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Latham & Watkins is to simultaneously launch three offices in the Middle East at the end of the first quarter of this year, becoming the first law firm to do so.
The US firm will open in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar in March. The move has been in the pipeline at Latham since last May and follows the setting up of a Middle East committee to explore launch opportunities in the region.
Latham Middle East chairman Bill Voge told The Lawyer: "We've been operating in the region for the past decade and we wanted to look into the opportunities of launching in the region. We concluded that a presence in all three locations was necessary to serve our client base."
Last week Latham hired former Vinson & Elkins corporate partner Rindala Beydoun to spearhead the offices. Three Latham partners and approximately 12 associates will also transfer to the Middle East later this year.
The new offices will focus on M&A, private equity, capital markets, structured and leveraged finance and projects.
Beydoun said: "We're in the process of confirming which Latham lawyers will be transferred to the region and we're actively recruiting from the market at the moment."
Latham's core clients in the region include Qatar Gas Transport Group, Qatar Investment Authority and global energy company Taqa.