Firms will continue to work together but say a looser arrangement suits their strategic needs
Allen & Overy (A&O) and its Saudi Arabian partner Khoshaim & Associates (K&A) have ended their co-operation agreement with both sides stating the benefits of working with a wider range of law firms.
The exclusive agreement was struck in 2012 with Allen & Overy marketing the relationship on its website and through joint announcements. It was quietly shelved on 9 October, although both sides have stressed they will continue to work closely going forward.
“We have seen an increase in the volume and range of matters for which clients are seeking support in Saudi Arabia,” A&O said in a statement. “In order to increase our capacity to meet this demand we have taken the decision to work with a broader range of law firms in the Kingdom.”
K&A managing partner Zeyad Khoshaim added: “This joint decision serves each firm’s strategic interests. For K&A, it allows us to be independent and work with other firms, including US-based firms. This opens up opportunities to work on a wider set of matters and service clients from the US, amongst other jurisdictions with strong ties to Saudi Arabia.”
K&A, which is based in Riyadh, has four partners, three counsel and around 35 lawyers. It is highly rated in the Chambers and Partners directory with Khoshaim ranked as a Band 1 individual.
Khoshaim – who originally joined A&O as a partner in 2010 – said the practice had grown into a full-service firm, expanding its partnership and opening an office in Jeddah.
He added that the multi-billion-dollar Vision 2030 strategy to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil had generated a lot of interest from US companies . This, he said, “put the firm in a good position to advise US-based companies like AMC and Johns Hopkins University on their investments, and collaborate with other firms with specialised expertise on mega deals like Saudi Aramco’s acquisition of SABIC, Saudi Aramco’s IPO, and the SAMBA/NCB merger”.
For its part, A&O, which has regional offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, underlined its Middle East credentials.
“As one of the law firms with the longest established presences in the Middle East,” it said, “we remain committed to the region and we believe this decision will best serve our clients in Saudi Arabia and around the world in the longer term.”
In August, the two firms cooperated on two major deals for Saudi Electricity Company; a $2.4bn syndicated murabaha facility agreement provided by a syndicate of Saudi banks and and a %1.3bn dual-tranche green sukuk. A&O’s Dubai team advised on the first deal with a London team spearheading work on the latter.
In March A&O ended its longstanding alliance with its Romanian ally in a move that saw six-partner Radu Taracila Padurari Retevoescu (RTPR) relaunch as a standalone practice.
However, in January the magic circle UK firm become the latest international practice to forge a formal alliance with a local practice in Shanghai.