Legal Business Blogs

CMS signs up Saudi partners as White & Case brings in heavyweight Swedish duo

They are already two of the most globalised law firms in the business, but CMS and White & Case have announced fresh international investment this week with CMS securing a new partner in the Middle East as the US-bred giant makes significant hires in Sweden.

Four months after completing the largest legal merger in UK history, CMS is continuing its expansion after signing a partnership with Riyadh practice Feras Al Shawaf.

The move expands CMS’s network in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; managed by the Dubai central hub, the firm has more than 100 lawyers and offices in Algeria, Iran, Morocco, Oman, Turkey and association agreements in Lebanon and Iraq.

‘MENA is a dynamic growth region that is gaining importance for our clients and Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the region,’ said Duncan Weston, CMS executive partner for global development.

CMS executive chairman Cornelius Brandi told Legal Business: ‘It is a structured co-operation, we will exchange information as far as we can and collaborate very closely. We have worked with Feras Al Shawaf for four or five years, discussions for a formal partnership started around the beginning of this year.’

Established in 1999 and formed of three partners, seven associates and a senior counsel, Feras Al Shawaf has relationships with a number of local government bodies, including the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Capital Market Authority. The firm previously had a partnership with Trowers & Hamlins, which terminated after the departure of the City firm’s last associate in Riyadh in September 2011.

For CMS, the Saudi deal follows up on its expansion in Latin America earlier this year, when the firm added three new member firms from Chile, Peru and Colombia to its network.

Meanwhile, White & Case’s Stockholm branch has recruited Jan Jensen, the chair of Nordic leader Hannes Snellman, to head its private equity practice in the region. Jensen is joined by Hannes Snellman partner Shoan Panahi and associate Patrik Erblad.

For the Euro Elite firm, the departures are the second blow in the last few weeks, with Eversheds Sutherland acquiring the Finnish-based firm’s entire operation in Russia at the beginning of the month, including a team of 22 lawyers. Contacted by Legal Business, Hannes Snellman senior partner Johan Aalto confirmed that the lawyers would leave the firm later this year but declined to comment further.