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Withers launches tax practice in key Middle East hub with hire of EY private client chief

Withers continues its international expansion with a deal to launch a practice in Dubai with the hire of EY’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) private client chief Stijn Janssen.

The office will be located in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) following regulatory approval. Janssen led the MENA private client services team at EY and co-headed its Dubai international tax group since 2013. He was previously involved in the launch of Loyens & Loeff’s Dubai arm in 2008.

Qualified to practice in the Netherlands, Janssen is a corporate tax adviser, and experienced on cross-border tax matters, including advising high net worth families and family offices on international tax and succession planning projects. He also advises corporates, investment funds and sovereign wealth funds on investments, restructurings and M&A.

Withers managing partner Margaret Robertson (pictured) commented: ‘We are delighted to establish ourselves in Dubai with the benefit of Stijn’s reputation. Having monitored Dubai’s steady ascent up the ladder of international financial centres in recent years, we have been waiting for the right moment to enter the market. We have worked with many leading families and individuals from the region from our London, Swiss and US offices over the years, and Stijn’s relationships with high profile families will enable us to expand on this work.’

The move follows the City private client specialist’s hire of Morrison & Foerster partner Eric Roose last year to establish a Japanese tax group and corporate tax practice in Asia. The launch of the Tokyo office came during a period of intense international expansion by Withers. In 2015 the firm launched three new offices in the US with the hire of a nine-partner team, the majority of which came from McKenna Long & Aldridge ahead of its combination with Dentons. It also added to its corporate, litigation and IP law capabilities in the US with the hire of an 11-strong team from US practice Kelley Drye & Warren and announced a formal law alliance (FLA) with Singapore law firm KhattarWong.

Janssen said: ‘The time is right for a firm of Withers’ calibre to make an entrance to the Middle Eastern market. The Dubai International Financial Centre has taken steps to create a supportive environment for servicing wealthy individuals through the introduction of new trust, wills and probate legislation. Wealth in the region continues to grow at an incredible rate, and clients are looking for high quality advisers that are plugged into key jurisdictions.’