Eversheds Sutherland has completed its merger with Singaporean firm Harry Elias Partnership, a year after the talks started.
It marks the first major international expansion for the newly combined global firm and allows it to offer Singaporean law advice through the local partnership.
The Singapore merger was initiated by legacy Eversheds, which started discussions with Singaporean firm Harry Elias in early 2016. The Asia deal was delayed due to Eversheds’ recent merger with US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, which took effect on 1 February 2017.
Eversheds Sutherland’s merger with Harry Elias follows the same structure as the deal between Morgan Lewis and Stamford Law in March 2015.
The structure, permitted by legislative changes in 2012 but largely untested, allows a global firm to retain its full status as a Singaporean firm staffed by Singaporean lawyers (without any practice restrictions), and while partners of the Singaporean firm continue to be partners of the local entity they can also be admitted to the global firm’s partnership.
It is a unique and legitimate way to achieve a full merger. But the firms still need to comply with certain requirements. The rules include: the managing partner of the Singapore office must be a Singapore qualified lawyer, the ratio of Singapore lawyers to foreign lawyers should be at least 2:1, and at least two thirds of the equity share of the Singaporean firm must be held by Singapore lawyers.
The 56-fee earner team from Harry Elias will greatly boost Eversheds’ offering in Singapore. Currently, Eversheds only has an eight-strong team in the country, which is led by regional managing partner Oommen Mathew.
Harry Elias specialises in construction, corporate and cross-border deals. Managing partner Philip Fong leads the firm while named partner Harry Elias works as a consultant.
Eversheds opened its doors in Singapore in 2009. The office opened with the hire of DLA Piper’s former Singapore managing director Desmond Ong and a total of six lawyers, and was designed to become the firm’s hub in South East Asia.
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