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Clifford Chance Joins Gulf Rush With April Launch in Abu DhabiThe U.K. giant has been in Dubai, Abu Dhabi's neighboring emirate, since 1975
Clifford Chance plans to strengthen its Middle East presence by opening a new office in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in late April. The new office will be headed by finance partner Richard Ernest, who is currently based in the Magic Circle firm's Dubai outpost. Ernest will initially be supported by three of the firm's Dubai partners. The U.K. giant has been in Dubai, Abu Dhabi's neighboring emirate, since 1975.
Legal Week2008-01-30 12:00:00 AM
The new office is set to open in late April and will be headed up by Clifford Chance finance partner Richard Ernest, who is currently based in the Magic Circle firm's Dubai outpost.
Ernest will initially be supported by three of the firm's Dubai partners. Last year the firm transferred corporate partner Ian Hunter from London to its Dubai arm in a bid to shore up the firm's local relationships with investment banks.
While Clifford Chance has yet to decide on premises for the new office, the firm plans to eventually move its Abu Dhabi operations to the city's new business and finance district, which is currently being developed.
The U.K. giant has had a presence in the U.A.E. for more than 30 years, having opened its Dubai arm, which is now home to seven partners, in 1975.
The firm has advised on a number of major deals in the region in recent times, including the $1.4 billion acquisition of Egyptian Fertilizers Co. by Abraaj Capital -- the largest private equity deal seen to date in the Middle East and north African region.
Clifford Chance's managing partner for the Gulf, Graham Lovett, said moves to open in Abu Dhabi reflected a growing demand from clients and underlined the big four U.K. law firm's commitment to the region.
He commented: "We are looking to bring new resources into Abu Dhabi by combining local experience with international expertise. We have been looking at this move for a while, probably over 18 months."
The news comes with a number of major international firms stepping up their efforts in the Gulf region, with this month seeing Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer relocating former London finance chief Bob Charlton to Dubai and New York's Dewey & LeBoeuf making its debut in the emirate after a raid on U.S. rival Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.