Asia is “increasingly relevant” to Guernsey

08 October 2018

The Asia-Pacific region is becoming increasingly relevant to Europe and the Channel Islands, according to a leading offshore lawyer in Hong Kong.

Paul Christopher leads Mourant’s corporate and investment funds team in Asia and is managing partner of the Hong Kong office.

“The APAC region is a growth economy and increasingly relevant in this part of the world [Europe],” he said, “for many reasons, but fundamentally because of the increase in wealth in the region, for example businesses in Europe and the Channel Islands may end up being owned by Chinese businesses.”

Mr Christopher relocated to Hong Kong from Guernsey in 2011 to open the Mourant Ozannes office in 2012, from where it services the entire Asia-Pacific region, with work coming in from as far afield as Australia. The firm employs 42 people in Hong Kong, with five partners, and continues to grow revenue and headcount. It has been the fastest-growing offshore firm in the region during that time.

Business is particularly strong in litigation, corporate and finance work, he said, while funds business is “bubbling up steadily”.

“Every week this year we have had at least a couple of fund formation requests. Private equity and venture capital will continue to boom in this part of the world, not just with international managers but also working with big fund managers in Hong Kong and China.”

Mr Christopher said that several years in the region had been an eye-opening experience.

“It is quite remarkable over that time how Chinese businesses and politics have started to influence the world in a way it didn’t then, and will continue to do so,” he said.

Links between Hong Kong and Guernsey are strong, he said, although the default offshore jurisdictions for Hong Kong and China tend to be Cayman and the British Virgin Islands.

“Offshore is growing in Asia, it is a fundamental part of the legal fabric. Guernsey and Jersey are not used so much, but that is not to say that there isn’t potential for the future.”

Mr Christopher, who spoke to a Guernsey audience on a return visit to the island, also offered advice on dealing with time zone differences.

“With the time zone differences, if you have a question – call. Emails can leave all parties waiting 24 hours, which isn’t helpful when dealing with time-sensitive matters. At Mourant we work as one global team, so we’re able to pool our resources to ensure the best outcome for the client, wherever in the world they are based.”

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