Name: Vivian Desmonts
Firm Name: Gowling WLG
Jurisdiction: China
Practice Area: M&A Law

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Professional Biography:

Leaders in Law endorses Vivian Desmonts as our exclusively recommended M&A Law expert in China. If you wish to get in touch with Vivian, please use the contact information provided above.

Partner & Head of Guangzhou office at Gowling WLG

Vivian will focuses on building relationships with Chinese businesses entering or expanding in international markets, as well as international companies looking to do business in China. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Guangzhou office.

Vivian previously joined from DS Avocats after serving for a number of years as the firm’s Chief Representative in Guangzhou, having been instrumental in establishing the office there in 2007. He worked as an associate lawyer in the Paris office of DS Avocats and spent some time with the firm in Shanghai.

Licensed as a French attorney at law admitted to the Paris Bar, he is also a registered foreign lawyer with the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Justice and arbitrator at the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration.

Vivian broad expertise ranges from legal services and particular experience in advising clients on the establishment, acquisition, operations and restructuring of joint venture companies and wholly foreign owned enterprises in China. He has extensive knowledge of the Chinese market and wider region, and has worked with national and international clients from all sectors.

Practice Areas

In charge of advising European and Canadian groups in their acquisition of Chinese companies (small & mid-cap deals), for example:

    • Advising a major European Group in the food industry for the acquisition of a €60 million factory in the bakery industry, with management earn-out and multi-jurisdictional elements (Hong Kong common law and Chinese continental law);
    • Advising a global leader in plant-based ingredients for the acquisition of a factory manufacturing pharmaceutical products in South China, driving the client through the public tender process for acquisition of Chinese State-Owned assets and securing the pharma licenses with the local FDA;
    • Advising European SMEs and Groups in their dealings with difficult Chinese partners in Sino-Foreign Joint Venture Companies, including implementation of buyout or exit strategies;
    • Advising a Fortune 500 in the sale of its Chinese subsidiary in the nuclear industry to another Fortune 500, with legal and tax aspects in China related to the earnout paid abroad;
    • Advising PE funds for acquisition or sale of shares in Chinese companies, including a Canadian PE fund investing over CAD 20 million in a paint and coating factory near Shanghai;
    • Advising jointly with lawyers of different jurisdictions a global manufacturer of aluminum alloys in a multijurisdictional transaction including a factory in North China, which was finally carved out because of pollution concerns and potential joint and several liabilities.
  • Corporate & commercial
    • Working for over 15 years in China, Vivian has participated in the establishment or restructuring of numerous foreign invested enterprises in China, including for operators in regulated industries such as nuclear, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, alcohol beverages, inspection & certification services, finance, logistics.
    • Advising foreign investors for structuring their operations in mainland China, whether with or without a holding company in Hong Kong or in Singapore; for example Joint-Venture companies in Hong Kong with Chinese partners and legal challenges on round-trip investment back to China;
    • Advising on different legal aspects when moving factories in China (issues related mainly to corporate, employment, tax, environmental remediation), for example the move of a 50,000 sqm factory from Shenzhen to Huizhou for a large European Group in electrical equipments;
    • Advising a European shareholder when its Chinese partner in a sino-joint Venture was about to sell their 120,000 sqm site in Guangxi province with a price premium for the land to be paid directly to the Chinese party instead of the Joint-Venture;
    • Drafting employment contracts, employee handbooks, EHS guidelines for Chinese subsidiaries in consideration of international Group policies, for example a manufacturer of glass containers with over 900 employees and reinforced work safety measures;
    • Drafting purchase contracts and codes of conduct for a Global company selling sorting and recycling equipments to Chinese State-Owned Enterprises;
    • Advising a global leader in cosmetic products when negotiating with the Chinese Customs on the assessment of imported samples and testers for the previous year;
    • Cooperation with business advisory firms, Consulates and Trade Councils as well as European authorities for the protection of foreign investments in China, including theft of company assets by Chinese partners, criminal offence by employees, pressure by local government to move industrial sites, etc.

Career / Qualifications

  • November 2019 – Gowling WLG (UK), Partner
  • 2012 – Member of the panel of arbitrators, Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration
  • 2007 – DS Avocats, Expatriate Partner, Chief Representative Guangzhou office
  • 2007 – Registered foreign lawyer, Guangdong Bureau of Justice
  • 2004 – Admitted to the Bar, Paris
  • 2004 – DS Avocats, Associate
  • 1999 – University of Paris II Assas, Master in Business and taxation law (Maitrise de droit des affaires et fiscalité)
  • 1998 – DS Avocats, Paralegal/Intern


    • 2000 – University of Paris II Assas, Postgraduate degree in Comparative law (DEA de droit comparé)
    • 1998 – University of Le Havre Normandy, Bachelor in private law


      English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese

      Firm Description:

      Gowling WLG represents a natural evolution for its founding firms – Gowlings and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co – who, throughout their histories, have continually adapted to better serve their clients’ needs.

      With roots tracing back to 1887, Gowlings has grown to become one of the largest and most respected law firms in Canada, with a reputation for innovation in client-focused service delivery.

      Building on its early strength in intellectual property, Gowlings has diversified to offer a full suite of business law, litigation and intellectual property services in all of Canada’s key industries, including energy, mining, financial services, government, infrastructure, manufacturing, life sciences and technology. Gowlings ranks among the busiest law firms in the world for Canadian M&A, and is known for its deep experience in client advocacy before courts, tribunals, regulatory bodies and governments in Canada.

      Becoming a founding member of an international law firm is a natural progression for Gowlings, which has always operated with an international mindset, forming strong partnerships globally to better serve the needs of its clients. Prior to the combination with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, Gowlings was home to 2,000 people in 10 offices across Canada and in London, Moscow and Beijing.

      Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (WLG) was formed by the merger of Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham in May 2014.

      The move introduced a new firm to the UK legal market, giving clients access to a broader range of services, increased capability in London and the UK, and enhanced international coverage. WLG is synonymous with outstanding client service and sector knowledge providing advice and solutions based on understanding the commercial issues, challenges and opportunities clients face. The merger created one of the UK’s largest real estate practices – a broad-based practice acting for institutions, investors, developers and occupiers – and the UK’s number one AIM firm; a position further enhanced through WLG’s combination with Gowlings.

      WLG has a strong financial services pedigree thanks to its market-leading investment funds practice, award-winning pensions experts and a highly rated private capital team, which advises UK and international high-net-worth individuals. In dispute resolution, WLG brought together Wragge & Co’s strengths in intellectual property, construction and commercial litigation with Lawrence Graham’s focus on international disputes, particularly in the areas of fraud and asset tracing, contentious trusts and insurance/reinsurance.

      WLG can trace its roots back to 1730, when Lawrence Graham became one of the first law firms to register in the City of London. Wragge & Co was founded in 1834. Since then, both have established themselves as major UK firms before embarking on international growth. Wragge & Co opened offices in Germany and China in 2008, a full service office in Paris in 2010 and in Dubai in 2011. Lawrence Graham opened its first overseas office in 2003 in Monaco, followed by Dubai, Singapore and Moscow (the latter by joint venture).

      Forming WLG was the first step towards creating a new international law firm. As a founding member of Gowling WLG, the firm offers clients increased international capability, connections and coverage.

      Around the world, our member firms operate and provide legal services to clients as separate legal entities under the common brand of Gowling WLG.

      Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and Gowling WLG (UK) LLP are members of Gowling WLG International Limited, a company limited by guarantee registered in England.  Gowling WLG is the name and brand under which the members of Gowling WLG International Limited and their respective affiliates provide services around the world.  However, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and Gowling WLG (UK) LLP operate and carry on business as independent and autonomous entities.  They are not one international partnership and the members of Gowling WLG International Limited are not legal partners with each other. Gowling WLG International Limited does not provide legal or other services to clients. Rather, its purpose is to act as a coordinating entity for its members.  Our structure is explained in more detail on our Legal Information page.