 2017, according to the latest China 45 report. With 30 equity partners, its profit per equity partner totaled $863,000.

Ropes & Gray has three partners in the Shanghai office, which is led by intellectual property partner Geoffrey Lin. Firm Asia managing partner Arthur Mok is also based in Shanghai; so is life science regulatory partner Katherine Wang. The office, which has about 20 lawyers, is sizable relative to its U.S. peers.

The firm suffered major losses in Hong Kong last year when M&A partner Brian Schwarzwalder, private equity partner Scott Jalowayski, securities partner Paul Boltz and finance partner Michael Nicklin left en masse for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

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