SJ Berwin and King & Wood Mallesons: countdown to merger

SJ Berwin and King & Wood Mallesons have voted in favour of a $1bn tie-up. But both have been discussing mergers with various firms for several years. We take a look back at their paths to global domination.

26 September 2005

SJ Berwin sets out plans to form a US best friends network, with plans to look for a US merger.

20 November 2006

The hunt for best friends in China, India and the US begins, with SJ Berwin management visiting firms around the world to build a referral network.

26 April 2010

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe emerges as the front-runner to merge with SJ Berwin, after the UK firm’s management committee spends months drawing up a shortlist of potential suitors.

4 May 2010

Orrick pulls out of its talks with SJ Berwin, with the US firm’s management recommending that the talks should be discontinued.

6 May 2010

It emerges that SJ Berwin has started talking to Proskauer Rose, following the collapse of negotiations with Orrick.

12 July 2010

Asia becomes the focus of the merger talks with Proskauer, with one partner commenting that Asia is the market to be in.

10 August 2010

SJ Berwin managing partner Ralph Cohen announces he is to stand down from the position 18 months early.

1 November 2010

A split in strategic views at SJ Berwin emerges following Rob Day’s victory in the firm’s managing partner election.

15 November 2010

SJ Berwin and Proskauer Rose call off merger talks, citing a gap in profits as the reason for failure.

10 December 2010

Partners vote through governance changes at SJ Berwin, including the creation of a new management committee.

6 June 2011

Day affirms his committment to a US merger, despite the failure of the Proskauer and Orrick talks.

21 July 2011

Australian firm Mallesons is top of the list to merge with China’s King & Wood.

24 November 2011

Mallesons partners vote for the merger with King & Wood, although the Chinese firm is yet to vote.

16 March 2012

SJ Berwin’s new senior partner Stephen Kon says international expansion is at the heart of the firm’s strategy.

21 May 2012

The Lawyer first names SJ Berwin as a potential suitor for King & Wood Mallesons as the Asia-Pacific firm looks west for future expansion.

22 May 2012

In the latest stage of its hunt for a US merger partner, SJ Berwin holds exploratory talks with Mayer Brown.

12 November 2012

The Lawyer reveals that SJ Berwin is talking to King & Wood Mallesons, with management getting the backing from partners to pursue the tie-up.

20 February 2013

While the King & Wood Mallesons talks continue, SJ Berwin sends a delegation of senior figures to Australia to seek a combination with a local firm.

20 May 2013

It emerges that the SJ Berwin name could vanish as the vote approaches.

7 June 2013

SJ Berwin partners head to Marbella for a conference, including discussions over the potential merger.

17 June 2013

SJ Berwin reports a 2.5 per cent rise in revenue for the 2012/13 financial year with an anticipated drop in average profit per equity partner (PEP) of roughly 10 per cent.

17 July 2013

SJ Berwin partners are informed that the vote will begin in seven days’ time, with the result due at the end of the month. The process was moved forward from the autumn.

31 July 2013

King & Wood Mallesons and SJ Berwin confirm the merger will go ahead.