Ashurst and Guantao Law Firm have launched a joint operation office in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, making the London-headquartered firm the fourth global player to enter into such a structure approved by the Chinese authorities.
Early in 2008, Ashurst and Guantao formed a strategic alliance and have been co-operating closely since then.
Founded in 1994, Guantao has a good reputation in capital markets, corporate and M&A, restructuring & insolvency, projects, infrastructure and energy and international trade. It has undergone rapid expansion following recent mergers with Zhongmao Law Firm and Shenda Partners. The firm has over 150 partners, 600 qualified lawyers in 15 offices in China, as well as offices in Sydney, New York and Toronto.
Established in 1822, Ashurst has 25 offices in 15 countries and has been present in mainland China for 20 years. It is widely recognized for its expertise in large multi-jurisdictional transactions, disputes and projects. The firm frequently acts on complex cross-border transactions such as Itochu and CP Group’s $10.4 billion acquisition of 20% of CITIC, the largest acquisition of China SOE by a foreign investor to date. It has been recently expanding its Asia-Pacific practice, including forming a Formal Law Alliance with Singapore law firm ADTLaw in May 2017 and hiring restructuring and insolvency partner Damien Whitehead, as well banking and finance partners Eric Tan and Daniel Lau for its Greater China finance practice.
China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone (FTZ) initiated cooperative mechanisms experiment in late 2014, allowing a foreign law firm and a Chinese one to set up joint operations and exchange lawyers under certain conditions. Three global firms have so far taken the trial: Baker McKenzie with FenXun in 2015, Holman Fenwick Willan with Wintell & Co and Hogan Lovells with Fujian Fidelity, both in 2016.
International law firms are taking different strategies in China, which is a complex legal market. To read in depth: China: Navigating Uncertain Tides.