Asia, Business & trade, New in Lobbying, US-China tensions

Tencent hires top M&A lawyer in response to Trump’s WeChat order

The company behind China’s most popular mobile application has hired a top Mergers & Acquisitions lawyer after coming under fire from the Donald Trump administration.

Tencent USA, the Palo Alto-based US subsidiary of WeChat owner Tencent Holdings, hired New York lawyer Toby Myerson effective Aug. 11, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. The registration comes just days after Tencent hired New York-based law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison to lobby on the same issue, as we reported Monday.

Myerson will provide “strategy and legal advice” regarding Trump’s Aug. 6 executive order giving US companies 45 days to unwind any commercial relations with WeChat. Myerson worked at Paul Weiss for 35 years and was co-head of the firm’s Global Mergers and Acquisitions Group before leaving to start his own firm, Longsight Strategic Advisors, in 2016.

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More than a billion people around the world use the multi-purpose app for everything from messaging to consuming news to paying bills. Trump’s order leaves it up to the US Commerce Department to determine whether US “transactions” with Tencent include individual payments by WeChat users.

It’s also unclear if Tencent’s lucrative video gaming operations, the largest in the world by revenue, could also be impacted since many users pay for those services via WeChat. As US-China tensions have been rising, Tencent-owned video game company Riot Games of Los Angeles hired Washington firm Platinum Advisors in February to lobby on data privacy and intellectual property issues.

The esports promoter and maker of the wildly popular League of Legends game paid the firm $90,000 in the first half of the year to lobby Congress.