Baker & McKenzie Opens Myanmar Office in Yangon
Baker & McKenzie opened its 16th office in the Asia Pacific in Yangon, Myanmar. The move is seen as bolstering the global law firm's strategy to establish itself as the international law firm with the widest presence in the region. The announcement was made in the Annual Pacific Meeting of the firm held in Tokyo attended by over 300 regional partners.
With the addition of the new office in Myanmar, Baker & McKenzie now has 75 offices across 47 jurisdictions in the world. This is Baker & McKenzie's sixth new office launched in the last two years, and follows the launch of its offices in South Korea, Peru, Dubai, Morocco and South Africa.
After decades of international economic isolation, Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in Asia, is growing at a fast pace with energy, mining, telecommunications and infrastructure industries already active and facing legal issues in trying to come to terms with local laws which are currently in flux. However, with the release of bottled-up growth, annual economic growth can exceed 8 percent according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. Companies like Coca-Cola, General Electric and Telenor ASA have already entered the market full scale.
The launch of Baker & McKenzie's office in Myanmar reflects the continuing interest of the international business community in Myanmar and the law firm's strategy to be among 'first-movers.'
Chris Hughes, from the law firm's Sydney office, will be currently in charge of the office in Yangon. Hughes is an experienced infrastructure and corporate lawyer and would be leading the team of Myanmar-qualified lawyers. He will also be supported by lawyers with Myanmar language skills based in the firm's offices in Sydney and Singapore.
Hughes admitted, "Entering new markets, especially frontier, high-growth markets, is challenging." But, he said it was easier for Baker & McKenzie with "six decades of experience advising companies doing responsible business in emerging markets."
Eduardo Leite, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Baker & McKenzie said, "Clients are increasingly looking to Myanmar and South-east Asia for growth opportunities, particularly as the ASEAN nations work collaboratively towards achieving the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015."
Hughes affirmed, saying, "With our local knowledge and global experience and resources, we are well placed to serve the expanded base of international and Asian companies that are eager to invest in Myanmar. We are here for the long haul and look forward to working with Myanmar institutions, officials and regulators to lend our support to the country's transition."