White & Case is to launch a Qatar office, which will be the firm’s third outpost in the Middle East.
London-based corporate partner Andrew Macklin will head the office initially as sole partner and will be joined by two associates from the firm’s London office.
The office will focus on finance, M&A and corporate work and will work closely with the firm’s existing Gulf offices in Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2007, and Riyadh, which opened in 1991.
The Qatar office comes on the back of a long-standing relationship with Qatar Petroleum, which has seen the firm advise on all of the Qatargas projects, including the $11.2bn (£6.8bn) Qatargas II financing.
A spokesperson for the firm said that now is a good time to be expanding in the Middle East, despite widespread cutbacks at firms including DLA Piper (18 June 2009), Hadef & Partners (20 April 2009) and Trowers & Hamlins (23 February 2009).
Philip Stopford, co-head of the Western Europe, Middle East & Africa project and infrastructure finance group, said: “We wanted to grow our corporate partner headcount on the ground.
“Adding Andrew Macklin adds an additional English-qualified corporate partner in the region. Andrew is not going out there with an exit strategy in a year’s time. It’s part of adding to the resources we need in the region.”
Stopford added that the firm was looking at expansion elsewhere in the region, including into Iraq and Kuwait.