White & Case opens office in Kazakhstan capital

White & Case has opened an office in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, marking its second base in Kazakhstan.

The new office will be headed by energy partner Maxim Telemtayev, who manages the firm’s operations in Kazakhstan and will split his time between Astana and Almaty. He joined the firm’s Almaty office in 2011 from Macleod Dixon, where he was the Almaty-based managing partner for the firm’s practice in Kazakhstan.

The firm expects there to be around nine lawyers based in Astana by the end of the year, but no lateral hires are in the pipeline. A spokesperson said that lawyers in Kazakhstan will either relocate or work from both offices, depending on client needs. 

Telemtayev said in a statement: “Kazakhstan’s business hub has been shifting steadily to Astana ever since it became the country’s capital city. Establishing an office in Astana will ensure we’re ideally positioned to support our clients effectively while strengthening the platform from which the ongoing development of our Kazakh practice will continue.” 

The firm, which opened in Almaty in 1995, will continue to advise clients doing business in Kazakhstan on projects, investments and contracting matters in the region, with major mandates including a lead role on the $16.7bn (£10.8bn) restructuring of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank in 2010 (13 September 2010). The multimillion-dollar restructuring was among the largest ever completed in the region.

The office launch follows a similar move by Dentons, which last month opened a new satellite office in Astana (4 September 2013). The expansion came hot on the heels of a team exit from Denton’s Almaty office, after it was revealed that Central and Eastern European (CEE) firm Kinstellar was to launch in the jurisdiction with a team of lawyers from the firm (3 September 2013).

The overriding attraction in Kazakhstan for foreign investors remains firmly in the natural resources field. “Kazakhstan is a resource-rich country and this explains why such a vast number of subsoil surface produces, such as oil and gas and mining businesses, operate in our country,” said GRATA managing partner Rashid Gassin in last year’s Kazakhstan special report, Firm favourite.