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Clifford Chance reworks Saudi arrangements with new association

Following talk of contention with local authorities over the legality of its Saudi Arabia office, Clifford Chance (CC) has reworked its operations in the region, and entered into an association with newly-established Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm (AS&H).

AS&H has been formed by CC lawyer Fahad Abuhimed who will take the role of managing partner and is formerly of Al-Jadaan & Partners, alongside CC lawyers Majid Al-Sheikh and Mansoor Al-Hagbani. Most recently Abuhimed was a deputy minister at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment.

AS&H will operate from CC’s current offices at Business Gate in Riyadh and work closely with CC’s existing partners, while the Saudi lawyers and business services staff currently employed by CC in Riyadh will transition to AS&H. The new arrangement replaces the stand-alone CC law firm licenced in 2013.

The office will provide support to clients across corporate M&A, finance, equity and debt capital markets, anti-trust and competition, privatisations, financial services, real estate and construction, legislative drafting, regulatory, public policy and disputes.

Major mandates picked up by CC since it opened in the country include the establishment of the Saudi Telecom Company’s SAR5bn sukuk issuance programme; a $10bn revolving credit facility for Saudi Aramco; and, the Public Investment Fund’s acquisition of a $1.3bn stake in Korea’s POSCO E&C.

CC formally announced the launch of its joint Saudi and foreign-owned law firm in Riyadh, Al-Jadaan three years ago, boasting an institutionalised career path for Saudi lawyers as it became the first international firm to establish an integrated partnership in the Kingdom.

The firm faced contention earlier this year however after local courts began reviewing the firm’s licensing arrangements and the roles of local authorities when CC got its licence.

In a statement, Abuhimed said: ‘We expect the coming months and years to see a significant increase in the demand for legal services in Saudi Arabia, with a greater requirement for deep specialisation across a broader range of expertise. We are looking forward to working together to ensure a seamless transition for clients and staff when the new association becomes operational later this year.’