Dentons pinpoints Iraq for energy push

Denton Wilde Sapte is setting its sights on an Iraq launch as it seeks to expand its Middle East footprint.

Chief executive Howard Morris said Iraq’s vast oil reserves were in line with his ;firm’s ;energy ;and ­infrastructure focus and that the firm would only go ahead with a launch if there was “existing unstimulated client ;demand” ;and if the project would be ­commercially viable.

“Once ;the ;security ­situation in Iraq improves, we hope we’d be able to take advantage of the opportunities,” he added.

Poor security and protectionist laws have meant that the dealflow anticipated by Western companies at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq has failed to materialise.

As a result Dentons ­currently uses its associate office in the Jordanian ­capital of Amman to access Iraqi clients. Dentons’ other branded offices in the region are in Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Doha, Dubai and Muscat, while it has associate offices in Kuwait and Riyadh.

Iraq is still a relatively untapped market for law firms. Clyde & Co handles work for Iraqi clients, but according to Clydes partner Paul ;Turner ;the ;firm ­generally goes to Jordan or Turkey to do this work.

Turner believes that recent reductions in the ­levels of violence in Iraq may lead to international law firms following their clients into Baghdad.

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