King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has confirmed that today (22 December) its European arm has filed a Notice of Intention to Appoint Administrators with the court.
A statement released by the firm said: ‘the notice is designed to protect the firm from its creditors and allows it to maintain client service as it continues to explore all available options.’
‘The firm’s management team and financial advisers continue to work to ensure the best possible outcome for clients and staff, and this move supports these efforts at a key point for the business.’ it added.
As revealed by Legal Business, staff at the legacy SJ Berwin partnership were told earlier this month the firm is expected to move into administration on 16 January. KWM’s European practice is carrying more than £30m in debt and plans to recapitalise the business failed in November.
This news comes as KWM China is understood to have bid for an out-of-administration purchase of certain legacy SJ Berwin offices including Dubai, Germany, Italy and Spain. It is also talking with partners to keep an outpost in London.
If a deal is agreed, the acquisition will remain within a verein structure, and the business will take on a significant number of lawyers but without any of legacy SJ Berwin’s liabilities.
While the Chinese arm is interested in these parts of the business, it is not yet clear what will happen to other outposts in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Last week the firm registered a new LLP in the UK under the name KWM Deutschland, which may include part or all of the new European entity which the Asian arm is keen to retain.
Yesterday (21 December) US firm Reed Smith and City firm Macfarlanes became the latest to hire from the European practice. Winston & Strawn is also understood to have recruited finance partner Ian Borman.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that K&L Gates and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe have also taken on a number of lawyers from KWM’s Munich office, while one of KWM’s top billers Craig Pollack and part of his team are to join Covington & Burling. Orrick has also confirmed the hire of private equity partner Ylan Steiner in London.
DLA Piper will take on real estate partner William Naunton and several members of his team including partners Cornelius Medvei, Bryan Pickup, Ed Page, George Burrha and Jeremy Brooks. Managing associate Omer Maroof will also join as a partner, alongside eight other lawyers and three trainees.
Tax partner Clive Jones will join Greenberg Traurig, alongside top biller Steve Cowins and Marc Snell, M&A partners Michael Goldberg and David Fitzgerald and partner Matthew Priday along with their teams.
Read more on KWM in ‘Comment: The moment of truth arrives in the SJ Berwin saga’
For an in-depth assessment of KWM, subscribers can see our July cover feature ‘Branded’