Commercial, corporate and M&A in United Arab Emirates
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP is regularly involved in the most high-profile and large-scale corporate and commercial transactions in the market. One example was its advice to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank on the merger with Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank, which transformed Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank into the fifth largest lender in the Gulf region; Ibrahim Mubaydeen in Abu Dhabi led the team, which included lawyers from six offices. Outside of the financial services space, the firm has particular expertise in - and has recently handled transactions in - the healthcare, education, energy and TMT sectors. Khalid Garousha heads the corporate practice; other key practitioners include Andrew Schoorlemmer, David Foster, Tom Butcher and recently promoted partner Zeid Qursha.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC
Amana Holdings Limited
Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (Yahsat)
Network International plc
Natwest Markets (formerly RBS)
Stichting Administratiekantoor Beheer Financiële Instellingen
DP World plc
- Advised Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC on its multibillion-dollar three-way merger with Union National Bank PJSC and Al Hilal Bank.
- Advised Amana Holdings on the disposal of Amana Healthcare to Mubadala Healthcare (Mubadala).
- Assisting Abraaj with the sale of Middlesex University Dubai to Amanat Investments.
The highly regarded corporate and M&A practice at Clifford Chance continues to be instructed on the largest and most complex deals taking place in the UAE and the wider region. Highlights included advising Dubai World on the £322m sale of the holding company of P&O Ferries and P&O Ferrymasters (together P&O Ferries) to DP World; a team of London and Dubai-based lawyers, including lead partner James McCarthy, led on the transaction. The firm also has a strong track record for corporate transactions in the financial services sector. Mohammed Al-Shukairy became regional managing partner in May 2019. Jason Mendens and Mike Taylor are other leading practitioners in the department. Rupert Harper left for Covington & Burling LLP.
Mohammed Al-Shukairy; James McCarthy; Jason Mendens
Saudi British Bank
Sahara Petrochemicals Company
Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Mubadala Infrastructure Partners
Airport International Group
- Advised Union National Bank (UNB) on its proposed merger with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and subsequent acquisition of Al Hilal Bank.
- Advised Aldar Properties on its $1bn acquisition of real estate assets from TDIC.
- Assisting Dubai World with its £322m sale of P&O Ferries to DP World.
Al Tamimi & Company distinguishes itself in the market with the breadth and strength of its office network in the UAE and wider region. The full-service practice covers everything from M&A and joint ventures to consumer protection and competition law. In a significant development, 'outstanding' partner Abdullah Mutawi joined the firm from Baker Botts L.L.P. in 2019 to head the corporate and commercial department. Samer Qudah is the head of corporate structuring, where Izabella Szadkowska is a key name; Alex Saleh heads the firm's private equity practice; and Andrea Tithecott leads the healthcare and regulatory practices. James MacCallum is a key figure in the Abu Dhabi office. Gary Watts retired in 2019.
Abdullah Mutawi; Samer Qudah
‘Good knowledge of local law.‘
‘Abdullah Matawi is outstanding.‘
Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC)
Aster DM Healthcare
- Acting for Abu Dhabi National Hotels on the acquisition of five hotels in Dubai from Emaar.
- Advising Star Satellite Communications Company PJSC on its strategic investment in Thuraya Telecommunications, one of the largest and most complex, specialised deals in the MENA region in recent history.
- Acted as UAE counsel to TPG on its takeover of Abraaj’s $1bn healthcare funds.
Clyde & Co LLP
With a 'strong presence in the region', Clyde & Co LLP 'works as a global team' and is highlighted for its 'quick responses' and 'sensible practical solutions'. Sector strengths include education, healthcare, shipping and insurance, among others. Ross Barfoot in Abu Dhabi and Simon Gamblin in London led a global team in advising Swiss investment fund Jacobs Holding on the acquisition of the Cognita global private schools group from KKR and Bregal. In team developments, the department was further strengthened by the arrival of Avril Cole from Gowling WLG and Taimur Malik from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. Other names to note include Jonathan Silver, who draws on 37 years' experience in the region, Niall O'Toole, Philip O’Riordan, Benjamin Smith and Naji Hawayek.
Philip O’Riordan; Jonathan Silver; Niall O’Toole
‘The Clyde team are responsive and prompt – essential attributes when you need quick advice for difficult situations. The firm is multi-disciplined, so whatever you need they generally have a person in house to deal with it – a one stop shop as it were.‘
‘Very diversified, lots of experts in each domain, strong presence in the region.‘
‘Clyde & Co Dubai understands the importance of call-back and return messages when urgent. All team members across all geo boundaries in the MENA area work as a global team and we as a client find this seamless integration helpful in our cross-border areas of work.‘
‘Quick response. Sensible practical solutions. Regional knowledge.‘
‘Benjamin Smith has been the commensurate professional in my dealings with him to date. Always responsive, always prompt and just as important, always thorough.‘
‘Taimur Malik has knowledge across the region and has a quick understanding of client needs.‘
‘Abhi Jalan has been most helpful and very intuitive in commercial matters. He proves to be a very savvy negotiator, with mainstream commercial skills.‘
Accenture Middle East BV
Aetna International Inc.
Capital For Life FZ
Dubai Islamic Investment Group LLC
Jacobs Holding AG
Majid Al Futtaim Management Services LLC
Majis Industrial Services SAOC
Mindware FZ LLC (Midis Group)
National Catering Company WLL
- Advised Jacobs Holding AG on its acquisition of Cognita, a global education group that operates 70 schools in eight countries.
- Advising Aetna International Inc. on the potential acquisition of up to 100% stake of the issued share capital of Jordan Insurance Company PLC.
- Assisting National Catering Company and its shareholder, The National Investor, with the acquisition by NCC of a majority stake in Grako LLC and Gecko Middle East Services Co. LLC.
DLA Piper Middle East LLP was bolstered by the arrival of highly regarded partner Will Seivewright from Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla in 2019; Seivewright now heads the corporate practice, which also saw internal growth with the promotion of Thérèse Abou-Zeid to partner, also in 2019. The firm has extensive on-the-ground presence across the GCC region, in addition to its broad international platform. Richard Hughes and senior associate Natalia Tombs are also noted. Ben Gillespie splits his time between Dubai and London.
‘DLA Piper Corporate team is very cooperative and responsive. I can contact them at anytime and they would be available. They understand the nature of their clients very well.‘
‘The team is highly experienced and excels in giving pragmatic advice without complicating the issues.‘
‘Will Seivewright is outstanding. He gets what foreign investors’ concerns are and goes straight to the crux of the issue.‘
‘Natalia Tombs is very sharp and has high attention to detail. She is very prompt and her work is of high quality.‘
‘The team here really enjoy working with Richard Hughes.‘
GFH Financial Group
Orchidia Pharmaceutical Industries
Emirates Hospitals Group
- Advised GFH Financial Group, a Bahrain-based investment group, on its acquisition of 85% of The Entertainer group, a leading mobile e-commerce platform.
- Advised Senaat General Holding Corporation and Tubacex SA on their acquisition of the Nobu Group.
- Assisting Mediclinic Middle East with its acquisition of 30% of Bourn Hall International MENA Limited, a provider of IVF services in the UAE.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Hadef & Partners LLC fields a strong team of corporate and commercial law experts in its UAE offices. The group has recently advised its clients on sales, disposals, restructurings, joint ventures and succession and estate planning matters. Sameer Huda heads the corporate, M&A and private equity teams in Dubai and Yasser Omar is the head of corporate in Abu Dhabi. The 'extremely knowledgeable' Victoria Woods heads the commercial practice. Ahmad Sergieh heads the corporate structuring practice and is also recommended. Patrick Tweedale joined from Dentons and associate Brigid Moore joined from Mason Hayes & Curran in Dublin.
Sameer Huda; Yasser Omar; Michael Lunjevich
‘The team has deep knowledge about the laws and regulations of the country. Moreover, they know the norm and practice of the authorities. They met all deadlines with reasonable fees.‘
‘Ahmad Sergieh is efficient, proactive and understands the business needs.‘
‘Victoria Woods is extremely knowledgeable, commercial and astute.‘
Saudi German Hospitals Group
- Acting for the Ferrero Group ion its proposed acquisition of a 49% stake in its current distributor in the UAE, Arabian Oasis (which is owned by the Al Seer Group).
- Acted for the Saudi German Hospitals Group on its entry into a partnership with the Zenata Development Corporation.
- Acted for the Carnival Group on its proposed acquisition of Novo Cinemas (in UAE and Bahrain) from Elan Group.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
The 'very efficient' team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP 'provides a workable solution to progress the deal'. It benefits from its leading investment funds practice and is well positioned to advise on large-scale private equity investments and corporate transactions. In 2019, Haitham Hawashin advised Asma Capital Partners, acting in its capacity as investment manager for the IDB Infrastructure Fund II, on its investment into Brooge Petroleum and Gas Investment Company (BPGIC), through the purchase of convertible notes issued by BPGIC's UK-based parent company. Zubair Mir is also highly regarded.
Zubair Mir; Haitham Hawashin
‘A good law firm provides a workable solution to progress the deal instead of just outlining all the reasons the deal should not go ahead.‘
‘The HSF Dubai team thinks like an entrepreneur and gives us the solutions to a particular legal issue in contract/deal negotiations instead of just highlighting the issue.‘
‘The team is very efficient and are willing to go the extra mile to accommodate us.‘
‘I find Zubair Mir provides outstanding leadership to the team and has always pulled in his colleagues from across the HSF network to problem solve client issues.‘
‘Zubair Mir is also a go-to thought partner to brainstorm intractable commercial issues. He is completely client focused.‘
‘Haitham Hawashin is a legal eagle; he thrives at getting his clients the right advice whilst always thinking five steps ahead.‘
‘Haitham Hawashin was hands on and focused and wouldn’t let any points be missed.‘
ASMA Capital Partners
Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC
Abu Dhabi Financial Group
Majid Al Futtaim Holding
Bharti Global Limited
- Advising Uber on the acquisition of Careem, the largest provider of internet-led transportation in the Middle East.
- Advised Asma Capital Partners on the investment into Brooge Petroleum and Gas Investment Company FZE.
- Assisted Amanat with the acquisition of the Royal Hospital for Women in Bahrain.
King & Spalding LLP is well versed in heavily regulated sectors including healthcare, food and education. The firm's track record in M&A in the oil and gas sector in particular is a distinguishing feature. In high-profile work, a global team led by Osama Audi in Dubai advised Baker Hughes, a GE Company, a major oil field services company, on the acquisition of a significant minority interest in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Drilling. James Stull, Nabil Issa, Simon Rahimzada and managing partner Jawad Ali are names to note.
Dalma Energy LLC
Baker Hughes, a GE Company
Emirates Hospital Group
Al Noor Hospitals Group plc
The State General Reserve Fund of Oman
Gulf Investment Corporation
Mubadala Development CompanyDelivery Hero AG
Compañía Española de Petróleos (CEPSA)
- Advised Baker Hughes on the acquisition of a significant minority interest in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Drilling.
- Acting for BlueApple Healthcare Services on a joint venture to develop and operate a rehabilitation hospital, a family medical centre and a children’s and women’s hospital.
- Advised Saudi-owned Alarabi Investments on becoming a shareholder in EdTech company, Coded Minds Limited, investing $2.7m in the company.
The 'dedicated and engaged' team at Linklaters receives praise for its 'first-class advice'. It retains its strong position in the market, and is often engaged to handle high-profile corporate deals. Its recent workload spans transactions in the financial services, real estate, energy and infrastructure sectors, among others. Scott Campbell advises major corporations in the region as well as international and regional investors. Nicholas Edwards is 'a top-drawer lawyer'. The firm recently promoted several lawyers to managing associate, including Faysal Lassas.
Scott Campbell; Nicholas Edwards
‘Excellent team. Very high-quality lawyers, first-class advice, great delivery.‘
‘Very knowledgeable, professional, efficient, short time of response.‘
‘Strong commercial acumen.‘
‘They think outside the box to find a solution.‘
‘Dedicated, knowledgeable, available and engaged.‘
‘Accessibility. they never refused a meeting or a call even in unusual hours. Knowledge in various fields and not only in their speciality.‘
‘Nicholas Edwards and Brioni Aston both stand out in my view. Both are first-class lawyers.‘
‘Nicholas Edwards is a top-drawer lawyer, but also approachable and down to earth.‘
‘Faysal Lassas is brilliant and dedicated.‘
Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG)
Abu Dhabi Group
Ahli United Bank
Al-Nabil Food Industries Co. Ltd
Al Noor Hospitals Group
Arqaam Capital Limited
Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco)
Dr. B R Shetty
CIMIC Group/HLG Contracting LLC
COSCO Shipping Ports Limited
- Acted for Eni on its agreement to acquire a 20% equity stake in Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (ADNOC Refining) from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
- Advised Emaar Hospitality Group, a subsidiary of Dubai-listed real estate company Emaar Properties, on the disposal of 100% of a portfolio of five hotels to Abu Dhabi National Hotels.
- Advised DP World on its acquisition of Dubai Ferries Holding FZE (which holds the P&O Ferries and P&O Ferrymasters businesses) from Dubai World.
The well-established corporate department at Shearman & Sterling LLP is 'committed to the region' and is noted for its 'seniority' and 'breadth of experience'. It acts for governments, sovereign wealth funds, private equity houses, family offices, corporates and banks in significant deals in the region, with an emphasis on the energy, oil and gas and infrastructure sectors. 'Very dynamic and results-oriented' managing partner Marwan Elaraby heads the team, which includes Matthew Powell, Rodney Cannon and associate Alice Gunn.
‘The team blends regional experience with international first-class standards. They are committed to the region and employ the right calibres.‘
‘Smaller team in the Middle East than some peers (especially UK firms), but high quality team with excellent experience, knowledge of the region and seniority.‘
‘Well connected with the broader platform (UK and US in particular in my experience).‘
‘Seniority, breadth of experience and understanding of the region of the key partners I dealt with was second to none.‘
‘The team was very attentive, quick to respond and incredibly thorough. They knew the industry, the region, and the investors quite well. The senior partners were involved in every aspect.‘
‘Rodney Cannon and incredible associate Alice Gunn: Their attention to detail, ability to come up with creative and practical solutions to issues and responsiveness was appreciated by all parties at the table.‘
‘Marwan Elaraby is a hands-on partner with extensive experience in the MENA region. He is very dynamic and results-oriented.‘
‘Marwan Elaraby is always available and understands the cultural dynamics of the region.‘
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
Mubadala Investment Company PJSC and its subsidiaries
The Olayan Group
Abu Dhabi Global Market
HM Partners Limited
The Dow Chemical Company
RA MENA Holdings
- Advised Mubadala Petroleum on its purchase of a 20% stake in Egypt’s Nour North Sinai Offshore Area Concession, an exploration concession, from Italian energy company Eni.
- Assisting Adnoc with the disposal of an interest in Adnoc Refining to Eni and OMV where the company was valued at c. $19bn.
- Advised Investcorp on the launch of a joint venture with Aberdeen Standard Investments that will invest in infrastructure projects in GCC countries.
The 'fully committed and dedicated' corporate team at White & Case LLP advises on large-scale M&A and other transactions in the UAE and wider region, with an emphasis on Saudi Arabia. The firm has further grown its Middle East presence recently; in 2019, Steven Worthington relocated from London to Abu Dhabi, and associate Andrea Petersen relocated to the Dubai office. Key names in the sizeable team include Abdulwahid Alulama, Sami Al-Louzi, Ali Shaikley, Marcus Booth and Jonathan Langley, who splits his time between the Abu Dhabi and Moscow offices. At associate level, Vasi Papadopoulos is a name to note.
Abdulwahid Alulama; Marcus Booth; Sami Al-Louzi
‘Very strong and experienced team. Fully committed and dedicated. Look both at legal and commercial aspects hand in hand.‘
‘Availability, dedication, experience, professionalism, giving the right advice and being very pleasant to work with.‘
‘Very approachable and commercial team. Understand local and international law very well.‘
‘Had excellent experiences with Jonathan Langley, who has been outstanding in every respect.‘
‘I feel like I’m getting a very “London” type service when I use W&C in the UAE. The service is very smooth, responsive and the quality of advice is high.‘
‘Marcus Booth is available wherever and whenever and is everything that you would want in a relationship partner.‘
‘Ali Shaikley (partner) and Vasi Papadopoulos (associate). Both are very hard working, always available and approachable as well as commercially minded.‘
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
Mubadala Investment Company
York Capital Management
Majid Al Futtaim Holding
Goldman Sachs Special Situations Group
Oak Hill Advisors
GSO Capital Partners
Strategic Value Partners
Abu Dhabi Financial Group
- Advised Adnoc on its multibillion-dollar midstream pipeline infrastructure partnerships with (i) BlackRock and KKR (ii) the Abu Dhabi Retirement Pensions & Benefits Fund and (iii) GIC.
- Advised Goldman Sachs on its primary and secondary minority investment in Turkey-based online retailer Modanisa.
- Assisted JP Morgan as financial adviser to Alawwal Bank with its $5bn merger with Saudi British Bank (SABB) to create Saudi’s third largest bank.
Afridi & Angell 'delivers international quality advice on local law matters'; in addition to M&A, the team is also well versed in restructurings, reorganisations and antitrust matters. Highlights included its advice to French insurance brokerage group Siaci Saint Honoré on the acquisition of Driesassur Insurance Brokers; although a global deal, the UAE target business was structured separately from the broader Dreisassur Group. Charles Laubach and Bashir Ahmed jointly head the department. Danielle Lobo, who was promoted to partner in 2018, James Bowden, and senior associate Abdus Samad are also noted.
Charles Laubach; Bashir Ahmed
‘Afridi delivers international quality advice on local law matters. The team meets deadlines and bring a commercial understanding to their work product. They are also responsive and personable in their dealings.‘
‘James Bowden and Danielle Lobo are always available to answer queries. They provide advice of the highest quality which is also commercial and practical in its application.‘
Data Hub Integrated Solutions LLC (MORO)
Yoox Net-a-Porter Group
Emirates District Cooling LLC (Emicool)
Gulf Business Machines
Det Norske Veritas AS
DUBAL Holding LLC
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Weaves UAE Trading LLC
- Acting for Siaci Saint Honoré on its acquisition of Driesassur Insurance Brokers.
- Acted as UAE counsel to Aon plc on the sale of its benefits administration and HR business process outsourcing platform to Spencer Stuart.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has carved out a niche for advising government entities on sensitive corporate and commercial matters in the UAE. The Abu Dhabi-based corporate practice is headed by Wael Jabsheh, who, since March 2019, has also occupied the position of managing partner of the Abu Dhabi office. Natasha Kohne is a key member of the team. Chadi Salloum left for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in November 2019.
Image Nation Abu Dhabi FZ LLC
Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC)
Farah Experiences LLC
- Advised Image Nation Abu Dhabi on its strategic media joint venture with Majid Al Futtaim.
- Advised Abu Dhabi Airports Company on the renewal of its bid to invest in the airport infrastructure of the Seychelles.
- Assists Farah with a wide variety of matters, including corporate-commercial agreements, commercial partnerships, technology matters and service and vendor agreements.
Omar Momany heads the corporate and M&A department at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, which is often involved in large, cross-border transactions. Outside of M&A, the team advises on joint ventures, restructurings, corporate governance, with additional expertise in the firm covering compliance, regulatory, competition and employment matters. Hani Naja was promoted to the partnership in 2019. Pietro de Libero heads the competition law practice.
Country Hill International
- Advised Frigoglass SAIC on its agreement to sell the entire share capital of its wholly-owned subsidiary Frigoglass Jebel Ali FZE to ATG Investments Limited.
- Advised Brenntag, a global market leader in chemical distribution, on the acquisition of Desbro Group in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the UAE.
- Acted as lead legal adviser to Rhône Capital and its affiliate Wellbore Integrity Solutions on the acquisition of a drilling and fishing businesses from Schlumberger in 25 jurisdictions.
With a long history in the region, Dentons has local and international expertise and a broad office network, which allows the firm to handle a number of cross-border transactions. Sector strengths include healthcare, defence and energy; highlights in the latter included its advice to Acwa Power on the sale of a 49% stake in its renewable energy project arm, Acwa Power RenewCo, to Silk Road Fund. Iain Black heads the team, which includes Catherine Beckett and Ziad Saad.
MENA Infrastructure Fund
DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre)
Children’s National Medical Centre
Media Zone Authority Abu Dhabi (twofour54)
Farah Experiences LLC
SAS Middle East FZ LLC
Sharjah Islamic Bank
Emirates Nature-WWF (in association with World Wildlife Fund)
- Advising Acwa Power on the sale of a stake in Acwa Power Renewable Energy Holding Ltd (ACWA Power RenewCo) to Silk Road Fund.
The 'highly reputable team' at Eversheds Sutherland LLP 'delivers on big-ticket transactions'. It is often involved in regional corporate deals involving several jurisdictions, where it is able to work alongside colleagues across its office platform. Zeid Hanania, Hani Nassef and senior associate Ramzi Noursi are noted. Geraldine Ahern heads the commercial practice.
Zeid Hanania; Geraldine Ahern
‘Eversheds’ corporate team delivers on big-ticket transactions, punching with the biggest magic circle firms, but with more competitive pricing. For that reason their offering is a no-brainer.‘
‘Very professional team and highly experienced.‘
‘Commercial and experienced team. One of the best teams to work with in the MENA region for any deal size.‘
‘Professional yet friendly and humble. Highly reputable team including partners and associates. Hard working and attentive to details.‘
‘Zeid Hanania is technically outstanding. He’s the partner you want when you have the biggest complicated M&A transactions.‘
‘Zeid Hanania is extremely intelligent and has very good interpersonal skills and manners. He is able to be commercial when needed.‘
‘Hani Nassef and Zeid Hanania have been working together for a while and make a great team. Hani is very thorough and detailed and can lead negotiations very well.‘
‘Hani Nassef is a great guy, a strong corporate lawyer and one of the few truly bilingual Arabic / English lawyers in the market.‘
Investec Asset Management
Al Imtiaz Investment Group
Al Mal Capital
Hutchison Ports (formerly known as Hutchison Port Holdings)
Amman Pharmaceuticals Industries
Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du)
- Advised Stolt-Nielsen on the de-merger and re-organisation of its global tankers business and associated potential stake disposal/divestment.
- Advising the buyer on the acquisition of Spinneys Egypt Limited and each of its direct and indirect subsidiaries.
- Acted for iMENA Group on the sale of JRD Group to Property Finder.
Hogan Lovells (United Arab Emirates) LLP has 'a deep understanding of the region's legal and cultural environment'. The team advises international and regional companies on corporate and commercial matters. In a major M&A highlight, Charles Fuller advised Kingdom Holding Company (one of the largest shareholders in Careem) on the acquisition of Careem by Uber, which represented Uber's largest ever acquisition. Imtiaz Shah heads the team.
‘The HL team members have a deep understanding of the region’s legal and cultural environment. I felt that this experience was accumulated by years of experience serving local and multinational customers in the region.‘
‘They have very good response times and availability.‘
‘Imtiaz Shah is capable of explaining the unique legal atmosphere of the Middle East to clients from outside the region in a way that is clear and easy to understand.‘
‘Imtiaz Shah’s experience also allows him to propose solutions that are creative and not easy to spot.‘
‘Charles Fuller is a rockstar in our eyes. Charles is always attentive, provides legal advice and services beyond what is requested, and in a timely manner.‘
- Advised Kingdom Holding Company on the $3bn acquisition of Careem – a Middle Eastern ride sharing service – by Uber.
- Advising Brooge Petroleum and Gas Investment on the $1bn merger with US-based Twelve Seas Investment Co.
- Acting for Exxon Mobil on a number of its commercial arrangements and contracts in the UAE.
The 'very responsive and knowledgeable' Adjou Ait Ben Idir heads the corporate department at Norton Rose Fulbright. The team continues to act for its longstanding clients, many of which are leading players in the region, on significant acquisitions, disposals, investments, reorganisations and joint ventures. Particular sector strengths include insurance, real estate and transport.
Adjou Ait Ben Idir
‘The team is knowledgeable and provides advice quickly and efficiently.‘
‘Adjou Ait Ben Idir is very responsive and knowledgeable. She was able to understand the query and identify the risk in a brilliant manner! I highly appreciated working with her.‘
First Gulf Bank
HSBC Bank Middle East
- Advised AXA Liabilities Managers on its acquisition of a majority stake in Emirates Re, an Islamic reinsurer.
- Advised a client on a joint venture to be incorporated in the Abu Dhabi Global Market.
- Advising Nakheel on a series of joint ventures in the UAE for the development of hotels and shopping malls on Deira Island and elsewhere in the UAE.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP has recently handled corporate and commercial deals for clients in the financial services, energy, oil and gas, healthcare and tech sectors, among others. 'Accomplished corporate lawyer' Mohammad Tbaishat is 'very dedicated'.
‘They have experience in the finance sector in particular, having worked on several banking M&A deals.‘
‘Mohamed Tbaishat and his team are strong in local law.‘
‘Mohamed Tbaishat is an accomplished corporate lawyer with strong local law regional experience. He provides cost effective work and is high quality.‘
‘Mohammad Tbaishat is very dedicated. He is experienced in M&A deals and when it comes to critical matters he is personally involved and does not leave critical items to the seniors or juniors in his team.‘
Oilfield Supply Center Limited
Arena Group Events PLC
Shanghai Electric Company
Republic Financial Holdings Limited
- Advising Hikma Pharmaceuticals on a number of corporate matters, including its proposed redomiciliation to the UAE.
- Acting for Oilfields Supply Center Limited on a range of corporate, commercial and regulatory matters, including a significant joint venture project in Saudi Arabia.
- Advised Republic Financial Holdings Limited on the UAE aspects of its acquisition of Cayman National Corporation Limited.
Baker Botts L.L.P.
Highlighted for its 'extensive knowledge of commercial business matters', Baker Botts L.L.P. advises international and local corporates and family businesses on transactional, corporate and regulatory issues in the UAE and the wider region. 'Very talented lawyer' Mark Bisch is 'responsive and punctual'. Stephen Matthews splits his time between Dubai and Riyadh.
Stephen Matthews; Mark Bisch
‘We feel very comfortable working with Baker Botts. They helped us through a highly contentious matter.‘
‘Their strength is their dispute resolution team, their extensive knowledge of commercial business matters and their ability to advise on any matter geographically across Middle East and Africa.‘
‘Mark Bisch is a very talented lawyer that has an eye for thinking outside of the box. He is an all-rounded lawyer that has a strong commercial background and always advises us by providing an optical view of how legal risks or matters may be perceived by the business.‘
‘Mark is very responsive and punctual, not to mention on a personal level, he is a kind-hearted individual.‘
Black & Veatch
Dubai Sports City
Marsh & McLennan
Patterson UTI Energy
CMS has a broad corporate and commercial practice and has recently added a number of new clients. The team has notable strength in the energy, hotel and tech sectors; in the latter, its clients include leading global companies and start-ups. Mohammed Majid and John O’Connor jointly head the practice.
Mohammed Majid; John O’Connor
‘The team combines international knowledge and experience, coupled with an awareness of the local context.‘
‘Pragmatic, responsive and solutions-focussed.‘
‘They take a very practical view when deciding on legal matters that impact on operational and commercial due diligence. They come across as a firm that has an ethos of “can do”.‘
‘Knowledgeable, practical, solutions-based answers, sense of humour.’
‘John O’Connor is always available, gives good practical advice, takes the problem away and deals with it.‘
‘Mohammed Majid is commercially savvy.‘
Dubai Holding/Jumeirah Group
Al Rostamni Group
Al Tayer Group
- Advised, as part of a cross-border team and together with the client’s US advisers, on Colgate-Palmolive’s €1.5bn acquisition of Laboratoires Filorga Cosmétiques.
- Aced for Phillips on a range of matters related to its distribution structure and commercial arrangements concerning a range of product lines across the UAE.
- Advising Alpla Holdings on the 100% buyout of its JV partner, Zamil Group, from Zamil ALPLA, a platform comprising five factories across UAE and KSA.
The 'efficient' team at Gibson Dunn has 'extensive knowledge' and is equipped to advise on high-value M&A deals in the region. Its clients include Middle Eastern and international private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds. Practice head Hardeep Plahe has significant experience in M&A and capital markets. Fraser Dawson is highly regarded.
‘Experienced in the management of high-value transactions including regional acquisitions and cross-border deals. Extensive knowledge and ability to rely on global network.‘
‘The partners have been in the region for a long time, so they know how things work and they know how to get a deal done. They’re also very responsive and proactively spot and address issues.‘
‘Fast, efficient and start from a commercial mindset.‘
‘Fraser Dawson is a very strong lawyer technically, with great knowledge and ability to anticipate issues and get ahead of them.‘
Blackstone Group International Partners
Fajr Capital Limited
Kuwait Investment Authority
Agility Public Warehousing Company
Yum! Brands, Inc.
Mizuho Gulf Capital Partners
- Advised Investcorp, a Bahrain-headquartered global provider and manager of alternative investment products, on the acquisition of Mercury Capital Advisors.
- Advised Arcapita on the investment in NuYu, a leading chain of boutique fitness centres for women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Assisted Abu Dhabi Ports Company with the acquisition of 50% of the share capital of Abu Dhabi Terminals Company PJSC.
HFW has seen significant recent growth; in 2018, it opened an Abu Dhabi office, and has welcomed several new partners to the firm, including Vince Gordon and Tania de Swart, previously at Reed Smith. The firm stands out for its expertise in the maritime, transport, commodities and energy sectors, and advises clients on a range of corporate, commercial and regulatory matters. Alexander Reid is another name to note.
Richard Lucas; Rula Dajani
‘HFW deals with large corporates as well as growth businesses. For us, HFW has operated in a swift, robust manner, demystifying issues when dealing with our more complex cross-border issues.‘
‘A small but very active team. Well leveraged.‘
‘Responsive, knowledgeable and a safe pair of hands.‘
‘Pleasant to work with, professional, knowledgeable and service minded.‘
‘Tania de Swart is a very smart lawyer. She has the ability to put advice into context.‘
‘Vince Gordon has solid cross-border skills and utilises his partner network well. He proposes solutions that respond in a pragmatic and independent way to closing out complex commercial positions.‘
Aspen Medical Clinics
Frontier Services Group
Force 10 Limited
Svitzer Middle East Limited
P&O Maritime FZE
Topaz Energy and Marine Limited
PPG Industries Europe LLC
Abu Dhabi Ports Company
James Fisher & Sons plc
- Advised Saab AB on the establishment of a local onshore presence in Abu Dhabi, with local manufacturing capabilities.
- Advised James Fisher & Sons on its acquisition of a 60% stake in Murjan Al-Sharq Marine Contracting.
- Assisted Force 10 Limited with the supply contract and services contract with the UAE government.
In a major healthcare M&A deal, Latham & Watkins LLP's Christopher Lester advised Mubadala Healthcare and China UAE Fund on the acquisition of a 77% stake in Amana Healthcare, a provider of long-term care, rehabilitation and home healthcare services. Eyad Latif is a name to note in the venture capital space, and Villiers Terblanche specialises in infrastructure transactions.
Nomaan Raja; Christopher Lester
‘The team is very client- and issue-focused in delivering precise and succinct advice.‘
‘Christopher Lester is a very responsive and responsible trusted advisor.‘
China UAE Fund
Mubadala Investment Company
Dubai Holding/Meraas Holding
The First Group
Banque Saudi Fransi
- Advised Mubadala Healthcare and China UAE Fund on the acquisition of a 77% stake in Amana Healthcare.
- Assisted certain shareholders of Careem with the company’s $3.1bn sale to Uber.
- Advised an Egyptian start-up on its funding round.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP enhanced its corporate and M&A offering with the hire of Chadi Salloum from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Mark Gilligan and Jay Gladis from Squire Patton Boggs in 2019. The team advises buyers, sellers, investors, investment and commercial banks, private equity firms and venture capital firms, with particular strengths in the healthcare, automotive and defence sectors.
Mark Gilligan; Jay Gladis
‘I have found ML to have a broad array of lawyers who can help us as clients across a spectrum of legal issues.‘
‘I would have to commend Mark Gilligan for his tremendous interpersonal skills. He takes the time to really understand our requirements.‘
‘Mark Gilligan is a straight talker and will give his professional opinion which is what you want from your lawyer.‘
Frontier Investment Management Partners
Global Petro Storage GPS Singapore Pte Limited
StonePine Capital Partners
Wamda Capital/Wamda MENA Ventures
- Assisted a consortium of investors with a $30m series A financing of AWOK.com, a Dubai-based e-commerce business
An 'international law firm with strong local expertise', BonelliErede acts for blue-chip international and regional clients, with standout strength in the healthcare sector. The team is noted for its 'good sense of commercial and legal reasoning'. Marco De Leo made partner in 2019.
Other key lawyers:
‘Strong on-the-ground team, highly responsive and very commercial, with excellent UAE experience in particular. High degree of partner involvement and team cohesion.‘
‘International law firm with strong local expertise; wide spectrum of deal experience; accessibility of the partners at all times; quick turnaround of documents; reasonable fee structure.‘
‘The team is multicultural so it has the power to mix knowledge of local law and attention to international customers.‘
‘Marco De Leo, provided guidance through the entire process by advising us on the best solutions.‘
‘Riccardo Denaro is client oriented and mindful of details in helping the client save costs when engaging local firms.‘
Alpha Lloyds Insurance Brokers LLC
Al Faris Equipment Rentals LLC
ACCUMED Practice Management DMCC
Al Nasser General Contracting – LLC
Al Yasra General Trading LLC
Alcazar Capital Limited
Arab Beverages EST
Chabros International Group Fzco
Ebrahim Al Juffali & Brothers For Automotives Company
Emirates Telecommunications Group Company PJSC (“Etisalat’)
Emirates Hospital L.L.C
Endless Document Storage Services L.L.C
Eton Institute FZ-LLC
Fakih Medical Group
Medica Trading LLC
- Advised ENI on the acquisition from Adnoc of a 20% equity interest in Adnoc Refining.
- Advised the shareholders of Medica Group Holding Inc. on the sale of a 100% stake to Glow Holding Ltd.
- Assisted the sole shareholder of Eton Institute with the successful closing of the sale of 100% of his share capital in Eton Institute to Cedarbridge Venture 9 Limited.
BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP advises on M&A, restructurings and commercial arrangements and is a popular choice for local counsel in significant cross-border deals. The firm is active in the oil and gas, financial services, logistics and private equity sectors, among others, and is increasingly involved in tech-sector deals. Rima Mrad is noted.
Jimmy Haoula; Michael Kortbawi; Rima Mrad
‘Personal attention to matters. Humility. They are always available and respond fast. They provide reliable expert legal opinions.‘
‘The team is highly proactive. It is knowledgeable in the DIFC and DFSA rules and can also provide guidance on the onshore laws.‘
Apollo Capital Management
Al Masah Capital
Dubai Chamber of Commerce
Dana Gas Sukuk
- Advised on the necessary DIFC and DFSA insurance regulatory filings further to Apollo Capital Management’s acquisition of outstanding shares of Aspen Insurance Holding Limited.
- Assisted Al Masah Capital with finalising the acquisition of an AED80m security services company in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- Acted for JBF RAK LLC on a debt-for equity swap in a major restructuring involving 19 local and international banks.
Highly regarded firm Matouk Bassiouny & Ibrahim regularly advises on the UAE aspects of significant cross-border deals, often working alongside leading international firms. In particular, the firm is well versed in acquisitions and disposals of private and public joint stock companies. Malack El Masry and Ahmed Ibrahim are the names to note.
Malack El Masry
KBBO Group/Brokerage House Investments
- Advised Eni on UAE law aspects of its acquisition of a stake in Adnoc Refinery.
- Advised KBBO Group/Brokerage House Investments on the acquisition of a listed brokerage company.
The highly regarded team at PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal Middle East LLP acts for international and regional clients in significant M&A transactions, and is also well versed in restructuring. Its integration with PwC allows clients to avail of a broad range of tax and legal services. Practice head Darren Harris and manager Amun Bashir are 'first class'.
‘PwC’s Commercial, Corporate and M&A team places clients front and centre at all times. They are recognised as a “highly-regarded” business in the local UAE community and wider-GCC/Middle East region.‘
‘The atmosphere is relaxed yet highly professional.‘
‘Pleasant to work with, a sense of humour (which was necessary given difficulty of the other side) and provided commercial and practicable advice.‘
‘The team’s commitment to deliver the best proposition to its client was evident in the enthusiasm and fervour with which all the members of the team worked on our project.‘
‘The in-depth knowledge and expertise on legal, financial and commercial nuances of the deal was truly remarkable. The team’s ability to keep all the parties on the table and negotiate through various differences made the deal possible.‘
‘The integrated services offering from the professional services areas within PwC makes it a “one-stop shop” for clients, which is of exceptional benefit to a client.‘
‘Client relationship management, personality, social skills, pragmatic thinkers and solution finders.‘
‘Darren Harris and Amun Bashir are always available, not driven/motivated by time/fees and willing to support at all hours, even on matters slightly off-topic from the terms of original engagement.‘
‘I would recommend Darren Harris and Amun Bashir to any appropriate client without second thoughts – first class.‘
‘Dina Fares’ insight into the commercial aspects was truly amazing. Her inputs and advice made a world of a difference to the deal.‘
‘Ben Simms deftly handled the legal nitty gritty and was able to negotiate a win win solution for both the parties.‘
‘Nadine Wilson was always on top of the situation and made sure the paperwork was always current and comprehensive.‘
‘Darren Harris and Zubin Chiba were always available and made sure that the team delivered outstanding results.‘
‘Robert Kennedy was great and very commercial in his thinking.‘
Rentokil Initial plc
Worley Parsons Limited
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc
Linfox Armaguard Pty Ltd
Oasis Investment Co LLC
Speedy Hire plc
Actuant Corporation Inc
Petrochem Middle East
Wall Street Exchange
- Acted for Rentokil Initial plc on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Arena Public Health Company.
- Advising Aster Pharmacies on its acquisition of 76% of Grand Optics and Grand Sunglasses UAE.
- Assisted Engie with the restructuring in connection with its proposed acquisition of the remaining 50% of its JV partner’s share of its UAE facilities management business.
At Simmons & Simmons Middle East, 'there is always a high level of partner involvement'. The corporate and commercial team advises clients on acquisitions, disposals, mergers and reorganisations, with an emphasis on fintech, private equity and venture capital deals. Paul Bugingo is a name to note for corporate transactions in Africa. Practice head James Coleman receives strong praise.
‘A fantastic network and deep knowledge of the business and political landscape across the continent.‘
‘Ability to act as trusted advisors with all types of clients from large multinationals to local governments in frontier markets, still providing the same quality of service.‘
‘There is always a high level of partner involvement, and the associates are strong as well, which makes for a powerful combination in advising us.‘
‘James Coleman has been very helpful to us in particular at the partner level, and Alexandra Wilson is also strong at the associate level.‘
‘James Coleman is very diligent, always calm and composed. I like to work with him.‘
‘Paul Bugingo remains without a doubt the secret weapon in their African Network.‘
Government of the Republic of Somaliland
Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du)
- Advised an African government on the development of a $443m port.
The corporate department at Addleshaw Goddard is led by Andrew Johnston, who is considered 'a safe pair of hands', and also includes Lowri Llwyd and legal director Owen Richards. Associate Joanna Keating is also noted. Highlights included its advice to G4S on the sale of 100% of the share capital of G4S Cash Services to Transguard Cash Services; the deal was part of a wider series of disposals by G4S as part of its global portfolio management programme.
‘Team is good to work with. Good at M&A and transactional work.‘
‘Knowledgeable and fast turnaround on key issues facing a DIFC based firm.‘
‘Good, flexible fee arrangements.‘
‘Andrew Johnston is a very good corporate lawyer and a safe pair of hands. Lowri Llwyd is also good to work with.‘
‘Owen Richards is good technically and great to work with.‘
- Advising G4S on the sale of 100% of the share capital of G4S Cash Services LLC to Transguard Cash Services LLC.
- Assisted Global Hotel Alliance with substantial investments from three new shareholders.
- Advised Emirates Flight Catering on a joint venture with US company Crop One for the construction and operation of the world’s largest vertical farm.
From its Dubai office, Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota (AC&H) focuses on corporate and commercial projects in Sub-Saharan Africa; the firm is a member of the Africa Legal Network. A number of recent deals have involved Kenya, particularly in the hospitality space. Managing partner Atiq Anjarwalla, Adil Shafi and Ian Gaitta are key contacts.
Aga Khan Health Services
Black Tulip Group
Catalyst Principal Partners
City Blue Hotels
City Schools Pakistan
Desbro East Africa
Getz Pharma International
Habib Bank Limited
HSBC Investment Bank Holdings
Lucky Electric Power Company
- Advising a leading luxury hotel in Nairobi on hotel franchise arrangements.
- Advising as international counsel to Dough Works Limited on the acquisition of a significant equity stake in the company by Kibo Foods East Africa Limited.
- Acting as the lead legal counsel for Herbion Group on the acquisition of Grace Pharma LLC.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
The Abu Dhabi-based corporate team at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advises on large-scale M&A, investments and joint ventures and its clients include sovereign wealth funds. Gamal Abouali and counsel Chris Macbeth are the names to note.
Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP is highlighted for its 'pro-business, no-nonsense, result-oriented approach'. The team has recently advised on investments, sales, acquisitions and mergers in various sectors, including highly regulated sectors such as education and healthcare. Jeremy Miocevic heads the team, which includes recently promoted partner Patrick Callinan.
‘Professional, straightforward and engaging.‘
‘My interactions with Curtis as a firm have always given me comfort that I am supported by a top law firm which gives each matter adequate attention.‘
‘Pro-business, no-nonsense, result-oriented approach.‘
‘I have felt confident in the team as a result of their attention to detail, understanding and explanations of each issue and their genuine desire to assist and resolve our issues professionally.‘
‘It has also been a big comfort to have the support of Jeremy Miocevic and all the team over the years.‘
‘Jeremy Miocevic embraces the same “deliver result = good business” ethos, while being unusually available and fun to work with.‘
The Entertainer FZ-LLC
Bull & Roo
Binladin Contracting Group
- Acted for ABL Enterprises on the acquisition of 20% of the shares in Sky Steel Systems.
‘High level of commerciality and partner engagement. Practical advice.‘
Galadari, Advocates & Legal Consultants further enhanced its corporate and M&A offering with the hire of Matthew Donovan from DWF in 2019. The firm's diverse client base includes family businesses, government-owned entities and international companies. Ken Dixon has broad corporate and commercial experience and acts for buyers and sellers. Gerry Rogers is a key contact at the senior associate level.
Ken Dixon; Mojahed Al Sebae; Matthew Donovan
Government of Umm Al Quwain, and Umm al Quwain Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation
Dubai Investments PJSC
National Bonds Corporation
UAE Ministry of Finance
UAE Federal Tax Authority
Central Bank of the UAE
Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners
Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners occupies a niche in the market for advising Italian companies on their entry into, and operations in, the UAE and the region. The firm has a notable track record in the fashion and luxury goods sectors, though it is active across a diverse range of industries beyond these. 'Great negotiator' Riccardo Sensi is 'extremely knowledgeable of the Gulf business landscape'.
‘Gianni Origoni law firm in UAE has a unique customer approach, focused to understand the legal issues and context and provides bespoke solutions.‘
‘A very practical approach. Good knowledge of the system.‘
‘Prompt responses and dedication. Understanding of international companies’ needs.‘
‘24/7 availability for clients, ability to meet deadlines, fast delivery. Team is organised and friendly and professional with clients.‘
‘The team strength is in managing partner, Mr. Sensi, who has forged a very diverse team.‘
‘Riccardo Sensi is one of the best lawyers in the country. He is friendly, oriented to interpersonal relationships, very competent on merger and acquisitions.‘
‘Riccardo Sensi has many years in the region, and is extremely knowledgeable of the Gulf business landscape. He is a great negotiator with a pragmatic approach.‘
‘Reem Al Faisal is professional and responsive.‘
Astaldi Saudi LLC
Spazio Design S.r.l.
Gianvito Rossi S.p.A.
Maire Tecnimont S.p.A.
Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A.
- Assistance to Cesi with the drafting and negotiation of the joint venture agreement (and related ancillary agreements) with GCC Electrical Testing Laboratory.
- Assistance with commercial issues related to a Ferrari branch in UAE.
Ince balances a varied corporate and commercial workload; it has a strong reputation in the shipping sector, where it handles a number of corporate mandates, though it is also equipped to advise clients in the tech, energy and oil and gas sectors, among others. Rita Al Semaani Jansen is the key partner, and managing associate Charbel Fadel is another name to note. Alastair Holland was a new arrival in 2020 from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. David Galea left the firm in 2020.
Rita Al Semaani Jansen
‘I find the Ince team to be responsive, practical in their recommendations (and less legalistic), knowledgeable of the subjects they assist with and cost-efficient in terms of fees.‘
‘Their approach, level and quality of expertise and responsiveness.‘
‘Friendly. They build close relationships with their clients.‘
‘Charbel Fadel is very responsive, very knowledgeable, practical and straight to the point. I also appreciate how Charbel manages clients’ expectations in terms of deliverables.‘
‘Charbel Fadel is an outstanding lawyer. He is very knowledgeable in UAE laws and is very efficient in his responses. He has become our go-to lawyer in the UAE.‘
RTB House FZ-LLC
BNK kSCC Holding
- Advising NBK KsCC Holding on acquiring the entire share capital of a UK company that in turns holds 100% of an affiliate company.
At K&L Gates, of counsel Adela Mues in Dubai provides corporate and commercial law support to the firm's international and local clients. William Reichert left for Charles Russell Speechlys LLP in 2019.
- Advised ENBD REIT on a number of corporate matters.
- Advising, as part of a cross-office team, Brooge Petroleum Group Investment Company on a $1bn business combination with Twelve Seas Investment Company.
King & Wood Mallesons has a wide-ranging corporate and commercial practice and advises international companies - particularly Asia-based companies - on issues concerning their operations in the UAE and Middle East. Shawn Davis and Daniel Xu - who has a broad contentious and non-contentious practice - are the key names.
Shawn Davis; Daniel Xu
Trina Solar Co. Ltd
NALS General Trading Co.
China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation (Jiangsu) Development and Management Ltd.
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
V & L Orchid General Trading LLC
SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (SAIC Motor)
Shanghai Yitu Network Technology Co
China State Energy Engineering Corp Ltd. (Energy China Group)
- Advised the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on licensing and corporate and commercial matters related to the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020.
- Assisting Novomet with Hamriyah Free Zone Implementing Rules and Regulations.
- Acting for Kerry Logistics on corporate matters, including drafting and negotiating a joint venture agreement.
Stephenson Harwood's sizeable team advises its clients on a diverse range of corporate and commercial deals, with an emphasis on the healthcare, financial services, education and energy sectors. Diwakar Agarwal and Sandeep Dhama are key names. Senior associate Toufic Safie is an active member of the team.
Sean Angle; Salem Chalabi
‘Sandeep Dhama is tenacious, meticulous and knowledgeable.‘
Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund
- Advising Cleartrip on acquiring the Flyin Group, an online travel business.
- Advising the General Partner of the $1bn Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund and its directors on TPG’s takeover of the fund and its restructuring.
- Advising KIMS Healthcare Group on the re-drafting of several internal corporate arrangements across the Middle East.