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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).
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