King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has elected Frankfurt M&A partner Michael Cziesla as the firm’s new senior partner for UK, Europe and Middle East, replacing Stephen Kon.

He ran against Dubai-based disputes star Tim Taylor QC for the top role.

Legacy SJ Berwin partner Cziesla will run the EUME arm of the firm alongside ex-Mallesons chair Tim Bednall, who was elected as managing partner earlier this month.

Michael Cziesla
Michael Cziesla

Cziesla said he “cares deeply about KWM and am honoured to have been elected EUME senior partner”. 

He added: “I look forward to leading the region together with Tim Bednall, our new managing partner, as we work with our partners and wonderful staff to realise the enormous, untapped potential of this great firm. 

“The opportunity to help drive our firm forward as a challenger, top-tier law firm is one that I relish, and I am grateful for the trust my partners have shown in me.”  

Outgoing senior partner Kon said: “As a long-standing corporate partner of the firm, [Cziesla] brings a great blend of experience and commitment which the role demands.

“On a personal note, passing the senior partner baton for the first time to a non-London based partner is further testament to our continental European and Middle East practice being at the core of so much of what we are about as a region.”

Kon also thanked Taylor for “stepping forward as a candidate”.

Bednall replaced William Boss who stepped down from the position at the start of the year to return to fee-earning. KWM postponed replacing Boss until now while it underwent a restructure of its 17 practice areas into three core groups.

Bednall was formerly chair of Australian firm Mallesons prior to its Chinese merger, relocating to London last year to become head of the London corporate finance and funds division.

KWM’s EUME arm has had a turbulent 18 months following a number of big-hitter exits, a major redundancy consultation and a series of deliberate cuts to its regional equity.

Most recently the firm asked EUME partners to pay in £14m in a capital call in order to strengthen its business in the region.

The capital call followed a number of delays to partner distributions over the last two years and news KWM was reviewing its contributions structure.

KWM is also now understood to be in the market for a US merger, looking for a tie-up with a firm that has a broad base in the country. The firm is hoping to sign a deal before the end of 2017.