Law firm Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés – Advogados (Lektou) will open a new branch in Lisbon, Portugal, on September 1 of this year, the law firm told Business Daily.
The new branch in Lisbon is the next wave of expansion for Lektou after setting up a joint-venture in July of last year – ZLF – in Hengqin with law firms from the Mainland and Hong Kong.
With the intention of supporting and promoting Macau’s role as a Sino-Luso platform, explains Lektou partner Pedro Cortés, the new branch in Lisbon will act as the Portuguese platform that allows clients from mainland China to invest in Portugal, and also “to attract some Portuguese companies to [invest] in Macau and Hengqin”.
‘The expansion to Portugal is part of Lektou’s internationalization strategy to better serve its clients and to position as a legal player in the Platform between the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Portuguese-speaking countries,’ the group shared in a press release.
Cortés points out that increasingly, more Chinese investors are interested and willing to invest in Portuguese-speaking countries.
“We have been in Brazil and Cape Verde […] and we consider that it is very important for us to have a pilot there […] and also to attract those companies to [invest] in Macau and Hengqin,” remarked Cortés, adding that they would have to seek sub-contractors to assist in transactions in the aforementioned places.
Cortés stressed that the expansion plans to use “the synergy with the office in China, the office of Macau and of course the office in Lisbon”. The local law firm has been headquartered in the MSAR for three decades.
“We are trying to promote the services in Hengqin,” said Cortés. “The idea, of course, is when we open this office in Portugal to attract the clients that we have in our office in China,” he stated.
The new branch in Portugal will be led by Óscar Alberto Madureira and will also employ Chinese-speaking legal staff.
Prior to taking up the job in Lisbon, Madureira acted as Senior Legal Counsel for Melco Entertainment in Macau for five years.
Madureira told Business Daily that there are not many firms which provide similar services, stating that “Lektou has a lot of room to expand”.
Madureira reiterated that the increasing number of foreign investors in the region drove the decision to choose Lisbon.
“We know that Lisbon is on China’s radar […] and there is a newly inaugurated direct flight between China and Portugal […] and Lisbon as the most important city in Portugal. Those are the reasons why we selected Lisbon as our first choice in terms of the overseas branch,” said Madureira.
The head of the Lisbon office also revealed that, apart from investments in residential housing, investments in commercial and industrial buildings and investments relating to agriculture are most common by Chinese investors.
Investments in professional services and technologies are also beginning to make an appearance in the Chinese investment market, said Madureira.
With the newly opened branch in Portugal, Cortés said the firm would hire more people in the future, or even send staff to the new office from Macau, if the business grows.
“The strategy is very conservative in the very beginning, but of course the idea is to have more people […] we may send people from our office in Macau to work there for certain transactions,” said Cortés.
Regarding the business in Hengqin, Cortés noted that the firm’s operations are a “marathon, not a short run”, while claiming that the business has been positive since opening.
“I would say we have been very successful in one year, but of course we want more,” remarked Cortés.
Last weekend, Lektou signed the Cooperation Charter of the “One Belt, One Road” Legal Services Cooperative with 32 other firms from 20 countries during the 2017 International Belt and Road Forum in Chengdu.