06 Sep 2012

Cleary Gottlieb ramps up Middle East practice

US law firm Cleary Gottlieb is strengthening its Middle Eastern practice with a new office.

Cleary Gottlieb heads to the Abu Dhabi.

US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has opened its first office in Abu Dhabi after receiving a license from  the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The office will be headed up by partner Ganal Abouali, most recently based in the firm’s Paris office.

Managing partner Mark Leddy said that the office would enable the law firm to better serve its Middle Eastern clients. “For many decades now we have represented both corporate and sovereign clients in many of the most important transactions in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

The firm has been involved in a range of transactions in the area. It acted for Wind Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holdings, the mobile telecommunications companies led by Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris in its $21 billion  merger with VimpelCom.  It also acted for Lafarge in its $15 billion acquisition of Orascom Construction Industries, one of the largest-ever corporate transactions in the region. Cleary Gottlieb acted in the IPOs of Investcom, which was the first DIFX listing, Depa, Investcorp, Bank Muscat, Alba and Amer  Group. It also advised the Government of Jordan in the IPO of the state-owned Jordan Telecommunications Company and subsequent divestment.

The new office will be fully integrated into the firm’s Middle Eastern practice which comprises around 20 partners and counsel based in London, Paris, New York and Milan. Mr Leddy added: “ Gamal’s broad range of practice, his insightful understanding of the region, his appreciation for the local business environment and his fluency in the main business languages of the region make him well suited to head our new office.”