King & Wood Mallesons’ plan to spread across the world like some kind of Sino-Australian juggernaut show no signs of abating. Following earlier reports that global managing partner Stuart Fuller had cryptically commented that his firm was talking to either Nixon Peabody or SJ Berwin about a tie-up, The Lawyer today reveals that SJ Berwin’s partnership is pushing for the combination to go ahead.
SJ Berwin’s management is understood to have received broad backing from partners at a weekend strategy meeting last month. A merger, which would have to be in the form of a Swiss Verein due to Chinese regulatory restrictions, would create a firm with combined revenues of around £470m.
Some pockets of King & Wood Mallesons, however, are understood to be less keen on an SJ Berwin deal because they want to hold out for Clifford Chance or Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to see sense and ask for a tie-up. That may be overly ambitious, though stranger things have happened.
SJ Berwin’s struggle to find an international merger partner has been well documented. Talks with US firm Proskauer Rose collapsed in 2010, while early-stage discussions with Mayer Brown fell through earlier this year.
Could it be third time lucky?
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