Global offshore law firm Walkers has expanded its new Singapore office amid expectations of an increase in offshore legal work in the city state, particularly with regard to distressed hedge funds, debt restructuring, and public-to-private deals. Walkers has transferred senior funds lawyer Laura Rogers from its Hong Kong office to build on the team already in place in Singapore.
Walkers anticipates that investment funds in Asia may soon start to face the same types of issues regarding illiquidity problems, restructuring, and the potential liquidation of funds that the firm has seen in Western markets and is adding staff to ensure that its new and existing clients in Singapore are well served.
"Liquidity issues and extreme levels of redemption requests for funds are currently less severe in Asia than the US and Europe have encountered," says Ashley Gunning, joint managing partner of Walkers' Singapore office and head of the investment funds group. "However, we anticipate these problems may arrive in Asia in due course if markets continue to deteriorate."
Gunning says the impact in Asia could be less severe than it has been elsewhere, however, because the region's funds tend to be less leveraged and generally have less complex investment strategies than funds in the US.
"Despite, or even because of, the current economic climate, we are still seeing a number of new fund launches in Singapore, both from existing and new players in the market. It is now more important than ever that funds are structured from the start with contingencies for stressed market conditions," Gunning says.
Rogers has worked extensively with funds clients and on other corporate transactions in Hong Kong and Singapore, bringing more than seven years of experience as a lawyer in Asia. She specialises in hedge funds, private equity funds, and providing general corporate advice and previously worked in Walkers' Hong Kong office. Prior to joining Walkers, she worked with Allen and Overy, joining their London office in 1999 and moving to Hong Kong in 2001.
Walkers' Singapore office, offering both British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands legal services, opened for business in February. Walkers added the office in response to a significant demand for offshore legal and corporate services both within Singapore and elsewhere in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.
The Singapore office now has three lawyers, along with support staff. The team is also integrated with Walkers' Hong Kong office, which has also been expanding over the past year and now has approximately 20 lawyers.