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Ashurst gears up for new chairman election as Oz merger vote is brought forward

As Ashurst nears a crucial vote on full integration with Australian partner Blake Dawson – now known as Ashurst Australia – the firm’s partners are also poised to elect the firm’s next chairman.

Partners were informed this morning (23 September) that Ashurst dispute resolution partner Ben Tidswell and Ashurst Australia competition and consumer protection partner Peter Armitage will be running for the role alongside current senior partner Charlie Geffen, whose role will be replaced by the new chairman position.

Voting will start this week – from 27 September until 15 October – with an announcement of the outcome due the following day. Voting to elect the vice-chairman role will follow once the chairman has been chosen.

London-based Tidswell, who advises on restructuring, insolvency and banking disputes, is a current board member while Sydney-based Armitage leads the Australian competition and consumer protection team.

However, Geffen is widely tipped to remain in the top role. One partner at Ashurst says: ‘I can’t see a change in chairman in the short term. It would concern me if there was a change – maybe in two or three years’ time.’

Also sitting on the firm’s board will be global managing partner James Collis and chief financial officer Brian Dunlop.

The vote for the firm to fully merge with legacy Blake Dawson will close by the end of this week – ahead of the previously expected timescale of the end of October. However, a 75% majority vote is required from partners at both ends for the combination to go ahead as one partnership with a shared global profit pool, something that is by no means a forgone conclusion.

The Asia operations of both firms combined back in March 2012.