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Mallesons partners vote yes on merger with China's King & Wood
25 November 2011
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The Mallesons and King & Wood merger has moved one step closer following a yes vote from the Mallesons' partners, working the legal press everyone up into a lather of excitement at the prospect of the first ever tie up between a Chinese and Australian firm.

Speculation has been mounting for months now that a merger was on the cards but Mallesons has remained coy, admitting back in September that it had spoken with King & Wood but only as "one of a number of Asian firms". But things have become serious, and this week Mallesons' 170 partners voted in favour of a tie up with the top Chinese firm. Although Mallesons is staying tight lipped, saying only: "our discussions are ongoing and part of an ongoing process."

King & Wood's 200 partners are yet to say yes but if they do decide to give their blessing, the merger is likely to go ahead early next year, according to a Legal Week report. The combined firm will operate under a Swiss verein structure, which essentially means that the two will become one, they just won't have a joint bank account (Chinese regulation forbids financial integration).

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For King & Wood the merger will give it unprecedented global reach for a Chinese firm. Whilst for Mallesons, which already has offices in Shanghai and Beijing,  the tie up will boost its Asian presence. And, at a time when its peers are all bulking up by jumping into bed with international firms, it will assist the firm's expansionist plans, rumoured to involve seeking out a US and a UK partner. 

The merger is being described as pioneering and all eyes are likely to be on China for the foreseeable future to see what the country's law firms do next.



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