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Akin Gump has become the latest US firm to shift its global strategic priorities away from Asia following the departure of its regional managing partner.
The firm revealed today (24 January) that it would not appoint a new Asia boss after former regional head Gregory Puff exited to launch a tech start-up in December.
Akin Gump’s entire Asia operation, which comprises offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore, will now be run out of the UK by London managing partner Sebastian Rice.
The firm said in a statement Rice will work closely with Beijing office head Bill Rosoff and Singapore head Bob Griffin.
Rice said: “Our current focus – as it always has been – is on developing practice groups globally and providing the best possible service to clients where they need it. As such the firm does not currently see the need for such a regional role.”
Akin Gump’s Hong Kong office currently has six partners who advise on financial restructuring, corporate, investment management, international trade and dispute resolution.
Puff joined Akin Gump in 2012 from Shearman & Sterling and helped launch the firm’s Hong Kong office. He was Asia managing partner of the firm until December 2016, when he left to become CEO of uFo Ordering Services, an app he founded that allows diners to order and pay for food via their devices in restaurants.
Akin Gump is the latest in a series of US firms that appear to be scaling back in Asia as a result of dwindling profits or because partners have left for rival firms.
At the end of 2016, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft closed its Beijing and Hong Kong offices, with partners moving to Dechert, King & Wood Mallesons and Jones Day.
Earlier this year, O’Melveny & Myers lost its last Singapore partner Nathan Bush to DLA Piper.
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe also took a hit in China with nine partners walking out to join Morgan Lewis, which launched in Hong Kong this week.
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