Mourant shelves NY office as finance arms go on sale

Offshore firm Mourant has closed its New York office as part of an overhaul
of its strategic growth plans.

Mourant shelves NY office as finance arms go on saleOffshore firm Mourant has closed its New York office as part of an overhaul of its strategic growth plans.

The closure comes as the firm prepares to part company with its sister private wealth businesses.

Mourant International Finance Administration, which provides third-party fund accounting, reporting, administrative and tax compliance services to alternative investment funds, continues to operate in New York.

Mourant was the first offshore firm to have a presence in New York, opening in the city in April 2007.

At the time, then chief executive Stephen Ball told The Lawyer: “It’s odd, given that New York is a vital feeder market for Cayman Islands legal work, that no other offshore firms are there.” (The Lawyer, 26 February 2007).

The firm has relocated New York partner Simon Felton to its London office, signalling a roll-back of Ball’s expansionist strategy.

Ball left Mourant in June 2008 to join a hedge fund, having seen the firm through two years of aggressive growth that included a merger with Cayman firm Quin & Hampson in 2007.

Jonathan Rigby replaced Ball as managing partner of Mourant. He said the firm would now concentrate on growth in its key areas of the Channel Islands, Cayman and London.

The news follows the break-up of Mourant Ltd, which was formed in 2004 as the holding company for the firm and its two sister companies, financial administration company Mourant International Finance Administration (Mifa) and private client trust business Mourant Private Wealth.

Mourant was the first offshore firm to diversify into financial support services, paving the way for others, such as Appleby, to follow.

Mourant Private Wealth will be sold to Royal Bank of Canada Wealth while Mourant Ltd is in talks to allow a management buyout (MBO) of Mifa.

The decision to sell the two subsidiaries was made following the collapse of merger talks with Cayman firm Walkers in January 2008, although Rigby denied that the decision to sell the private wealth business was linked to the failure of the talks.

The MBO is understood to be worth an estimated £80m and is being led by Mifa chief executive Ian Lambert.

“The transactions will allow Mourant to focus solely on the law firm without the distraction of running the associated businesses,” said Rigby.

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