ALLEN & OVERY IN CASABLANCA

20 Jul, 2011

Allen & Overy establishes African hub with Morocco launch

Allen & Overy today (July 20) announced the launch of an office in Casablanca with the addition of leading Moroccan lawyers Hicham Naciri and Yassir Ghorbal, becoming the first major global law firm to establish a presence on the African continent.

The Casablanca office will be a key platform for Allen & Overy’s strategy in Africa, enabling it to build on its existing Africa business (see deal highlights below). The launch also underlines its commitment to continued growth in emerging markets.

The office will open in September following the arrival of François Duquette, from A&O’s Abu Dhabi office, and Yassir  Ghorbal currently a partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés in Casablanca. Philippe de Richoufftz, a local Casablanca partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés, will also be joining the A&O Paris office as Counsel.

The Casablanca office will be joined later in the year by Hicham Naciri, who will lead the operation, with up to 25 lawyers anticipated to join by 2012. Hicham is also currently a partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés.

Commenting, Allen & Overy global managing partner Wim Dejonghe said: “Morocco is rapidly establishing itself as a key hub for international companies and investors looking to build a presence in Africa. It also has strong trade links with other markets in our network, particularly France, the Middle East and Spain, with growing interest from China, India and Japan. It’s the perfect match for our global network and our emerging markets strategy and offers a fantastic platform to build on our extensive Africa-focused work.”

Tim Scales, partner in the Paris office, and head of Allen & Overy’s Africa desk, adds: “Hicham and Yassir have succeeded in establishing the leading commercial legal practice in Morocco. Their experience both in Morocco and the wider region will be invaluable to us and our clients. Morocco is one of the leading destinations for foreign direct investment in Africa and was one of the few to see an increase in FDI projects in 2010. We see huge opportunities in the region, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and mining sectors.”

The news comes in the same week that Allen & Overy launches its new Washington operation. The addition of Casablanca will take its network to 39 offices in 27 countries around the world – the largest global footprint among the leading global law firms.

In Allen & Overy’s recent annual results, about half of its revenue growth for the 2011 financial year came from its newly established emerging market-related offices around the world. Launching in Morocco provides an opportunity to further build on that success.

A&O has been involved in a significant amount of work in Morocco and North Africa to date – its five most noteworthy deals across Africa in the last year were:

  • Jorf Lasfar, Morocco: TAQA and JLEC on the development and financing of a 700MW expansion of the Jorf Lasfar coal-fired power plant in Morocco.
  • Lake Turkana Wind Project & Ketraco, Kenya: Lake Turkana Wind Company and Aldwych International on the development and financing of a 300 MW wind farm in Lake Turkana, Kenya and Ketraco in relation to the construction of a related 425km power transmission line in Kenya.
  • Perenco: BNP Paribas, Calyon and Société Générale in relation to the USD2.8bn borrowing base facility for Perenco. The borrowing base consisted of over 100 assets located across the world in countries including Colombia, Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Guatemala, Tunisia, Turkey and the UK. This won European Upstream Oil and Gas Deal of the Year 2010, at the Project Finance Euromoney awards 2011
  • O3b Networks Limited: O3b Networks Limited (“O3b”) on the financing of the project to design, build, launch and operate an eight MEO satellite constellation for communications coverage over Africa. This won African Telecoms Deal of the Year 2010 at both the Project Finance International 2011 and Project Finance Euromoney 2011 awards.
  • Suez Steel Company: The lenders in relation to the USD280m and EGP1,064m financing of the construction of a direct reduction plant, a new steel melt-shop and casting plant and upgrading the existing furnace to 800 tons per annum of steel billet in Egypt for Suez Steel Company, voted as Deal of the Year 2011 for the infrastructure and project finance category in the Middle East at The Banker Awards 2011.

 

 

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