Squire Patton Boggs has hired Islamic finance expert Ahmed Butt as a partner in its Saudi Arabia financial services practice as it seeks to expand its banking coverage in the region.
Butt joins from Simmons & Simmons, where he was head of its Middle East banking practice, as well as fronting its Saudi Arabia practice. He will be based in Squire’s Riyadh office but will also serve its finance practice across the region, including in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The hire follows the transfer to US rival Crowell & Moring in September of the firm's 13-lawyer Qatar office, made up of infrastructure specialists, at which point Squire said it would channel its investment into its other Middle East bases in in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Khalid Al-Thebity, Squire’s Saudi head, said: “Ahmed is highly regarded in the region for his Islamic finance and broad banking experience. His arrival further strengthens our capabilities for complex financial services transactions and regulatory guidance in the Kingdom, a market of continued strategic investment for the firm.”
Before working for Simmons & Simmons, Butt was a founding member of Hogan Lovells’ Dubai office as well as serving in its London office as part of its transactional banking and Islamic finance teams. He also spent a secondment at Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai as a senior legal counsel back in 2011.
As well as Islamic finance, Butt specialises in conventional banking, including syndicated lending and borrowing, and real estate, construction and trade finance. He also has extensive experience handling financial services regulatory and compliance matters in the Middle East, advising US and UK asset managers and investment banks that have clients in the region.
Campbell Steedman, Dubai managing partner, said: “Our presence in the Middle East is a critical element of our global practice, and we are committed to strategic growth to support our many clients doing business across the region.”
Butt’s arrival is the latest in a series of hires in the region for Squire. Steedman joined in January when the firm absorbed Winston and Strawn’s Dubai office, where he served as Middle East managing partner. He was joined by head of Middle East finance Shibeer Ahmed and corporate partner Christopher Skipper. Then in June, construction and arbitration partner Ravinder Bhullar and senior associate Alex Freeman joined in Dubai from Dechert.
The US firm has also been expanding its European practice with the hiring last month of two international arbitration partners in Paris from DWF – Sabrina Aïnouz and Jérôme Lehucher – and disputes partner Michelle Glassman Bock in Brussels from Wilmer Hale Cutler Pickering and Dorr.