Ropes & Gray relocates global co-head of M&A to Hong Kong

Ropes & Gray has relocated its co-head of global M&A James Lidbury to Hong Kong in a bid to meet increasing demand from its private equity clients in Asia.

The US firm, which counts Blackstone, Bain and TPG among its clientbase, is also seeking to enhance its regional M&A offering following the launch of its Seoul office last year.

Lidbury, who was previously managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, moved to Hong Kong last week along with a number of associates, boosting the number of M&A partners in Asia to eight and bringing the total number of Hong Kong partners to nine.

He was appointed co-head of M&A in 2012, and currently leads the practice alongside Jane Goldstein in Boston.

Commenting on the move, he said: “Our M&A practice in Asia has experienced significant growth over the last few years, and I’ve been working on many of the matters from the US.

“A lot of the work has been representing private equity funds on take privates of Chinese businesses, and my moving out here has had a lot to do with trying to respond to the demand of these clients.

“We have also recently hired our first Korean M&A partner and we have a significant Japanese M&A practice, which is also private-equity driven. So my being here in the region is designed to help us continue to build our practice across the region, not just in Hong Kong and China.”

He said the firm was not in the process of hiring more partners for M&A but could look at adding to the team if new offices were opened.

It is currently understood to be mulling a Beijing launch – the city being home to China’s biggest state owned enterprises and a hub for international law firms tapping outbound investment work from China.

“We are not presently trying to hire more M&A partners but we are open to the idea of further investment as circumstances warrant. Particularly if we were expand to further offices we would certainly look at lateral partner hiring.

“We certainly continue to look at [Beijing] but haven’t made any decisions about it.”

Ropes & Gray debuted into Asia in 2007 with a Tokyo base, followed by the launch of Hong Kong in 2008, Shanghai in 2011 and Seoul in 2012.

Its Asian branches now account for four out of five of its international offices alongside London, focusing on M&A, capital markets, international investigations and special situations.

In April the firm added to its capital markets team in Hong Kong with the hire of Victoria Lloyd from Fried Frank, whilst in August it grew its capacity in Seoul with the recruitment of Jaewoo Lee from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

Recent mandates in Asia include the $625m take private of NASDAQ-listed Beijing-based Pactera Technology International, where it acted for the Blackstone-led buyer group consortium.

Lidbury said the firm was also open-minded as regards as Singapore base in the future, but was not actively pursuing this market at the moment.

Related: Ropes bolsters London and Hong Kong with Fried Frank hires