Legal Business Blogs

Rising Middle East activity attracts WFW to launch its first office in the region with lawyer trio setting up in Dubai

LB 100 firm Watson Farley & Williams has launched its first office in the Middle East with asset finance partner partner Andrew Baird leading the way to establish a base in Dubai.

Baird relocated to the region in April to manage issues surrounding regulatory requirements after the firm took the decision to set up in Dubai due to client demand.

With the team currently renting office space in Dubai’s International Financial Centre, Baird will be supported by two associates who are experienced in maritime and offshore work, and asset and Islamic finance work, respectively.

Baird himself specialises in cross-border asset and project finance, particularly in the marine transportation and offshore industries. He further specialises in Islamic finance, and is experienced with Islamic banking products, including derivatives, and funds and capital markets products. Having started his career at Watson Farley in 1997, Baird departed for Berwin Leighton Paisner four years later, but subsequently re-joined the firm in 2011.

WFW managing partner, Chris Lowe, said: “Dubai, the UAE and the Middle East more generally, act as a leading financial centre in the modern global economy and represent a key hub of activity for our specialist sectors. With the lingering lack of liquidity in some of the more traditional banking markets around the world, the Middle East is an even more vital source of funding. This is something our clients recognise, and we have responded by ensuring we have an on-the-ground presence.”

Others to expand their international footprint in the region of late includes fellow LB 100 firm Nabarro, which opened its third international office in Dubai in early 2014 following the government’s granting of a licence to the firm. Bird & Bird made a similar move in late 2013 and transferred Stockholm corporate partner Anders Nilsson to spearhead its UAE offering in order to support its growing client base in the emirate.