A&O seeks to lure talent with big-ticket Dubai transactions

Allen & Overy (A&O) is targeting London-calibre transactions for its Middle East office as the firm looks to improve the quality of work in an effort to lure more associates to the region.

The firm has completed two Russian acquisitions for a subsidiary of Italy-based banking group UniCredito in the past month, with the transactions led out of the Dubai office.

A&O corporate partner Pervez Akhtar led the transactions from Dubai, working with partner Edwin Tham in Moscow and associates in both Dubai and Moscow.

The acquisitions saw A&O advise longstanding client and UniCredito subsidiary Bank Austria Creditanstalt on a $424m (£216.65m) acquisition of Russian investment bank Aton Capital Group, and a $395m (£201.83m) acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in International Moscow Bank from VTB Bank (France).

US firms advised the sellers on both transactions. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld London-based corporate finance counsel David Rushford led the advice to Aton Capital, while LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae London-based corporate finance partner Bruce Johnston advised VTB Bank.

Both Akin Gump and LeBoeuf have offices in Moscow, but handled the transactions out of London.

Akhtar said leading deals from Dubai provided cost benefits to the firm, but was also a recruitment tool in giving Dubai-based associates work traditionally kept in London.

“One of our key aims as part of our Middle East focus is to provide clients with a London-standard service in Dubai and this transaction is indicative of the type of client and quality of work that our associates in Dubai are able to service,” said Akhtar.