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Full speed ahead – Ashurst puts in place joint corporate structure as full integration looms

As Ashurst proceeds headlong towards its October vote on full financial integration with Asia Pac’s Blake Dawson the firm has put in place a democratic corporate structure that sees current managing partner (MP) James Collis confirmed as global MP of the merged entity.

Many of the appointments are expected; Ashurst Australia’s managing partner John Carrington will retain that role, although more of a surprise is the fact that the senior partner title currently held by Charlie Geffen will disappear, to be replaced on a new-look joint board by an elected chairman and vice chairman, who must come from different legacy firms (a betting person might suggest Geffen and Ashurst Australia’s chairman Mary Padbury are naturals for the roles.)

The board will be made up of 14 members, which aside from the chair roles include the managing partner, four elected legacy Ashurst partners, an elected Asia partner, three elected legacy Blake Dawson partners, two independent members and a non-voting chief financial officer.

The latter three positions have already been filled externally to some fanfare – in April the 1007-lawyer firm announced it had hired Allen & Overy’s London CFO Brian Dunlop to take on that equivalent role in place of former financial director Nigel Morland. A month later came the announcement that high profile ex-Takeover Panel head Robert Gillespie and Commonwealth Bank of Australia chairman David Turner are to act as independent non-executive board members as the firm seeks experienced counsel on its strategic direction and corporate governance.

All remaining elected positions will be voted on later this year, with the vote expected to take place around October.

The firm is also introducing a new global divisional structure along four business lines – corporate, commercial and competition; disputes, intellectual property and employment; energy, resources, real estate and infrastructure and finance – each co-led by Ashurst and Ashurst Australia partners.

Geffen said: ‘The management structure and team we have put in place reflects the ambition of the firm and gives us a strong global platform to achieve our strategy and vision for the merged firm. Our new structure will ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible and will help us to deliver excellence in client service.’

Chairman of Ashurst Australia Mary Padbury, added: ‘We are already very much operating as one firm and the new governance and management structure we are putting in place will help maximise the benefits of integration by ensuring we are best placed to serve global clients and get our global teams working together as effectively as possible.’

The vote on full financial integration is a serious hurdle but, for that betting person, according to one insider it is regarded internally as little more than a formality.

Global divisional structure in full:

– Corporate, commercial and competition will be co-led by Sydney-based Phil Breden and London-based Stephen Lloyd;

– Disputes, intellectual property and employment to be co-led by London-based Simon Bromwich and Sydney-based Lisa Ritson;

– Energy, resources, real estate and infrastructure to be co-led by London-based Mark Elsey and Perth-based Geoff Gishubl; and

– Finance co-led by Sydney-based Paul Jenkins and Paris-based Laurent Mabilat.