The European arm of Asia-focused City firm King & Wood Mallesons is expected to go into administration in January.

The firm, which is around £30m in debt, has ben courting potential takeover offers but the Gazette reported yesterday that some of these had failed.

A spokesperson declined to confirm reports that administrators will be called in on 16 January.

Major firms including Reed Smith and Mayer Brown are thought to be in talks with several KWM partners about lateral moves while the firm is also examining the possibility of transferring training contracts to other  firms.

Some senior partners have already moved elsewhere.

A KWM spokesperson told the Gazette its priority is to secure the best possible outcome for its clients and people.

‘We continue to work with our financial advisers to explore all available options and, in the interim, speculation and rumour serve no positive purpose. As soon as we are in a positon to confirm further details we will of course do so.’

Earlier this year, the Gazette reported that KWM would be cutting 15% of partners in its Europe and Middle East practice.

There were hopes that the Chinese arm of the business might bail out the European and Middle East arm. That option foundered last month however, leaving a rescue merger as only viable remaining option.