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October 24, 2012 10:23 pm

Grandall partner to lead new antitrust-focused law firm in China

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This article is provided to FT.com readers by PaRR (Policy and Regulatory Report)— a newly launched product of The Mergermarket Group providing proprietary intelligence and research on competition law and sector-specific regulatory changes around the world. www.parr-global.com

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A key partner at the Beijing-based Grandall Law Firm is departing to form a new firm that aims to be one of the top Chinese law firms specializing in antitrust practice, two founding partners in the new firm told PaRR.

Zhan Hao, currently the executive partner at Grandall, said he will bring with him the entire antitrust team and the insurance team, about 40 lawyers in total, to the new Anjie Law Firm, which will also be based in Beijing.

Twelve senior attorneys from eight Chinese law firms, including Grandall, Zhong Lun Law Firm, Zhonglun W&D Law Firm and Jia Yuan Law Offices, will be founding partners of Anjie, which will be operating next month, he told PaRR.

Three partners from Zhong Lun, including Michael Z.P. Gu, a veteran antitrust attorney, will join the Anjie venture, said Zhan, who will be the managing partner of Anjie. Gu confirmed he will join the new firm.

In total, the new firm will have around 100 attorneys initially, he added.

“We want to go to another firm that has a more streamlined management,” Zhan said.

Zhan is also one of the most highly respected antitrust attorneys in China and claims to have handled about 10% of merger review cases notified to the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) since the Anti-Monopoly Law was promulgated in 2008.

He said about 600 cases have been notified to MOFCOM so far.

“In the beginning, we will focus on Chinese clients and plan to set up branch offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen,” Zhan said. The new firm will also seek alliances with foreign law firms in Belgium, the US and the UK.

He said the Chinese legal industry has undergone transformation over the last three years, when Chinese firms have gained increasing experience and influence, and are now becoming more competitive with reputable foreign law firms.

“Three years ago most clients wanted to retain foreign law firms,” Zhan said to PaRR.

“Things have changed. Foreign [multinational] companies think Chinese law firms are more experienced now and the costs are reasonable compared with foreign law firms.”

He said he considers the antitrust divisions of King & Wood and T&D Associates to be the “biggest competitors” of Anjie.

Aside from the antitrust business, the new law firm will also focus on insurance issues, as well as intellectual property and foreign investments, he said.

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