SJ Berwin bolsters corporate team with Field Fisher CIS expert

SJ Berwin has added to its City corporate practice with the hire of Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) CIS specialist Alex Woodfield.

Woodfield founded and headed FFW’s CIS focus group covering Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan and specialises in transactions for clients in the region encompassing sovereign funds, major oil companies and high-profile businessmen, with a focus on energy and natural resources.

He advised oligarch Alisher Usmanov, one of the largest shareholders in Arsenal FC, on the purchase of his first stake in the North London club in 2007 (10 September 2007).

The London-based partner also also acted for Kazakh state-owned oil and gas company KazMunayGas and Kazakh sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and led for Chinese media group Sun TV Shop on its AIM listing in 2006 (17 July 2006).

The CIS group is now headed by London corporate partner Arik Aslanyan following Woodfield’s exit. Other members of the nine-lawyer group include disputes partners Simon Moore and Natalia Chumak.

SJ Berwin senior partner Stephen Kon said in a statement: “We have an increasing focus on providing advice to Russian-speaking clients and in connection with transactions involving Russia/CIS. Building our Russia/CIS practice is a strategic goal for SJ Berwin.”

Corporate head Steven Davis added: “Alex’s dedicated focus on Russia/CIS is the right addition to the group and he complements the existing contentious and non-contentious team, predominantly based in the London and Dubai offices.”

The move comes amid continuing merger talks between FFW and Osborne Clarke (29 October 2012).

It also follows SJ Berwin’s expansion of its London energy and resources practice through a double hire from Greenberg Traurig Maher earlier this year (11 January 2012).

FFW corporate head Andrew Blankfield said in a statement: “Following Alex’s departure, partner Arik Aslanyan has taken over as head of the firm’s cross-practice CIS group which remains one of the largest in the City dedicated to advising companies and high net-worth individuals in the region. The core team of nine lawyers, many of whom are dual-qualified native speakers, continues to advise clients investing in Europe and elsewhere in the world on their legal requirements.”