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The Kurdistan government has appointed Clyde & Co to act on all negotiations and contracts with foreign companies investing in the one relatively safe region of Iraq.
The instruction by the Kurdish Development Corporation, which represents the Kurdish regional government, comes as Clydes reports a wealth of work and new clients in Iraq.
Clients include, among others, ABC News and the leading business risk consultancy Control Risks Group, which recently set up a base in Baghdad.
Kurdistan is an obvious base for companies planning on working in Iraq, as it has not yet been commercially exploited by Western businesses and is relatively unaffected by the conflict in Iraq.
Paul Turner, Clydes’ London-based partner handling Iraq issues, said: “Kurdistan wants to develop the region, particularly Mosul, as a safe place for business. Clydes would do all the legal work on transactions.”
Clydes handles all Iraq work alongside Baghdad firm Numan Shakir Numan.
Clydes’ other Iraq work has included getting airline landing licences at Baghdad airport and advising on Iraq’s tobacco, port, telecoms, trademark, and oil regulations. It is also advising Iraq’s director general of ports on wreck removal off Iraq’s southern coast. The job includes salvaging ships that went down during the Iran-Iraq conflict, as well as tankers that sunk while illicitly exporting oil during the Oil for Food programme.
Clydes is also capitalising on Iraq’s introduction of the Foreign Investment Act, which enables non-Iraqi companies to open branch offices in the country and purchase 100 per cent stakes in Iraqi businesses. It has advised ABC News and Control Risks Group on property leases for their employees.
The firm has advised one of the banks that has licences to operate in Iraq and has acted for another bank that unsuccessfully applied for one of a further three banking licences being tendered in Iraq.
Litigation work is proving lucrative. Clydes is acting for Westerners with claims against the Central Bank of Iraq and Rafidain Bank, and for Iraqis with claims against Western banks for placing low interest rates on their investments.