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PRC law firm Haiwen & Partners has hired Hong Kong capital market veterans Tom Chau, Wang Zhong, and Isaac Chen as partners from Herbert Smith Freehills. The trio will split their time between Haiwen’s Beijing and Hong Kong offices.

Chau, who joined HSF back in 1997 and used to serve as the head of the firm’s Beijing office, is regarded as one of the pioneers of Hong Kong capital markets work involving mainland companies. Chau participated in the first batch of H-share listings of early mainland companies, including that of Chengdu Putian Telecommunications Cable Company in 1994, and Nanjing Panda Electronics Company in 1996. He also acted as the leading partner in a number of major IPOs, such as those of Huaneng Power International, China Construction Bank, China Merchants Bank, Sinopec, and CNOOC.

Wang Zhong also focuses on Hong Kong capital markets, cross-border investments, and mergers and acquisitions. Having started his legal career at HSF in 2003, Wang re-joined the firm in 2011 in Beijing as a counsel and was promoted to partner in 2016.

Chen, whose main focuses are Hong Kong capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and general advisory of Hong Kong-listed companies, joined HSF in Beijing in 2007, and was promoted to the partnership in 2020. Together, Wang and Chen have worked on a series of IPOs for Chinese biotech and high-tech companies.

In a statement, Haiwen said that the addition of the three partners will further strengthen the firm’s Hong Kong capital markets practice, which is now led by partner Philip Chan.

According to Haiwen’s website, its Hong Kong office now has ten partners, with a few shuttling between Beijing and Hong Kong. Capital markets has been one of the key areas for Haiwen in Hong Kong, and the firm has steadily grown its market share, now ranking eighth among all PRC law firms in the city. It acted in three IPOs in 2022, and two as of May this year,

Rumours of the trio’s departure had been circulating since November last year when HSF announced a refreshed management team, helmed by Shanghai partner Nanda Lau, to lead the firm's Beijing and Shanghai offices, and the names of Chau, Wang and Chen were missing. Their exits mean that HSF now has two partners in Beijing.

In a statement to ALB, HSF says that the firm currently has six Capital Markets partners across Greater China (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong). "We remain committed to China and to growth across our three offices - Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.  Client demand has increased steadily this year, both in our own leading practices and within our successful China-law joint operation with Kewei," says the firm.

"We're seeing growth in capital markets, M&A and corporate, disputes, private capital, TMT and energy transition work.  Following Kewei's hire of Justina Zhang, we're planning further, targeted headcount growth this year as part of our wider Asia expansion."

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