Elite ‘red circle’ firms Zhong Lun and Jun He plot merger

What would be the impact of a merger between Clifford Chance and Linklaters? Or if Allen & Overy had successfully pursued plans to tie up with Freshfields, as it mooted back in 2006?

The Chinese legal market is on the cusp of such a monumental change, with top-tier firms Jun He and Zhong Lun in discussions about an alliance that would send ripples around the globe. Not least Jun He’s best friend Slaughter and May.

If talks escalate beyond the current due diligence stage a merger would inevitably have an impact on international referral relationships, with concerns raised over potential conflicting interests.

Yet the pros would almost certainly outweigh the cons. The merger would create a heavyweight Chinese firm with combined revenues of RMB1.83bn (£180m), beating both King & Wood Mallesons China, which posted revenues of RMB1.8bn last year, and Dacheng, where revenues were RMB1.6bn.

Consolidation is reaching titanic levels in the Asia Pacific legal market.

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