Asia Pacific is the jewel in the crown of King & Wood Mallesons’ competition practice – the firm is the strongest international law firm in the region. While the firm’s legacy arm in the West, SJ Berwin, had a relatively quiet year, the firm was as strong as ever in the East, and sports a pair of market-leading practices in China and Australia. In 2016, the firm suffered the loss of London competition partners Elaine Whiteford and Philipp Girardet to Covington & Burling and Willkie Farr & Gallagher respectively, amongst a wider exodus of senior lawyers across several practice areas. But the individuals making up the remainder of the London team are well regarded around the market.
|Merger ranking||-||Litigation ranking||-||Cartel ranking||-|
|Global heads||Simon Holmes|
|Number of jurisdictions with a competition team||9|
|Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal||31|
|Lateral partner hires||1|
In deals, partner Tom Usher represented bookmaker Ladbrokes during UK review of its tie-up with Coral; the Competition and Markets Authority cleared the deal subject to extensive divestments. The team acted for Qantas in the high-profile High Court air cargo follow-on litigation and for both Actavis and Generics (UK) during the CMA’s first pay-for-delay investigation and a subsequent appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal. In Germany, partner Tilman Siebert also represents Qantas in air cargo follow-on litigation, and is involved in hotel booking on behalf of Expedia.
In Australia, practice leader Sharon Henrick and her large team have been involved in a slew of major work. Expedia once again turned to the Australian team to handle the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s own hotel booking investigation; the enforcer ultimately accepted commitments from the company and Booking.com. Andrew Monotti acted for Halliburton, bagging ACCC clearance of its acquisition of Baker Hughes.
Susan Ning, one of China’s best competition lawyers, heads the firm’s excellent Chinese team from Beijing. Her lawyers coordinated General Electric’s acquisition of Alstom’s power and power grid business, obtaining unconditional clearance from China’s Ministry of Commerce, and bagged unconditional clearance from the enforcer for Staples as it bought Office Depot. However, King & Wood Mallesons’ European arm – formerly SJ Berwin – had a troubled year. Following financial difficulties, the firm’s EU and Middle Eastern partnership failed to secure a bailout from its Chinese and Australian arms in late November 2016. A spokesperson told the media that the firm is “considering a range of strategic options, including mergers, in conjunction with the firm’s bankers and financial advisers.”