The harmony between KWMSJB and Universal

If King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin’s senior partner Stephen Kon should ever have a bad day, he could do worse than give client Universal a bell. The call would likely be music to his ears, if this week’s cover feature is anything to judge by.


In it, Universal’s general counsel Richard Constant gives Kon a sterling review. The feature focuses on a relationship that helped get a billion-pound deal over the line. Kon does not hold back on returning the praise

Universal took a massive risk when it bid for EMI in mid-2011, with few believing it would get competition clearance. But Constant and Kon kept the faith and by November 2011 both Universal and EMI had agreed to the £1.2bn sale.

“The key is complete transparency,” Kon says. “And we want to be can-do lawyers rather than can’t-do lawyers. That means when a client comes to you and says ‘I want to do a deal’, of course as lawyers we could write a 40-page memo giving all the reasons why the client shouldn’t do that deal. But ultimately, you need to engage fully with the client and the business in terms of what they want out of the transaction.”

A musical nirvana if ever there was one.