Corporate exit puts a downer on the party at KWMSJB

King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin (KWMSJB) should be in celebration mode, as the firm prepares to blow out its first birthday candles following its mega-merger last November.

But the news of yet another private equity partner exit from its City base is likely to dampen spirits somewhat. And this time, it’s a particularly big one – SJ Berwin’s former corporate chief of seven years, Steve Davis.

Davis was a core character in the development of legacy SJ Berwin’s corporate practice in recent years, and he helped to drive the firm’s failed merger discussions with US giant Proskauer back in 2010. So, in many ways his decision to move to that particular firm shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

Davis marks the fourth partner from legacy SJ Berwin’s private equity team to head for the door over the past year, following the exits of Tim Wright to DLA Piper, Ed Harris to Hogan Lovells and Graham Nicholson to funds boutique MJ Hudson.

The firm says its corporate team is in growth mode. No doubt it’ll be hoping that its massive Asia Pacific tie-up will help attract some star partners to plug those leaks.

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