HFW continues Middle East growth drive with Saudi Arabia association

HFW continues Middle East growth drive with Saudi Arabia association

HFW has continued its Middle East expansion after striking an alliance with Saudi Arabian firm Mohammed Al Khiliwi.

Named partner and leader of the Riyadh outfit, Al Khiliwi, will join HFW’s partnership as part of the agreement, subject to authorisation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. HFW insurance partner John Barlow, who splits his time between Riyadh and Dubai, is set to relocate full-time to the new office Continue reading “HFW continues Middle East growth drive with Saudi Arabia association”

Legal leaders in Africa: Waking the elephant

Legal leaders in Africa: Waking the elephant

Encapsulated in the 1982 hit song by US soft rock band Toto, Africa is frequently referred to in hoary metaphors in the West. However, in a business context, tired clichés of a ‘scramble for Africa’ have made way for the less-frenetic tones of international law firms committed to proven, revenue-generating strategies. Nonetheless, the continent still attracts its fair share of figurative language. ‘The elephant is waking up,’ as one partner puts it. But if Africa is an elephant, some firms are eager not to get caught under its feet.

‘We have consciously decided not to plant a flag in one or two jurisdictions in Africa,’ says Shawn der Kinderen, co-head of the Africa group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. ‘It doesn’t enable us to do the work our clients expect us to do in cross-border transactions.’ Continue reading “Legal leaders in Africa: Waking the elephant”

Middle East: Mission unaccomplished

Middle East: Mission unaccomplished

‘The Middle East. We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place’: the words of Donald Trump as he announced the recent military strikes targeting Syrian president Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Although there is some truth to his sweeping statement, most of the over 400 million citizens in the 17 countries that comprise the Middle East region beg to differ. While the World Bank estimates that GDP growth in the region slowed from 5% in 2016 to 1.8% in 2017 – fuelled by oil production cuts and geopolitical tensions – this is projected to rebound to 3% in 2018 and 3.2% the following year.

The region’s lawyers point to the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies as leading the way, supported by infrastructure investment. ‘It’s a very good time in the region,’ says Doug Peel at White & Case, head of the firm’s Middle East practice, which is spread across five regional offices: Cairo, Riyadh, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. ‘We are busy all the way around – there’s substantial activity in all the GCC countries and in Egypt.’ Last year White & Case – along with Latham & Watkins – advised JPMorgan, Citi and HSBC on Saudi Arabia’s debut 144A/Reg S Sukuk programme, including the issue of $9bn Sukuk. Continue reading “Middle East: Mission unaccomplished”

Laying the foundations – lawyers scramble as demand for African infra booms

Laying the foundations – lawyers scramble as demand for African infra booms

As the world’s largest continent, Africa covers 20% of global land area and 16% of the global population – currently 1.27 billion people, according to the latest United Nations estimates. By 2050, the addition of a further 1.3 billion Africans will be greater than the population growth in the rest of the world combined, pushing the continent’s total numbers above 2.6 billion citizens. In what is termed the biggest human transformation of our age, that figure is projected to reach four billion by the end of the century.

Accordingly, the infrastructure challenge is immense and some law firms are more alert than others to the long-term growth opportunities. Those with a short-term perspective see only problems: weak commodity prices, underdeveloped legal systems, corruption, currency issues and unstable or unreliable political regimes. They also focus on Africa’s still-modest aggregate GDP of $2.19trn (2016) – less than France – and compared with $1.6trn (2010), a slight decline in percentage terms over six years from 3% to 2.9% of the global total. Continue reading “Laying the foundations – lawyers scramble as demand for African infra booms”

Looking east: Linklaters cements Saudi partnership as Hogan Lovells shuts Mongolia base

Looking east: Linklaters cements Saudi partnership as Hogan Lovells shuts Mongolia base

Two Global 100 firms have made opposing international moves this week, with Linklaters signing a partnership with a local firm in Saudi Arabia while Hogan Lovells announced the closure of its Mongolia base.

Linklaters announced today (11 October) it has entered a formal agreement with 20-lawyer Zamakhchary & Co (Z & Co), meaning two lawyers from the Magic Circle firm will be based in the kingdom. Continue reading “Looking east: Linklaters cements Saudi partnership as Hogan Lovells shuts Mongolia base”

The Iran debate – The long, long game

The Iran debate – The long, long game

Hopes that Iran’s economy is opening up to foreign business have been raised and dashed in recent years. Will this year’s election change the dynamic?

On 19 May, Iran went to the polls for what many believed would be a tightly-fought election. By the next morning it was clear that the analysts’ predictions had been wide of the mark. Incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, leader of the Moderation and Development Party, secured a landslide victory over his nearest rival, Ebrahim Raisi, chair of the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces. Shortly after the results were announced, Rouhani appeared on state television to say the election had shown Iran was committed to improving relations with the rest of the world. To investors and businesses that have been eyeing the country for years, it was a positive sign, but hopes of an open market have been dashed before. Sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme were lifted in early 2016, but business has so far been frustrated in the ongoing difficulties they face in the market.

Continue reading “The Iran debate – The long, long game”

In the game – Israeli law firms embrace risks to secure the tech icons of tomorrow

In the game – Israeli law firms embrace risks to secure the tech icons of tomorrow

Every Thursday at 6pm, Yair Geva, co-head of Herzog Fox & Neeman (HFN)’s high-tech department, drinks a beer on the rooftop of a client’s office in central Tel Aviv. The weekly drink, which started seven years ago when he returned to Israel from New York, is a routine that is borne out of professional commitment and friendship. In the start-up and high-tech world, the two often go hand in hand.

‘We share a long journey with our clients and we are often with them from day one,’ Geva says. ‘The only way to keep in touch with this very vibrant dynamic ecosystem is to hang out with friends, clients and hear the news.’ Continue reading “In the game – Israeli law firms embrace risks to secure the tech icons of tomorrow”

Holding steady – A turbulent Middle East market separates the committed from the faint-hearted

Holding steady – A turbulent Middle East market separates the committed from the faint-hearted

Emerging markets are by nature volatile, frequently impacted by events such as political instability, civil unrest, corruption and other economic forces. The extremes of growth and decline could hardly be more apparent than in the Middle East, where the collapse in oil prices has prompted a great deal of soul searching.

Saudi Arabia, for example, is going through the most radical social and economic reform programme in its history, and Iran is still subject to ongoing trade sanctions and uncertainty connected to US foreign policy. Added to this, these two nations share deep enmity, which demands high levels of diplomacy on the part of firms that target both jurisdictions. Continue reading “Holding steady – A turbulent Middle East market separates the committed from the faint-hearted”