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Ashurst has confirmed a tie-up with Australian independent Blake Dawson that will see the firms combine their Asian operations early next year and merge by 2014.
Blakes will rebrand as Ashurst as soon as the deal goes live following a vote by both firms’ partnerships on Friday (23 September), which required a 75 per cent majority at both firms.
As part of the Asian combination, which is expected to go ahead by March next year, the firms will aggregate and share revenue and costs on both sides in one integrated vehicle.
Ashurst already has offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, while Blakes has six Australian offices as well as bases in Shanghai, Singapore, Port Moresby, Tokyo and an associated office in Jakarta.
The joint operation, which will not include Australia until 2014, will be overseen by Geoffrey Green as chairman of the management committee, which will contain an equal number of members from the two outfits. Each firm will also have a voting member on each other’s management board.
The firms will consider a full merger in early 2014, with the deal requiring another vote by both partnerships. Comparable average profit per equity partner (PEP) is a condition of the full merger. The firm’s PEPs were within 10 per cent of each other in the latest financial year.
The details of the management team running the full merger have not been finalised.
Ashurt senior partner Charlie Geffen said energy would be one of the key practices groups that would benefit from the Asian combination, adding that Ashurst’s international brand and English law capabiltiy would boost Blakes’ capabilities.
He said: “Energy and resources is obviously one of the most improtant setors in the whole region. Infrastructure is another one and financial services another one.”
In a statement, Blakes chairman Mary Padbury said: “Ashurst and Blake Dawson see this as a significant opportunity to take a bold step towards becoming one of the premier global law firms which will lead the legal market in coming years. This is also a first for an Australian top tier firm.”
For more on Ashurst’s Australian ambitions, see feature.