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Targeting Russia: Kennedys launches in Moscow with former Clyde & Co Russian insurance head

Following troubled markets in Russia across 2014, a handful of firms have signalled a renewed interest in the region, with Kennedys being the most recent to set up a Russian base.

The firm has formed an arrangement with local firm and former best friend of Clyde & Co – CIS Advocates. The launch comes with the hire of Clyde & Co’s Constantin Saranchouk, who formerly headed the firm’s Russian insurance practice, along with an associate.

The office will operate as Kennedys CIS Advocates, and will be headed by Russian-qualified Saranchouk, who subject to SRA approval, will become a Kennedys Law LLP partner in due course. Saranchouk joins Kennedys having served at Clyde & Co since April 2011. Before this, he was the founding partner of Vetta Legal from October 2004 to April 2011.

The new office, launched today (6 May), will be the firm’s first Moscow base and have an initial focus on high value insurance disputes covering international power and energy, construction and aerospace markets. This will later develop to cover a wider client base that includes international insurance groups, London Market insurers and Russian insurance companies.

Kennedys’ Moscow launch is the latest in a series of oversea developments, including a cooperation agreement in China and a Joint Law Venture in Singapore, announced this year, as well as a formal association with Chilean insurance law firm, Sateler Depolo Diemoz Abogados (SDD).

Meanwhile, US Chadbourne & Parke also recently boosted its presence in Russia with the hire of energy partner Andrei Baev from Berwin Leighton Paisner as Moscow managing partner. This came after Chadbourne closed down its Kiev operations last summer.

Contrary to Chadbourne and Kennedy’s decision to scale up in Moscow, numerous firms cut back in Russia last year as US-led economic sanctions heavily affected the debt financing capabilities of some of Russia’s largest banks. Firms known to be affected by the sanctions included Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, White & Case and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, while Clyde & Co closed its Russia office in 2013 after it found a lack of opportunity in the market.