<a class=Ashurst to enter US with McKee Nelson hires” />Ashurst is set to open a fee-earning office in New York with the hire of a 10-partner structured finance team from long-time US niche-ally McKee Nelson.

While Ashurst has had a part-time business development presence in the US since 2004, with corporate and commercial partner Duncan Stiles manning the office on a part-time basis since 2007, the firm does not have a fee-earning presence in the US.

It is understood that for Ashurst the US move will be limited to the structured finance practice, with no plans for wider US expansion for the time being.

Negotiations to take the McKee Nelson partners onto Ashurst’s lockstep are understood to be at an advanced stage. It is expected that their team of associates will also join Ashurst.

The firm will begin looking for office space in the US once the deal with the McKee Nelson team is finalised.

Ashurst has worked with McKee Nelson since 2004 when a non-exclusive alliance saw the pair team up on securitisation work (15 March 2004).

McKee Nelson is known for its strength in the US securitisation market and in 2006 was the most prevalent adviser on US debt, equity and equity-related deals, according to research by Thomson Financial (TheLawyer.com, 16 August 2006).

Ashurst has long been known to want an entry to the US market and six years ago was in failed merger talks with US firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson (The Lawyer, 19 May 2003).

Ashurst declined to comment.