UK-based law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has ventured into Myanmar through a non-exclusive tie-up with local outfit Legal Network Consultants (LNC), joining a slew of foreign law firms aiming to cash in on Myanmar’s recently opened economy.
LNC will now be a member of BLP’s newly-launched Asia network, a vehicle BLP has created in a bid to form relationships with local players in emerging markets in Southeast Asia, allowing it to tap the growing number of deals happening in the region.
LNC is headed by Khin Mar Aye, who has 20 years of legal and commercial experience. The firm has an existing affiliation with shipping and IP outfit, The Law Chambers.
With the new partnership it plans to work closely with LNC in joint marketing efforts and cross-firm secondments.
Alistair Duffield, a partner and head of BLP’s Singapore office and SE Asia, said: “We have set out to be a leader in Myanmar and are very excited and positive about this new development and our relationship with LNC.
“For us, Myanmar presents a whole horizon of huge opportunities particularly in the power, oil and gas, mining, infrastructure and real estate sectors which play to our strengths.”
Until the deal, BLP has been servicing Myanmar out of Singapore, with a practice led by Duffield, corporate partner Ken Cheung and energy and projects partner Nomita Nair.
The firm has focused largely on corporate, finance, projects, arbitration, compliance and business establishment work, targeting regional and international multinationals looking to invest in the country.
BLP is one of the several international and regional firms to have expressed an interest in Myanmar in the last two years, including Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Hogan Lovells, Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills.
Baker & McKenzie opened in Yangon in February, Duane Morris Selvam, signed leases in both Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw in September, and London IP firm Rouse launched with a team of two partners in November.
Singaporean firm Allen & Gledhill launched an associate firm in Yangon in February, while one of Japanese ‘big four’ firms Mori Hamada & Matsumoto also moved to Yangon in January.
However, partners say the market remains challenging due to difficulties sourcing local talent and slow dealflow.
Earlier this month BLP hired asset finance partner Nigel Ward from Norton Rose Fulbright to join its Hong Kong office. Ward’s practice is currently focused on China but he is expected to complement the projects BLP is working on in Myanmar and Indonesia.
BLP has three Asian offices located in Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing.