The merger of King & Wood and Mallesons Stephens Jaques will create Asia’s largest law firm, with over 2,180 lawyers in both China and Australia, as well as in cities including London, New York and Tokyo.
Stuart Fuller, who will become global managing partner of the combined firm, King & Wood Mallesons, when the alliance takes effect March 1st, was quoted as saying in the December 16th businessweek.com article: “We’re creating a new law firm for the Asian century.”
The firms’ Hong Kong offices will merge and combine with the partnerships in China and Australia through a “verein structure”, and will maintain separate finances. While law firms including London-based Ashurst LLP and Australia’s Blake Dawson have agreed to merge this year, others, like Herbert Smith LLP of London and Germany’s Gleiss Lutz, are ending alliances.
Anthony Root, the China practice head of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy LLP, was quoted as saying of the merger that it “is a pioneering step by two firms seeking to go global. Like any such effort, it presents significant opportunities as well as challenges.”
The combined firm will be able to offer Chinese state- owned enterprises venturing abroad one-stop shopping, as it were, in the form of advice on energy and resource acquisitions, Wang Ling, King & Wood’s Beijing- based managing partner, was quoted as having said in an interview.
Robert Milliner, chief executive partner at Mallesons was quoted as saying: “Australia and China are more robust parts of the world and our clients there are still looking for growth. The world has become much more complex and we’re primarily placed in these opportunity markets.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner. The demand for iron ore and coal is driving the biggest resources boom in one hundred years in Australia. In 2010, relations between the two countries were strained with the trial and imprisonment in China of Stern Hu, an Australian convicted of accepting bribes and commercial spying while working for Rio Tinto Group.
King & Wood Mallesons joins together the Australian firm with the highest profit-per-partner and legal publisher Chambers and Partners’ best China law firm of 2010, and will have 21 offices, including 11 in China, five in Australia, and in London, New York and Tokyo.
The two firms, with the merger of their Hong Kong partnerships, will more than 130 lawyers in the city, which maintains a separate legal system from that of mainland China. Wang Junfeng, who left a Chinese state-owned law firm to found King & Wood in 1993, will be chairman of the combined firm based in Beijing.
King & Wood is a leading law firm in China, providing comprehensive legal solutions to multinational and Chinese clients across a broad range of cross-border and domestic transactions.
Mallesons Stephen Jaques is a commercial law firm that operates in the Asia-Pacific region. It is one of the 30 largest law firms in Australia, and is widely regarded as one of the top commercial law firms in Australia.