King & Wood Mallesons.
King & Wood Mallesons. (Courtesy photo)

How has the turmoil in its European arm affected King & Wood Mallesons in the Asia-Pacific region? Not so much, say sources inside and outside the firm.

“It is still one of the best and the most internationalized firms in China,” says a partner with a rival Chinese firm. “That reality is not going to change.” King & Wood Mallesons said in an email that its problems in Europe are “contained to that region,” and that collaboration between the firm’s China and Australia arms has not been negatively affected. In the early days following the first-ever combination of a Chinese and an Australian firm in 2012, King & Wood Mallesons saw its share of turnover. In 2013 and 2014, prominent departures included former Australian managing partner Tony O’Malley, Sydney-based former global litigation head Beau Deleuil and Bai Yanchun, co-founder of legacy King & Wood.

But in the last few years, key partner exits have been less frequent, and three of the firm’s partnerships in the region have generally seen strong financial results. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Australian partnership saw a 6 percent growth in revenue, according to the firm. The Hong Kong partnership recorded a 23 percent growth in revenue between 2014 and 2016, and in 2015 the China partnership’s revenue reached $350 million revenue, the second-highest among all Chinese firms surveyed.

Meanwhile, the firm has taken steps to improve integration and coordination throughout the region. KWM expanded its internal transfer and secondment programs in 2015, moving 65 lawyers and staffers to different offices, short-term or long-term, a 38 percent increase from the previous year.

“We are in very regular communications with the Australian partners and frequently cooperate on deals,” says one China-based partner who was not authorized to speak and requested anonymity. In 2016 Beijing-based Xu Ping and Jonathan Grant teamed up with Sydney-based Shannon Finch to represent Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. Ltd. and Chinese private equity fund Primavera Capital on a $233 million acquisition of Australian supplement maker Vitaco Holdings Ltd. Deal work for mine operator China Molybdenum Co. Ltd.—a $1.5 billion acquisition of mining businesses in Brazil and a $2.7 billion investment in a copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo—brought together lawyers from the firm’s China, Hong Kong, Australia and London offices—but the London portion was anchored by Tim Bednall, an Australian partner who at the time was on secondment in London. (Bednall was elected in October as the European partnership’s new managing partner.)

Lawyers say that there was more interaction between the partnerships in China and Australia than between those in China and Europe. “We are of similar size, and we are closer to each other geographically and in terms of time zones,” says one China-based lawyer. The lawyer, who was not authorized to speak and therefore requested anonymity, says that interaction between European and Chinese partners has been limited because there haven’t been many joint projects. “Chinese partners will reach out and set up regular communications with European partners,” the lawyer says. “But these things take time to come to fruition.”

That limited collaboration, coupled with the financial independence of the verein’s various parts, means that the firm’s troubles in Europe have had minimal impact on the Chinese partnership. And KWM insists that its overall brand remains strong, citing a recent ranking by London-based market research firm Acritas. In a report released in July, Acritas ranked King & Wood Mallesons as the best-known law firm in the Asia-Pacific region after surveying some 600 legal buyers.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that King & Wood Mallesons continues to be known in China by its Chinese name, Jin Du. Unlike rival firms such as JunHe and Zhong Lun Law Firm, legacy King & Wood adopted an En­glish name early on, as part of a strategy to attract multinational clients. But lawyers say that the firm is still commonly referred to in China as Jin Du.

That distinction may also be a symptom of the greater problem. “It underscores a clash of different cultures,” says the rival firm partner. “And this will not only challenge King & Wood Mallesons’ globalization plans, but will also slow down the entire process for all Chinese firms attempting to internationalize.”


Originally published on The American Lawyer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


 

How has the turmoil in its European arm affected King & Wood Mallesons in the Asia-Pacific region? Not so much, say sources inside and outside the firm.

“It is still one of the best and the most internationalized firms in China,” says a partner with a rival Chinese firm. “That reality is not going to change.” King & Wood Mallesons said in an email that its problems in Europe are “contained to that region,” and that collaboration between the firm’s China and Australia arms has not been negatively affected. In the early days following the first-ever combination of a Chinese and an Australian firm in 2012, King & Wood Mallesons saw its share of turnover. In 2013 and 2014, prominent departures included former Australian managing partner Tony O’Malley, Sydney-based former global litigation head Beau Deleuil and Bai Yanchun, co-founder of legacy King & Wood.

But in the last few years, key partner exits have been less frequent, and three of the firm’s partnerships in the region have generally seen strong financial results. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Australian partnership saw a 6 percent growth in revenue, according to the firm. The Hong Kong partnership recorded a 23 percent growth in revenue between 2014 and 2016, and in 2015 the China partnership’s revenue reached $350 million revenue, the second-highest among all Chinese firms surveyed.

Meanwhile, the firm has taken steps to improve integration and coordination throughout the region. KWM expanded its internal transfer and secondment programs in 2015, moving 65 lawyers and staffers to different offices, short-term or long-term, a 38 percent increase from the previous year.

“We are in very regular communications with the Australian partners and frequently cooperate on deals,” says one China-based partner who was not authorized to speak and requested anonymity. In 2016 Beijing-based Xu Ping and Jonathan Grant teamed up with Sydney-based Shannon Finch to represent Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. Ltd. and Chinese private equity fund Primavera Capital on a $233 million acquisition of Australian supplement maker Vitaco Holdings Ltd. Deal work for mine operator China Molybdenum Co. Ltd.—a $1.5 billion acquisition of mining businesses in Brazil and a $2.7 billion investment in a copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo—brought together lawyers from the firm’s China, Hong Kong, Australia and London offices—but the London portion was anchored by Tim Bednall, an Australian partner who at the time was on secondment in London. (Bednall was elected in October as the European partnership’s new managing partner.)

Lawyers say that there was more interaction between the partnerships in China and Australia than between those in China and Europe. “We are of similar size, and we are closer to each other geographically and in terms of time zones,” says one China-based lawyer. The lawyer, who was not authorized to speak and therefore requested anonymity, says that interaction between European and Chinese partners has been limited because there haven’t been many joint projects. “Chinese partners will reach out and set up regular communications with European partners,” the lawyer says. “But these things take time to come to fruition.”

That limited collaboration, coupled with the financial independence of the verein’s various parts, means that the firm’s troubles in Europe have had minimal impact on the Chinese partnership. And KWM insists that its overall brand remains strong, citing a recent ranking by London-based market research firm Acritas. In a report released in July, Acritas ranked King & Wood Mallesons as the best-known law firm in the Asia-Pacific region after surveying some 600 legal buyers.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that King & Wood Mallesons continues to be known in China by its Chinese name, Jin Du. Unlike rival firms such as JunHe and Zhong Lun Law Firm , legacy King & Wood adopted an En­glish name early on, as part of a strategy to attract multinational clients. But lawyers say that the firm is still commonly referred to in China as Jin Du.

That distinction may also be a symptom of the greater problem. “It underscores a clash of different cultures,” says the rival firm partner. “And this will not only challenge King & Wood Mallesons ‘ globalization plans, but will also slow down the entire process for all Chinese firms attempting to internationalize.”


Originally published on The American Lawyer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.