CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre is set to launch in Algeria, giving the CMS network its first office in the North African country.

The firm has raided French rival Gide Loyrette Nouel for senior associate Samir Sayah, who will manage the office on the ground. Until now Gide was the only major French firm with a base in Algeria.

Gide launched in the country’s capital Algiers four years ago and has a team of eight Algerian and French lawyers advising on energy and infrastructure projects.

Lefebvre will also open in Algiers, where it will focus on advising French clients on tax, corporate and real estate issues.

Paris-based partners Jean-Pierre Andrieux and Frédéric Elbar will have ultimate responsibility for the office, which will be staffed by Sayah and two junior lawyers.

Andrieux, who specialises in international trade and tax law, will head the practice. Moroccan-born Elbar, meanwhile, launched Lefebvre’s Casablanca office in 2001 after joining the firm from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ African arm.

Elbar is now based in Paris and heads the firm’s operations in North Africa, handing over the Casablanca leadership to senior associate Wilfried Le Bihan. With the new office in Algeria, the firm will have 14 lawyers and 20 employees overall in the region.

For Lefebvre, the launch will mark a return to Algeria after an absence of 25 years. The firm had an office there between 1959 and 1972.