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‘Of strategic importance’: Dechert enters Saudi Arabia with Hassan Mahassni association as Shearman opens in Dubai

After Saudi Arabia’s liberalisation of its capital markets, Dechert has established a presence in the Kingdom by forming an association with the Law Firm of Hassan Mahassni. Shearman & Sterling also bolstered its presence in the Middle East with a new office in Dubai.

Founded in 1970 and based in Jeddah, Hassan Mahassni focuses on corporate, commercial and finance work including joint ventures, M&A, project finance, Islamic finance and capital market transactions.

The Saudi firm has a top-tier rated disputes practice by The Legal 500 as well as having recommended teams in banking and finance, corporate and projects. The firm has worked with clients including Saudi Binladin Group and Huggies manufacturer Kimberly-Clark.

Dechert chief executive Daniel O’Donnell said the association was, ‘of strategic importance’ to the firm and added: ‘We are committed to enhancing our offering in the Middle East and in working with Hassan and his team; I think we can achieve great results for our clients.’

The Global 100 firm is also looking to build its capital markets practice, which is led by partner Camille Abousleiman, after having won several mandates in H1 2015 including Egypt and Tunisia return to US markets. Abousleiman said ‘With the liberalization of the capital markets in Saudi Arabia, we are delighted that the association with Hassan and his team will allow us to participate in the growth and development of this market.’

There has been a spate of office openings in the Kingdom as it reformed its economy. DLA Piper opened it second office in the country in Jeddah with plans for a third in April this year following Baker & McKenzie which last year also opened its second outpost in the city. Meanwhile Clyde & Co launched in Riyadh in September 2014 as did Charles Russell and Simmons & Simmons.

Meanwhile, Shearman announced today that it was opening an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre. The outpost will be staffed by the firm’s regional managing partner Marwan Elaraby but there are no current plans to build headcount further with the firm saying that Abu Dhabi would continue to be its regional base with the new outpost allowing ‘the firm to offer clients more flexibility and better access to a major regional financial and commercial hub’.