Hong Kong

 

A Hong Kong law firm is expanding its private client practice, saying family business succession work is picking up.

Hugill & Ip, which broke off from midsized Hong Kong firm Oldham, Li & Nie in September, has hired private client lawyer Freda Lim as its fifth partner.

Lim joins the boutique with an associate from Vivien Teu & Co, a Hong Kong law firm in association with Chinese firm Llinks Law Offices. She was a consultant at Vivien Teu, advising on a broad range of private client matters, including estate planning, trust setup, and probate.

Previously, Lim was special counsel at U.K. private client specialist firm Withers.

Alfred Ip, co-founding partner of Hugill & Ip who leads the firm’s private client practice, said he has seen steady work over the past decade, but is expecting more as Hong Kong’s wealthiest business owners grow older and prepare to pass the baton of the family business to the next generation.

“The patriarch or matriarch, who have been enjoying the economic growth in the past 30 years, are now thinking of succession planning,” Ip said.

In May, Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, handed over the reins of his $65 billion Cheung Kong-Hutchison empire to his elder son, Victor Li. And in June, Stanley Ho, the Macau-Hong Kong-based gambling tycoon,  ceded the reins to his casino empire SJM Holdings Ltd. to his daughter Daisy Ho.

Ip cautioned that these types of family business successions must be planned properly with sophisticated legal advice so as to avoid the type of conflict that has arisen in a high-profile case surrounding the Lo family, one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest real estate developers. Lo To Lee-kwan, the 98-year-old widow and business matriarch, is embroiled in a two-year legal battle with a son who is vying for control of a $3.5 billion company she co-founded with her late husband.

“If things are not planned properly, they will fall into this family feud that would carry on for years,” Ip said.

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