International law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has today announced the significant lateral hire of a team of five lawyers from William KK Ho & Co, an independent boutique firm specialising in asset financing for aircraft and ships. Two Partners, William Ho and Jackson Chow will move to BLP’s Hong Kong office on 18 July 2016.
William Ho has over 24 years’ experience in asset finance. He is ranked band 1 for Aviation Finance – China by Chambers Asia Pacific 2016 and has a broad range of expertise across export credits, sovereign lending, tax leases, operating leases and sale and purchase of aircraft and large shipping vessels. He has acted upon aircraft financings and operating leases for more than 1000 aircraft and has worked on many European and US ECA-backed aircraft financings and pre-delivery transactions. Airfinance Journal has recognised his work by awarding him ‘Deal of the Year’ ten times between 1999 and 2015.
Joining William in the move is Jackson Chow who will also become a Partner at BLP. Again specialising in asset finance, Jackson has acted for airlines, banks and aircraft lessors and has a broad experience in a myriad of aviation related matters, particularly cross-border financing transactions, asset backed securitisations, Japanese operating leases and French tax leases. Three Associates, Karen He, Clara Lam and Calvin Leung will also join BLP, along with Paralegal Victoria Li and three business services staff.
The hires of William and Jackson follow the recent appointment of Colin Thaine as Aviation Business Principal. Colin joined BLP on 11 April 2016 to help grow the Firm’s Asian business. He has a career of more than 40 years specialising in aircraft finance within the aviation industry (with Airbus, BCAL and Qantas) as well as in private practice, in London, New York, Paris, Dublin, Geneva and Sydney. Colin was the CEO of an Airbus affiliated finance company for six years, a general counsel at OnAir (an inflight connectivity joint venture between SITA and Airbus) and he led the aviation finance team at an international law firm for 12 years. BLP’s Asset Finance team was also recently strengthened with the promotion of Simon Spells to Partner and the appointments of a number of high quality Associates across the Firm’s Singapore and Hong Kong offices.
With the asset finance market in Hong Kong on an upward trend at present, the William KK Ho & Co team hire will help BLP to drive forward the Firm’s growth plans in Asia and build a best-in-class Asset Finance practice in the region. The Hong Kong Government will launch a series of initiatives to turn Hong Kong into an aircraft leasing and financing centre; its strategic geographical location, prominent role as a business hub in Asia, and well-developed financial centre and legal system, make it an attractive destination. The aim is to entice global aircraft leasing companies, banks and financial institutions to set up aircraft leasing operations in Hong Kong, to shift the market share from Ireland and Singapore and to increase aircraft-related business and fund-raising activities in Hong Kong and mainland China. All of these factors make it an important time for BLP to be strategically investing in its Asset Finance practice in the region.
BLP’s Hong Kong office opened in October 2011 and along with its Beijing office, will now have 30 lawyers, including 11 partners. In addition to Asset Finance, the Firm’s main practices in the region are in the following key areas; Litigation and Corporate Risk, Real Estate, Private Wealth and Corporate.
Bob Charlton, Head of Asia, BLP, commented: “William is keen to build the leading Asset Finance legal business in Asia and it is testament to the work we’re doing in the region that he believes BLP, given our strength in this space alongside our geographical reach, has the platform to help him deliver this.
“The addition of this market leading team provides us with important Chinese capabilities in our Hong Kong office and the combination of our businesses enhances our client penetration and market profile and crucially, our ability to serve clients. There are great synergies with our business being primarily lessor based, whilst William’s enviable client base has been more financier/operator based; our clients will benefit from this. Together we will make a powerful impact and, with Colin Thaine supporting our expanded Asset Finance team across Hong Kong and Singapore, we will be aiming to grow our Asian business and take a market-leading step forwards.”
Adam Dann, Head of Finance, BLP, added: “The aviation financing and leasing market is booming at present. In the next 20 years, it is estimated that over 35,000 new aircraft will be required to meet an expected annual five per cent growth in world passenger travel. With Asia Pacific set to become the most important region for global air traffic with over a third of the market, the opportunities for our Firm are obvious.
“These hires enhance our global finance capabilities and are wholly in alignment with a key part of the Firm’s overall strategy to continue to develop our debt finance and corporate capabilities. Our Asset Finance practice spans Asia and Europe and has developed into a market leading, global, interconnected business. William and his team will add best-in-class capabilities around our sector focuses with knowledge and expertise in shipping and rail which will enhance our existing capabilities. This is a hugely positive hire for BLP.”
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