Mayer Brown has signed a cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabian firm Al-Yaqoub Attorneys & Legal Advisers, a deal that will give the 1,571-lawyer global legal giant access to on-the-ground resources in the energy-rich Middle Eastern country.
The two firms will remain separate partnerships, but Mayer Brown expects its Saudi tie-up to reinforce its ability to serve the investment, investigation, disputes and transactional needs of its multinational clients. The deal will see the two firms jointly pursue and carry out legal work, with a particular focus on advising on large projects, privatizations and partnerships.
Al-Yaqoub is led by managing partner Montaser Al-Mohammed, who before founding the firm in 2006 served as head of legal services for Saudi Arabia at Ernst & Young. He is also vice chair of the International Chamber of Commerce for Saudi Arabia.
Al-Yaqoub’s agreement with Mayer Brown comes on the heels of the latter’s first move into the Middle East with the launch of a Dubai office in early 2016. The tie-up also comes after Hogan Lovells’ previous arrangement with the Saudi firm dissolved later that same year. A media representative for Hogan Lovells said that the alliance, which dated back to 2009, ended on a mutual basis after the two firms felt their “objectives were now different.”
Interest in the region has risen in the last couple of years since Saudi Arabia’s launch of its “Saudi Vision 2030″ initiative, through which the nation expects to free up its markets, deliver household savings and increase government revenue from outside the oil and gas sector.
Saudi rules prevent international law firms from operating in the country without a local partner firm, resulting in a number of international tie-ups.
In January, DLA Piper transferred its Saudi operations to the newly created Amer Al Amp Law Firm, while Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton forged an alliance with local firm Turkistani & Alabbad. Leading British firms CMS, Linklaters and Pinsent Masons have also struck association deals with Saudi firms in the country’s capital of Riyadh.