O'Melveny & Myers is in advanced discussions to hire Ashurst corporate heavyweight Chris Ashworth to create the firm's first M&A capability in Europe.
The US firm, which specialises in private equity, hopes to announce the hire this week. It would be the firm's first M&A appointment to its five-partner London presence. However, Ashworth is understood to be fielding offers from a number of firms.
Ashurst's staff were informed by email last Wednesday (12 October) of Ashworth's decision to resign after 23 years of practice.
He is understood to have become disillusioned with the firm over a new partnership agreement and following his failed attempt to become senior partner in 2003.
While at Ashurst, Ash-worth has acted for such high-profile clients as Invesco and United News & Media. His departure date has not been announced, although under Ashurst's current partnership deed equity partners have to give six months' notice.
Ashurst's new partnership deed is being circulated to all partners to sign. It is understood that certain aspects have been tightened, including provisions on solicitation of clients. The notice period of six months remains.
The deed also standardises junior equity partner status, which previously varied in different jurisdictions.