Japan’s MHM merges with Thai firm in first tie-up of its kind

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto (MHM), one of Japan’s largest law firms, has acquired leading firm Chandler & Thong-ek (C&T) in Thailand as part of a push into South East Asia.

The acquisition comes just over a year after the Japanese firm opened its third ASEAN office in Bangkok. The office is located in the same building as Chandler & Thong-ek and the two firms have been working closely on Thai related legal matters, as well as exchanging secondees.

It marks the first time a major Japanese firm has expanded overseas through a merger.

C&T is a well-known full-service outlet in Thailand and has a strong Myanmar office known as Myanmar Legal Services. Its Yangon office has hosted a number of secondees from leading international firms, such as Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills.

MHM expects the integration to be completed in January 2017. The combined Thai operation will be branded as Chandler MHM Limited and led by MHM corporate partner Satoshi Kawai and C&T managing partner Niwes Phancharoenworakul.

Kawai said: “MHM has been advising Japanese clients in Thailand for many years and its integration with C&T significantly enhances our capability to serve our clients in South East Asia, responding to the increased demand for legal services.”

The Thai merger will add 45 lawyers to MHM’s Thai practice and result in the Japanese firm having a 60-lawyer team outside of its home market.

Japanese and South Korean firms have been growing significantly in South East Asia over the past two years as businesses increasingly look to invest in the region.

MHM’s top domestic rivals are also expanding in these markets. Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu opened a Jakarta desk within the premises of Indonesian alliance firm Soemadipradja & Taher, and in 2015 it also opened a Hanoi office.

In May 2016, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune launched an office in Bangkok, from which it will undertake work in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The previous year it opened
 an office in Ho Chi Minh City, and established a Jakarta desk within the offices of alliance firm Roosdiono & Partners.

The second largest South Korean firm by revenue, Bae Kim & Lee has also recently launched an office in Yangon, its seventh overseas and third in South East Asia.

 

Source: The Lawyer

 

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