Press Release

Kirkland & Ellis to Launch Full-Service Asia Transactional and Hong Kong Law Practice with Multiple Senior Hires

Global law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP announced today that multiple senior lawyers will be joining the Firm's Hong Kong office, including Nicholas Norris, John Otoshi, Benjamin Su, Dominic Tsun, Li-Chien Wong, Ashley Young and David Zhang.  

"This group of top lawyers will enable us to offer in Asia a leading full-service Hong Kong and U.S. mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and debt finance practice," said Jeffrey C. Hammes, Chairman of Kirkland's Global Management Executive Committee. "The combination of their teams with our transactional teams in Hong Kong, mainland China, the United States and Europe will provide clients with significant resources linking private equity, M&A, capital markets and debt finance on a global scale."

Mr. Norris, Mr. Tsun and Ms. Wong will join Kirkland from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Mr. Zhang, Mr. Otoshi and Mr. Su will join from Latham & Watkins. Mr. Young will join the Firm from Allen & Overy, as will his colleague Douglas Murning.

Messrs. Norris, Tsun and Zhang are ranked as "Band 1" leading lawyers in their respective fields by the influential legal directory Chambers Asia Pacific.

Kirkland plans to have in Asia nearly 50 lawyers, most of whom fluent in Mandarin.  

Hong Kong Capital Markets and M&A

Mr. Norris, 47, advises major corporations, private equity firms and investment banks on cross-border M&A transactions and a broad range of other complex corporate matters, including PIPEs, take-privates, joint ventures and international corporate finance transactions. He was co-head of Skadden's corporate practice in Asia (ex-Japan) and has been based in Hong Kong since 1992.

Mr. Norris is a member of the Hong Kong Panel on Takeovers and Mergers and has advised on more than 20 public takeover and take-private transactions in Hong Kong in the past five years.

Asian Legal Business named Mr. Norris one of Asia's top 25 M&A lawyers. He has also been named a leading lawyer for corporate/M&A, private equity and capital markets work by noted legal industry publications including Chambers Global, Chambers Asia Pacific, Legal 500 Asia Pacific and IFLR1000.

"Leveraging Kirkland's preeminent private equity and expanding global M&A practices, we plan to build a first-rate Asian deal platform," said Mr. Norris.

Mr. Tsun, 49, represents major issuers, underwriters and investors in Hong Kong initial public offerings and listings, and other matters involving Hong Kong-listed companies. He has extensive experience working on complex and pioneering transactions and has worked with many PRC companies in a variety of sectors. He has assisted a significant number of international issuers from across the globe with their plans to list in Hong Kong.

Mr. Tsun has been based in Hong Kong since 1994 and was co-head of Skadden's corporate practice in Asia (ex-Japan). He is recognized as a leading lawyer for capital markets work in Hong Kong by Chambers Global, Chambers Asia Pacific, Legal 500 Asia Pacific, IFLR 1000 and PLC Cross-border Capital Markets Handbook.   

Ms. Wong represents issuers and underwriters in Hong Kong IPOs and other securities listings. She has worked with all of the major investment banks in Hong Kong.

Mr. Tsun and Ms. Wong together have completed more than 30 Hong Kong listings in the past five years (nine in 2011 alone).  

"Combining efforts with such an extraordinarily talented and focused group of deal lawyers is a unique opportunity in this market. This will create a premier advisory platform that adds value for clients," said Mr. Tsun.

U.S. Capital Markets and M&A

Mr. Zhang, 48, represents Chinese issuers and major investment banks in U.S. equity and debt capital market transactions, including U.S. IPOs and other registered securities offerings. He is recognized for counseling Chinese companies on M&A activities as well as governance, disclosure and reporting matters. Mr. Zhang, vice global chair of Latham's corporate department and a co-chair of that firm's Greater China practice, has been in Hong Kong since 1993.

Mr. Zhang is rated a top capital markets attorney by Chambers Global, Legal 500 Asia Pacific, IFLR1000 and Chambers Asia Pacific, which calls Mr. Zhang an "exceptionally professional and experienced capital markets lawyer."

Mr. Otoshi, 57, advises financial sponsors and corporations on a wide range of transformative transactions, with a focus on high-yield debt and other complex securities transactions. He has   been recognized as a top attorney for high-yield deals by Chambers Asia Pacific and Legal 500 Asia Pacific.

Mr. Su advises Chinese issuers and international underwriters in capital markets transactions, including U.S. equity and debt registered offerings. He has particular experience in the financial services, renewable energy and technology sectors.

Messrs. Zhang, Otoshi and Su have led more than 35 U.S. IPOs by Chinese companies, mostly as issuer's counsel, since 2003. They are completing a notice and transition period with their current firm.

Debt Finance

Mr. Young, 34, has more than a decade of experience advising clients on international cross-border leveraged buyouts and other complex debt finance transactions, with particular experience in leveraged acquisition finance, among other areas. Mr. Young was a key member of Allen & Overy's leveraged acquisition finance practice in that firm's London and Paris offices. More recently, he led the firm's leveraged acquisition finance practice in Asia Pacific from its Tokyo and Hong Kong offices.

Mr. Young has been named a top lawyer for leveraged acquisition finance by Chambers Asia Pacific.

Mr. Murning advises borrowers and financiers on a range of debt finance transactions. He has worked in London and Hong Kong, and was seconded to two of the world's top investment banks, where his experience included working on debt finance transactions and portfolio management.

Messrs. Young and Murning have worked together closely on a number of complex high profile leveraged and acquisition financing transactions in the Asia-Pacific market. They are completing a notice and transition period with their current firm.

Expansion in Asia

These senior lateral hires will follow other recently announced senior additions to Kirkland's Asia team, including Sam Williamson, an FCPA, securities enforcement and white collar litigation partner relocating to Kirkland's Shanghai office, and Angela Russo, a transactional tax attorney who has relocated to Kirkland's Hong Kong office.

"We intend to be the leading advisor to sponsors of complex deals in Asia," said Kirkland Hong Kong private equity partner David Patrick Eich. "Kirkland will be one of the few global firms delivering the full spectrum of transactional advice in Asia, including in private equity, public M&A, equity and debt capital markets and debt finance."

Kirkland is in the process of completing the necessary regulatory processes to convert its Hong Kong office into a Hong Kong law practice.

About Kirkland Asia

For more than two decades, Kirkland has been a trusted advisor in Asian deals. Since opening in Hong Kong in 2006, Kirkland has represented more than 40 private equity funds and strategic acquirers in a variety of complex transactions in and involving Asia, including inbound and outbound M&A, LBOs, joint ventures, growth equity investments including PIPEs, and offshore and RMB fund formations. The Firm's recent Asia deals include the representation of Koor Industries in its pending agreement for Makhteshim Agan Group to carry out a merger with a subsidiary of ChemChina, valued at $2.4 billion; Bain Capital's acquisition of Asimco Technologies Limited and pending take-private of China Fire & Security Group; and Silver Lake Partners' acquisition of Allyes Online Media Holdings.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is a 1,500-attorney law firm representing clients in complex corporate and tax, restructuring, litigation and dispute resolution/arbitration, and intellectual property and technology matters. The Firm has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., delivering seamless advice in complex business matters around the world.