HSF allies with Nasser Al-Hamdan to reopen in Riyadh two years after regional exit

Herbert Smith Freehills will reopen in Riyadh in 2016 through an exclusive association with local firm Nasser Al-Hamdan and the hire of two partners from DLA Piper and White & Case.

Riyadh corporate partner Nasser Al-Hamdan, who will continue as managing partner of the local firm, will also join HSF as a partner.

Euan Pinkerton will join the office from White & Case in Riyadh, where he was a partner in the energy, infrastructure, project and asset finance group.

DLA infrastructure partner Anthony Ellis will join HSF’s Dubai office. Earlier this year HSF closed its Abu Dhabi office with the five-lawyer team relocating to Dubai. Ellis will be joined by a senior associate from HSF’s Australian offices, bringing the total Dubai practice to seven lawyers.

The appointments bring HSF’s Middle East operations up to eight partners and 31 lawyers across Riyadh, Dubai and Doha.

Joint chief executive Sonya Leydecker said: “Together with our recent launches in Johannesburg and Düsseldorf, this will be our third major investment in strengthening the firm’s presence across the EMEA region, a key focus for the firm to provide clients with a truly global offering.”

HSF Middle East head Zubai Mir added the association “brings a leading corporate capability into Saudi Arabia”.

The Riyadh launch comes two years after HSF ended its six-year exclusive alliance with local firm Al-Ghazzawi Professional Association.

HSF is the third firm this year to announce a Saudi launch.

Dechert tied up with Jeddah practice Hassan Mahassni in September. Earlier this year Shearman & Sterling partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Alassaf & Partners, allowing the firm to do business in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al-Khobar.

DLA Piper also announced it is planning to open two additional offices in the country by the end of 2015. The first of these offices will be run by legal director Rakesh Bassi and be based in Jeddah. Middle East firm Al Tamimi & Company also said it was expanding its presence in the jurisdiction to Jeddah.

However this year has also seen a series of closures in the Middle East. Latham & Watkins closed in Doha and consolidated its Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices in March and Baker Botts closed its Abu Dhabi office, though it boosted its Dubai offering.

For more on the Middle East, look out for Monday’s special report focusing on the region. For more on the Saudi Arabian market and international relationships there, see last year’s analysis, Keys to the Kingdom.