Herbert Smith announced today that it has established a formal and exclusive association in Saudi Arabia with the Al Ghazzawi Professional Association (GPA), one of the Kingdom's largest and leading law firms.
The move is in line with the firm's objective to establish a strong regional profile following the successful launch of its 6-partner Dubai office in early 2007. It is also on course to open its office in Abu Dhabi shortly, pending final regulatory approval.
Behind this expansion lies fast-growing demand across the Middle East for international energy and projects expertise allied with a full-service law capability in corporate, finance and disputes work.
Herbert Smith's formal association with GPA in Saudi Arabia will allow it to offer a combined international/local law service in this all-important market. GPA is a full-service firm with a strong international profile which has approximately 30 lawyers spread across offices in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.
It was established in 1969 by Talal Amin Al Ghazzawi, the current Chairman of GPA. In addition to advising major Saudi businesses, GPA counts a substantial number of significant international companies among its clients. Herbert Smith and GPA know each other well, having recently worked together on a regular basis.
Herbert Smith's most high-profile work to date in Saudi Arabia has been the firm's role advising Sumitomo Chemical in its $9.8 billion joint venture with Saudi Aramco to develop the Rabigh refinery and petrochemical plant. Recent major work in the Middle East includes advising Hydrogen Energy, the joint venture between BP and Rio Tinto, on plans to build a clean power plant in Abu Dhabi, as part of the emirate's Masdar multibillion dollar initiative to develop sustainable energy in the region.
Established clients in the region include Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates national operator, which Herbert Smith has been regularly advising over the last year on its international acquisitions.
Neil Brimson, Herbert Smith's Middle East head, commented:
"This is further proof of Herbert Smith's long-term commitment to the Middle East and of our success to date in building our credibility and track record in the region.
"We are fortunate to have secured an association in the crucially important Saudi market with a law firm of the standing of GPA, whose deep understanding of the Kingdom's expanding business sector and marked international outlook make them a good fit with Herbert Smith. We look forward to developing a close and mutually beneficial relationship with GPA."
Belal Al Ghazzawi, Managing Partner of GPA, said:
"Given the tremendous expansion of the Saudi economy and the welcome influx of foreign companies into the country, we thought it important to link up our local expertise with the international capability of a firm like Herbert Smith. In so doing we can better serve our broad base of local and international clients."
"We took some time to choose the most appropriate international firm, having worked with a large number over the years. Selecting Herbert Smith will, we believe, lead to the addition of a valuable dimension to the service we offer clients."