A&O raids Simmons to launch in Abu Dhabi

Allen & Overy (A&O) has opened its second Middle Eastern office in a month, raiding Simmons & Simmons to launch an office in Abu Dhabi.

A&O has lured Simmons’ Abu Dhabi managing partner, Ibrahim Mubaydeen, who has expertise in project finance and particularly in infrastructure and energy. He brings with him François Duquette, who is a Canadian-qualified structured finance partner, also from Simmons’ Dubai office.

A&O’s Dubai managing partner Simon Roderick said: “We have very strong client relationships in Abu Dhabi and are excited by the opportunities presented by the burgeoning Abu Dhabi market. Opening an office with such a strong team immediately positions ourselves as a leading player in Abu Dhabi and shows our commitment to the UAE’s largest Emirate.”

A&O will also parachute in projects partner Jas Gillar from the Singapore office. The three-partner Abu Dhabi offering will be the magic circle firm’s third in the Middle East, after Dubai and Saudi Arabia. At the end of 2006, managing partner David Morley told The Lawyer that the Middle East would be one area for concentration in 2007.

It was only last month that A&O announced that it would be entering into an association with Saudi firm Abdulaziz AlGasim to launch in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, Simmons’ managing partner Mark Dawkins confirmed the departures but said that the firm was enacting changes to respond to client needs in Abu Dhabi. Regional managing partner Andrew Wingfield has been overseeing Simmons’ three Middle Eastern offices, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai, said Dawkins.