SJ Berwin competition chief cancels Milbank resignation

SJ Berwin has persuaded EU and competition head Stephen Kon to remain with the firm after he resigned last month to join Milbank Tweed 
Hadley & McCloy.

Kon was voted into the Milbank partnership in mid-June alongside fellow competition partner Cameron Firth, but both partners subsequently retracted their resignations and opted to stay with the top 20 City law firm.

Milbank, which confirmed that the pair were voted into the partnership, has been looking to launch a London competition practice for several months and Kon’s hire was viewed as a natural fit after Milbank recruited SJ Berwin’s German competition head Alexander Rinne in 2010.

As one of SJ Berwin’s original partners, the departure of Kon, who launched the firm’s EU and competition practice in 1982, would have been seen as a significant blow.

He is also SJ Berwin’s international practice partner and was heavily involved in the lengthy merger discussions with New York’s Proskauer Rose, which broke down in November last year.

Partners within SJ Berwin suggest Kon is likely to be seen as a strong candidate to take over from senior partner Jonathan Blake should he decide not to stand again when his current term runs out in May 2012.

News of the talks between Milbank and Kon come as SJ Berwin hired Clifford Chance senior associate Rinku Bhadoria as a partner in its energy and infrastructure practice group in London. The firm is looking to hire further energy partners for the recently-formed group.

SJ Berwin, Kon and Firth declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Friederike Heine.