Kirkland launches Middle East practice group

Kirkland & Ellis has launched a Middle East practice group with the rehire of former Kirkland associate Kamran Bajwa, although the firm has no plans to open in the Middle East at present.

Bajwa, a fluent Arabic speaker, rejoined the firm after eight years working across the Middle East region in the financial services, private equity, investment fund, Islamic finance and M&A sectors.

He has rejoined the firm as a partner in its Chicago office to help launch Kirkland’s Middle East practice group.

London restructuring partner Kon Asimacopoulos said there were parallels between the firm’s India practice and the Middle East venture as the firm also has no office on the ground in India.

“This is a meaningful development even though there’s no office in the Middle East,” said Asimacopoulos. “With the India practice, of which the senior member is [New York-based corporate partner] Srinivas Kaushik, the launch of a group has led to a number of acquisition/buyout and investment transactions in Indian companies.”

Indian deals on which Kirkand has advised have included iGATE’s $1.3bn acquisition of a majority stake in Patni Computer Systems and the related $330m PIPE investment by Apax Partners.

“The Middle Eastern market has shown tremendous growth and diversification in recent years and is a significant region for the global economy,” said Jeffrey Hammes, chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee. “Kamran’s knowledge and experience will benefit our clients doing business in the Middle East as well as our Middle East clients doing business in the United States and Europe.”