Morgan Lewis, Reed Smith, Baker McKenzie and Shearman & Sterling enter March with big hires

Morgan Lewis has launched its tax practice offering in Singapore with the hiring of a new tax partner, Kai Lee Lau, who joins the firm from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

In addition to his associate title at Morgan Lewis, Lau will also become director of the company’s merged Singaporean brand, Morgan Lewis Stamford.

Lau joins the firm with a new partner, Rajiv Rai, who also spent three years at IRAS.

Both attorneys will act in civil and criminal tax litigation and advise clients on their broader tax needs.

“Expanding our contingent of former government officials around the world, this experienced team will bring a nuanced perspective from a public regulator to help guide clients on their tax issues and the expected increase in enforcement activity,” said said Morgan Lewis Chairman Jami McKeon. “In addition to their deep knowledge of the procedural regulatory landscape, their insight into business advice will be essential as global taxation continues to evolve and adapt to developments related to e-commerce, remote working and digitalisation, to name a few.”

Lau spent more than 12 years at IRAS, where he led tax-related litigation, including matters relating to corporate income tax, personal income tax, goods and services tax, property tax and stamp duty. Prior to his time at IRAS, he practiced at the local Singapore firm Drew & Napier.

Lau is also a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants and was appointed as a mediator on the Singapore Mediation Center panel.

Earlier this year, Morgan Lewis lost its Singaporean fund partner, Joel Seow, to Linklaters. The firm now has 26 lawyers, including eight partners in its Singapore office.

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Reed Smith has also hired a team in Singapore, after bringing on Pinsent Masons MPillay’s chief technology officer, Bryan Tan, as a partner for its entertainment and media industry group.

Tan is accompanied by two partners, Nathaniel Lim and Bernice Tian, ​​of Pinsent Masons law firm in Singapore.

Tan focuses on transactional, regulatory and legislative work involving the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector in Southeast Asia. He advises on venture capital investments in fast-growing technology companies, cryptocurrency projects, including international funds, exchanges and consortia, as well as cybersecurity, data protection and privacy issues. facilitation of digital trade.

Prior to joining Pinsent Masons MPillay in 2013, Tan was the founder and director of Keystone Law Corporation, a local boutique he founded and ran for nearly a decade.

With Tan on board, the number of Reed Smith partners grows to fourteen out of a total of 35 lawyers in Singapore.

His departure will leave Pinsent Masons with fellow TMT partner Alex Shepherd in Singapore. Pinsent Masons, which formed its joint venture in Singapore in 2010, now has 18 lawyers in its Singapore office.

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Elsewhere in Asia, two other international law firms have bolstered their offerings in Hong Kong capital markets.

Baker & McKenzie has just recruited a new capital markets partner, Thomas Tarala. He advises on public offerings, private placements of debt and equity securities, secondary offerings and securitization.

“The recent introduction of Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) registration regimes in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as more Chinese companies traveling to Hong Kong for home registrations, likely to help keep Asia’s initial public offering (IPO) markets strong,” Singapore said. – based in Ashok Lalwani, Asia-Pacific head of Baker McKenzie’s international capital markets practice. “On the corporate debt front, the bond market is likely to remain on its upward trajectory as companies seek to secure cheap funding ahead of expected rate hikes.”

“As part of global efforts to tackle climate change, many Asia-Pacific companies are accelerating their ESG plans in response to increased investor demand and the need to meet their decarbonization goals, providing further momentum to an already growing ESG bond market in Asia,” added Lalwani. “All of these factors are increasing the demand for legal services related to ECM and DCM.”

Tarala joins the firm from struggling Chinese conglomerate HNA Group (International) Company, where he was general counsel. Hainan-based HNA owes creditors $170 billion in one of the most high-profile bankruptcy cases in China.

Prior to his five years at HNA, Tarala worked in the London and Hong Kong offices of Hogan Lovells, where he most recently headed the US securities practice.

Baker & McKenzie’s latest Hong Kong capital markets hire was partner Victoria Lloyd, who joined the firm last year from Ropes & Gray. The company also recently added Hong Kong virtual asset partner Joy Lam from Sidley Austin.

The firm now has 20 capital markets lawyers, including seven partners, in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, Shearman & Sterling has also added a new capital markets partner. Wando Woo returns to the firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she spent nearly three years and was most recently a partner.

Woo advises on IPOs, equity offerings, rights offerings and bond offerings, as well as regulatory and compliance matters. Its clients include leading investment banks, Hong Kong-listed companies.

Prior to joining Wilson Sonsini, Woo was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. She had spent more than seven years at Shearman before leaving for Kirkland in 2018.

In November, Shearman lost his other Hong Kong capital markets partner, Alan Yeung, to Clifford Chance. Its Hong Kong office has 22 lawyers, including eight partners.

Wilson Sonsini now has five lawyers, including two partners in Hong Kong.

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