Morgan Lewis today announced that it plans to open an office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the additions of Ayman A. Khaleq—a leading structured finance and debt capital markets lawyer in the Middle East region who has a particular knowledge of Islamic finance—and Jim Knight—a corporate and transactional lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in energy and other industries. They are joined by London-based energy transactions partner Lewis Jones, whose fluency in the development and financing of international energy projects under English law solidifies the trio’s top-shelf service for clients with interests in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
For Morgan Lewis, the additions and planned office will provide on-the-ground, specialized services in this global business hub and in nearby emerging markets that are critical for clients across all major industries. All three lawyers join the firm from Vinson & Elkins. Mssrs. Khaleq and Knight will be resident in Dubai. Mr. Jones is based in London but will spend significant time in Dubai, having recently spent over four years resident in the United Arab Emirates. Until the Dubai office opens its doors, Mr. Khaleq will spend time in the firm’s London office and Mr. Knight in the Houston office. Upon the opening of the Dubai office, Morgan Lewis will have 25 offices worldwide and more than 1,400 lawyers.
“The scale of deal, project, development, and investment opportunities that our clients entertain in the Middle East is vast—and we’ve done well to meet those needs, utilizing our global network of support,” said Firm Chair Francis M. Milone. “But we’ve been looking for the right, best-in-class talent to augment our services, and Ayman, Jim and Lewis are it.”
The planned Dubai office opening follows roughly a year on the heels of the firm’s office openings in Moscow and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Working closely with the firm’s full-service London office, and with the rest of the firm’s talent across Europe, Asia, and the United States, the Dubai team will not only provide guidance in energy and infrastructure transactions, debt capital markets, structured finance, private equity funds, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, and Islamic finance, but also ensure clients have access to Morgan Lewis’s core litigation, labor and employment, intellectual property, and corporate strategy services.
“Morgan Lewis offers us and our clients a platform that we could not find with any other firm. The firm’s diverse set of practices and broad geographic footprint—complete with a strong London office, full-scale capabilities in Europe and a unique ability to provide service in Africa and other key emerging markets—will allow us to serve our clients from virtually any location worldwide,” noted Mr. Khaleq.
Ayman A. Khaleq, recently appointed by the International Monetary Fund as an expert in the field of debt capital markets, focuses his practice on structured finance and debt capital markets transactions, with an emphasis on the structuring and documentation of Islamic finance and investment products. He also advises on private equity and real estate funds, the formation of innovative Shari’a-compliant infrastructure, and structured products for international clients. He has 15 years of experience advising foreign investors on doing business in the Middle East and regional governments on privatization and deregulation matters, and he has worked with clients in a wide range of industries, including energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, media, technology, and healthcare. Mr. Khaleq is recognized by Chambers Global and IFLR in areas including banking and finance, capital markets, and investment funds in the UAE, as well as regionally.
Jim Knight has more than 20 years of experience in the United States and the Middle East advising companies and private equity investors in acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, and strategic investments across a broad range of industries, including oil and gas, oilfield services, technology, and healthcare. He also represents issuers and underwriters in public and private debt and equity offerings and counsels clients on securities law matters, corporate governance, and other general corporate matters. Mr. Knight is recognized by Chambers Global for corporate/commercial law, UAE.
Lewis Jones concentrates his practice on the development and financing of energy and infrastructure projects with a particular focus on emerging markets. He serves clients including sponsors, lenders, governments, and private equity investors. He also advises clients on a broad range of finance transactions including upstream, trade, acquisition and other structured financings. In addition, Mr. Jones has advised on corporate and commercial matters, including major share and asset acquisitions and disposals, corporate reorganizations and a wide range of commercial contracts. Mr. Jones is consistently ranked in Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Energy and Natural Resources Lawyers.
Mssrs. Khaleq, Knight, and Jones join a Business and Finance team with more than 300 transactional lawyers who focus on a wide variety of areas, including finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and capital markets. Morgan Lewis is a leading provider of legal services in the global energy industry, with extensive experience advising on some of the world’s most complex and significant energy transactions. The firm’s attorneys are well versed in cross-border transactions, as well as a wide range of energy and energy-related industry sectors. They have considerable experience managing and negotiating complex transactions in electric power; upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas; LNG; gas transportation; power transmission; and renewable energy projects.