Simmons & Simmons has named Matthew Cox, an experienced commodity trade finance lawyer, as partner in Singapore.

Cox was most recently managing partner at Dentons Singapore, before the firm closed its Singapore practice months after a merger with one of China’s biggest law firms, Dacheng.

He has experience across the spectrum of structured trade products, including pre-export finance, advance payment structures, borrowing, supply chain finance, commodity repos and receivables financing. He will focus on international structured trade and commodity finance into emerging markets.

A number of law firms have been cutting back their Asian operations in recent months and years, but perhaps spying a gap in the market, Simmons has been strengthening by hiring a number of partners in the trade space. Jolyon Ellwood-Russell joined from DLA Piper in 2014, while Omar Al-Ali joined the London team last year.

Cox will be working closely with Dan Marjanovic in Singapore, Ellwood-Russell in Hong Kong and Yongmei Cai in Beijing.

Managing partner in Singapore Marjanovic tells GTR: “We are very pleased to have Matthew join us. He is an experienced STCF lawyer and adding Matthew to our Singapore office not only plays to our strengths, but brings a wealth of additional experience and contacts to our global commodities team. We have encouraged Matthew to continue to do what he does best, focusing on acting for banks, funds, traders and borrowers across the Asian commodities markets.”

He says that the firm will continue to strengthen the Asian practices, despite what is a challenging time for the commodity trade finance market.

Speaking of the challenges in the market, Cox says: “The global commodities markets face a host of challenges: falling commodity prices, increased regulation of banks, environmental sustainability concerns, high-profile defaults such as those seen recently in China and the possibility of Brexit.

“We are confident that the market will respond to these challenges and find ways to continue the financing of trade across the emerging markets. Paradoxically some recent defaults may prove beneficial in the long run by forcing improved understanding of risks and processes and clarifying the legal position of some of the commonly used ownership structures for commodity finance.

“We see opportunities for instance for niche non-bank financiers to step into segments of the markets that are no longer adequately serviced by the banks. We expect the focus on regulatory compliance to continue to grow.”