Norton Rose, the international law firm, has announced that the hiring of two new partners to lead its China Practice Group. Jean-Marc Deschandol and Virginie Deslandres began work for the firm on October 1 - suitably China's national day - and report to Paul Giles, head of Asia for Norton Rose.

Dechandol and Deslandres are French qualified lawyers who have been working in Beijing for the past 15 years. They previously worked on high profile transactions such as the financing for the Laibin B power station, the Three Gorges Dam and the Shanghai Metro. They bring with them to Norton Rose an extensive list of French and European clients as well as excellent contacts within the Chinese legal community. They specialize in M&A, infrastructure, FDI, arbitration and taxation.

The two will initially be based in Norton Rose's Paris office but will continue to spend most of their time in Beijing. They will also work in Hong Kong when Norton Rose re-opens its Hong Kong office in April 2002. The firm had to close its previous office in 1999 after a joint venture with Johnson, Stokes & Master broke up. Under the terms of that deal, Norton Rose was prevented from having an office on its own in the territory for three years.

Commenting on her move, Deslandres notes: "We expect a surge in business opportunities with China's access to WTO and with Beijing hosting the 2008 Olympics. We feel very enthusiastic about joining forces [with Norton Rose]."