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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Arab Emirates > Commercial, corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Commercial, corporate and M&A
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Pervez Akhtar - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Mohammed Al-Shukairy - Clifford Chance
    • Scott Campbell - Linklaters
    • Khalid Garousha - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Michael Hilton - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • David Martin - Linklaters
    • Andrew Schoorlemmer - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Mike Taylor - Clifford Chance

Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy LLP is praised for its ability to leverage ‘considerable resources and diverse expertise within its strong team’. David Foster advised and its shareholders on the sale of the company to Amazon. Andrew Schoorlemmer advised The Abraaj Group on the $1.8bn sale by one of its portfolio companies of a majority stake in K Electric to Shanghai Electric Power Company. In the Abu Dhabi office, Khalid Garousha advised Adeptio AD Investments on its acquisition of Americana, and Ibrahim Mubaydeen advised Mubadala on its merger with International Petroleum Investment Company. Senior associate Zeid Qursha is also recommended.

Clifford Chance is a regular fixture on market-leading regional and global M&A deals in sectors ranging from banking and aviation through to retail and healthcare. Jason Mendens moved from the firm’s Doha office to Dubai, where he joins Mohammed Al-Shukairy, Mike Taylor, James McCarthy and senior associate Andrew Steele. Rupert Harper is the key partner in Abu Dhabi. Amazon, HSBC and Dubai Aerospace Enterprise are clients.

In an illustration of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s private equity track record, Rob Cant advised The Abraaj Group on its acquisition of Indorama’s fertiliser and chemicals business, and Pervez Akhtar advised the same client on the sale of an 80% stake in Jordan Aircraft Maintenance to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. Akhtar and Michael Hilton advised First Gulf Bank on its merger with National Bank of Abu Dhabi, creating First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Regularly called on to handle matters requiring complex UAE law advice, Al Tamimi & Company’s regional footprint and coverage makes it ‘a preferred legal partner’. Samer Qudah (‘an exceptional and well-respected partner’) acted as DIFC and UAE counsel for United Arab Shipping Company on a restructuring ahead of its merger with Hapag Lloyd. Isabella Szadwroska advised Gulf Medical Projects Company on the sale of a hospital in Sharjah to NMC Healthcare for $571m. Also recommended are practice head Gary Watts, Abu Dhabi office head Alex Ghazi, who is a new hire from Arabtec’s in-house team, and James MacCallum (also based in Abu Dhabi).

Clyde & Co LLP’s practice, co-headed by Philip O’Riordan and Jonathan Silver, ‘goes above and beyond on fast-paced deals’. Silver advised Lubrixol International on its $750m purchase of Weatherford International’s oilfield chemicals business. In addition, the ‘particularly impressive’ Abhimanyu Jalan advised Global Fashion Group on the sale of a majority stake in Namshi to Emaar Malls. Naji Hawayek advised Younata on a majority sale of Kalium to Avivo Group. Also recommended are Niall O’Toole, Ian Chung (who has maritime expertise), insurance M&A expert Peter Hodgins, and Abu Dhabi-based Ross Barfoot. Bart Hoggard left to become CEO of the Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union in New Zealand. Taimur Malik was a new arrival from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP’s Oman office in September 2018.

A ‘top-class law firm’ for UAE corporate matters, Hadef & Partners LLCknows the market, the law and the regulations, and is well-connected with the authorities’. Key figures include Sameer Huda, who heads the Dubai corporate practice, and Abu Dhabi head Yasser Omar; Omar advised IPIC on the local law elements of its merger with Mubadala. Ahmad Sergieh, who ‘makes creative structures that work with clients’ objectives’, and Victoria Woods, who ‘knows how to maintain fruitful relationships with clients’, made partner in January 2017.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLPis valued for its ability to address commercial issues in an entrepreneurial manner’. Zubair Mir is ‘an outstanding lawyer who understands the commercial issues rapidly’ – he advised Engie on its AED2.8bn purchase of 40% of Tabreed. Haitham Hawashin, a new hire from Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP, is also recommended. Key figures below partner level include senior associate Ben Davies and consultant Judith Watson, who is ‘very commercially astute’.

Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP’s ‘diligent, experienced and attentive-to-detail’ team’s deals include several matters with cross-border regional aspects. Charles Fuller advised Mumtalakat on its purchase of Ron Dennis’ shares in McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive, and Kingdom Holding on the purchase of a minority stake in Careem. The ‘commercially focusedImtiaz Shah advised Jimmy Choo plc on the formation of a joint venture with Al Tayer, its UAE distributor. Warren Thomson and Andrew Tarbuck are also names to note, as is ‘dedicated and responsive’ senior associate Erin Kiem.

King & Spalding LLP handles a range of regional M&A deals, many of which involve private equity or connections to Saudi Arabia. New partner Osama Audi advised Delivery Hero on its acquisitions of Hungerstation and Carriage. Nabil Issa advised Gulf Investment Corporation on its purchase of a stake in Sudair Pharma. James Stull and Simon Rahimzada are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbrightprovides accurate and commercially sound advice’ on a range of M&A matters. Key partners in the team include Jane Clayton, John Boehm, the recently promoted Adjou Ait Ben Idir, who has experience in Africa-related deals and is ‘very responsive and commercial’; all three are advising national carrier Saudia on the privatisation of its private jet business. Senior associate Hani Ghattas is also recommended.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s team in Abu Dhabi has ‘strong industry knowledge and business acumen’. The firm has a particular strength in energy-related work, but also handles a broader range of mandates. Marwan Elaraby heads the practice. Two new names in the Abu Dhabi office are Rodney Cannon, who joined in February 2017 from his role as group general counsel of Mubadala, and Matthew Powell, who relocated from London and is ‘responsive, commercial and to-the-point’. James Comyn joined Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP.

Afridi & Angell, which handles M&A deals and local corporate and commercial work, ‘provides excellent service from commercially astute and experienced lawyers’. Bashir Ahmed is advising Amazon on regulatory matters regarding its product range in the UAE. James Bowden, who is ‘practical and knowledgeable’, advised Yoox Net-A-Porter Group on a joint venture with Symphony Investments, using a DIFC trust structure. Shahram Safai and senior consultant Amjad Ali Khan are also key contacts.

Baker Botts L.L.P.’s team is ‘very experienced, and goes that extra mile to ensure that clients’ business needs are met’. In addition to its well-known strengths in the oil and gas sector, the firm handles deals in the food and beverage, industrial, defence and hospitality sectors. Mark Bisch advised Al Futtaim group on a franchising joint venture with Barilla to launch several Italian restaurants across the region. Other key names include Stephen Matthews (whose ‘knowledge of the Middle East is phenomenal’), Abdullah Mutawi and Hassan Elsayed.

The ‘responsive’ practice at DLA Piper Middle East LLP is praised for its ‘business acumen and industry knowledge’, with notable strength in health and technology, among other sectors. Ben Gillespie, who heads the firm’s Middle East corporate practice, handled the regional aspects of NTT Data’s purchase of Dell Systems, and led advice to MS Pharma regarding its sale of shares to the EBRD and IFC. Also recommended are legal director Richard Hughes, who is ‘a great source of local knowledge’, and fellow legal director Thérèse Abou-Zeid. Other clients include Lockheed Martin.

Dentons provides ‘prompt and thoughtful responses to even the most difficult topics, displaying good market knowledge and insight’. Iain Black (who is praised for his ‘strong industry knowledge and ability to apply commercial acumen to resolve logjams’) advised Links Group on its strategic partnership with Equiom. Other key contacts include Catherine Beckett, Kelly Tymburski, who handles technology-rich transactions, Ghassan Shuhaibar, who joined in October 2016 from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and senior associate Patrick Tweedale, who is ‘an up-and-coming talent in the region’. Andrew Ward has retired.

Gibson Dunn advises leading private equity managers and other international businesses on heavyweight deals. Paul Harter advised Yum! Brands on its franchisee Americana’s sale to Adeptio. Hardeep Plahe is another key figure.

Latham & Watkins LLP handles a range of cross-border deals. Villiers Terblanche and new partner Brian Meenagh advised the UAE Banks Foundation on forming a new mobile banking joint venture, while Nomaan Raja advised Standard Chartered Private Equity on the sale of its minority stake in to Amazon. Christopher Lester advised BayWa on a joint venture with Al Dahra Group to create an agribusiness in Abu Dhabi.

Linklaters is regularly involved in heavyweight transactions, often for sovereign wealth funds and regional players. Scott Campbell advised Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on its acquisition of a 50% stake in Adeptio. David Martin relocated to London from Abu Dhabi.

Reed Smith handles a variety of commercial deals in addition to M&A. Donald Moore in Abu Dhabi has experience of Afghan-related commercial work. Vince Gordon and Tania De Swart joined HFW's newly opened Abu Dhabi office in 2018.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s Abu Dhabi-based corporate practice, headed by Chadi Salloum, handles a range of corporate work for government-related entities, as well as energy and infrastructure-themed transactions. Natasha Kohne is ‘very helpful and responsive’; she and ‘very good negotiatorWael Jabsheh act as outside counsel to Image Nation Abu Dhabi. Shawn Davis joined King & Wood Mallesons.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla’s team regularly features on cross-border deals (for which it is able to leverage the firm’s global footprint) as well as local transactions. Omar Momany advised Al Habtoor Group on its sale of a 27.5% stake in Al Habtoor Leighton Group to Cimic, while the ‘excellent, responsive, approachable and practical’ Will Seivewright handled the regional aspects of Emerson Electric’s sale of Network Power to Platinum Equity. Boris Dackiw and Jayshree Gupta are other names of note.

At CMS, John O’Connor advised Qvest Media on a corporate restructuring in preparation for the company’s sale, and advised HP Inc on the UAE aspects of the sale of its printer business to Samsung. Mohammed Majid ‘has top-notch industry knowledge’.

Dechert LLP is ‘willing to develop a broader relationship with its clients, and is collaborative in its approach and practical in its advice’. In an illustration of its strength in the oil and gas space, the ‘always helpfulGavin Watson advised Hass Petroleum on the sale of a 40% stake in the company to Oman Trading International. Chris Sioufi, who ‘has an excellent understanding of the dynamics of deals’, and the ‘very technically impressive’ Rodolphe Pellerin advised on the sale of a majority stake in a Nigerian manufacturer to a European company. Hamish Walton joined from King & Wood Mallesons.

Eversheds Sutherland LLP handles a range of M&A deals, joint ventures and commercial transactions. Zeid Hanania, who heads the corporate team, and Hani Nassef, who joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, advised the founders of on the sale of a majority stake in the company to Gulf Capital. Geraldine Ahern heads the commercial side of the practice.

HFW, which handles M&A and joint ventures around the firm’s core strengths in commodities, mining and shipping, is ‘very good, responsive and to-the-point, with an understanding of business needs’. Alexander Reid heads key mandates, while Rula Dajani Abuljebain is ‘responsive, with a focus on practical solutions’. Clients include P&O and Topaz Marine. Vince Gordon and Tania De Swart joined the firm’s newly opened Abu Dhabi office in 2018 from Reed Smith.

K&L Gatesprovides an excellent level of service, with a very strong feel for the key issues that are crucial to getting the deal done’. Owen Waft and senior associate Mona Lemp advised the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development on its purchase of a 60% stake in Tcell, a Tajikistan-based mobile operator. William Reichert and counsel Adela Mues are ‘consummate professionals who have a positive attitude to commercial transactions’.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s practice handles a range of corporate and commercial work, including sensitive M&A deals and joint ventures. Osama Hassan advised Balfour Beatty on the sale of its UAE operations to Dubai Transport Company. Mohammad Tbaishat handles commercial and joint venture work for clients such as Bloomberg and Hikma Pharmaceuticals.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s work includes a range of small-cap transactions. In Dubai, Bill Jefferies handles complex healthcare deals. Guy Danalis and Saleem Adam are names to note in Abu Dhabi.

White & Case LLP’s UAE practice handles a range of high-value local and cross-border deals, often working in conjunction with teams in the US and London. Michiel Visser advised United Arab Shipping Company on its merger with Hapag-Lloyd, while Michael Watson in Abu Dhabi advised Saudi Aramco on purchasing an equity stake in a refinery project in Malaysia. UAE-qualified Abdulwahid Alulama regularly acts for local and regional investors.

At Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Gamal Abouali advises sovereign wealth funds on a variety of acquisitions. Counsel Chris Macbeth advised TAG Group on a restructuring of the McLaren companies, which involved purchasing shares from former team principal Ron Dennis.

King & Wood Mallesons’ M&A practice has particular strength handling Chinese investment into the Middle East. Sandeep Dhama (‘a diligent and pragmatic practitioner’) advised Beijing Miteno on the UAE aspects of its purchase of adtech company Media Net for $900m. Shawn Davis, who is ‘a very sharp lawyer with profound and diverse experience in projects in the Middle East’, ‘very professional, and always thinks ahead of his clients’, joined from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP provides ‘an unsurpassed level of service’. Philip Dowsett has ‘top-class local and global legal perspectives’ – he advised Blue Water Energy on the purchase of Optilan Group as part of a secondary management buyout. Jim Knight is also a key contact.

Tribonian Law Advisors is ‘more than a match against larger firms; it holds its own very well’. Rindala Beydoun heads the practice in Dubai, which includes the ‘very technicalCarlo Pianese and ‘commercially savvyEmile Boulos. Highlights included advising NMC Healthcare on its acquisition of Al Zahra Hospital.

BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP, which handles both international transactions and UAE corporate law advice, ‘provides valuable and practical knowledge of the law delivered to international standards’. Michael Kortbawigoes above and beyond for clients’ – he advised Uber on corporate structuring issues regarding delivery of alcoholic drinks to customers via UberEats, while Rima Mrad advised Gulf Film on its restructuring in the wake of the company being acquired. Lara Barbary is also a name of note.

Bracewell LLP provides ‘very responsive, sensible and relevant advice’ on corporate transactions to clients, which include those in the energy sector, among others. Christopher Williams acts for General Motors. Clint Steyn has left the firm to become general counsel of Alcazar Energy.

At Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Alastair Holland advised the founder and owner of a real estate developer on its sale by way of a management buyout, and acted alongside Jeremy Miocevic for Al Talah Board Holdings on the sale of a free zone company that manufactures board from palm tree waste to a joint venture partner.

Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners advises foreign clients, including many leading Italian names, on commercial, corporate and M&A matters. Riccardo Sensi, who is ‘easy to deal with and straight to the point’, advised Moncler on setting up joint ventures to distribute its products in the UAE. Other clients include Ferrari and Intesa Sanpaolo.

Horizons & Co handles a range of corporate structuring issues. Ali Al Zarooni and consultant Muhammad Mohsin Naseer are names to note.

Headed by Hamad Haider, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal Middle East LLP handles a variety of transactions for clients from the region and beyond. Alan Wood1 is also a key contact.

Simmons & Simmons Middle East LLP’s James Coleman has experience of secondary market transactions in the energy sector. Haitham Hawashin is now at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

Vinson & Elkins LLP handles a range of M&A deals, often connected with the oil, oilfield services and energy sectors. Counsel Ziad Saad advised Advanced Triad Turbine Services on its acquisition of a 21% stake in Jolt Holdings.

Watson Farley & Williams provides ‘an excellent service’ in M&A and commercial deals, with expertise covering a range of sectors such as shipping, health care and natural resources. Suhail Mirza advised Citigate Group Holdings on its acquisition of three mining concessions and a diamond mining company in Sierra Leone.

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