Allen & Overy (A&O) is set to become the first magic circle firm to open an office in Africa, with a Casablanca launch scheduled for September.
The office will open in September when banking and corporate partner François Duquette relocates from the firm’s Abu Dhabi office. Duquette will be joined immediately by two lateral hires from Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés.
Partner Yassir Ghorbal and local Casablanca partner Philippe de Richoufftz will be with A&O from launch, with the latter working out of the magic circle firm’s Paris office. Partner Hicham Naciri, who will lead the office, will join later in the year.
A&O anticipates that the office will have around 25 lawyers by 2012.
In a statement, A&O global managing partner Wim Dejonghe said: “Morocco is rapidly establishing itself as a key hub for international companies and investors looking to build a presence in Africa.
“It also has strong trade links with other markets in our network, particularly France, the Middle East and Spain, with growing interest from China, India and Japan. It’s the perfect match for our global network and our emerging markets strategy and offers a fantastic platform to build on our extensive Africa-focused work.”
Paris-headquartered Gide established its tie-up with Casablanca firm Naciri & Associés in 2003.
Other international firms with an office in Casablanca include Spanish players Garrigues and Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, which launched in 2005 and 2007 respectively.