Commerce & Finance Law Offices recently held an opening ceremony to officially launch its new Hong Kong office, aiming to enhance its services for Chinese clients investing overseas.

Zhang Xiaoman, a partner at Commerce & Finance in Beijing, told China Business Law Journal that the firm started doing business in Hong Kong 26 years ago, and was one of the first mainland law firms to do so. “The reason for setting up a formal Hong Kong office now is to adapt to the changing demand of clients,” he said.

“In the past, perhaps there were more foreign investors who were in need of PRC lawyers’ services, while nowadays there are more Chinese clients heading overseas, looking for more international and globalized legal services. Setting up the Hong Kong office is also to respond to China’s plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.”

Commerce & Finance’s core practice areas include initial public offerings of securities on domestic and international stock exchanges, bond issuances, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate reorganizations, cross-border investments, funds formation, real estate and financings as well as dispute resolution.

Eric Chow, the managing partner of Commerce & Finance’s Hong Kong office, said it was exciting times for the firm and the new office, and that he had seen an increasing demand for cross-border legal services. “Most of our clients from the mainland actually want to have on-the-ground capability for the lawyers to act as PRC lawyers, in addition to Hong Kong lawyers as well,” he said.

“Commerce & Finance is renowned for its capital market and corporate finance transactions on the mainland. That’s why we want to take the opportunity to expand our global network to Hong Kong as well. With the addition of the Hong Kong office, we can act as the companies’ and underwriters’ legal counsel on PRC as well as Hong Kong law.”

Chow said that for the time being the new office would focus on M&A, capital markets – especially Hong Kong IPOs – and listed companies’ compliance. “But with the increasing demand from clients, I’m sure we will expand to other practice areas as well – for example, banking, litigation and also fund formation. That would be the next step,” he said.

More than 450 guests and industry leaders, including representatives from the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, InvestHK and Hong Kong’s Department of Justice attended the office opening reception along with Commerce & Finance partners from Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.