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Withers moves into Australian market with new alliance

The firm has identified Australia as a key market for high-net worth clients

18 December 2014

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The firm has identified Australia as a key market for high-net worth clients

The international law firm, Withers, has established its first presence in the Australian legal market by forming an alliance with Sydney based tax firm, Balazs & Welch LLP.

The new alliance will be called Withers SBL and offer tax and corporate services.

Withers has recruited Rita Chowdhury as partner and will managed Withers' arm of the alliance, while corporate partner Justin Shmith will lead Balazs & Welch's arm of the alliance.

Withers managing director Margaret Robertson, commented: "This alliance represents a huge step forward in the development of Withers' international footprint. Australia offers a great range of opportunities for Withers, not just as a stand-alone market for successful people, but also as an integral part of the regional Asia-Pacific market.

"We have monitored the Australian legal market for growth opportunities for many years and the range of services and skills offered by Rita and the Withers SBL alliance provide an incredibly strong entry proposition into what is a fairly fragmented field for private client firms. Our alliance partners will work closely with our teams in Hong Kong and Singapore to benefit from the vigorous flow of business between Australia, China and South East Asia more broadly. They will also work with our European and US teams to provide cutting edge advice to their Australian clients as they expand their investments outside Australia," she said.

Rita Chowdhury has led corporate and private client immigration practices at Deloitte and Baker & McKenzie and formed her own practice at the start of the year.

"I am very excited to have joined Withers at this pivotal moment in their international growth strategy. Demand for Australian immigration advice is at an all-time high, as wealthy Asian families look to move here, and I look forward to working with my new colleagues in the international Immigration team to build the leading regional practice," she commented.

Justin Shmith was most recently a partner in Ashurst's corporate and commercial team in Melbourne and was formerly its Asia Practice Leader. He established his own practice which will now work under the Withers SBL banner.

Schmith commented on the alliance: "I believe that there is a significant and underserviced market amongst high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs in Australia or who may be looking to migrate to Australia, and Withers SBL will be perfectly positioned to tap into this with the backing of Withers' international network and expertise. I think Australian clients can benefit from the kind of international market leading private client experience that Withers can bring."

He concluded: "My background has involved a lot of work in Asia, and specifically in China, and I also intend to focus on collaborating with Withers' Asian practice to capitalise on the incredible demand for expert private client advice amongst the region's rich and successful business people and families."


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