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‘Steven has been a tremendous force’: Proskauer turns to KWMSJB’s best-known London M&A lawyer as it shifts focus

Steven Davis, who led SJ Berwin’s City corporate team before its $1bn Sino-Australian merger, is set to leave the firm for Proskauer Rose, whose own merger plans with SJ Berwin collapsed before the City firm looked eastwards for growth.

Davis, who stood down as London head of corporate after seven years in the post following the merger, will become the fourteenth City partner at Proskauer and is something of a coup for the firm which is looking to increase its focus on M&A work. Davis, whose clients include Lloyds Banking Group and private equity giant Bridgepoint, was on legacy SJ Berwin’s seven-member management committee in the run up to the merger and would have been a senior figure involved in the merger talks with Proskauer Rose in 2011.

He reunites with a three-partner funds team, led by Nigel van Zyl, which left SJ Berwin to launch Proskauer’s London office in 2011. He is the first major hire for the firm in London since it snapped up Robert Gaut from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson to head its tax practice in January this year [2014].

King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin senior partner, Stephen Kon said: ‘Steven has been a tremendous force both within the Corporate department and firm over the years.  We recognise and appreciate his contribution and wish him well.’

KWMSJB is planning to boost its London office with Tim Bednall, global practice co-ordinator for its corporate division, and Shanghai-based partner Mike Wang being brought in on secondment to emphasise the firm’s connections with Asia. 

A number of legacy SJ Berwin partners have exited the firm in London since the merger, which was finalised in 2013, including private equity heavyweight Tim Wright who joined DLA Piper and litigator Giovanna Kwong who exited for Stephenson Harwood.