The Firms

December 15, 2011 11:29 AM

King & Wood, Mallesons Confirm Ambitious Merger Plans

Posted by Ed Shanahan

China's King & Wood and Australia's Mallesons Stephen Jaques officially confirmed on Thursday that they intend to merge and create the largest law firm based in the Asia-Pacific region, sibling publication The Asian Lawyer reports.  The new firm—to be called King & Wood Mallesons—will launch in March 2012.

According to The Asian Lawyer's Jessica Seah, the long-anticipated deal "will see the firms merge their Hong Kong offices and operate under a common King & Wood Mallesons brand. The two firms' mainland China and Australia offices will remain financially distinct and operate together a Swiss Verein structure. Both firms say over 95 percent of their respective partnerships voted in favor of the deal."

The combined firm, which will number some 1,800 lawyers, is positioning itself clearly as an alternative  to the large U.S. and U.K. firms that have traditionally dominated major cross-border deals in the region, Seah reports.

"The Wall Street and Magic Circle firms have strong practices out here but it's not their backyard," Handel Lee, a King & Wood partner who is part of the committee driving the deal, told Seah. "This is not where they live. They followed their clients here but this is not their main region. For Mallesons and King & Wood, we are here and this is our territory."

Robert Milliner, chief executive partner of Mallesons, agreed. "The market now has been driven by the northern hemisphere," he said. "And when you look at how Asia has played a role in the global economy, there really hasn't been a true presence of any substance in the market. And that is the space that we believe we've stepped into."

Read the complete Asian Lawyer story on the merger here.


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