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Mayer Brown is on the verge of striking an alliance with Jingtian & Gongcheng in Hong Kong, as the Beijing-based firm prepares to open in the city.

Mayer Brown, the firm’s operating name in Asia since its 2008 merger with Hong Kong’s Johnson Stokes & Master, is awaiting approval from the Law Society of Hong Kong to form an association that would give it access to a large number of Chinese clients that are increasingly looking to invest overseas. A Mayer Brown spokesperson said the firm didn't know when the approval would be granted.

“We look forward to forming an association in Hong Kong with Jingtian & Gongcheng, one of China’s most prestigious law firms,” Mayer Brown Chairman Paul Theiss said in an emailed statement. “This is an exciting development for the clients of both firms.”

Formed in 2000 after the merger of two Beijing-based corporate firms Jingtian and Gongcheng, the firm is known for its IPO work and mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Jingtian advised on the $26 billion merger of state-owned train maker China CNR Corp. Ltd. and China CSR Corp. Ltd. It also acted as Chinese counsel on pork processor WH Group's $2 billion IPO in Hong Kong. The firm has about 300 lawyers including 80 partners in four offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu.

In the association, Mayer Brown would provide office space and other resources to secondees from Jingtian in Hong Kong, while the deal will give Jingtian its first Hong Kong base and access to a local law capability. The two firms will continue to operate as separate entities and have no plans to merge, the spokesperson said. Last month, they teamed up to represent Chinese digital imaging device maker Sky Light Holdings Ltd. on an $87 million listing in Hong Kong.

Under Hong Kong law, foreign firms are required to enter associations with Hong Kong firms for three years before offering local law advises on their own. Jingtian will join a number of Chinese firms that have launched in the city in the past 12 months in a bid to capture Hong Kong capital markets work from Chinese companies. In May, Shanghai-based Llinks Law offices opened in Hong Kong. Beijing-based Han Kun Law Offices and Broad & Bright also launched last November and July, respectively.

Reprinted with permission from the July 7, 2015 edition of The American Lawyer International © 2015 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.