US firm White & Case is boosting its commitment to Europe by electing a second European partner to its management board.
The move comes amid speculation that chairman James Hurlock, who is being replaced as the head of the firm next month, is seeking clearance to come to London to oversee the hunt for a merger.
The firm is replacing its chairman with a managing partner, a role Duane Wall was elected to last month.
It has also replaced its four-strong management committee with a board of eight partners.
Head of the Stockholm office Claes Zettermarck has been named as the eighth member of the committee, taking his place alongside London partner Peter Finlay.
Zettermarck is one of Sweden's leading corporate M&A lawyers, and was the firm's partner in charge of Europe, the Middle East and Africa before Finlay took over last year.
He has been elected separately from the board's other members.
The rest of the board is made up of one Asian partner and five US-based partners.
Wall says that he plans to expand the firm's operations out of London, either through lateral hires or mergers. The firm currently has 50 lawyers in London, but would like to at least double that, perhaps to as many as 300. To achieve this would require a merger.
White & Case has talked to a number of UK firms, including Allen & Overy. Hurlock says: “There are one or two firms where if we picked up the phone we could do the deal today.”
Hurlock opened the firm's London office in 1970 and is understood to be keen to come to the UK to look for a suitable mate when he steps down after 20 years.
He says: “The options are to continue with White & Case in some matter or not to. The choice in the first lies with Duane and with both lies with me.”