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Singaporean law firm expands to Cambodia

Rajah & Tann, Southeast Asia’s largest law firm, has expanded to Cambodia through a tie-up with local law firm Sok & Heng, which has taken on a new name, RT Sok & Heng Law Office.

Operations began on February 1 for the newly branded firm, led by the two founding partners of Sok & Heng, Sok Khavan and Heng Chhay. Besides working with its clients, the firm will also help Rajah & Tann clients seeking legal advice on Cambodia.

In a press release last month, Khavan said that his clients in the Kingdom are increasingly looking for business opportunities overseas, and foreign interest in Cambodia is also growing. Being part of the Rajah & Tann network “puts us in a prime position to take advantage of the growth opportunities.”

Rajah & Tann’s deputy managing partner, Patrick Ang, estimates that there are “not more than 10 international law firms” assisting foreigners investing in Cambodia, and his firm is now one of them.

With the Cambodian Stock Exchange recently launched, local companies that are considering listing but are unfamiliar with the process can also go through RT Sok & Heng for Rajah & Tann’s regional expertise, he added.

Singapore-based Rajah & Tann’s network currently includes China, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, offering services in areas including corporate finance and capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, shipping, and litigation. Its office in Myanmar launches on March 1.

Before the formal tie-up, Sok & Heng was the local associate office for Rajah & Tann.

While the two firms have integrated their business operations, they still operate under separate regulatory and legal frameworks, and do not share profits, said Ang.

“We operate as business partners […] but it is not considered a merger or acquisition,” he added.

“The firm is still owned by Cambodian-registered lawyers, only with the support of lawyers from Singapore.”

Under Cambodian regulations, foreign companies cannot practice local law.

With the tie-up, RT Sok & Heng’s current 10-lawyer team is expected to “expand in numbers”, Ang said.

But the firm is having difficulty “finding good English-speaking lawyers in Cambodia”, said Desmond Wee, a partner with Rajah & Tann.

RT Sok & Heng could not be reached for comments yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Low Wei Xiang at lowweixiang@live.com

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