A Chinese law firm with international operations is launching official activity in Israel opening a local office. Earlier this month, the giant Chinese law firm, Yingke, the second largest in China, launched operations in Israel. The firm merged with Israeli law office Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co. In fact, Yingke acquired the firm's activities in order to open an office in Israel.
With over 2,000 lawyers in 36 offices located on four continents, the merged firm’s office in Israel will now be called Yingke Israel - Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co.
The story behind this interesting and unprecedented merger is reminiscent of the butterfly effect, meaning that a small change in the short term can lead to a chain of responses that in the end result in a major change. The story begins in 2001, when two law firms were founded at two different ends of the earth: one in Beijing, China and the other, in Herzliya. Both specialize in a variety of areas in civil, administrative and commercial law.
Given the difference in size between China and Israel, the Chinese firm grew at a dizzying pace and, as noted above, today has a team of more than 2,000 attorneys. The Israeli firm also grew, but at a somewhat more “moderate” pace, with seven lawyers (0.35% of the number at the Chinese firm).
Twelve years later, the paths of the partners of both firms crossed, and now, after over a year of meetings and discussions, the partnership has officially begun.
In honor of the establishment of the Israel office, a launch was held last week, attended by the two senior partners of the Chinese firm, Mei Xiangrong, who serves as the managing partner, and Linda Yang, the partner in charge of international business development.
Comprehensive service for clients
“We and our Chinese partners view our relationship with Yingke as an important and complementary step in the international activity of our offices,” said partner Eyal Khayat (52), who specializes in advising companies on commercial and high-tech issues. “The Chinese examined various options in Israel, and in the end we were selected due to our relative advantages that set us apart from the other contenders for a merger. The Chinese believed our prominence in the various areas of high-tech, venture capital and the government sector to be important.”
According to Adv. Khayat, the personal chemistry that developed in the meetings with the managing partners in China played an important role. “Both sides understood that what we had here was a win-win situation. From now on, we can handle ‘inbound’ Chinese business activity and provide current and future Israeli clients with comprehensive service, both locally and internationally, with a focus on China.
“There is a great deal of room for significant collaboration in the fields of technology, but also in many others. The ability to refer an Israeli client, for example, a contracting or industrial company, to a foreign office of which you are a part and can have direct contact with the lawyers there is a valuable asset, both for us and our clients.”
Adv. Linda Yang said, “Israel is known the world over as a ‘start-up nation,’ and we see this as another step in promoting the business relations between Israel and China, with us as the address for national business organizations interested in establishing relationships with their counterparts worldwide."
She continued, “At the legal and business level, the merger is expected to help strengthen the business relations between Israel clients and companies and businesses in China, and to offer Israeli companies that want to receive legal services in China direct access to the leading firm in China.”
Yang added that even in the first meetings with the Khayat team, it was clear to her and her partners that they had come to the right place and found the right people. “On the professional and interpersonal level, we were very impressed by them, making us realize that these were the partners we were looking for. What is important to us is that the partners in Israel understand the Israelis, because we know the Chinese, and that together we have outstanding chemistry that will benefit our clients.”
Partner Adv. Amir Zolty, (50), a partner in the firm specializes in technology and corporate law, said that the connection with an international firm will give them a “major boost” when it comes to access to new markets, “You could say that overnight we gained exposure to over 10 new markets around the entire world and new colleagues who are excited about the opportunity to cooperate with an Israeli firm. A small item Yingke posted about the opening of the Israeli office received 50,000 hits. That’s the magnitude of the potential.
He continued, “Yingke has a large network of relationships in the Chinese business arena, and they work closely with government regulatory bodies. This is tremendously valuable to Israeli clients. The same is also true in the other direction. From now on, Chinese infrastructure companies interested in responding to tenders in Israel will have an appropriate and experienced address to turn to in Israel.”
Investments of half a trillion dollars Data provided by the Chinese firm show that according to China’s five-year plan, in the coming years, Chinese organizations will invest over half a trillion dollars in the Western world.
According to Yang, “Israel is definitely an attractive target for such investments, particularly in the fields of high-tech, biotechnology and agritech, where Israel excels.”
In the coming months, the parties plan to continue strengthening personal relationships with their Chinese colleagues as well as those in Europe, and according to Adv. Eyal Neiger, it is also possible that Chinese attorneys will relocate to Israel. “Chinese attorneys have already been posted to several of the firm’s offices, and it is possible that it would happen here as well. In any event, if an Israeli client needs service in China, the service will be provided, through us, by Chinese lawyers, who are experts in their fields and in the relevant region of China.”
“In a nutshell,” summed up Yang, “In the dynamic and global world we live in, this is not only the right step, but one that is called for, and we only wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.”
The Israeli office: a boutique firm engaged in high-tech and venture capital
Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co. is a boutique law firm specializing in high-tech and venture capital. Attorneys Khayat, Zolty and Neiger were recently recognized in the prestigious Legal 500 ranking. Eyal Khayat was referred to as having “established an impressive reputation in the fields of high-tech and venture capital” and as “very proactive and creative.” Neiger was referred to as “very highly recommended” an attorney in commercial law and media law, and Zolty has been ranked by the Legal 500 directory since 2011 as one of the leading Israeli practitioners in the fields of high-tech and venture capital “who demonstrates outstanding dedication.”
In recent years, the firm has handled a variety of cases in the fields of commercial and administrative law. The firm handled venture capital investments and provided counsel to high-tech companies, government offices and organizations such as the Ministry of Transport and National Infrastructures in the field of the technology for public transportation, advised the Israel Airports Authority and Port of Ashdod on a variety of matters, including a reform of the ports, tenders and privatization and advice on the construction of the light rail in Tel Aviv.
The firm has also represented numerous start ups and mature companies such as Maytronics, N-trig and Perfecto Mobile in acquisitions and financing rounds. What’s more, it was the first and only firm to issue an Israeli company, Sarin Technologies, on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).
The Chinese firm: 20 offices in 8 years
Chinese giant, Yingke, was founded in Beijing in 2001. The meaning of the word ‘Yingke’ (derived from the Confucian school of thinking) suggests the need “to surmount the insurmountable.”
In eight years, the firm expanded activity in China and opened 20 offices in business centers such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing. In 2009, the firm began to expand globally and link up with firms around the globe through a strategy of forging collaboration with a strong local boutique firm.
The firm currently has offices in business capitals such as New York, London, São Paulo, Mexico City, Warsaw, Istanbul, Budapest, Milan, Verona, Brussels, Seoul and Taiwan.
In recent years, Yingke has climbed to the top of the list of global Chinese firms, with over 2,000 attorneys worldwide. In keeping with its size, its areas of expertise are diverse and cover all areas of civil and commercial law.
Yingke’s main growth drivers include large-scale projects, government tenders, venture capital transactions, and advising high-tech companies on a wide range of matters related to commercial law.
The firm’s client base includes: CSR, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric trains; China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC); XCMG Group, one of the world’s largest producers of construction machinery; and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) is working to build large passenger aircraft to reduce the country's dependency on Boeing and Airbus. In recent years the firm has also advised the government agency in charge of protecting intellectual property.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 25, 2013
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