Linklaters follows magic circle pack with plans for Abu Dhabi opening

<a class=Linklaters follows magic circle pack with plans for Abu Dhabi opening” />Linklaters is developing plans to launch an office in Abu Dhabi in response to client demands.

The magic circle firm’s Emerging Europe, Middle East and North Africa (Eemena) head Nick Eastwell confirmed that an Abu Dhabi office was part of ­Linklaters’ plan for the United Arab Emirates.

“It’s quite far off though, as we haven’t put in an application yet,” explained Eastwell. “I’m hoping we can get an application in over the next few months.”
Eastwell said Linklaters had decided to open in Abu Dhabi in response to the needs of clients and the region.

“It’s pretty well-known that Abu Dhabi is keen to see that its advisers, be they lawyers or bankers, are on the ground there. We’ve talked to our clients and the feeling is that we need to be in Abu Dhabi,” he added. “In terms of timing and the size of the office, at this stage it will be crystal-ball gazing.”

Linklaters is the last of the magic circle firms to commit to Abu Dhabi. Allen & Overy was the first to launch a presence in the region, opening its Abu Dhabi office in 2007. But it only created the role of Abu Dhabi managing ­partner in April this year, appointing ; ;Ibrahim ­Mubaydeen (The Lawyer, 28 April).

Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer both launched their offices in August this year.

Abu Dhabi is not the only Middle East region where Linklaters is falling behind its magic circle peers: it is the only one not to have opened in Riyadh.

As reported by The Lawyer (8 September), Eastwell believes that the lack of a presence in Riyadh has not been a major ­disadvantage for the firm. But he admitted Linklaters may need to reassess its position in the future.

“I won’t be surprised if not having a presence becomes an issue event­ually,” he said.

Linklaters is upgrading its operations in Dubai by sending in London banking partner James Martin to the region following a raid by Latham & Watkins for banking partner Tim Ross.

Eastwell said Linklaters’ Dubai office was growing, with the addition of 18 lawyers over the course of this year.

FIRMS LAUNCHED IN ABU DHABI THIS YEAR

Ashurst
Opened: June 2008
Managing partner: David Wadham
Key practice areas: Energy, transport and infrastructure projects, corporate finance, ­international structured finance

Berwin Leighton ­Paisner
To open: January 2009
Managing partner-elect: John Sipling
Key practice areas: Hotel and leisure, corporate tax, ­engineering, construction and real estate

Eversheds
Opened: April 2008
Managing director: Kuljit Ghata-Aura
Key practice areas: Financial services, real estate, telecoms, sustainable development and renewable energy

Herbert Smith
Opened: May 2008
Middle East head:
Neil Brimson
Key practice areas: Corporate finance, ­dispute resolution, finance, projects ­including energy and infrastructure

Hogan & Hartson
Opened: August 2008
Managing partner:
Ray Batla
Key practice areas: Construction, projects, outbound investment

King & Spalding
Opened: June 2008
Lead lawyer:
Angus McFadden
Key practice areas: Islamic finance, energy, private equity, real estate, international arbitration

Latham & Watkins
Opened: August 2008
Middle East partner: Rindala Beydoun
Key practice areas: M&A, private equity, capital markets, ­structured and ­leveraged finance, ­projects