Richards Butler is preparing to launch a new office in Dubai, The Lawyer can reveal, just days after the firm signed an association with Swiss firm Chabrier & Partners.
Richards Butler has had an office in Abu Dhabi for 30 years, but it felt that Dubai’s increasing importance as the commercial hub for the region means that the firm needs to be there as well.
It has applied for a licence to practise in Dubai and hopes to open the office before the end of the year.
The plans pre-date the firm’s negotiations with US firm Reed Smith, which Richards Butler’s partners voted to merge with two weeks ago, as first reported on www. thelawyer.com (15 June). However, Reed Smith is keen to expand in the region and has approved the plans for Dubai.
The Abu Dhabi office’s client base is a mix of UK, Australian and US companies investing in the region as well as local banks, financial institutions and trading companies. The Abu Dhabi office will be retained when Dubai gets the green light.
The firm’s management sees Dubai as the hub of a wider region that includes not just the Middle East, but India, Russia, the former Soviet republics and much of Africa.
Last week, Richards Butler signed an association with Swiss firm Chabrier, which its trade partners have worked closely with for 20 years.
The association can be seen as the prelude to a merger because the alliance goes way beyond a standard cross-referral relationship.
Head of Richards Butler’s international trade and commodities group Kyri Evagora said: “One area we’ve significantly expanded is commodity trading, including energy and trade finance, and Switzerland is perhaps the most important centre in this industry sector.”