Baker & McKenzie targets US$1 billion revenue from Asia

New Asia Pacific chairman Gary Seib says increasing trade flows and deals involved in the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative likely to offer huge opportunities

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 8:53am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 10:11pm

Baker & McKenzie, the international law firm, is planning an expansion in Asia Pacific to grow its annual revenue to US$1 billion from the current US$660 million, according to newly appointed regional chairman, Gary Seib.

Also on the firm’s global executive committee member, Seib said he expects a massive growth in demand for legal services from the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, an expected increase in mergers and acquisitions, and growing trade flows across the region.

Seib said top of his agenda is to take the firm – which has 17 offices in Asia Pacific – to what he called “the next level, by having the best people delivering services to the best clients”.

“Although the Chinese economy has slowed, it is still growing at 6.7 per cent a year, which is higher than any western countries,” he said.

Started in Chicago in 1949, Baker & McKenzie has 77 offices globally in 47 countries with 13,000 staff, making it one of the world’s largest full-service legal firms.

The Asia Pacific region accounts for a quarter of its global revenues, which hit US$2.62 billion last year.

“It is my target to see our annual revenues from Asia Pacific increase to US$1 billion, which would represent around a third of the firm’s income globally,” he said.

“I believe that’s possible with all the growing mergers and acquisitions taking place, and increased trade flows in the region.”

He said mainland China is the biggest investor in Asean companies in terms of value, while investment from Japan is also significant.

“We have an on-the-ground presence in seven of the 10 Asean economies. Combined with our strong capabilities in mainland China, we are well positioned to assist Chinese companies with their investments in Asean countries,” Seib said.

He added that India also plays an important part in the company’s plans in Asia, given the country is currently the most-targeted investment destination for Asean firms, while at the same time Indian firms have also grown their outbound M&A activity 12.9 per cent in value during the first 10 months of 2016.

“Baker & McKenzie has more than 300 India-focused lawyers globally, who can advise our Indian clients on outbound activities, and multinationals on all legal and commercial aspects of inbound investment to the country.

Although the Chinese economy has slowed, it is still growing at 6.7 per cent a year, which is higher than any western countries

Over the past three years, he said the firm has worked on more than 2,000 transactions for some 300 Indian corporations

He expects the “One Belt, One Road” scheme – initiated by Beijing in 2013 to establish railway, roads and other infrastructure projects in 60 countries from Asia to Middle East and Europe – to create huge trade flows and countless deals, which will all demand legal services.

His firm, he added, has a presence in over half of the countries involved in the economic plan, with the ability to offer services to multinational and local clients.

Sectorially, Seib expects health care to be a huge growth market, with ageing populations across the region, especially in China. He also predicts a lot of consolidation of the market, which again is expected to generate a huge amount of legal work.

In mainland China alone, he said, 61 deals worth US$4.372 billion have been signed within the sector in the first 10 months of this year, up 38.6 per cent year on year in volume, according to figures from analysts at Mergermarket.