Squire Sanders expands Middle East reach with Riyadh bolt-on

Squire Sanders has cemented its footing in Saudi Arabia by bolting-on El-Khoury & Partners’ Middle East and North Africa (Mena) practice.

The acquisition will provide Squire Sanders with a fully integrated office in Riyadh, operating under the name Al-Enezee in association with Squire Sanders.

Previously, Squire Sanders worked in the Saudi Kingdom through an association with EK Partners & Al-Enezee – the name of El-Khoury’s Mena practice. Following the acquisition of the El-Khoury business, EK Partners & Al-Enezee managing partner Ziad El-Khoury will become a global partner of Squire Sanders, while Wissam Hachem and Hadi Melki will become local partners. Khulaif Al-Enezee will be the firm’s Saudi relationship partner – a requirement for international firms operating in the Kingdom.

Squire Sanders and El-Khoury & Partners already worked together in the same offices in Riyadh, but have since taken more space to accommodate further growth.

El-Khoury & Partners also has an office in the Lebanese capital Beirut, which will remain independent of Squire Sanders but will work in association with the firm.

Squire Sanders has been working in Saudi Arabia for 20 years, though more established links only go back 10 years, when the firm signed its first cooperation agreement with local firm Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, which later formed an alliance with Norton Rose (10 December 2007) that collapsed in 2011.

Squire Sanders began its official association with El-Khoury & Partners three years ago, though it had worked with the lawyers within El-Khoury for longer.

Squire Sanders Mena head Kevin Connor said the firm initially opted for an association in order to first see through growth plans in other parts of the world. “One thing we were looking at was the transatlantic merger, another was the new Singapore office, so we decided on doing an association at first,” he added.

“Our approach to the Middle East is to focus on Saudi Arabia. We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin and don’t want to open in too many places – we just want to get this one right.”

El-Khoury added: ”This is one of the first acquisitions of a Middle East law firm by a global legal practice and it demonstrates Squire Sanders’ long-term commitment to investing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”