Singapore

Ince & Co, which has agreed to merge with publicly traded Gordon Dadds, is losing two senior partners in Singapore. Both are joining Stephenson Harwood.*

John Simpson, Singapore managing partner, and Martin Brown, head of the office’s finance team, will make the move in May 2019 and November 2018, respectively.

On Monday, Gordon Dadds, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM board, agreed to acquire all the equity interests of Ince & Co partners. The combined firm, which is expected to generate £34 million, or $44 million, in revenue, will trade as Ince Gordon Dadds.*

Ince’s Singapore-based finance partner Devandran Karunakaran will take over as both the practice leader and office head following the departures. Simpson will stay with the firm until April to help with the transition.

Simpson and Brown’s departures follow a string of exits this year as the firm engages advanced merger talks with publicly listed UK law firm Gordon Dadds. If the merger is approved, the firms will have $150 million in combined revenue.

Earlier this month, former global insurance head Joe O’Keeffe left Ince’s London office also to join Stephenson Harwood. In July, former competition head Philippe Ruttley left to join Keystone Law, and four Hamburg-based shipping partners quit for Clyde & Co in February.

John Simpson is a disputes specialist in the shipping, energy and international trade sectors. He started his legal career with Ince in 1999, moved to Singapore in 2007 and made partner there in 2010.

“With the international shipping industry having been in a state of flux for some time, John’s joining the firm will allow us to further support our clients in the region as they face the evolving challenges,” said Martin Green, managing partner of Stephenson Harwood’s Singapore office.

Brown joined Ince from Norton Rose in 2009 and made partner in 2012. He specializes in cross-border ship finance and offshore maritime transactional matters, including debt financing, asset-backed lending and private equity investments.

Karunakaran, the new office head, is a cross-border financing specialist in the shipping sector. He joined Ince’s London office in 2008 from Watson Farley & Williams, relocated to Singapore in 2014 and made partner in 2015.

In recent years, Ince has gone through a period of upheaval. The departures in Singapore mark the second time Ince has experienced a management shake-up in the city-state in three years. Simpson himself took over as Singapore managing partner in 2015 after both predecessor Richard Lovell and Mohan Subbaraman, then co-heads of Ince’s Singaporean formal law alliance partner firm Incisive Law, defected to Reed Smith.

In August, Hong Kong-based firm international senior partner Jan Heuvels stepped down from his firmwide leadership role, six months before his four-year term was due to end. He remains a partner at Ince and will concentrate on leading the firm’s Asia growth plan.

In 2015, the firm restructured its partnership and reviewed its partner remuneration model. Earlier this year, it undertook a number of layoffs, with 25 business services roles and seven fee-earners cut. In a related move, in June, the firm paid five incoming trainees £7,000, or $9,166, to delay their start dates by a year to August 2019.

Ince’s revenue dropped 6 percent to $109.21 million during 2017-18 from $115.88 million a year earlier.

*Updated 10/29: This story has been updated with the Ince & Co and Gordon Dadds’ agreement to merge. 

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