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Offshore firm Ogier is to open a joint venture in Bahrain with accounting firm Keypoint.
Ogier chairman Jonathan White said the venture, called Two Seas Trust, would offer financial trust advice locally, as well as feed work into its international network of offices.
“We’ve been doing work in the Middle East for some time and built up some good relationships,” he explained. “We felt that if we were going to continue building those relationships we needed to be committed to the region. A lot of our competitors are sucking work out of the Middle East. We see a place for that because many Middle East clients want to do business with the traditional offshore regions and we still want to do that work. However, this is an opportunity to commit to the region in a way others haven’t done before.”
Two Seas Trust will offer personal and corporate trust services under Bahraini trust law to corporate entities and ultra high net worth individuals in the Middle East seeking to set up trusts.
Bahrain is one of the first countries in the Middle East to enact its own trust law in response to increasing wealth and interest in personal wealth planning in the region.
Ogier also plans to launch Ogier Fiduciary Services on the island.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of the Economic Development Board of Bahrain, said: “Bahrain is the most established and developed finance centre in the Gulf with a highly diversified economy. As such it relies heavily upon fiduciary and other professional services to support the wide range of companies based here.”
Last month offshore firm Appleby announced its intention to open in Dubai (The Lawyer, 15 September).
Appleby global managing partner Peter Bubenzer told The Lawyer: “We see significant opportunities in the Gulf region… our new offices will provide our corporate, institutional and private clients with greater resources in the locations and time zones in which they do business and a broader choice across the key offshore jurisdictions.”
While White refused to rule out an office opening for Ogier in Dubai, he said the jurisdiction was “running the risk of being over lawyered”.
“Dubai is a very important financial centre and we don’t rule out opening there in the medium term,” he added. “For now we have to focus on how best to service our clients.”
White will step down as chairman of Ogier in February after eight years in the role (The Lawyer, 8 August).
He has overseen significant growth at the firm, which last year included a merger with WSmiths, which gave it a footing in Hong Kong, New Zealand and Uruguay.
Ogier has decided to split his remit into two new positions to drive forward growth of its international office network.
White is to take up a partner position while Clive Chaplin, currently a senior partner who heads Ogier’s business and trust law group in Jersey, will become chairman.
Nick Kershaw, currently managing partner of Ogier’s legal practice in Jersey, will become group chief executive officer. The firm said it would appoint his successor in January.