11:17, July 24 98 0

2017-07-24 11:17:14
Shanghai-based Llinks shakes off Brexit fears to open in London

Shanghai-based Chinese firm Llinks has opened an office in London, making it the third PRC firm to have a base in the UK.

Llinks Law Offices is one of China’s Top 30 law firms by revenue. It will be the third of the Top 30 firms to set up an office in London, following King & Wood Mallesons and Zhong Lun.

Llinks’ London office is located in 3 More London Riverside, neighbouring Norton Rose Fulbright. The office is led by resident partner Yuhua Yang, who is dual qualified in the PRC and China. She relocated from the firm’s Beijing office earlier this year for the launch.

Yang participated in the Lord Chancellor’s Training Scheme for Young Chinese Lawyers in 2004 and 2005, during which time she gained work experience at various law firms in London and Hong Kong. In 2006 and 2007, she worked at a New York firm Phillips Nizer. Yang joined Llinks as a partner in Beijing in July 2015. Her practice focuses on corporate, M&A, capital markets and foreign investment in China. She is also experienced in handling cross-border matters and Chinese companies’ outbound investment.

Last year, Yang and capital markets partner Wayne Chen together advised Chinese cosmetics maker Shanghai Jahwa in its £135m acquisition of Mayborn Group, which owns baby bottles producer Tommee Tippee, from 3i. It works alongside Jahwa’s international counsel Herbert Smith Freehills and Macfarlanes, which acted for 3i in the transaction.

Yang says the UK’s decision to leave the EU hasn’t affected the firm’s decision to open an office in London, and instead it has made it a stronger case for the firm to be here.

“London has the best infrastructure and talent for the financial and legal services industry. In the long run, Brexit may affect things. But in the short term the depreciating pound presents a good investment opportunities for Chinese companies,” said Yang. “In addition, clients are feeling positive for us to have a base in the UK now, as we will be much closer to the markets here and have a better understanding of the Brexit process and its implications.”

David Yu, Llinks managing partner, adds that the London office won’t practise English law and will mainly serve as a liaison office.

“The first and foremost purpose of the London office is to better services Chinese clients in their investment and transactions in the UK and Europe,” added Yu. “Llinks’ domestic offices have already been working with multinational companies’ local general counsel and advising on inbound foreign investment to China.”

He adds that the planned London-Shanghai Stock Connect programme will make London a more important market for many of its banking, financial services, securities firms and funds clients. The Shanghai-London Stock Connect was proposed by the Chinese and UK governments in 2015, and is set to boost cross-border trade links by using a system of specially designated brokers to enable Chinese investors to buy and sell shares listed on the UK bourse outside of its trading house.

“The London office will play an important role in developing strong relationship with leading independent firms in the UK and EU, as well as providing valuable market research and information for our Chinese clients,” Yu commented.

According to The Lawyer’s China Top 30 2016 report, Llinks was ranked 27th with an annual turnover of RMB236m (£26.8m) in 2015. However, by average revenue per lawyer and revenue per partner, the firm stood within the top three among all leading Chinese firms.

The firm has 107 fee-earners, including 75 lawyers and 20 partners. In 2016, the firm generated RMB268m, up 13.6 per cent from the previous year.

Together with Llinks, KWM and Zhong Lun are the three leading Chinese firms with an office in London. KWM and Zhong Lun’s London offices are registered as UK LLPs and are able to advise on English law.

Several other firms, including Yinke and Zhonglun W&D, have established a strategic alliance with a UK firm. Shanghai-based AllBright is understood to be looking at entering the UK via a local association.

In a less conventional way, UK firm Michelmores co-founded a London-based ABS firm YangTze Law with Chinese law firm alliance YangTzejiang Legal Network in 2015. According to Michelmores, YangTze Law acts as a conduit for the 40 firms that are members of the TangTzejiang Legal Network, helping them overcome cultural barriers they may encounter when their clients look to do business in the UK.