Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s former Asia managing partner, Gregory Puff, has left the firm to found a startup.
Puff is now chief executive of Hong Kong-based uFO Ordering Services, which has developed a mobile app that allows users to order food in nearby restaurants before they arrive.
Puff was recruited from Shearman & Sterling in 2012 to launch Akin Gump’s Hong Kong office alongside former partner Andrew Abernethy, who moved from Norton Rose Fulbright. (Abernethy also left the firm to start his own practice in 2015.) Puff has since led the Hong Kong office and the firm’s Asia practice.
In his capacity as an M&A lawyer, Puff specialized in deals related to private equity and venture funds. In 2015, he represented a consortium led by Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. on a $109 million investment into forestry company Greenheart Group Ltd.
A London-based spokesperson for Akin Gump confirmed Puff’s departure and said that the firm wishes him well in his future endeavors. London office partner-in-charge Sebastian Rice has assumed oversight of the Hong Kong office. Rice is working with Beijing managing partner William Rosoff and Singapore managing partner Robert Griffin to coordinate Asian businesses.
Akin Gump’s Hong Kong office, the largest of its three Asian branches, has 16 lawyers, including five partners. Four of the five – restructuring partners Naomi Moore, Mark Fucci and Matthew Puhar, and funds partner Anne-Marie Godfrey – joined the firm in late 2014 from the now-defunct Bingham McCutchen as part of a 25-partner hire across Hong Kong, London and Frankfurt. The only exception, international trade partner Tatman Savio, relocated from Washington, D.C., in 2015.