Ashurst City duo head Down Under to firm up Blakes link

Ashurst is set to deploy rail head Lee McDonald and a City finance partner to Australia as part of its ­merger with local firm Blake Dawson, after deciding against sending infrastructure star Logan Mair Down Under.

McDonald, a partner since 2006, is poised to move to Australia in early 2012. He will retain his role as head of the rail practice. The firm is also shifting London finance partner Doo-Soon Choi to the new base and is planning further secondments at a later stage. There is no set term for the secondments.

It is understood that the firm had considered ­seconding board member Mair, seen as one of the strongest London partners in terms of income generation. The plan was seen as an indication of how seriously the firm takes its international expansion, with more traditionalist partners understood to be opposed to the idea of sending big-­hitting relationship partners abroad at the expense of the London practice.

Ashurst isn’t very good at sending its strongest ­partners away,” a source said. “There are Ashurst people who are more ­traditional who pay lip ­service to the importance of the international network, but would not contemplate going abroad.”

High-profile exceptions include former senior ­partner Geoffrey Green, who has been in Hong Kong since 2009, and Nick Williamson, previously head of the Middle East practice.

The Blakes deal will see the Australian firm rebrand as Ashurst from March 2012 and merge fully with the UK firm in 2014.