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DLA Piper, Appleby, Crowell & Moring: Business of Law

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- DLA Piper LLP opened a Seoul office yesterday, headed by Daniel Lee, the country managing partner.

“Opening an office in Korea brings us a step closer to a full business service offering in every major economic hub across Asia Pacific,” Bob Charlton, DLA Piper’s managing director for Asia Pacific, said in a statement.

Lee has led the Korean practice from Tokyo for four years and advised on more than $2.5 billion worth of deals by Korean corporations, according to his firm biography. He has handled foreign investments, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, private-equity transactions and joint ventures, as well as general corporate matters.

He was previously at Kim & Chang in Seoul, where he headed that firm’s overseas investment practice.

Among DLA Piper’s Korean matters in the past few years was raising $600 million for liquid-crystal display maker LG Display Co.

DLA Piper has more than 700 lawyers in 12 Asia-Pacific offices, in cities including Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. The firm has a total of about 4,200 lawyers in more than 30 countries.

Schiff Hardin Expands Energy Regulation Practice With Bruder

Schiff Hardin LLP acquired 10-lawyer Washington law firm Bruder, Gentile & Marcoux LLP on Jan. 1.

The boutique firm focuses on regulatory issues affecting the electric and natural gas industries and represents clients before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. and other federal agencies and courts.

“We are a national law firm and it is imperative that we continue to grow in regions and industries where we recognize and anticipate client needs,” Ronald S. Safer, Schiff Hardin’s managing partner, said in a statement.

Schiff Hardin established its Washington office in 1977. Bruder, Gentile was established in 1976.

Schiff Hardin has almost 400 attorneys in nine U.S. offices.

Appleby Names Hong Kong-Based Woo New Chairman

Appleby said Hong Kong-based managing partner Frances Woo will become group chairman, succeeding Peter Bubenzer, who will retire from Appleby on March 31 after more than 32 years at the firm.

Woo, who also heads both the corporate and commercial and private client and trusts practice groups for the Asia region, became a partner at Appleby in 1997. She was appointed managing partner of the Hong Kong office in 2000.

“Frances comes with a wealth of experience and understanding of our business and the offshore market,” Michael O’Connell, Appleby group managing partner, said in a statement.

The firm also announced the appointment of Cameron Adderley as global head of its corporate and commercial practice. Adderley will succeed Judith Collis, who held the post for seven years. She will retire from the firm on March 31 after 27 years.

The firm also elected Sean Dowling and Timothy Faries as group management committee board members.

Appleby has about 800 people, including 80 partners, operating from 12 offices worldwide.

Moves

New York Federal Prosecutor Joins Crowell & Moring

Crowell & Moring LLP hired federal prosecutor Glen G. McGorty in the white-collar and regulatory enforcement group in the firm’s New York office.

McGorty was a senior assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and senior trial counsel in the public corruption unit. He has been lead counsel in 15 federal jury trials, the firm said, including the prosecution of New York State Senator Carl Kruger and his co-conspirators.

In 14 years, McGorty has handled white-collar matters that include securities fraud, public corruption, wire and mail fraud, money laundering, tax violations and insider trading.

Crowell & Moring has more than 500 lawyers at 11 offices in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

King & Wood Partner and Four Lawyers Join DLA Piper

DLA Piper LLP hired Carolyn Dong as a partner in its Greater China practice. She will join the finance and projects group along with a team of four other lawyers.

Dong joins from King & Wood Mallesons, where she was a partner in the energy, resources and projects group. A team of four energy-sector lawyers, who will be based across DLA Piper’s Hong Kong and Beijing offices, will also join the firm with Dong.

Dong has experience acting for China’s state-owned enterprises and financial institutions, as well as U.S. and European companies, in project and structured financings in the energy and resources sector, the firm said.

DLA Piper has 4,200 lawyers in 30 countries worldwide.

China Mergers and Acquisitions Partner Joins Weil Gotshal

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP said Li Li joined its Beijing office as a partner in the mergers and acquisitions practice group. She was previously with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.

“Li Li will play a key role in our outbound China M&A practice,” Akiko Mikumo, managing partner for Asia, said in a statement. “Chinese outbound M&A transactions have grown from $30 billion in 2007 to nearly $80 billion in 2011 and we expect our China M&A practice to be engaged by an increasing number of Chinese companies doing deals outside of China.”

Weil, Gotshal has about 1,200 lawyers in offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Chicago Litigation Partner Joins Edwards Wildman

Jeffrey E. Crane, formerly a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, joined Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP as a partner in the litigation department in Chicago.

Crane’s principal areas of practice include commercial litigation, class actions, and insurance and financial services litigation.

Edwards Wildman has 650 lawyers at 15 offices in the U.S., London and Asia.

Environmental Lawyer Don Elliott Joins Covington

E. Donald Elliott, former chairman of the worldwide environment, health and safety department at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, has joined Covington & Burling LLP as senior of counsel.

Elliott, who was general counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1989 to 1991, has more than 30 years of experience in environmental law, administrative law and product liability and toxic torts.

Covington & Burling has more than 800 lawyers at nine offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Litigation

SEC’s Window for Fraud Suits May Be Narrowed by High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled it may tighten the time limits that apply when the Securities and Exchange Commission and other government agencies seek to impose fines on people and companies accused of fraud.

Hearing arguments yesterday in Washington, justices across the court’s ideological divide voiced doubt about the Obama administration’s position in a case involving market timing, the practice of making frequent, short-term trades at the expense of other investors.

The issue is whether the five-year window for suits had expired by the time the SEC sued two Gabelli Funds LLC officials, saying they secretly allowed market timing by a client. The Obama administration says the window opens only after the government has reason to know about a fraud -- an approach several justices said would reverse hundreds of years of practice and give federal enforcers too much power.

A federal appeals court in New York said the suit against Marc J. Gabelli and Bruce Alpert could go forward, agreeing with the Obama administration’s approach.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the five-year window “generous” and asked the government lawyer, Jeffrey Wall, why the SEC took so long to sue Gabelli and Alpert.

Wall told Ginsburg that the SEC was seeking documents and engaging in settlement discussions during that period.

Gabelli and Alpert’s lawyer, Lewis Liman, a lawyer at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, told the justices that the issue might be different had the SEC accused his clients of taking steps to conceal their activities.

“There’s no allegation whatsoever that anything was hidden from the government,” Liman said.

The case, which the court will decide by June, is Gabelli v. SEC, 11-1274.

For more, click here.

News

Clifford Chance Taking Sukuk Lessons Before New Law in Hong Kong

Maybank Kim Eng Holdings Ltd. and Clifford Chance LLP are training Hong Kong staff for the city’s first sukuk sales before lawmakers review a bill to give the debt equal tax treatment.

Maybank, the world’s third-largest Islamic bond arranger in 2012, has been preparing its investment banking teams in Hong Kong and China to chase Shariah-compliant deals, Chief Executive Officer Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said in a Jan. 4 interview. Clifford Chance, the U.K.’s highest-grossing law firm, has moved a sukuk specialist from Dubai to the city, Qudeer Latif, the company’s head of global Islamic finance, said before the bill is first debated by the Legislative Council today.

Demand for debt that complies with the Koran’s ban on interest will triple to $950 billion by 2017, Ernst & Young LLP said in a Dec. 10 report, compared with the $211 billion of the notes outstanding as of June 2012, Bank Negara Malaysia data show. Clifford Chance’s Qudeer said Chinese companies would benefit from tapping oil wealth from the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia has $635 billion of foreign-exchange reserves.

“The relocation is testament to the fact that we see a significant upturn in Islamic finance activities in East Asia,” he said in a Jan. 3 interview from Dubai. “I would fully expect that a Hong Kong issuer, or issuers in Asia who have assets in Hong Kong, will take the opportunity” to sell Shariah-compliant bonds once the bill is passed, he said.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury K.C. Chan will present a bill to the Legislative Council today that will exempt sukuk sellers from paying tax on the transfer of underlying assets for four Islamic debt structures, he said in a Dec. 28 statement. This will pave the way for issuers in China and the Middle East to tap Shariah-compliant markets via Hong Kong, and develop the city’s asset-management business by increasing product variety, he said in the statement.

Clifford Chance advised on Axiata Group Bhd.’s sale of 1 billion yuan ($161 million) of Islamic securities in Malaysia on Sept. 11, the world’s largest-ever offer of Chinese-currency sukuk. The Kuala Lumpur-based mobile-phone operator doubled the size of the sale after receiving bids for seven times the 500 million yuan originally offered. Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s sovereign-wealth fund, raised 500 million yuan by selling Islamic Dim Sum bonds in the tax haven of Labuan in November.

For more, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in New York at eamon2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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