BLP boosts Abu Dhabi office with hire of two new partners

High profile Real Estate lawyers David Nunn and Mohammed Kamal  to join the firm’s growing MENA presence

International law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) today announced that two of the Gulf’s most highly regarded real estate lawyers are joining its growing Abu Dhabi-based Middle East and North Africa (MENA) office, further enhancing the office’s distinctive focus on the built environment.

David Nunn, one of the best known lawyers in the UAE real estate market, is joining the firm in the newly created position of Head of Real Estate for MENA. For almost five years, he has headed up the Simmons & Simmons’ regional real estate team from Simmons’ Abu Dhabi office and before that spent eight years as a partner in its London office. He has worked on many of the MENA region’s largest and most complex real estate developments, advised on local real estate and planning laws and helped establish a range of complex finance arrangements, real estate funds, joint ventures and company structures.

Mohammed Kamal is recognised as one of the leading real estate lawyers in the region and is currently the Head of Real Estate for the Middle East at Hogan Lovells, having joined them from local firm Al Tamimi, where he spent five years and was a partner. Before his move to the region he was a partner at a real estate firm in the UK. Mohammed has been involved with some of the highest profile real estate transactions and projects in the region and acts for several UAE and Qatari-based institutions and sovereign wealth funds, advising them on major cross-border investments in the UK and across the MENA region.

These hires significantly enhance BLP’s capabilities in the Middle East, as well as the firm’s growing reputation as one of MENA’s leading advisors on issues relating to the built environment, a focus that distinguishes it from other international firms in the region. As well as office head John Sipling and construction partner Caroline Pope, the firm has six other lawyers based permanently in Abu Dhabi – including specialists in construction, hotels, planning, projects and infrastructure and tax – along with more than a dozen other partners who spend a significant proportion of their time in the region.

The success of the Abu Dhabi office, which opened in 2009, reflects the strength of BLP’s reputation as the leading real estate firm in the UK. With over 60 partners and nearly 300 lawyers in its dedicated UK team, the firm is ranked as the premier firm for all aspects of commercial property by the major industry directories. The Abu Dhabi team is able to draw on this wealth of expertise in advising clients in the MENA region, ensuring they receive the highest quality advice in relation to local issues as well as their investments overseas.

BLP’s growth in Abu Dhabi follows announcements about similar success in its other offices around the world. The firm recently recruited Alistair Duffield, who will head the Singapore office and joins with five other lawyers, doubling the size of the firm’s South East Asia presence, and in the first half of the financial year, its Moscow office, Goltsblat BLP, reported a 60% increase in fee income compared to same period in 2009/10.

The London office has also seen significant recruitment in key areas, with notable recent hires that include James Knox, one of the UK’s most highly regarded real estate lawyers, and Michael Metliss, the former head of SJ Berwin’s Property Disputes team. Others include: Lucy Oddy, a structured finance expert from Clifford Chance; Marion Bloodworth and Lisa Mayhew, who both joined the firm’s Employment practice; and Andrew Hockley, a leading competition specialist who joined from an in-house role at BP. In 2011 recruits have already included Daren Allen, former head of Financial Services at DLA Piper, and Jacob Ghanty, a financial services partner from Pinsent Mason.

John Sipling, BLP’s regional head for MENA, said: “Our focus is on providing clients across the Middle East and North Africa with the highest quality advice on all issues that relate to the built environment. The recruitment of two of the region’s most highly regarded lawyers for real estate underlines the firm’s commitment to delivering this.”

David Nunn said: “BLP’s reputation in the UK real estate sector is second to none and it has an increasingly international profile. I am looking forward to working with many of the industry’s leading figures. Our aim is to build a real estate practice, based in the Abu Dhabi office, that has a similar leading position in the MENA region.”

Robert MacGregor, BLP’s Head of Real Estate, said: “The Real Estate market is increasingly global and the Gulf remains a highly influential source of capital. David and Mohammed both bring with them a wealth of knowledge and contacts across the region, as well as reputations for delivering the high quality legal advice our clients have come to expect.”

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