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Baker & McKenzie ups its bet on Saudi Arabia with second office

Baker & McKenzie and its Saudi Arabian association Legal Advisors, Abdulaziz I Al-Ajlan & Partners, are set to open a second office in Saudi Arabia with a launch in the country’s commercial centre Jeddah.

The office will house two partners with Bahrain-based Islamic finance partner Julie Alexander taking on management of the new office. She will be joined by recently recruited Islamic finance and transactions lawyer Basel Barakat. The pair have been tasked with boosting the amount of work secured from Jeddah-based banking clients.

Finance partner Alexander will split her time between the Bahrain office and Jeddah. She represents banks, borrowers and project sponsors on Islamic, project and contractor finance transactions. Barakat, who joined from Law Firm of Hassan Mahassni in April, relocates from Riyadh, and has taken lead roles on the financing of Saudi Arabia’s new raft of power, infrastructure and water projects.

‘Having an on-the-ground presence in Jeddah and partners of Basel’s calibre will considerably enhance our service offering for high-end finance and corporate advice,’ said Alexander.

Jeddah becomes the firm’s seventh office in the Middle East, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Cairo, Doha and Dubai, as well as the associated office in Riyadh, manned by more than 300 lawyers and support staff.

‘Legal Advisors and Baker & McKenzie have regularly advised a large number of Jeddah-based clients for many years from Riyadh and Bahrain,’ said George Sayen, regional head of corporate. ‘Together with Legal Advisors’ long standing practice in Riyadh, this opening in Jeddah demonstrates our strong commitment to the Saudi Arabian market.’

A number of other law firms have established offices through associations in the city. Ashurst opened last year [2013] with Faisal Adnan Baassiri Law Firm, while Hogan Lovells operates through an association with The Law Office of Montaser Al-Mohammed and Simmons & Simmons with Hammad & Al-Mehdar. Jones Day entered the market in 2011 alongside openings in Riyadh and Alkhobar.

Revenues at Baker & McKenzie soared to $2.54bn in the last financial year, largely on the back of ramped up expansion, a strategy that has continued in 2014 with new offices in Brisbane and Myanmar.