A&O’s Middle East expansion brings in Dubai International Group work

Allen & Overy

(A&O) has reaped immediate benefits from its renewed corporate focus on the Middle East, closing its first mandate after sending a senior corporate partner to Dubai.

Corporate partner Pervez Akhtar has been spending the majority of his time in Dubai since 1 May, with eight corporate associates set to follow him from London by the end of the summer.

Akhtar, along with fellow Dubai corporate partner Khalid Garousha and London-based finance partner Ian Annetts, advised Dubai International Group on its e400m (£273.58m) acquisition of a 31 per cent stake in the Greek-listed Marfin Bank, which completed late last month.

“This is quite an important transaction for us. In terms of what we’re trying to do here, this is exactly the sort of deal we want,” said Akhtar, who is A&O’s fourth corporate partner to be based in Dubai. “The bankers are flooding in and we can steal a march by having senior M&A people on the ground here that they know from the City.

“There are increasing levels of sophistication in Dubai transactions and we want to offer a City service from Dubai.”

A&O worked with Greek firm TJ Koutalidis for local advice, while Marfin used another Greek outfit, Tsibanoulis & Partners, for external advice.

Akhtar said A&O was working on several other corporate mandates in Dubai sourced through London connections, with further work for Dubai International Group expected.