A&O lures Simmons team for Abu Dhabi launch

Allen & Overy(A&O) has continued its expansion in the Middle East, opening its second office in a month through a raid on Simmons & Simmons in Abu Dhabi.

The magic circle firm has hired Simmons Abu Dhabi managing partner Ibrahim Mubaydeen, who has expertise in project finance and particularly in infrastructure and energy. He brings with him from Simmons François Duquette, who is a Canadian-qualified structured finance partner.

A&O will also parachute in projects partner Jas Gillar from its Singapore office. The three-partner Abu Dhabi offering will be A&O’s third in the Middle East, after Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Managing partner David Morley told The Lawyer: “The office is a natural extension to Dubai. It’s important to be on the ground there because it sends a strong signal to contacts in government and business. We think Abu Dhabi has tremendous opportunities, both in terms of inward infrastructure and outward investment.”

At the end of 2006 Morley told The Lawyer (18 December 2006) that the Middle East would be an area for concentration in 2007. It was only last month that A&O announced that it would launch in Riyadh.

Simmons managing partner Mark Dawkins confirmed the departures and said property partner David Nunn would replace Mubaydeen as office head. The firm will also transfer Dubai projects partner George Booth to the four-partner office.