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|Allen & Overy is set to become the first Magic Circle firm with an African presence when it opens an office in Casablanca later this year.
The firm aims to target Morocco’s growing status as a magnet for foreign direct investment and sees huge potential in the energy, infrastructure and mining sectors. A&O has hired two local partners, Hicham Naciri and Yassir Ghorbal, in Casablanca from Naciri & Associés, an affiliate office of French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel.
The new office will officially open in September with the arrival of Ghorbal, a corporate partner. It will be joined later in the year by Naciri, who will lead the operation, with up to 25 lawyers anticipated to join by 2012, the firm said in a statement.
Allen & Overy global managing partner Wim Dejonghe said: “Morocco is rapidly establishing itself as a key hub for international companies and investors looking to build a presence in Africa. It also has strong trade links with other markets in our network, particularly France, the Middle East and Spain, with growing interest from China, India and Japan.”
Tim Scales, partner in the Paris office and head of the firm’s Africa desk, added: “Morocco is one of the leading destinations for foreign direct investment in Africa and was one of the few to see an increase in 2010. We see huge opportunities in the region, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and mining sectors.”
A&O is one of several large international law firms, mostly from Europe, that have either opened offices in Morocco or announced an intention to do so.
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