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Expansion for Global 100 giants as Bakers plans new offshoring centre and Reed Smith launches in Kazakhstan

Baker & McKenzie and Reed Smith will further extend their global footprints, with Bakers looking at another low-cost offshore base after its success in Manila while Reed Smith has today (21 January) announced a new launch in Kazakhstan with the hire of one partner each from Morgan Lewis and White & Case.

Bakers, which launched its captive offshore support centre in Manila in at the turn of the millennium, is ‘exploring options for replicating the model in other jurisdictions’ but at this time has no set timetable.

‘Baker & McKenzie was one of the first firms to establish a sophisticated support centre in an advantageous location, opening an office in Manila more than 10 years ago. Our 600-plus professionals in Manila provide 24/7 service to lawyers around the world, and we believe this approach has provided efficiencies and reduced costs that benefit clients,’ said a spokesperson for the firm.

The Manila team supports lawyers, paralegals, accountants, developers, researchers, designers manage projects and processes and deliver front- and back-end support to the firm’s 70 offices. In 2007, the firm brokered a deal with multinational Unilever, which saw the Manila office handle the entire company’s trade mark portfolio work.

Meanwhile Reed Smith has hired Vladimir Shuster from Morgan Lewis and Arman Tastanbekov from White & Case to staff its new launch in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. Both advise on corporate and commercial transactions with a focus on cross-border M&A, energy and natural resources, banking, private equity and capital markets and had worked together at Dewey & LeBoeuf before the US firm went into administration in May 2012. The pair are dual qualified in US and Kazakhstan law.

Reed Smith has been involved in disputes in the country for 14 years but the new hires give the firm added capacity to advise on corporate matters. The corporate team has already advised the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on its participation in a consortium for the £3bn takeover of scandal-hit Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) last year.

‘We’ve established a strong disputes practice in the region. However, our clients increasingly require on-the-ground transactional capability, and Vladimir’s and Arman’s arrival has helped us achieve just that. Having experienced partners on the ground will enable us to better serve our clients’ needs, while ensuring we’re able to provide a competitive quality service,’ said Belinda Paisley, an international arbitration partner who will run the Kazakhstan office from London.

‘The ENRC deal was one of the largest and most complex takeover deals in the City this year, highlighting both our capability and the quality of work emanating from Kazakhstan. Vladimir’s and Arman’s arrival puts us in an even better position to act on corporate transactions of this nature,’ said James Wilkinson, partner and head of the firm’s Europe and Middle East corporate practice.

Reed Smith joins the growing number of firms expanding Kazakhstan, with White & Case (where Tastanbekov was a partner) and Dentons both opening their second Kazakhstan offices in Astana in 2013.