KWM leader cites Asian ‘centre of gravity’

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King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) recently decided on the firm’s new global managing partner and global chief operating officer (COO) to further integrate and strengthen the firm’s regional practices.

Sue KenchGlobal managing partnerKing & Wood Mallesons
Sue Kench
Global managing partner
King & Wood Mallesons

Sue Kench took over as the firm’s new global managing partner on 1 June 2017. “For KWM, we are extremely well positioned to help our clients benefit from the rise of Asia as the world’s third ‘global economy centre of gravity’, alongside the US and Europe,” Kench told Asia Business Law Journal.

“In terms of particular market opportunities, there are many that align to our firm’s expertise and our client’s aspirations such as China’s Belt & Road initiative, distributed energy, renminbi internationalization, and we continue to see short and long-term opportunities in outbound M&A as Chinese companies globalize,” she said.

“In terms of specific sectors, we are focused on infrastructure, technology and telecommunications, health, agribusiness, financial services, e-commerce, and energy and resources.”

Rupert LiPartnerKing & Wood Mallesons
Rupert Li
Global chief operating officer
King & Wood Mallesons

Kench has held the role of KWM’s chief executive partner, Australia, since 2013, and is a member of the firm’s global executive committee and international management committee.

As the new global managing partner, “my focus is on playing to the firm’s strengths, which is the quality of our depth and breadth in Asia, and how we leverage this to support our Asian clients as they go offshore, or international clients as they do business in Asia,” she said.

Kench said KWM has the leading presence in mainland China and Australia, and also a strong presence in Hong Kong. “The challenge now is to harness the individual strengths of these practices into something that is greater than the sum of the parts,” she said, adding that the firm’s offices in Europe and the Middle East would also help achieve this target.

With the vision to foster greater integration of its regional practices, KWM has also created a new role of global chief operating officer. Rupert Li, a partner of KWM in Beijing and Hong Kong, has been installed as the firm’s first global COO.

“The Global COO role was established to oversee the firm’s global operations and drive greater integration of the KWM’s regional practices to create closer connections across the firm and enable the firm to provide a more unified service to global clients,” Li told Asia Business Law Journal. “This role is critical as integration is our number one current global priority.”

Li is currently a member of the firm’s international management committee and its China management committee.