Legal Business Blogs

Middle East consolidation continues: V&E latest to pull out of Abu Dhabi

In the midst of volatile oil and gas markets, energy-focused firm Vinson & Elkins (V&E) has become the latest firm to close down its Abu Dhabi office.

Following a strategic review of the firm’s Middle East operations, the firm’s management committee voted to shut its entire Abu Dhabi base and transfer its offering to V&E’s two offices in Dubai and Riyadh.

Energy transactions and projects partner Rob Patterson and other staff will relocate to Dubai while V&E chairman Mark Kelly said the firm is working ‘closely with all of [its] Middle East practice staff to ensure a smooth transition’.

The Abu Dhabi office will officially close for business at the end of March this year, leaving the firm with 14 international offices. Having opened in 2007, the Abu Dhabi office provided advice to clients in the oil and gas sector mostly complex energy projects in the region.

Kelly said: ‘The Middle East remains a key part of our international practice, and we expect this consolidation will have minimal impact on our ability to serve clients in the region.’

Another firm to recently pull out of the region was Simmons & Simmons which announced last month it will close its Abu Dhabi office affecting five lawyers including three partners. The closure means the firm will service clients from its Dubai office which is its largest office in the region.

While shrinking in the Middle East, V&E expanded in London earlier this month after it hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Ian Frost and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft deal doer Paul Dunbar in an attempt to cash in on the burgeoning City private equity market.