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August 22, 2010 8:00 PM

Wilson Sonsini to Open Hong Kong Office

Posted by Anthony Lin

Leading Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has announced plans to open a Hong Kong office with a lateral hire from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

Weiheng Chen, formerly a counsel in Milbank's Hong Kong and Beijing offices, will join Wilson Sonsini as a corporate and securities partner and cohead of the China practice. Chen, who specializes in mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions, has worked in the region since 2003. He joined Milbank in 2008 from the Hong Kong office of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was an associate. Chen has worked on several major transactions, including the 2008 acquisition of Singapore's Tuas Power by China's state-owned power-generation company Huaneng Group for $4.2 billion and the 2007 initial public offering of Chinese business-to-business Internet giant Alibaba.com.

Wilson Sonsini currently is seeking approval for its new office from the Hong Kong Law Society. A Hong Kong office will be the second in Asia for the Palo Alto-based firm; Wilson Sonsini opened a Shanghai office in 2005. That office has been led by Carmen Chang, who divides her time between China and California. Chang will continue as cohead of Wilson Sonsini's China practice.

"Opening an office in Hong Kong--a leading global capital market and one of China's key business centers--is the logical next step," Wilson Sonsini chief executive officer Steve Bochner said in a statement, "and Weiheng is the perfect partner to help Carmen lead the charge."

Hong Kong has benefited over the past decade from a shift in international firms' China practice away from foreign direct investment towards capital markets transactions. The city, which has a separate legal system from mainland China and its own freely exchanged currency, has been the preferred destination for Chinese companies seeking to raise international capital--which is the main reason the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has led the world in IPOs in the past two years.

Wilson Sonsini is best known for its work on behalf of technology companies, including Apple and Google. In an interview with The Am Law Daily, Chen says the firm obviously will focus on the sector in China but said there are many other areas of the Chinese economy in which the firm's expertise applies.

"We don't want to be limited to the tech space," Chen says. "We're very good at serving most kinds of growth and emerging companies."

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