International law firm Ashurst and PRC law firm Guantao recently announced the launch of a joint operation office in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ), only the fourth such operation to gain PRC approval to date.

The decision to set up the joint operation in Shanghai FTZ was based on a longstanding alliance relationship between the two firms.

“Ashurst and Guantao set up a strategic alliance in 2008 and have worked closely ever since,” Paul Jenkins, the global managing partner of Ashurst, told Asia Business Law Journal.

“This alliance has proved a great success, and since then we have kept ways of developing and improving our collaboration under consideration. For instance, we were introduced to China General Nuclear Power Corporation by Guantao, and have since acted for them on a number of landmark transactions, including the Hinkley Point C project in the UK.”

Ashurst also referred insolvency, restructuring and dispute resolution matters to Guantao. “Our clients have been impressed by their capabilities,” said Jenkins.

He said the joint operation combined the strength of both firms, offering full-range legal services to Chinese and international clients, including expertise in capital markets, M&A, energy and natural resources, infrastructure projects, banking and finance, investment funds and dispute resolution.

Cui Liguo, Guantao’s managing partner, said: “Ashurst has impressive global coverage and, having advised on some of the most high-profile landmark transactions in the region, the firm has an exceptionally strong offering and reputation. It combines technical excellence and exceptional client service, which are also core aspects of our business.”