Global giant Andersen Legal has returned to the lucrative Hong Kong market by joining forces with Kwok & Yih, the latest in a spate of tie-ups between international and SAR practices. The comeback for Andersen Legal - which split with local firm Ede Charlton in August 1998 - reflects the pervading trend of global companies seeking to get established in Hong Kong ahead of China's entry into the World Trade Organisation. It also signals a growing desire for firms to join forces in order to compete globally as the legal landscape becomes increasingly cross-border in nature. Law firms are competing to offer a 'one-stop shop' of legal services to multinational clients. As a result, there has been a flurry of merger activity in the legal market and substantial partner mobility. Andersen Legal is the latest international firm to attempt to corner the Hong Kong market in a bid to boost its portfolio of global services. It is 36 law firms from different jurisdictions merged into a global network. Worldwide fee income reached US$528 million for the financial year to August last year. According to Kwok & Yih partner Larry Kwok, this leaves Andersen Legal ranking ninth in the world in terms of global fee income. 'We have decided to get on board the Andersen big cruiser,' he said. The local firm has a strong track record in corporate Hong Kong, advising on high-profile takeovers such as the HK$2.46 billion Tricom buy-out by Pacific Century Group. Kwok & Yih has also handled about 40 initial public offerings in the past six years and has advised clients on mergers and acquisitions to the tune of HK$20 billion in 1999 and last year. A link with Andersen Legal however 'can provide us with the global reach we want', Mr Kwok said. With globalisation and China's imminent entry into the WTO, he asked: 'How do you want to position yourself? 'For us, we set a good example . . . as an approach to globalisation to the benefit of local firms,' Mr Kwok said. 'From Andersen Legal's point of view, it has landed its flag in Hong Kong.' When Andersen Legal split with Ede Charlton it cited 'structural differences we could not reconcile between the two organisations'. Former partner Julia Charlton recently struck an alliance with Dibb Lupton Alsop. Similar tie-ups have spread across Hong Kong recently. London law firm Rowe & Maw last year joined forces with local practice Koo and Partners - one of the largest tie-ups the SAR legal market had seen in years. Also last year, fellow City of London firm Dibb Lupton Alsop merged with local practice Lui & Carey. More recently, United States firm Squire Saunders & Dempsey formed an alliance with the Hong Kong-Canadian law firm Boughton Peterson Yang Anderson.