KWM partners asked for £14m and a lock-in to save the firm
11 November 2016
Partners at the former SJ Berwin were told yesterday afternoon that their Far Eastern board will bail them out - as long as they put their hands in their own pockets and agree to be locked in to the firm.
KWM's European and Middle East offices (which made up SJB before it merged with KWM in 2013) have had a very difficult time of it recently. Insiders say more than 50 partners have fled over the last year and the firm's debt stands at around £35m. Partners were called in to a crisis meeting
two weeks ago where they were informed of the gravity of the situation. And the firm's European Managing and Senior Partners went on an emergency mission to China
last week to wave their begging bowl at the firm's board. And it worked.
Partners have been told that if they put around £14m in the firm and agree to stay for twelve months, then China will stump up the rest of the cash. Assuming Barclays, the firm's bankers, are also on side then that could well give the firm the space that it needs to trade out of its problems.
The firm has around 120 partners in Europe and the Middle East. At least 70 of them have to agree to the deal for it to be viable. But if too many partners decide to cut their losses and run, then the firm will lose the lifeline. They have been given until the week after next to decide whether to share or to shaft.
A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment other than to confirm that "the regular, scheduled monthly EUME partner meeting
" was held but that "as always the agenda is confidential
||But you've still got the chequebook and pen, those are yours to keep.
Meanwhile, Stuart Fuller has announced that he will step down as KWM's Global Managing Partner. The spokeswoman confirmed that he had been "considering stepping down for some time
" but wouldn't comment further. Presumably he's had enough of being in an utterly thankless job with London partners fleeing the firm on an almost weekly basis rather then staying put and helping him shore up the ship.