DAC Beachcroft set to enter Malaysia through joint venture

DAC Beachcroft has applied to Malaysian regulators for permission to enter a joint venture with a firm in the country as a means of increasing its South East Asia presence.

The insurance-led firm, which currently only has one partner in Asia, is looking to tie-up with local firm Gan Partnership.

DAC entered into an association with the Kuala Lumpur-based Gan Partnership in March 2013. As part of the JV arrangement DAC is also planning to build its own presence in the country although the details of its offering on the ground, and how it will be built, are yet to be decided.

In 2014 Malaysia announced a liberalisation of its legal services market to allow international firms to enter the jurisdiction via a JV structure or a qualified foreign law firm (QFLF) licence. Previously foreign lawyers had to operate in the country under a fly-in fly-out basis.

David Pollitt, DAC’s managing partner said: “As far as South East Asia is concerned it is our strong feeling that Malaysia is becoming increasingly more important to our clients.

“We need to make sure our offering is developed enough, scaled enough and skilled enough in expertise to offer clients what they want.”

The January DAC management told Legal Week about plans to grow in the region including in Korea, where the firm is looking to build an insurance practice, and in Singapore, where its lone Asia partner is currently based.

Pollitt said: “I think the landscape of the region from an insurance perspective is changing dramatically and we don’t think simply having a presence in the hub of Singapore or Hong Kong is a fresh enough approach.

“We are trying to find a bit of clear water as far as our competitors are concerned.”

Multiple firms have publically stated their interest in expanding their operations to Kuala Lumpur, including accountant EY’s legal arm and CMS. Last year Trowers & Hamlins became the first international firm to enter the market with a QFLF.

DAC has had only one partner in Asia since Singapore office founder and partner Ben Nicholson left the firm for Kennedys‘ office in the city-state last year.