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Allen & Overy closes in Toronto one year after launch as office head quits

Allen & Overy (A&O) is closing down its Canadian office, one year on from becoming the first Magic Circle firm to set up a representative office in Toronto.

The closure comes after the office’s only partner and office head Francois Duquette announced he will quit to take on an in-house role at Canadian pension fund Caisse de Depot et de Placement du Quebec. The office’s two other staff members – an associate and one personal assistant – are currently exploring their options.

The office handled outbound investment work for Canadian clients, but still used a network of local firms for domestic Canadian work, as A&O’s outpost did not practice local law. A&O confirmed it will continue to use these firms for domestic work and manage its Canadian client relationships on a ‘fly-in-fly-out basis’.

A&O had placed its Canada-launch on hold in 2011 to focus on the firm’s opening in Australia. The Toronto base opened its doors last year after Duquette wanted to relocate back to Canada.

Duquette was the founding partner of A&O’s Casablanca office in 2011, and practised in Abu Dhabi from 2004 to 2011. He joined A&O in 2007 as a partner from Simmons & Simmons, where he was an associate. Duquette has banking, finance and corporate experience, and has advised clients across Canada, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

The firm said in a statement: ‘We would like to thank Francois for the contribution he has made during his time at Allen & Overy and wish him all the best for the future.’

In June, A&O won roles, alongside Ashurst and Dickson Minto, on the off-market acquisition of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) by Canadian pension funds OMERS Private Equity and co-investor Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), for which A&O advised OMERS and AIMCo on all aspects of the deal that valued ERM at $1.7bn.