New York’s Maalouf Ashford launches Saudi base

The firm has launched an association with finance lawyer Dr Mohammed Al-Sunbusi, who will run the new Riyadh office.

In line with Saudi bar requirements, Al-Sunbusi is a Saudi-qualified lawyer, but he also holds a US law degree.

The office will focus on international trade & finance matters involving the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] region, including oil and gas transactions, international securities offerings, project finance, M&A and international banking matters.

The firm’s senior partner John Maalouf (pictured) said: “We’ve been dating for [four or five years] and decided to put the marriage together. [Al-Sunbusi] has his own law firm and will continue with a small private practice focused on litigation and arbitration, but our office will focus on transactional work.”

The US firm has been working on steel trade and real estate deals in Dubai and oil and gas transactions in Riyadh for some time but opted for Saudi over Dubai as a regional base because of Dubai’s economic woes.

“We were seriously considering Dubai then the financial crisis hit it badly,” said Maalouf. “As a result the demand for transactional services dried up and restructuring-related work rocketed through the roof. We do restructuring-type work for our clients if they require it, but it’s not our focus.”

Maalouf Ashford is a 20-lawyer firm with US offices in Boston and New York and international offices in Hong Kong, London and Shanghai.

This comes after The Lawyer broke news that Lovells has established a Saudi base (14 September 2009) and that Vinson & Elkins is looking to establish its own office there (5 October 2009).