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IFLR Middle East awards 2020: winners announced

All the winning deals, teams, firms and individuals from the Middle East awards can now be announced

IFLR is delighted to announce the winners of the 2020 Middle East Awards, recognising the most innovative cross-border work from across the region over 2019-2020.

The awards caps off months of research, using direct written entries and interviews with counsel and their clients across the region, as well as having recourse to the IFLR1000 submissions. All deals had to have closed between July 2019 and July 2020.

This year, White & Case won international law firm of the year, the first ever non-magic circle firm to win the award. It was in many ways an exceptional year, capturing transactions including Saudi Aramco’s IPO and $69 billion acquisition of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. Allen & Overy was the most often shortlisted firm. The Islamic Development Bank’s Dr Hamza Kunna was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Allen & Overy’s Judith Kim received the Women in Business Law award and Faraj Ahnish of Hadef & Partners was named managing partner of the year.

You can listen to the awards presentation below, which was recorded live on October 14 at 12:00 London / 15:00 Dubai time. Below the presentation is the full list of winners and their write ups. The full shortlist can be seen here





INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR

International law firm of the year

White & Case

White & Case was behind some of the most consequential legally innovative work. Its two most significant projects were arguably the Saudi Aramco IPO and Saudi Aramco’s acquisition of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. In both transactions, the firm mobilised its Saudi office and a vast network of lawyers globally to structure deals of global value. Both deals represent a step-change in the Saudi market. The team played a central role in drawing up new project development and financing dynamics in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Its pro bono practice also leant off its debt capital markets expertise to produce a unique instrument for social funding.

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Lifetime achievement award

Dr Hamza Kunna - Islamic Development Bank

Since 2018, Dr Hamza Kunna has served the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) as an advisor to the president for legal and shariah matters. Prior to this, Kunna, who graduated in law from the University of Khartoum in 1969, was the bank’s general counsel. He has worked as the bank’s most senior legal strategist for almost 34 years, having joined in 1987.

Kunna has an impeccable standing in the market as an operator and scholar, with vast influence. “Dr Kunna has been critical to the development of IsDB for the last three decades,” says a peer, outlining the pivotal role he played on the IsDB’s first sukuk issuance in 2004 and first sukuk programme, shortly thereafter. Kunna’s has also played an important role in developing the bank’s portfolio of Islamic project finance deals.

The IsDB’s green and sustainable sukuk issuances of 2019, along with its work with the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in conceptualising its Islamic fund and impact sukuk, make it a suitable year to recognise Kunna’s achievements.

Managing partner of the year

Faraj Ahnish - Hadef & Partners

Faraj Ahnish is the managing partner of Hadef & Partners, which has secured its position as one of the UAE’s go-to law firms. He has been responsible for the firm’s day-to-day management since 1990, overseeing its substantial growth over this period. His key achievement over a challenging 12 months in the UAE was to keep the firm’s profile high. A fluent Arabic and English speaker, Ahnish was repeatedly recommended during the research, with one peer describing him as an “extremely impressive operator”. The firm has undertaken significant legislative work for the UAE federal government as well as some recent high impact contentious work. Notably, the firm was also the official legal supporter of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

IFLR Women in Business Law

Judith Kim - Allen & Overy

Judith Kim is a more-than-deserving winner of the WIBL 2020 award. Kim, a Dubai-based projects partner in Allen & Overy, has a long record of promoting women in law. She has been shortlisted for the WIBL award several times off the back off consistent market praise. She has been in the region for almost 20 years and is one of its highest rated energy and projects lawyers. She is second to none in the oil & gas sector - a remarkable achievement given the image of the male-dominated oil & gas sector - and a go-to advisor for pathfinder projects; for example, she advised on the multi-award winning Duqm Refinery Project. Her mentorship of female lawyers at A&O and beyond, which includes launching several regional initiatives, has also been pioneering. 


DEALS OF THE YEAR

Debt and equity-linked

GEMS Education high yield

GEMS’s high yield bond of August 2019 was part of a transformative bank/bond financing (term loan B and pari passu high yield bond) in connection with the acquisition by a CVC Capital Partners-led consortium of a 30% stake in GEMS Education. It is the first time that any Middle Eastern issuer has tapped the HY bond market and the TLB markets in the US and Europe. This raised myriad first-of-their-kind issues, exposing the UAE’s legal framework to the scrutiny of a new and large pool of investors and opening new channels between markets. The structure had no precedent and the legal backdrop was uncertain. One highlight was testing whether the UAE’s nominee arrangements regime would pass muster with the US market.

Law firms
Al Tamimi & Company - Underwriters
Linklaters - GEMS Education
Maples Group - GEMS Education
Milbank - Underwriters (including Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse)
Walkers - Underwriters
White & Case - Trustee

Equity

Saudi Aramco IPO

Saudi Aramco’s December 2019 IPO was the world’s largest ever IPO. The $25.6 billion offering (excluding the over-allotment option) comprised three billion shares, representing 1.5% of Saudi Aramco's share capital. The listing was unique, with a first-of-its-kind domestic offering structure and process, making Saudi Aramco the largest company on any exchange globally and opening a new chapter in the history of the Saudi capital markets. Many of the Capital Markets Authority’s rules did not cater for an issuer of Saudi Aramco’s size and reach. It required a vast effort over several years to create a new legal framework for the IPO and reconcile local and cross-border aspects, which included concurrent offerings in 15 jurisdictions.

Law firms
Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm - NCB Capital
Clifford Chance - NCB Capital
Khoshaim & Associates - Saudi Aramco
Latham & Watkins - Underwriters (syndicate consisted of 25 underwriters, led by Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, NCB Capital and Samba Capital as joint global coordinators)
Law Office of Megren M Al-Shaalan - Saudi Aramco
Law Office of Salman M Al-Sudairi - Underwriters
White & Case - Saudi Aramco

M&A

Uber / Careem

Uber’s acquisition of Careem closed in January 2020 and represents a milestone in the development of the region’s tech and venture capital ecosystem. The acquisition adopted an innovative structure for a deal of this scale and complexity. Various strategies were floated before settling on a series of asset acquisitions at a local level. The size of the parties, Uber’s impending listing and the swathes of untested regulation surrounding the deal, especially in terms of antitrust and the treatment of tech companies, raised novel legal questions. Among the deal’s highlights were the need to coordinate intricate domestic issues across so many jurisdictions, reconcile a US deal approach with local practice and resolve the many regulatory uncertainties. The deal will stand as a region-wide precedent for competition law. 

Law firms
Abousleiman Law - Uber
AF & R Shehadeh Law Firm - Uber
Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm - Careem
Al-Ansari & Associates - Uber
Al Tamimi & Company - Uber / Careem
ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners - Uber
Bennani & Associés - Uber
Clifford Chance - Careem
Confluent Law - Uber
DLA Piper - Careem
Ferchiou & Associes - Uber
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer - STC
Haya Rashed Al Khalifa - Uber
Hajji & Associes - Uber
Herbert Smith Freehills - Uber
Khalifeh & Partners - Uber
Kolcuoğlu Demirkan Koçaklı - Uber
Latham & Watkins - Certain Careem shareholders
Maples Group - Careem
Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy - Uber
Morrison & Foerster - Uber
Orr Dignam & Co - Uber
RIAA Barker Gillette - Uber
Sharq Law Firm - Uber
Slaughter and May - Careem
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati - Careem

Project finance

Taweelah Reverse Osmosis Independent Water Plant Project

Abu Dhabi’s Taweelah project closed its $868 million financing in October 2019. It is the largest reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plant in the world, 44% bigger than largest existing RO plant. The project rewrote the project finance framework, adopting new project terms and tendering and procurement processes which have since been built upon, setting a precedent template for the Emirates going forward. Departing from market practice, EWEC prepared the EPC and O&M subcontracts and debt and equity financing documentation and, with the developer, negotiated the terms with subcontractors and lenders. The approach gives EWEC stronger oversight of its projects. The Taweelah IWP also obtained the first sustainable loan qualification for a water desalination project globally.

Law firms
Al Tamimi & Company - ACWA Power (sponsor)
Clifford Chance - UAE sovereign wealth fund
Hogan Lovells - ACWA Power (sponsor)
Norton Rose Fulbright - Lenders
White & Case - Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) (procurer)

Restructuring

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden)

This project concerns Ma’aden and the Ma’aden Rolling Company (MRC) joint-venture, which Ma’aden held with Alcoa Corporation. The restructuring involved several processes at different levels of the structure which required parallel negotiations with Alcoa, Ma’aden and MRC’s commercial and public creditors and the Capital Markets Authority. Ma’aden took over MRC’s $796 million debt to the Public Investment Fund (PIF) in exchange for an equivalent loan from the PIF. Alcoa exited MRC, transferring its 25% stake to Ma’aden. MRC’s other commercial bank debt, Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) financing and various project documents were restructured. Ma’aden also issued new shares to PIF, using a capital increase and debt conversion to improve its liquidity and support growth plans.

Law firms
Allen & Overy - Lenders
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer - Alcoa Corporation
Latham & Watkins - Public Investment Fund
White & Case - Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden)

Domestic

Saudi Aramco / Saudi Basic Industries Corporation

Saudi Aramco’s $69 billion acquisition of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) was the world’s largest M&A deal of 2019/2020. Detailed negotiations were undertaken with the Capital Markets Authority to structure what was a public takeover of a Tadawul-listed company without triggering mandatory offer rules and to retain SABIC’s listing post acquisition. The deal raised unprecedented related party and conflict of interest issues (with some unique solutions) that had to be carefully unpicked and navigated, especially in relation to information disclosure and post-acquisition integration. The cross-border and multi-disciplinary considerations were vast for a domestic deal in the region, covering US national interest (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States - Cfius) considerations and global antitrust concerns. The structure also included innovative seller-financing and pre-payment arrangements.

Law firms
Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm - Public Investment Fund (PIF)
Clifford Chance - PIF
Khoshaim & Associates - Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC)
Law Office of Megren M Al-Shaalan - Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco)
White & Case - Saudi Aramco

TEAMS OF THE YEAR

Debt and equity-linked

Linklaters

Linklaters’s debt and equity-linked team had a fantastic year in terms of establishing significant precedents in the region’s markets. Led by Jonathan Fried and supported by associates Dalia Nammari, Ross Whibley, Peter Cullen, Nicola Minervini and David Hayward, five of the team’s transactions are recognised across the shortlists. Highlights include advising GEMS Education on its high yield, the underwriters on Qatar National Bank’s SOFR-based issuance, Riyad Bank’s Tier 2 certificates and Qatar Islamic Bank on its Formosa sukuk bond. The transactions include the first-ever Formosa sukuk bond, the first time SOFR mechanics have been incorporated into a Eurobond EMTN programme and the Middle East’s first TLB-high yield financing. The team also advised the arrangers on Oman’s first domestic sukuk programme and issuance.

Equity

White & Case

The equity team at White & Case had an interesting 12 months with several legally innovative mandates, including a proposed first-of-its-kind delisting from the Nasdaq Dubai. However, the clear highlight was Saudi Aramco’s IPO. A large team, led on the capital markets front by Sami Al-Louzi in Dubai, Colin Diamond and Gary Kashar in New York and Inigo Esteve in London worked with Megren Al-Shaalan and Doug Peel from Saudi partner firm The Law Office of Megren M Al-Shaalan to advise Saudi Aramco on its listing. It was an unprecedented project by all counts, involving three years of preparations and nearly 400 lawyers across 20 White & Case offices.

M&A

Clifford Chance

Under a new managing partner in corporate specialist Mohammed Al-Shukairy, the Clifford Chance M&A team closed several market-rattling deals. One of these was Saudi Aramco’s acquisition of SABIC, where the firm worked closely with Saudi partner firm AS&H to advise the Public Investment Fund on the sale of its 70% holding in SABIC. Another highlight was the firm’s role advising Port and Free Zone World on the DP World take-private, the UAE’s first take-private and the first M&A transaction implemented by way of a scheme of arrangement under DIFC law. The team also closed AD Power’s acquisition of TAQA and DP World’s acquisition of Topaz Energy and Marine JAFZA. Mike Taylor, James McCarthy and Omar Rashid all had impressive roles.

Project finance

White & Case

The White & Case projects team had roles on five project financings recognised in the deal shortlist. Its most impressive impact was on shifting the goal posts and the frameworks for project financings, predominantly with mandates advising the procuring party. The teams, led by Michael Watson, Yasser Riad, Mark Castillo-Bernaus, Alexander Malahias, Antoine Cousin and Adam Pierson, advised Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) on both the Fujairah F3 power project and Taweelah Reverse Osmosis Independent Water Plant Project on setting a new template and standard for projects in the UAE. The team also advised Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC) on the first-of-its-kind Dammam West Independent Sewage Treatment Plant.

Restructuring

Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy proved its mettle for complex and sensitive restructurings with four of its projects shortlisted for restructuring deal of the year. Above all, the firm has been pivotal in defining and developing the practice for restructurings in the region. Among its most innovative recent work, a team led by Christian Saunders, Joe Clinton and James Roe advised Gulf Marine on the financial restructuring of its Islamic and conventional debt, which included capex, term and working capital (funded and unfunded) facilities. Notably against significant practical challenges, the team finalised the restructuring terms during the Covid-19 lockdown. In Amlak’s case, the firm represented a diverse international and local creditor group and again included complex conventional and Islamic financing solutions.

RISING STAR LAWYERS OF THE YEAR

International firms

Afsha Karim - Allen & Overy

Afsha Karim comes from a group of highly talented Allen & Overy senior associates and earns the rising star accolade primarily for her impressive work some complex and critical restructuring projects. Karim was the lead associate advising the 27 creditors on all aspects of the debt restructuring of UAE mortgage company Amlak Finance, where, among other things, she took the lead on negotiating the debt restructuring agreement. She also led the negotiations and structuring analysis on behalf of the Islamic participants in the restructuring of London-listed Gulf Marine Services.

Macky O’Sullivan - King & Spalding

Macky O’Sullivan is a senior associate in King & Spalding’s private funds and capital markets practices. His work on and off deals (for instance in championing diversity) is characterised by innovation. He structured the first investment fund regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) permitted to directly own and trade Tadawul-listed equities (Quencia Saudi Equity Fund), African Infrastructure Finance Fund’s first $1 billion fund, and the first ADGM-domiciled fund to have an external manager approved by Canada’s FSRA (McKinley Capital MEASA Fund). More recently he advised the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation on the launch of its flagship trade finance fund, which had a first-of-its-kind legal structure.

National firms

Muhammad Mitha - Al Tamimi & Company

Muhammad Mitha is a rising star in the Qatar banking market. His key piece of work over the last 12 months was an integral role in Qatar’s first-ever bank merger, between Barwa Bank and IBQ. Mitha provided critical advice and analysis on the merger, guiding the parties through issues such as the conversion of conventional financing products to Islamic financing. Mitha also supervised the firm’s work on the sukuk update by Masraf Al Rayan, one of the largest Islamic banks in Qatar, which set the stage for international issuances and required nuanced regulatory analysis. He has also retained key regional and local banking clients for the firm, including Qatar National Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, Qatar Rail, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and others.

Mostafa El Zeky - Shalakany Law Firm

Mostafa El Zeky is a senior associate with Shalakany Law Firm, which he joined in 2011. He has represented several consortia in renewable energy feed-in tariff projects and recently advised the ECAs and commercial banks in the project financing of the landmark 250MW West Bakr Wind Farm BOO project. His involvement covered negotiating all project and financing agreements and finding innovative solutions to bankability and regulatory matters. El Zeky has also acted for the IFC on the structuring of sovereign guarantees for the project financing of future power producing IPP projects. He has an impressive M&A record, recently acting as lead associate on United Energy Group’s acquisition of Kuwait Energy.

IN-HOUSE TEAMS AND FIRM AWARDS

In-house team of the year - investment banks

Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered Bank’s 30-strong MENA-focused legal team handled pioneering issuances across the region by issuers including the Islamic Development Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, QIIB, Riyad Bank, GFH Financial Group and QNB. It played a key role in the Emirates Strategic Investments Company sukuk, which offers the market a new option for raising capital and has important implications for ADGM dispute resolution enforcement in Abu Dhabi. The team continued to influence the development of regulatory frameworks - for crypto assets, economic substance regulations and ISDA rules - and market practice for sukuk offerings. The bank has set a benchmark in its Covid-19 response and sustainability policies.

In-house team of the year - corporate

Saudi Aramco

There is little doubt that Saudi Aramco had a transformational year. In a 12 month period, the in-house team of lawyers, led by general counsel Nabeel Mansour and boasting expertise in M&A, capital markets, project finance, corporate commercial, regulatory and antitrust, concluded the company’s IPO, closed its acquisition of SABIC and arranged the project financing for the Petronas-Saudi Aramco joint venture to fund Project RAPID. For the IPO alone, over the four years running up to the listing, the team implemented innovations that defined legal developments relating to regulations for hydrocarbons, capital markets, shareholders, company and corporate law, public concession agreements and tax rules. The acquisition of SABIC also contained many innovative structures.

Islamic bank of the year

Dubai Islamic Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank wins this year Islamic bank of the year. The bank won roles on some of the most interesting and high-profile capital markets transactions in the region. One example of this was acting as a joint lead manager on the Emirates Strategic Investments Company sukuk, which offers an innovative approach for a certain type of issuer in the region. One of the bank’s most notable pieces of work was its acquisition of Noor Bank. This deal, as well as its complexity and significance for DIB, will likely serve as a template for market practice in the sector in the UAE going forward.

Pro bono firm of the year

White & Case

White & Case’s pro bono highlight has been supporting the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC in developing national legal frameworks in response to Covid-19. In one innovative project, a team advised the IFRC on an entirely novel Islamic fund and impact sukuk to seed-finance the Red Cross’ global One WASH programme, a new initiative to fight cholera and other diarrheal diseases across the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Sukuk investors are repaid when donations, contingent upon pre-defined results, are reported. The innovative project sought to combine Islamic philanthropy and private capital with traditional donor financing and new private philanthropy. The work was crucial to the One Wash programme and has wider implications for the Islamic Development Bank (a partner in the project), Islamic social funding and the humanitarian sector.

Rising star law firm of the year

BonelliErede

Top tier Italian law firm BonelliErede launched its Middle East office in Dubai in 2017. The office is led by partner Catia Tomasetti, and Middle East managing partner Marco De Leo, supported by a team of local partners and associates. The team, in turn, is supported by the Milan office and covers work across the Middle East region. In one of its highlight deals, the team represented ENI in its acquisition of 20% equity interest in ADNOC Refining from ADNOC. It has also supported other key Italian clients including Prysmian Cables & Systems, Moncler and Luxottica on their corporate commercial activities.

NATIONAL LAW FIRMS OF THE YEAR

Bahrain

Zu’bi & Partners

Zu’bi & Partners advised on Bahrain’s defining transactions of 2019/2020, with Qays Zu’bi at the helm and partner Naveen Thakur in several prominent roles. In one of the notable regional bank mergers of the last 12 months, the firm advised Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) as the target in the first acquisition of an Islamic bank by a conventional bank (National Bank of Bahrain) in Bahrain under the Takeovers, Mergers and Acquisition Module. The team broke new ground in the capital markets, advising GFH Financial Group on its inaugural high yield sukuk, Bahrain Mumtalakat on one of the market’s very few tender offer transactions and Bahrain’s Ministry of Finance and National Economy on its first-ever GMTN and Trust Certificate programmes.

Egypt

Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy

Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy continued to innovate in its business approach, among other things creating 16 sector-focused groups that cut across its practice areas and helped drive the Matouk Bassiouny brand into new markets. The approach seems to have paid off. The firm helped Abu Dhabi’s national oil company (ADNOC) structure an innovative multi-jurisdictional joint venture (Fertiglobe) with Egypt’s OCI. The firm worked on several notable sector specific innovations, in education the firm worked on Thebes’s sale of Taaleem Group and a series of notable private equity and healthcare deals. The project finance team set new standards in renewables with the Lekela Egypt Wind Power BOO and advised on the financing of Egyptian National Railways’ (ENR) landmark procurement project with General Electric.

Iraq

Confluent Law Group

Confluent Law Group is this year’s Iraq firm of the year. The team balances international counsel pedigree with deep local law experience, and an understandable focus on energy. Two of its projects are shortlisted in the awards: Uber’s acquisition of Careem, acting as local Iraqi counsel to Uber, and the Maisan IPP, acting as local counsel to China Eximbank. The Maisan IPP, a landmark project for Iraq and in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, has multiple innovative or first-of-their-kind components, including a bespoke documentation framework and complex lender security and enforcement issues. These set a new benchmark for Iraqi projects.

Jordan

Ali Sharif Zu'bi Advocates & Legal Consultants

A long-established top tier Jordanian firm, Ali Sharif Zu'bi Advocates & Legal Consultants steered several innovative transactions to close during the research period. The firm advised Mediterrania Capital Partners on its acquisition of Medray in a deal that included three target companies in the medical scanning and diagnostics laboratories sector. The uncertain regulatory environment, complex licensing regime, restrictions on foreign (and non-medical) ownership and the gulf between the requirements of the shareholders (individual local doctors) and of a global PE house set a series of deal templates. In the renewables sector, the team advised Adenium Energy Capital on a simultaneous sale of four solar power companies, each to different buyers and impacting different international lenders.

Kuwait

ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners

Kuwait is proving a highly competitive market and ASAR stands out for its transactional expertise. The firm leant its weight to the wave of bank M&A across the region, advising Alghanim Trading Company on its the acquisition of a minority stake in Boursa Kuwait-listed Gulf Bank from the Kuwait Investment Authority. Among the novel legal aspects, the deal was structured as a block trade under newly enacted Capital Markets Authority and Boursa Kuwait rules. The firm closed deals for Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp), Kuwait Life Sciences Company and Global Investment House, Americana and banks including HSBC which all tackled new legal questions.

Lebanon

Abousleiman & Partners

Abousleiman & Partners is this year’s Lebanese firm of the year. The firm has been working closely with Banque du Liban to implement capital ratio rules and assisting various banks in their efforts to raise Tier 1 Capital. In one case, it advised the EBRD on Banque Audi SAL’s convertible share issue to meet regulatory capital requirements. The firm’s consequential banking work also included advising the Association of Banks and Lebanon’s large banks to address legal issues surrounding capital control measures. The firm has also developed practice in the insurance sector, in relation to swaps and derivatives rules and in public-private partnership projects.

Oman

Al Busaidy Mansoor Jamal & Co

Al Busaidy Mansoor Jamal & Co’s unrivalled depth and breadth secures the award this year. The firm advised on three shortlisted transactions as well as a slate of other legally ground-breaking deals. The firm acted as sole legal counsel to the issuer and underwriters on the Government of Oman’s local sukuk, which included a slew of firsts and novel Omani law issues. It helped structure the Rakiza Master Fund, a first of its kind infrastructure fund of the Government of Oman. The project required a full revision of all applicable Omani laws. A team also worked on the landmark privatisation of the Oman Electricity Transmission Company to State Grid International Development.

Qatar

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company wins this year’s Qatar firm of the year. The team handled several innovative projects of precedential value. Ahmed Jaafir and Frank Lucente led teams that advised both Careem and Uber on various aspects of Careem’s corporate reorganisation in Qatar and its sale to Uber. The duo also advised Barwa Bank on its merger with IBQ, the first ever merger between two banks in Qatar. Lucente worked with senior associate Zeina Al Nabih to advise Msheireb in relation to the creation of an entirely new city: Msheireb Downtown Doha. Alongside notable debt capital markets transactions, the firm’s work for Norway’s Jotun raised novel questions under Qatar’s new foreign investment law.

Saudi Arabia

Khoshaim & Associates

Khoshaim & Associates had an interesting year. The firm added two to its partner ranks, Leen Zaza and Nasser AlRubayyi, deepened its bench in capital markets and project finance, and moved quickly to adjust to the dynamics of the pandemic. Its transactional imprint on the legal landscape was second to none. The firm acted for Saudi Aramco on the regulatory questions and negotiations with the Saudi CMA, including working on corporate governance, bylaws and compliance, in relation to its IPO. It advised Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) on its acquisition by Saudi Aramco, where it was primarily tasked with negotiations with the CMA. The firm also advised Riyad Bank on its Tier 2 certificates.

UAE

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company once again clinches the UAE law firm of the year award. Away from the transactional arena the firm impresses with its consistent investment into innovation, tech and other future-looking developments. This ethos is reflected by its pioneering deal work. The team advised the sponsors on the Taweelah Reverse Osmosis Independent Water Plant Project, the lenders to the Fujairah F3 power project, the underwriters on GEMS Education’s high yield bond, Apparel Group on the joint-venture and sale to Gateway Fund and Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) on its acquisition of Noor Bank. All these transactions have set benchmarks for future deals.

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