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‘Detailed discussions’: KWM enters formal talks with shortlist of merger suitors

Partners at King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) have been told at a partnership meeting today (9 December) of a shortlist of potential suitors as the European partnership enters deeper discussions for a rescue deal.

A spokeswoman said: ‘King & Wood Mallesons EUME is pleased to confirm that it has received a number of indicative purchase offers. The management team and its financial advisers have reviewed these and are now entering into detailed discussions with a small number of parties.’

She added: ‘This is a significant step forward for King & Wood Mallesons EUME but, as you would expect, the firm will not be commenting further given the confidential nature of these important discussions. A further announcement will be made once discussions have been completed.’

As revealed by Legal Business, Dentons has already emerged as a suitor for the entire business.

The news emerges after earlier this week Barclays moved to take extra security over KWM assets with a second debenture, following a string of high-profile departures from the firm.

Former KWM managing partner William Boss was hired earlier this week by Addleshaw Goddard, alongside property partner Simon Tager and commercial real estate partner Michael Scott.

Last week, it was reported that KWM’s head of litigation Craig Pollack is in talks to move to US firm Covington & Burling. Heavyweight biller Michael Halford has also confirmed his move to Goodwin Procter, with funds partners Ajay Pathak, Ed Hall, Shawn D’Aguiar and Patrick Deasy also expected to join.

Corporate finance partner Andrew Wingfield and former managing partner Rob Day have also quit for Proskauer Rose, the pair giving notice alongside Halford and Jonathan Pittal and causing the firm to halt its recapitalisation plan back in October.

Following the quartet’s resignations in October and failed merger talks with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius last month, the European partnership looked to its Chinese and Australian arm for a rescue deal. The deal required around 60% of the European partnership to commit to a 12 month lock-in and a contribution of around £14m in capital.

This meant that around 70 of 120 partners had to agree. However, this was not successful, as only 21 partners agreed to the deal.

KWM will not comment further until a new statement is released.

For more on King & Wood Mallesons, subscribers can read ‘Branded’ for an in-depth look at the firm.