White & Case opens doors in Abu Dhabi

White & Case is ramping up in the Middle East by launching in Abu Dhabi – the firm’s second office in the region.

The firm, which has an association office in Riyadh with the law firm of Mohammed Al-Sheikh, will relocate three associates from New York and two from London to launch the new office. A partner from a local firm has also been hired.

New York-based corporate partner Villiers Terblanche will head the Abu Dhabi office, which will focus on project finance, Islamic finance, private equity and funds.

Terblanche said: “There have been a lot of developments in the Abu Dhabi market and it’s time for us to have a permanent on the ground presence.

“A number of our lawyers have been active in the jurisdiction for some time, so launching the office is the right move.”

This year Allen & Overy, Ashurst and Herbert Smith have each announced office launches in Abu Dhabi.

White & Case is also expanding its Riyadh presence, relocating two partners and one senior associate to the office. The firm has also hired partner Summit Sunni from Canadian firm McCarthy Tetrault.

Al-Sheikh said: “We aim to promote strong connections between the Abu Dhabi and Riyadh offices, capitalising on the increased capabilities on the ground.”

White & Case’s most lucrative Middle Eastern client is oil giant Saudi Aramco. The firm launched its association with Al-Sheikh in 1991.

Al-Sheikh said: “We’ve built up a strong reputation in the region in part because of our established presence. We aim to grow both offices and expand capabilities more in the future.”