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CITY firm Trowers & Hamlins is moving to bigger offices in Oman as competition in the Gulf hots up.
The move comes as Baker & McKenzie announced plans to open an office in Bahrain, as exclusively revealed last week in The Lawyer, and Denton Hall this week opened for business in Dubai.
Nick Hills, Trowers & Hamlins' regional partner in the Middle East, is undeterred by the economic slowdown caused by a fall in oil prices, saying: "We are very, very keen to consolidate our regional position.
"There is bound to be less economic activity when oil prices are low. But when you have established a client base, you are not terribly badly affected.
"I am very optimistic. Economic cycles are good because they make you diversify, producing opportunities. I would not call it a bonanza."
Oman resident partner Nicholas Edmondes says: "Inevitably, we will expand. We have moved to only slightly bigger offices, but they are better configured.
"Last year, we went into partnership with Omani lawyer Majid Al Toky. We are licensed until the end of the year, but when the law changes in December, there will be no more UK branches and we will have to change our office name."
Trowers & Hamlins has 20 lawyers at its offices in Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Eight are based in Oman, two of which are partners.
The Bahrain office opened last year under the name of partner Christopher Trower. It handles energy and infrastructure projects, finance, corporate and commercial advice.
The Eighth Annual Gulf Conference is due to open on 9 March. The two-day meeting will discuss the region's energy, infrastructure and financial markets. Lawyers from the big firms are expected to attend.