KWM recruits Cadwalader Asia chief following US firm's Beijing and Hong Kong closures

Rocky Lee of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (New York).  HANDOUT.Former Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft Asia managing partner Rocky Lee and Hong Kong capital markets partner Stephen Chan have found new homes at King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and Dechert respectively, following the closure at the end of December of the New York firm’s Beijing and Hong Kong offices.

Lee (pictured) has joined KWM as the firm’s head of US corporate, splitting his time between Beijing and Menlo Park in Silicon Valley. He has built his practice representing private equity investors and Chinese startup founders on financing rounds. He has advised investments into leading Chinese internet and technology companies such as smartphone maker Xiaomi, car-hailing app operator Didi Chuxing and, often referred to as China’s Airbnb.

Lee joined Cadwalader in 2010 from DLA Piper, where he had headed the firm’s Asia private equity practice since 2006. Earlier in his career, he practiced with legacy Lovells in Beijing and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in California.

Meanwhile, Chan is joining Dechert’s Hong Kong office, taking three associates with him. His practice focuses on Hong Kong Stock Exchange listings and related M&As and real estate investment trust (REIT) transactions. In August, he represented Hong Kong-listed New Century REIT on a $30m hotel acquisition in the Netherlands.

Chan joined Cadwalader and made partner in early 2015 as part of a three-partner, four-counsel team from Latham & Watkins, where he was an associate. He moved to Latham with the same group of lawyers from Allen & Overy in 2009.

The news comes after Cadwalader last year announced that it would close its Beijing and Hong Kong offices by the end of 2016, stating it would be focusing on core clients in the US. All lawyers in those offices, including six partners in Hong Kong and Beijing, were laid off. Besides Lee and Chan, former Hong Kong partner Jeffrey Maddox has returned to his former firm, Jones Day.