The Chinese firm Commerce & Finance Law Offices is the latest firm from mainland China to open a Hong Kong office with a local association.
The firm has formed an alliance with the two-partner Hong Kong law firm Eric Chow & Co., focusing on capital markets and corporate work. Chow spent a year with Dentons’ Hong Kong office before starting his own firm in August and preparing for an association with Commerce & Finance, or Tongshang, as the firm is commonly known.
Before that, Chow had practiced with Paul Hastings for seven years and spent a year on secondment with Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd. In 2016, he worked on Paul Hastings’ representation of Bank of Tianjin Co. Ltd.’s $948 million Hong Kong listing.
Chow is joined by partner Clement Jiang, a former Shearman & Sterling capital markets associate. In 2016, Jiang acted for generic drug maker Jacobson Pharma Corp. Ltd. on an $85 million Hong Kong initial public offering. He is also the latest to exit the U.S. firm as core members of its Hong Kong law team are transitioning to Fangda Partners.
The Hong Kong team will have eight fee earners, including Chow and Jiang. In addition, Beijing-based capital markets partner Wu Gang and Shenzhen partner Liu Wen will also spend time in Tongshang’s Hong Kong office. The Hong Kong and China teams have been working together on listing-related transactions and compliance work.
Tongshang is the most recent Chinese firm to enter Hong Kong law practice this year following a surge of deals prompted by the relaxation of listing rules. The market is also ripe for Chinese firms that have a strong overseas listing practice to expand beyond Chinese law work. The Beijing-based firm is one of the top Chinese firms advising Chinese companies’ overseas IPOs. During the first 10 months this year, the firm has completed 20 Hong Kong IPOs, including state-owned China Tower Corp. Ltd.’s $6.9 billion July listing, the largest the city had seen in two years.
Last week, Tongshang’s longtime rival Jingtian & Gongcheng picked up a fifth partner—also from Shearman—less than two months after launching its Hong Kong associate firm L&C Legal.
Beijing-based Tongshang reported 455 lawyers and $50 million in gross revenue in 2017.