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KWM responds to reports of ‘delayed Sino-Australian relationship review’

King & Wood Mallesons has dismissed media reports claiming it delayed its “Sino-Australian relationship review” to focus on the fallout in Europe.

According to an overseas media publication, the firm was due to undertake a review of the successes and failures of its ‘Sino-Australian’ merger – being the merger between King & Wood and Mallesons – five years after it went live in March 2012.

The publication said a review was due to take place at the end of this month, but the firm had “delayed” the review following KWM Europe’s dissolution.

It said that the review, when undertaken, would see KWM senior management closely assess the performance of the global verein model in China and Australia, and they would need to decide whether to continue with the “marriage” by the end of February. Under a clause, the publication said, both sides have the option to withdraw their initial agreement.

It also claimed that the review could see the firm push for closer integration, including a move towards financial integration, despite the Australian, China and Hong Kong partnerships’ finances currently remaining separate.

However, Lawyers Weekly understands that no such formal arrangement is in place due to the original five-year clause being removed, renegotiated and updated when SJ Berwin came on board to join the firm in 2013.

“There is no termination clause or formal five-year review under way,” a spokesperson for KWM told Lawyers Weekly.

“The China, Hong Kong and Australian practices are aligned around our global strategy and future direction of the firm.”

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly recently, KWM Australia chief executive partner Sue Kench noted that the firm’s local arm, as well as its China and Hong Kong practices, are in a strong position for future success.

“We’ve been very deliberate about what we do with our clients and how we treat, engage and empower our people here,” Ms Kench said.

“There will be no changes to that because those two things are what our business is all about.

“As soon as you take your eye off that, you’ve not got your eye on the business, so if anything, we’re going to double down and do more in relation to those things.”

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