RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and Rajah & Tann enter Vietnam via tie-ups

Two Singapore outfits, including Taylor Wessing’s Singapore member firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, have entered Vietnam through partnerships with local firms.

RHT has formed an exclusive alliance with Vietnamese outfit PBC Partners as part of a wider South East Asian expansion plan, whilst Rajah & Tann has announced a tie-up with LCT Lawyers in the country.

Taylor Wessing’s entity first announced its intention to move into the country as well as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia in July last year.

It will now have access to two offices and 22 lawyers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with main practice areas including inbound and outbound investment, trade and commerce, M&A, real estate and construction, banking and finance, telecommunications, taxation, employment and dispute resolution.

Benjamin Yap, a corporate laywer and senior partner at PBC, will continue to head the Vietnam offices.

The tie up comes after RHT Taylor Wessing established a presence in Indonesia in October, tying up with local outfit Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners (HPRP).

“The past year has been very eventful for us,” said head of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s corporate practice, Azman Jaafar.

“We have ventured into new markets in Asia and our partnership with PBC Partners is one of the most significant and exciting since we embarked on our ASEAN [expansion] drive.”

In a bid to grow its brand in South East Asia, UK firm Taylor Wessing first tied up with Singapore outfit RHTLaw in 2011 as part of its launch in the city state.

It has since incorporated the 60-fee earner firm into its international network, with their relationship operating along the same lines as that of Taylor Wessing’s UK and German arms – including joint branding, joint values, pitches and training as well as making contributions to the global investment pool.

Similarly to RHTLaw, Rajah & Tann today announced it would join up with LCT Laywers in an exclusive partnership, combining its existing Vietnam practice with that of the local firm to create Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers.

The venture will give it a presence in the three biggest cities in Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang, supported by 25 lawyers and focusing on disputes, corporate, banking and finance, projects and infrastructure, foreign investment and international trade.

Arbitrator Chau Huy Quang, managing partner of LCT Lawyers, will head the new entity in addition to its dispute settlement group.

He said: “Foreign investments into Vietnam have been consistent at around $10bn to $11bn per year over the last five years and across a wide range of industry sectors.

“In view of Vietnam’s recent transition into a market-based economy and notably, its memberships to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the World Trade Organisation, our merger is not only timely, but necessary to meet the growing demands of our clients.”

The tie up by Rajah & Tann is the latest in a number of moves by the firm to build up its network across the region.

It took similar steps in Myanmar and Cambodia last year to create Rajah & Tann NK Legal Myanmar and Rajah & Tann Sok & Heng Law Office respectively, and also formed strategic alliances with Assegaff Hamzah & Partners in Indonesia and Christopher & Lee Ong in Malaysia.

South East Asia has attracted increasing interest from both international and local Asian firms, though most have focused on Singapore and Indonesia.

International players with a presence in Vietnam include Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie and Allens.

Related: Taylor Wessing targets SE Asia expansion with network of formal alliances.