BLP raids Akin Gump for two-partner Moscow team

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has raided Akin Gump in Moscow for a two-partner real estate team to bolster its practice in Russia.

Akin Gump real estate head Vladislav Sourkov and former colleagues, counsel Rustam Aliev and senior associate Dmitry Maltsev, will join the firm in January. Aliev and Sourkov will both join the firm as partners.

Sourkov is moving from Akin Gump just two years after joining the firm from CMS Russia (16 November 2011) to establish its local real estate practice with Aliev and Maltsev for the Russian office, Goltsblat BLP (GBLP).

The addition marks a continued emphasis on growing the real estate practice globally, in what is understood to be one of the firm’s most genuinely full-service international offices.

The team will work under Russian real estate practice head, real estate and construction partner Vitaly Mozharowski.

Real estate has typically proved a link between the Russian and London offices at the firm, with several deals involving an English law and Russian component.

The firm’s work on developing a tax-efficient structure to develop the $1bn (£620m) Domodedovo Logistics Park saw London tax partner Neal Todd involved from London and Andrey Shpak and Vitaly Mozharowski acting out of Moscow.

Another highlight was when the firm advised Turkey’s Kasa-Akfen Real Estate Development on a $150m financing for the construction and development of four international hotels in Russia. The deal was done under English law, except for the security aspects, which were governed by Russian law.

BLP opened its Moscow office in January 2009 through the lateral hire of a team from the then local firm Pepeliaev Goltsblat & Partners (19 January 2009).

The firm spent around £10m on international expansion that year, including office launches in Abu Dhabi and Moscow. But in 2010/11 the office had posted $24m (£15m) in revenue, 25 per cent up on the previous year.

The firm was previously trying to build up the banking and finance practice in Moscow, relocating finance head Simon Allan to build a practice from scratch in Moscow.

In 2011 the firm also took on Projects partner Andrei Baev from Allen & Overy and tax partner Evgeny Tumofev from Salans.

It marks BLP’s second real estate hire in two months after the firm took on DLA’s former global co-chair of DLA Piper’s hospitality and leisure group to its real estate practice in November to its London office (13 November 2013).