Winston & Strawn is the latest firm to express interest in parts of King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM) European business, Legal Week understands. KWM announced earlier today that it has received “a number” of purchase offers and that these are now under review.
While the extent of its interest is not yet clear, former KWM partners say the US firm is currently the “frontrunner” to take over a large portion of the business.
Other interested parties in KWM Europe include Dentons and KWM’s own Asian arm. DLA Piper and Greenberg Traurig are also understood to have been interested in certain partners and teams.
In a statement, the firm said: ”King & Wood Mallesons EUME is pleased to confirm that it has received a number of indicative purchase offers. The management team and its financial advisers have reviewed these and are now entering in to detailed discussions with a small number of parties.”
It added: “This is a significant step forward for King & Wood Mallesons EUME but, as you would expect, the firm will not be commenting further given the confidential nature of these important discussions. A further announcement will be made once discussions have been completed.”
It is understood that the firm informed partners at a meeting today in London about the offers on the table.
KWM’s financial advisers are Grant Thornton and Alix Partners.
Yesterday (8 December), sources at the firm told Legal Week that the Europe, UK and Middle East (EUME) business is heading for a pre-pack administration, with negotiations already at an advanced stage. Should the pre-pack happen, an announcement is likely in the second half of next week.
Legal Week also revealed yesterday that KWM has updated its partnership deed to ensure that any tax losses are split fairly between current and former partners in the event of collapse.
The partnership is understood to have voted in the change earlier this month.
Issues for KWM’s Europe branch came to a head in late October following the resignation of four high profile London partners, including former managing partner Rob Day and UK funds head Michael Halford, who are joining Proskauer Rose and Goodwin Procter respectively.
The exits forced the firm to put its recapitalisation plans on hold to reassess its financial situation, prompting a revised proposal with an additional bailout from Asia, subject to European commitment.
Winston & Strawn did not respond to requests for comment.
KWM has declined to comment on specific firms involved in the process.
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