Freshfields’ MENA finance head rejoins Allen & Overy

Haris Meyer Hanif returns to Dubai office in vote of confidence for A&O’s $3.5bn merger with Shearman & Sterling

Haris Meyer Hanif Image courtesy of Allen & Overy

Freshfields’ head of finance for the Middle East and North Africa has rejoined Allen & Overy (A&O) in Dubai. 

Haris Meyer Hanif has returned to the firm after 11 years at Freshfields, having previously spent two years at A&O in Dubai, as well as having held roles in London. His return is a coup for A&O in the run up to its merger with New York firm Shearman & Sterling, which is set to be completed by May and will create a firm of almost 4,000 lawyers globally and revenue in the region of $3.5bn. 

Meyer Hanif specialises in complex restructuring and insolvency matters, leveraged and acquisition financings and private capital transactions. He brings extensive experience advising financial institutions as well as sovereign wealth funds and at Freshfields advised London-based asset manager Hayfin on its first UAE investment. He also acted for Chalhoub Group, the largest luxury retail operator in the Middle East, on its acquisition of a majority stake in digital luxury retailer Threads Styling. 

Hanif wrote on LinkedIn that he would work alongside Dubai-based partner Adam Banks to build “the deepest and strongest bench of dedicated restructuring, insolvency and capital solutions specialists in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the wider region”.  

He added: “Those closest to me know I have always had a lot of affection for, and friends at, Allen & Overy. This very much feels like going home, albeit after quite a spell away!  

“I have long admired the ambition, depth, breadth and product balance of its successful Middle East platform, and I am excited about what is planned – both in the Middle East and the wider firm.” 

Khalid Garousha, regional managing partner for the Middle East and Turkey and the firm’s current global managing partner, commented: “We are thrilled to be growing A&O’s restructuring and insolvency offering for our clients here in the Middle East and to be welcoming Haris back into our team at such an exciting time for the region.” 

Abu Dhabi-based Garousha was appointed managing partner on an interim basis last September following the sudden resignation of former managing partner Gareth Price in the summer a year before the end of his term. 

He is one of eight candidates to become senior partner of the merged firm, all of whom have been drawn from the ranks of A&O. The arrival of such a high-profile hire from a Magic Circle rival will do his credentials no harm.  

Banks commented: “Haris has been in the region for many years and is well-known to our key clients. He’s a terrific addition to our team, and I’m very much looking forward to leveraging our joint expertise and experience to continue crafting innovative and commercial solutions for our clients.”

The firm announced two signature deals in the UAE last December – one advising a consortium led by Fajr Capital on the acquisition of a majority stake in a UAE healthcare company, and the other acting for Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority and Dubai Taxi Company on the latter’s IPO on the Dubai Financial Market. 

News of Meyer Hanif’s hire comes on the same day Linklaters announced that it had added Shearman & Sterling’s global co-managing partner, George Casey, in New York. Linklaters described the hire of Casey, who is widely regarded as one of the top M&A lawyers in the US and will join with a five-strong team, as “transformational” for its US growth strategy.  

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