Structuring investments between Europe and Asia
Thomas, Mayer &Associés (“TMA”)will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2015. Established in Hong Kong in 1995 as a French law firm,TMA has steadily developed its presence in the territory and is today recognized as a major actor in the structuring of business relationships of French and continental European entrepreneurs looking to explore the Asian market. Conversely TMA assists Asian clients in their European ventures.
TMA’s expertise in using Hong Kong as a platform for structuring international investments enables its clients to benefit comfortably fromthe legal security Hong Kong offers in the region.
As the vast majority of foreign investments in mainland China are structured in Hong Kong, Eric Mayer, partner at TMA explains, there’s simply no need for a project manager to go to China in order to structure an investment. Hong Kong will always be the stepping stone into the Chinese market. Mayer explains that Hong Kong will unlikely be replaced by China as a top international business hub because of the rule of law and flexibility of the business environment if offers.
“Many of our clients wish to establish in China. But legal aspects of setting up a business such as holdings agreements and the actual signing of deals are always done in Hong Kong because clients understand the legal security and advantages that the city has to offer”, explains Mayer. In China, the firm has advised clients in Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Harbin, Wuhan, Chengdu, and many other second-tier cities. “Being well connected to firms and professionals in mainland China is necessary in order to understand and control the important and complex legal documents needed in an investment project in China, and we will rely on local professionals to ensure that what needs to be done locally is done smoothly,” he says.
In the Europe towards Asia investment flow, most clients of TMA are French or Spanish speaking. TMA is in fact one of the few, if not the only firm in Asia with a team of twelve French lawyers. “French firms in China will only have one or two French lawyer heading a Chinese team. But our advantage is that we have a very good understanding of the French culture and that enables us to gain the complete trust of our clients.”
And the European clients that are trusting Thomas, Mayer & Associés for legal advices operate in sectors such as retail, real estate, events, medical, pharmaceutical, stones and other construction material, telecom, energy, industrial, including plastic engineering, manufacturing crowns for dentists, humidors, musical instruments, jewelry, and food and beverage, textiles, accessories, and even lingerie, just to name a few.
TMA client’s are also Chinese entrepreneurs seeking a foothold in France, through acquisitions or joint-ventures, also seek counsel from TMA. Regulations and rules in Europe are many and complying with many laws is tough. Eric-Jean Thomas says Chinese clients are attracted by French brands, just as much as the French business people are eager to go into China. “They look for relatively unknown brands that have gone into decline, but have a glorious past,’’ he says.
There are other entrepreneurs from China who are eager to develop their own brands and desire the added value of French design that will in itself be a selling point for their products among the mainland’s consumers who are attracted to all things French. Chinese business people who prefer French design have the capital and the manufacturing capability but not the style, Eric-Jean Thomas points out.
Mayer attributes part of the firm’s success to its capacity to provide practical assistance to its clients beyond the legal and tax fields. The firm’s experience in handling all the practical matters arising while setting up a business in a different legal environment facilitates greatly the successful implementation of its client’s business plans.