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Walkers expands Singapore team to meet rise in distressed funds work

Offshore law firm Walkers has expanded its new Singapore office with the transfer of senior funds attorney Laura Rogers from its Hong Kong office.

The firm says the move is in expectation of an increase in offshore legal work in Singapore, particularly with regard to distressed hedge funds, debt restructuring, and public-to-private deals.

Walkers anticipates that investment funds clients in Asia may soon start to face the same types of issues regarding illiquidity problems, restructuring, and the potential liquidation of funds that the firm has seen with its clients in Western markets.

"Liquidity issues and extreme levels of redemption requests for funds are currently less severe in Asia than the US and Europe have encountered," says Ashley Gunning, joint managing partner of Walkers' Singapore office and head of the investment funds group.

"However, we anticipate these problems may arrive in Asia in due course if markets continue to deteriorate. It is quite possible that the impact in Asia will be less severe than it has been elsewhere because Asian funds tend to be less leveraged and generally have less complex investment strategies than funds in, for instance, the US. However, in anticipation of challenging times we wanted to be sure we had the right team in place."

Rogers has worked extensively with funds clients and on other corporate transactions in Hong Kong and Singapore, bringing more than seven years of experience as an attorney in Asia.

She specialises in hedge funds, private equity funds, and providing general corporate advice and previously worked in Walkers' Hong Kong office. Prior to joining Walkers, she worked with Allen and Overy, joining their London office in 1999 and moving to Hong Kong in 2001.

"Laura brings valuable expertise in all aspects of funds work, as well as specific experience working in Southeast Asia," Gunning adds. "Despite, or even because of, the current economic climate, we are still seeing a number of new fund launches in Singapore, both from existing and new players in the market. It is now more important than ever that funds are structured from the start with contingencies for stressed market conditions. Walkers' clients receive the benefit of the expertise our team has accumulated working with clients around the world in these more turbulent times."

Walkers' Singapore office, offering both British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands legal services opened for business on 2 February 2009.

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