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Linklaters favourite falls short in race for top job" />The battle to replace Linklaters managing partner Tony Angel has taken a surprising turn as the frontrunner, banking head John Tucker, has been dropped from the race.
This leaves capital markets head Nick Eastwell and Asia chief Simon Davies in a two-man chase.
Linklaters' international board, which is responsible for appointing Angel's successor, decided to cut Tucker from the race after hearing presentations from the three contenders.
The board, which is made up of senior partner David Cheyne, Angel and 14 other members elected by the partnership, is now in the process of taking detailed soundings from all 496 partners.
The firm's partners have been shared between the 16 board members to speed up the soundings process. The board will then reconvene to decide on its choice of successor. An announcement is expected to be made in early February.
In the weeks running up to the three-way showdown at the board meeting, the rivals are said to have flown around the globe, meeting with partners and explaining their visions for the magic circle firm in the hope of winning over supporters.
As the race kicked off last year, five names were mooted as the potential successor to Angel. Commercial head Christopher Style and corporate partner Jeremy Parr were the first of the contenders to fall by the wayside.
Eastwell and Tucker were seen as joint favourites from the outset, with Davies only having an outside chance, as many partners saw him as an unknown quantity, having spent much of his time in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
One insider, however, told The Lawyer that the gap has closed, with Cheyne, perceived as a strong Eastwell supporter, becoming neutral.
If 39-year-old Davies lands the role, he will be the firm's youngest-ever managing partner.