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January deadline looms as KWM Europe sets administration date

Staff at the European arm of King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) have been told the firm is expected to move into administration on 16 January.

The firm is currently carrying more than £30m in debt and efforts to recapitalise the business failed in November.

Management held a meeting earlier this week where staff were told if they did not already have a new offer of employment they would no longer need to give notice to leave the firm. It is also understood that employees will be paid weekly in the new year.

Lawyers were also told not to take on any new work or clients, unless they had an offer to move to another firm.

While KWM declined to comment on any specifics, a spokesperson for the firm said: ‘Our priority is to secure the best possible outcome for our clients and people. We continue to work with our financial advisers to explore all available options and, in the interim, speculation and rumour serve no positive purpose.’

As revealed by Legal Business yesterday, Reed Smith is the latest Global 100 firm in discussions to take on partners from King & Wood Mallesons’ European partnership. Since then it has emerged that Gareth Amdor, London head of tax and former contender in the managing partner race earlier this year, is one of the partners in talks with Reed Smith.

It has been a difficult period for KWM’s European partnership since its recapitalisation plan with Barclays failed in November after a number of key partners left. Since then, the firm has been exploring its options for a merger or a pre-pack administration deal with a variety of firms.

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