MdME Becomes First Macau Law Firm To Establish In Hong Kong - Establishing The Legal Bridge Between Hong Kong And Macau
Legal News & Analysis - Asia Pacific - Hong Kong - Macau
23 October, 208
MdME, one of the leading law firms in Macau, has become the first Macau law firm to set up in Hong Kong following approval from the Law Society of Hong Kong to register as a foreign law firm to practice Macau law in Hong Kong.MdME, the fastest growing full-service law firm in Macau, officially opened its Hong Kong office today — the same day the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge was officially opened. Mirroring the tripartite connections of the bridge, MdME will soon also become the first law firm to have offices in the three jurisdictions of the Greater Bay Area once it receives approval to open in the Hengqin island, Zhuhai.
The opening of MdME’s Hong Kong office is motivated by various market developments and trends in Macau, the Greater Bay Area and in a number of Portuguese-speaking countries globally. These developments will increase business and economic activities between Hong Kong and Macau and will open up significant opportunities for Hong Kong corporations, investors and financial institutions.
Many Hong Kong-based and Hong Kong-listed companies are already active and prospering in the Macau market. These include the six gaming concessionaries and other gaming players in the region, as well as numerous developers, contractors, service providers, private equity funds and retailers. Further opportunities for Hong Kong companies are also expected to arise in Macau from fundamental changes poised to occur in the special administrative region’s financial markets. Significant amendments to Macau’s Financial System Act will likely soon be implemented, including the introduction of specific regulations for fintech, payment systems, RMB clearing for transactions and, more significantly, the expected creation of a Macau Bond Exchange for the regulated issuance and trading of bonds and other debt instruments. The exchange is expected to provide substantial financing prospects for Hong Kong companies seeking to make the most of the mounting liquidity of local Macau banks as well as excellent returns on investment prospects for Hong Kong investors.
Macau is also poised to offer increased real estate opportunities for Hong Kong developers, banks, construction companies and consultants in the coming years. This is owing to both ambitious reclamation plans that are already underway as well as government tenders expected within the next few years for the development of 65 plots of land for which land concessions have recently expired and that together constitute approximately 15 percent of the autonomous region’s landmass.
MdME also foresees economic activities emanating from the Chinese mainland as providing new collaborative business opportunities between Macau and Hong Kong.
The strong medium-term development potential of Hengqin island at the heart of the Greater Bay Area is expected to soon start attracting Hong Kong businesses, investors and developers. The entire island is designated a special economic district named Hengqin New Area and has adopted a legal system similar in nature to the legal framework in Macau. This makes Macau an attractive access jurisdiction to the district in terms of corporate structures as well as project financing schemes with local banks, which are actively seeking to fund investments on the island, thus offering MdME a unique opportunity to provide legal services to investors once its application to establish an office in Hengqin is accepted.
There is also increasing interest from Hong Kong corporations to invest in global Portuguese-speaking countries. In the last few years, a number of Hong Kong investors have been particularly active in the Portuguese real estate market and Chinese SOEs have increased Belt & Road-style investment in African Portuguese-speaking countries such as Angola and Mozambique. As the primary gateway for outbound investment, Hong Kong has become an increasingly relevant jurisdiction for legal services focused on assisting Chinese investors in their overseas projects, many of which are made through vehicles registered in Hong Kong. As a member of the Morais Leitão Legal Circle — an integrated network of independent law firms established in Portuguese speaking countries including Portugal, Angola and Mozambique — MdME would be well positioned to facilitate introductions and communications between financiers and corporations in Hong Kong and MdME’s in-country affiliates expert in the legal systems in the investment target countries.
Gonçalo Mendes da Maia, founding and Managing Partner of MdME, said, “When MdME was established 12 years ago, we set out to replicate the standards and sophistication of Hong Kong law firms. This helped us establish strong, long-standing relationships in the Hong Kong market, so the decision to be the first mover among Macau law firms to open in Hong Kong came naturally to us. Also, it is one more step to achieve our mission to become a truly regional firm in the Greater Bay area, which will be concluded with the setting up of our Hengqin office next year.”