Japan’s biggest law firm, Nishimura & Asahi (N&A), has expanded its global presence to Europe with two new offices in Germany – a principal office in Frankfurt and a branch office in Düsseldorf.
Nishimura says the German operations will target Europe-based work post-Brexit and be co-led by partner Noriya Ishikawa and foreign law partner Dominik Kruse.
Frankfurt is tipped to become Europe’s financial hub after Brexit, so N&A ’s primary focus will be in the city, where services provided will be related to cross-border transactions, M&A, IP and dispute resolution.
The Düsseldorf branch will advise on subsidiaries and affiliates of Nishimura’s existing Japanese clients based in the city and surrounding regions.
N&A Germany co-head Kruse explained the firm’s timing for expansion into Europe to Asia Business Law Journal, along with what made them decide upon Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. “Having successfully expanded and developed our operations across Asia, followed by the opening of our New York office in 2018, we felt that the time was right for us to expand our presence into Europe,” he said.
“We actually have a long history of advising clients in Europe, working closely with top-tier European law firms, and this new presence in Germany will enable us to provide them with even closer collaboration, faster response times and more efficient services.”
Kruse said foreign investment in continental Europe had been increasing steadily in the past few years. “We think the trend will continue, particularly with respect to Germany and also Eastern Europe, for which Frankfurt is a gateway. We also see increased demand from European companies to invest in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, in all of which we have well established offices.
“While we consider Frankfurt an international business hub where we can advise our clients on their current and future businesses and investments in Europe, Düsseldorf is home to the subsidiaries of many Japanese companies. Therefore, having a branch office there will enable us to provide those clients with a closer and more convenient presence and co-ordinating point.
“Having two locations, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, will enable us to provide the best legal services to both our international clients wishing to do business in Asia, and our Japanese clients.”
Kruse said the amount of business the firm already had in Germany and Europe was promising. “The number of EU-related M&A deals on which we have advised in the past few years has more than tripled, due to a much broader range of Japanese companies considering overseas acquisitions to further their growth outside Japan,” he said.
“We also advise on regulatory and compliance matters in Europe, especially in situations where our Japanese clients based in Europe are required to achieve GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] compliance.
“Clients that we have already been advising from our Tokyo office on such matters will enjoy the convenience of having prompt, direct communication with our attorneys at our German offices, and 24-hour access to a team of attorneys across N&A’s global network.”
Kruse said further expansions had not yet been planned but he added the firm would look at other European cities if the market remained favourable and served the interests of clients. “London or possibly Brussels are attractive candidates,” he said.
Outside Japan, the firm currently has offices in Vietnam, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Myanmar, as well as an associated office in Indonesia and an affiliated office in Hong Kong.