The world’s leading offshore firms were in expansion mode in 2008, with four of the five top players opening more than one new office base.
Our survey revealas that in raw partner numbers Maples and Calder remains the largest firm, with 62 partners and 222 lawyers. However, the firm slowed its growth in 2008 and concentrated on its Dublin office, where it made a number of strategic hires.
The firm has just 20 equity partners, which it has revealed publicly for the first time.
Offshore firms are reluctant to make known the extent of their equity partnerships, and of the top five firms only Maples and Ogier came through with actual figures.
Under this criteria, Ogier, with 28 equity partners and 835 staff, dwarfs Maples, which houses 20 equity partners and 618 staff members.
Neither Appleby, Conyers Dill & Pearman nor Walkers revealed their equity partner bases.
Ogier is also the winner in terms of number of offices locations with 11, putting it on a par with Conyers.
Ogier opened in Tokyo and Bahrain in 2008, while Conyers became the first offshore law firm to enter Moscow, where it opened in March, before it set up a base in Mauritius in July and then one in São Paulo in December.
Mourant du Feu & Jeune was the only firm to close an office, with the closure coming in New York, after New York partner Simon Felton relocated to London. It may turn out to be a smart move – after all, we have seen what can happen if firms grow too quickly.
The next 12 months are likely to be one of steadied growth, with most firms confident that they will be able to continue their expansions, albeit modestly.
1 – Maples and Calder
Managing partners: Charles Jennings and Julian Reddyhough
Number of offices: Seven n Locations: British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Jersey, London
Key practice areas: Corporate, finance, intellectual property, insolvency and corporate restructuring, investment funds, litigation, real estate, regulatory and financial services, structured finance, trusts
Key clients: The firm refused to supply client names
Cayman Islands-headquartered Maples and Calder continues its global dominance of the offshore elite with 62 partners and 222 lawyers worldwide.
At the start of 2008 co-managing partner Charles Jennings predicted it would more likely be a year of organic growth with appointments only being made in “exceptional circumstances”.
The firm made just three lateral partner hires in 2009 – all of them to its Dublin office, which has gone from strength-to-strength since it set up in January 2006. The strategic hire of former A&L Goodbody and Matheson Ormsby Prentice partner Andrew Doyle to run the office gives Maples a strong reach into the Irish lawyer market.
In June the firm appointed Matheson Ormsby Prentice partner Edward Miller to the Irish corporate team. This was followed by the appointment of investment funds partner Barry McGrath and leveraged funds Nollaig Murphy from A&L Goodbody. Murphy is considered a world leader in capital markets law while Jennings says the office, under the leadership of joint managing partner Julian Reddyhough, has been through “significant expansion” and now employs more than 120 professionals.
Maples continues to grow its London office with the ongoing recruitment of lawyers to its funds practice. The Dubai office has also “had a successful year”, according to Jennings.
Lateral partner hires are a rare occurrence at Maples, which prefers to promote from within. In December the firm added four to the Cayman partnership, including Wanda Ebanks, Andreas Hang, Nigel Porteous and Martin Livingston.
2 – Appleby
Group managing partner: Peter Bubenzer
Number of offices: Eight n Locations: Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Jersey, London, Mauritius, Zurich
Key practices areas: Corporate and commercial, litigation and insolvency, property, trusts
Key clients: Barclays Private Bank and Trust, HSBC, The Caterpillar Group, Hiscox, Catlin, Aspen
The strategic hire of Jeanne Bartlett as head of Appleby’s structured finance practice in 2007 set the theme for growth in 2008. Bartlett is to move to Appleby’s Dubai offices in 2009 after the firm receives approval for trading.
Managing partner Peter Bubenzer says Appleby sees “significant opportunities” for growth in the Middle East.
Appleby operates a broad office-based model, with global practice bases, and is among the largest firms in terms of both partner and office bases.
In 2007 the firm opened in Mauritius, the first offshore firm to take advantage of impending legislative changes that aim to open up the sector to foreign firms.
The announcement of a Dubai office was followed by the opening of a Zurich office in December 2008.
Appleby also continues to have a strong partnership base, increasing from 47 to 55 in 2008. The firm prefers internal promotions and in April made up eight lawyers to the partnership. The Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Jersey office all gained two partner promotions, while Bermuda and Cayman took one counsel each.
Appleby said it would continue to consider further expansion in 2009 but acknowledged there would be a drop off in transactional work as the economic downturn takes hold.
3 – Walkers
Managing partner: Grant Stein
Number of offices: Seven
Locations: Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jersey, London, Singapore
Key practice areas: Corporate and
international finance law: asset finance, capital markets and structured finance, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, commercial trusts, compliance, crime, distressed funds, insolvency and corporate recovery, insurance, investment funds, Islamic finance, private equity, private trusts,
real estate and trust disputes
Key clients: The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, CVC Capital Partners, First Reserve, Oaktree Capital Management, Riverstone
Walkers shelved plans to merge with Mourant du Feu & Jeune at the beginning of 2008, preferring instead to grow organically.
In common with many offshore firms Walkers shifted focus to the Eastern economies in 2008, concentrating on growing its Hong Kong office.
The hire of Maples and Calder’s Everton Robertson to its Hong Kong office in September was a coup for Walkers. Walkers also made ten associate hires in Hong Kong over the past 12 months, including Jennifer Lee, Michael Padarin and corporate administration team member Cecilia Cheung.
All this preceded the unveiling of a new Singapore office that is set to replicate the success of the Hong Kong base. Walkers will move John Rogers to Singapore from Hong Kong, alongside Ashley Gunning.
Walkers is likely to grow its distressed funds business in 2009 having seen its instructions shoot up in the last quarter.
As the firm points out: “There has been a shift in the nature of work that our clients are bringing to us. On the hedgefund side there will be more of a focus on restructuring distressed funds rather than launching as many new funds as we have seen in the past.”
4 – Conyers Dill & Pearman
Managing partner: John Collis n Partners: 40
Number of offices: 11
Locations: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Mauritius, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, São Paulo, Singapore
Key practice areas: Aircraft registration and finance, banking and finance, bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring, commercial litigation, corporate, company and commercial insurance, intellectual property, trademarks and patents, investment funds, property, ship registration and finance, trust and private client
Key clients: Dufry South America, Asian Citrus Holdings, BioEnergy Africa, Dominion Petroleum, Griffin Mining, Hardy Underwriting Bermuda
Conyers Dill & Pearman has continued to pursue a strategy to align its office base with its clients’ needs and in 2008 opened in three new jurisdictions.
In March it became the first offshore firm to open an office in Moscow, headed by Caroline O’Hare, and in June it transferred Alexey Kuzmichev along with Niel Jones to the office from Bermuda.
In July, Conyers established a presence in Mauritius, adding the provision of Mauritius legal advice and the incorporation of Mauritius Global Business Companies to its roster of jurisdictions.
In December, it became the first offshore law firm to establish a significant presence in Brazil, opening in São Paulo. Alan Dickson was appointed as managing partner of the São Paulo office and was joined by partner Benjamin Dyer.
Meanwhile, Conyers continues to promote and hire across its core offices. In the Cayman Islands, the firm appointed Nigel Meeson QC to develop a litigation practice.
The Dubai office has been bolstered by the addition of Kerri Lefebvre as partner, while Fawaz Elmalki rejoined the firm as an associate. Dubai has also recently received further reinforcement with Sonia Xavier joining as an associate to advise on Mauritius law.
There have also been promotions in Singapore for Janice Oh and the hire of Japanese speaking lawyers to the Hong Kong office.
Associate Anthony Smith relocated from the Bermuda office to London and in October Christopher Johnson-Gilbert took over as managing partner there.
5 – Ogier
Managing partner: Nick Kershaw
Number of offices: 11
Locations: Bahrain, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey, Ireland, London, Montevideo, New Zealand, Tokyo
Key practice areas: Banking, corporate and commercial, derivatives, employee benefits, investment funds, litigation, private client and trusts, property law, real estate, restructuring and insolvency, structured finance
Key clients: Barclays Bank, HSBC, Lloyds TSB (Offshore), Pension Insurance Corporation, UBS Banco Pactual
Jersey-headquartered Ogier is one of the larger Channel Islands firms, with a broad geographical base that spans from Hong Kong to Uruguay. It is one of the fastest growers in the offshore elite.
In the past three years Ogier has merged with WSmiths to give it a presence in Hong Kong and New Zealand. This was followed by office openings in Dubai and Dublin in 2007 and at the end of last year it opened in Tokyo and launched in Bahrain. The Bahraini joint venture with accounting firm Keypoint makes Ogier the first offshore firm to open in the jurisdiction. “This is an opportunity to commit to the region in a way others haven’t done before,” according to the firm.
The biggest change for Ogier in 2009 will be its management line-up, with executive chairman Jonathan White standing down from the board after 18 years in the post (see Profile, page 26). The firm has also created two new management posts: Clive Chaplin, who currently heads up Ogier’s Business and Trust Law Group in Jersey, will become chairman, while Nick Kershaw, currently managing partner of Ogier’s legal practice in Jersey, will become group chief executive.
Ogier says its geographical reach means it is well positioned to weather the economic storm: “We would expect to see different deal flows coming through from emerging markets such as the Middle East and Asia, while the more traditional markets might be quieter.”
6 – Arendt & Medernach
Management board chairman: Paul Mousel
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Luxembourg, Brussels, plus representative offices in New York, London, Dublin, Dubai
Key practice areas: Financial services, corporate tax and IP, investment management, litigation
Key clients: The firm refused to supply clients name
Arendt & Medernach is one of Luxemburg’s leading firms with its headquarters in the jurisdiction and a second office in Brussels. It has representative offices in key legal sectors across the globe, most recently adding Dubai. Arendt’s financial services group acts for around 40 per cent of banks with branches in Luxemburg, while its corporate and M&A practice acts for eight of the top largest private equity funds worldwide. The firm is well placed to take advantage of the economic downturn with a strong dispute resolution group headed by of counsel Jean Medernach.
7 – Homburger
Managing partner: Heinz Schärer
Number of offices: One Location: Zurich
Key practice areas: Corporate/M&A, financial services, tax, arbitration/litigation, antitrust, IP/IT, private clients, employment law, restructuring, insolvency, corporate compliance, criminal matters
Key clients: ABB, Atel Holding AG, Ciba, Credit Suisse, F Hoffmann-La Roche AG, General Dynamics, Holcim, JPMorgan, Merck, Nestlé, Robert Bosch, Swiss Life Holding, UBS, Unilabs, Zurich Financial Services
Zurich-headquartered Homburger continued to dominate European M&A activity in 2008, completing nine deals worth an estimated $52bn (£36.39bn) in 2008, according to Thomson Reuters European M&A tables. René Bosch, who heads the firm’s financial services group, counts banking giants Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS as clients. Homburger’s ten-partner litigation practice is also considered a force to be reckoned with.
8 – Carey Olsen
Managing partners: Alex Ohlsson, Jersey office, John Greenfield, Guernsey office
Number of offices: Three
Locations: Jersey, Guernsey, London
Key practices areas Corporate and finance, litigation, property, regulatory, employment
Key clients: Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Permira, Morgan Stanley
The best friends agreement between Carey Olsen and offshore giant Maples and Calder signed in January 2008 “continues to be successful”, with the firms exchanging work between the two key offshore centres. Carey Olsen is solidly committed to the Channel Islands, where it aims to be a market leader. The firm has been recruiting to its offices in Guernsey and Jersey during 2008 with hires from law firms in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as well as from local competitors. In March 2009 Carey Olsen’s Guernsey office will move to prestigious new offices in St Peter Port.
9 – Bedell Cristin
Managing partner: Richard Gerwat
Number of offices: Five
Locations: Jersey, Guernsey, London, Dublin, Geneva
Key practices areas: Funds litigation, private client, trust, private capital
Key clients: RBS, HSBC, Barclays Capital, Lloyds, Condor Group, Apax
Bedell Cristin is three years into a five-year strategic growth plan that was kickstarted in 2006 with the opening of a Guernsey office base. Since then it has put two partners in the Guernsey office and the firm has seen an upturn in instructions as a result.
In September Bedell Cristin promoted four to the partnership: investment funds partner Simon Hopwood, commercial litigators Lisa Springate and James Gleeson, and capital markets partner Alasdair Hunter. It has also hired Pauline Gale as managing director of its London office who will be responsible for attracting private client work.
10 – Mourant du Feu & Jeune
Managing partner: Jonathan Rigby
Number of offices: Four
Locations: Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, London
Key practice areas: Finance and corporate, funds, litigation, property, regulatory, trusts
Key clients: CVC, AXA, WPP, Shire, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Canada
For Mourant du Feu & Jeune 2008 was a year of repositioning. The firm shelved plans to merge with Walkers, then a shake up of its management saw chief executive Stephen Ball exit and, last month, it announced the sale of its sister financial companies. It also withdrew from New York, relocating partner Simon Felton to London.
There were a number of appointments too, including finance partner Richard de Basto and funds partner Matthew Feargrieve, both of whom joined the Cayman Islands office. With Jonathan Rigby now in the driving seat as managing partner, 2009 will see Mourant concentrate on its core client bases.
11 – Elvinger Hoss & Prussen
Managing partner: Manou Hoss
Number of offices: One
Key practice areas: Corporate and general commercial law, M&A, investments funds, asset management and private equity, capital markets and securitisation, banking, finance and insurance, taxation, litigation, insolvency
Key clients: ArcelorMittal, JPMorgan, Richemont, Banque de Luxembourg, Fortress, Fidelity
Elvinger Hoss & Prussen has a strategy of being an independent, non-affiliated organisation with one office in Luxembourg. The firm, which is considered to be a sector leader in the country, requires its specialised lawyers to be “multi-specialist rather than narrowly focused”.
Anticipating “steady growth” in 2009, it has hired 18 lawyers across its core practice areas who are due to begin in March.
With a steady stream of instructions from UK firm Slaughter and May, Elvinger is well positioned to see out the recession.
12 – Cains
Managing partner: Andrew Corlett
Partners: 17 (directors)
Number of offices: Three
Locations: Isle of Man, London, Singapore
Key practice areas: Corporate and commercial
Key clients: HSBC, Mountgrange Real Estate Opportunities Fund LP and AEW Europe, Isle of Man Government, Excalibur Almaz, Flybe Group, Three Delta
Winner of The Lawyer Offshore Law Firm of the Year accolade last year, Cains is a firm that is consistently punching above its weight. In 2007 and 2008 it was listed by Hemscott as the firm with the most clients in the AIM 100, including 75 per cent of Indian-admitted clients in 2007.
In 2008, the Isle of Man-headquartered Cains opened in Singapore, strengthening its reach into India and South East Asia. This is a growth area for the firm and it is committed to growing its Brazil, Russia, India and China economy client base.
Closer to home, Cains is flexing its litigation credentials and directors Seth Caine and Peter C Lucas have been instructed as lawyers to the provisional liquidation of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man).
13 – Harneys
Managing partner: Richard Peters
Number of offices: Five
Locations: British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Anguilla, London, Hong Kong; strategic alliance in Cyprus
Key practice areas: Banking and finance, corporate and commercial, litigation, insolvency, investment funds, private client
Key clients: HSBC, TNK-BP, Goldman Sachs, Gazprombank, Barclays Capital, RBS Private Equity, Delancey, Areva
Harneys is concentrating on growth across the Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese economies in 2009 and has spent 2008 strengthening that strategy.
In June, it established a Cayman Islands office through a merger with Cayman firm Gill & Co, the result being that Harneys is now well placed to offer both British Virgin Islands and Cayman expertise to clients in Asia, Latin America, Russia and India.
14 – Maitland Advisory
Managing partner: Stuart Mathews
Number of offices: Six
Locations: London, Paris, Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Cape Town, Dublin
Key practice areas: Corporate commercial, corporate tax, private client, investment funds, dispute resolution.
Key clients: Mondi, De Beers, Anglogold Ashanti, Peregrine Financial Services Holdings, Pangea Diamondfields, A&D Pharma Holdings
Offshore services firm Maitland Advisory set up shop in the Cayman Islands in 2008, formerly establishing itself as an offshore firm. The hire of Walkers star Sara Collins, head of the firm’s trusts disputes group, to the Cayman office was a coup for Maitland.
Maitland traditionally opted to position itself as an offshore trust services company, but in 2008 managing director Steve Georgala overhauled the firm’s strategic objective, which is now to build a law firm in each of the jurisdictions it operates in. “Sometimes these will have to be separate firms that are aligned with Maitland,” he told The Lawyer in June 2008.
15 – Hassans
Managing partner: Javier Chincotta
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Gibraltar, Spain
Key practice areas: International tax, corporate, commercial, international finance, banking
Key clients: Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, Shell Gibraltar, Lloyds TSB, Taylor Woodrow, Newcastle Building Society
Hassans has helped to establish Gibraltar as a financial centre by attracting heavyweight corporate clients to the island. The firm has links with all the major London, Continental, US and Israeli law firms and approximately three-quarters of its work is related to international clients.
In 2008 Hassans expanded its partnership with the promotion of private client and corporate lawyer Vikram Nagrani in July. The firm entered 2009 with a mission to expand its Spanish presence after appointing Kenneth Bonavia, former managing partner of Stephenson Harwood and DLA Piper in Madrid, to push the drive.
16 – Ozannes
Managing partner: Robert Shepherd
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Guernsey, Jersey
Key practice areas: Commercial and banking, investment funds, insurance, litigation, private client and property, trust and tax, employment, family
Key clients: HSBC, Barclay Brothers, JTC, Slaughter and May, Herbert Smith, SJ Berwin, GFSC, Babcock & Brown
Guernsey-headquartered Ozannes recruited 35 new staff in 2008. David Moore became head of the Ozannes corporate team replacing Peter Harwood, who remains within the practice.
The firm describes 2008 as “a difficult year” in the global market and, as a result, spent it focused on client retention and organic growth.
Nevertheless Ozannes is considering further expansion into two new jurisdictions in 2009, although it is remaining tight-lipped on the destination.
The firm has seen an upturn in restructuring work, but, like many firms, a significant decline in instructions for big-ticket fund work.
17 – Triay & Triay
Managing partne: Joseph Triay
Number of offices: Three
Locations: Gibraltar, Marbella and Sotogrande
Key practice areas: Company and commercial, banking, investment schemes and financial services, insurance, trusts, taxation, property, shipping and admiralty, litigation, family, employment
Key clients: include a number of established international banks and institutions and the Government of Gibraltar
For Gibraltar-headquartered Triay & Triay 2009 will be “business as usual”. This is because the firm requires lawyers to work on both contentious and non-contentious instructions.
Triay is highly regarded in Gibraltar, with partners Robert Vasquez and Javier Triay being instructed by several international UK, Spanish and German banks on licensing requirements for their establishment of operations in Gibraltar.
Both the firm’s corporate tax and private client practices are regarded among the best in their field.
18 – Dickinson Cruickshank
Managing partner: Paul Morris
Number of officesTwo
Locations: London, Isle of Man
Key practice areas: Corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, private client and property
Key clients: Anglo Irish, Barclays Wealth, Equiom, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland International, Royal Skandia
Growth at the Isle of Man-headquartered Dickinson Cruickshank slowed in 2008, reflecting tougher economic times. Nevertheless, the firm made three key promotions to the partnership, including head of the London office Toby Ward, Sean Dowling and John Melia.
Dickinson Cruickshank prefers to recruit senior associates and grow organically. In the last year it recruited senior associate Gill Crennell to the corporate practice from Addleshaw Goddard.
The firm says 2009 will be “a year of consolidation”, although it anticipates further growth in insolvency and creditor rights instructions.
19 – Oostvogels Pfister Feyten
Managing partner: Stef Oostvogels
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Luxembourg, London
Key practice areas: Corporate, M&A, private equity, tax, investment funds, banking and finance, real estate, restructuring and insolvency, litigation
Key clients: CVC, Apax, Babcock & Brown, Eurazeo, Terra Firma
Luxembourg-headquartered Oostvogels Pfister Feyten will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2009. Since it was established under the direction of managing partner Stef Oostvogels, the firm has grown to a team of 55 lawyers. It was the first Luxembourg offshore firm to open in London and in the past year has appointed Chokri Bouzidi to head the UK’s Luxembourg tax practice and moved over Harold Prize from the jurisdiction to head its investment funds practice.
Oostvogels says it has seen a slowdown in its capital market practice but it expects work across the tax, litigation, insolvency and banking and finance practices to rise.
20 – Collas Day
Managing partner: Chris Bound
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Guernsey, London
Key practice areas: Commercial, dispute resolution, property, fiduciary, private client
Key clients: Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Butterfield, Stock Lending and Repo Committee, International Capital Markets Association
Collas Day finally took the plunge and opened in London in 2008, a reflection of its growing client base.
The firm has also restructured its management line-up, bringing in Mike Tidd as chief operating officer and Russ Newton as finance director from KPMG Channel Islands, with the aim of enabling senior fee-earners to spend more time with clients.
It is a move that has paid off, with Collas Day getting ever closer to opening a Jersey base. With that will come a series of hires, according to the firm. The recruitment drive will primarily affect the commercial and litigation practices.
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