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Norton Rose Advises Cooper Pharma on Contract Agreement

Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Cooper Pharma on its granted license with United PPE to develop and manufacture COVID-19 diagnostic tests using Sherlock’s CRISPR technology. The contract has been granted under The 221b Foundation, a non-profit organisation established by Sherlock Biosciences to address the global COVID-19 pandemic while promoting diverse representation in STEM.

CRISPR technology called SHERLOCK and the diagnostic platform can achieve single molecule detection of nucleic acid targets. SHERLOCK utilises CRISPR activity for “smart amplicon detection” and can be adapted for use with existing diagnostic instruments, improving time to result due to its significant multiplexing capacity.

When a specific sequence of DNA or RNA is present, a CRISPR enzyme is activated and, much like a pair of scissors, starts cutting nearby genetic material, releasing a fluorescent signal that indicates a positive result.

Morocco-based Cooper Pharma is a leading laboratory of the national pharmaceutical industry, which has supported health professionals and aims to increase access to medicines.

Adjou Ait Ben Idir, Dubai-based corporate partner who led on the deal, commented: “This contract will enable increased access to COVID-19 testing in Asia and the Middle East. The design will be able to cover new and emerging variants, which remains of the upmost importance as we navigate through the pandemic.”

The Norton Rose Fulbright Dubai team also included senior associate Zaid Al-Rizzo and counsel Jonathan Burton.

New Law Firm Partner Hire for Dubai Corporate Division

Norton Rose Fulbright law firm has strengthened its corporate offering in the Middle East with the hire of new partner Kayaan Unwalla.

The Middle East is a geopolitical term that commonly refers to the region spanning the Levant, Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, Egypt, Iran and Iraq. The term came into widespread usage as a replacement of the term Near East beginning in the early 20th century.

Kayaan joins from DWF, where he was partner and head of corporate. He advises clients on matters including cross-border transactional mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, government contracts, commercial agreements and regulatory advice within the technology, defence, security, and industrial sectors.

Kayaan will join existing corporate partner Adjou Ait Ben Idir, who heads up Norton Rose Fulbright’s corporate/ mergers and acquisitions practice in Dubai, and is recognised for her experience in advising on complex local and international mergers and acquisitions, privatisations, private placement and joint ventures in various sectors including energy, financial institutions and real estate.

She also heads up the firm’s Cyber Response Team in the Middle East and has a wealth of experience in cybersecurity related crisis management and corporate governance matters.

Deirdre Walker, head of Middle East at Norton Rose Fulbright, comments: “We welcome Kayaan to the team. Recent changes to legislation and regulation across the United Arab Emirates – including the overhaul of the foreign direct investment regime in the country – make going into business in the United Arab Emirates much easier for international investors who were previously excluded from the region.

This shift is likely to increase confidence in the business environment and we may consequently see an uptick in corporate and mergers and acquisitions activity in the region. As such, Kayaan, Adjou and their teams of associates are well-placed to advise clients that are looking to capitalise on new opportunities that have arisen.”

Norton Rose Fulbright is an international law firm. It is the second largest law firm in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world, by both lawyers and revenue. In 2017/18, Norton Rose Fulbright had total revenue of US$2.1 billion.

Pinsent Masons grows its Financial Services offering in Dubai

Multinational law firm, Pinsent Masons, has appointed Banking & Finance partner Matthew Escritt to lead the firm’s Banking & Finance practice in the Middle East, based in Dubai.

Matthew joins from Norton Rose Fulbright, where he has been for the past 19 years, with the past eight spent as partner in the banking and finance team. During this time he has worked in London, Moscow, Bahrain, Singapore and Dubai.

Matthew is a banking and finance specialist, advising on all areas of structured cross border finance, including syndicated lending acquisition, development finance, asset finance, vendor finance, and structured trade and commodity finance. He is familiar with both conventional and Islamic finance funding structures. He also advises on financial restructuring and insolvency mandates. Based in Dubai, he will be leading the Banking & Finance practice in the Middle East (within the Finance & Projects group) and will focus primarily on clients in the Financial Services sector.

Commenting on Matthew’s appointment, Michael Watson, head of the Finance & Projects group at Pinsent Masons said: “Matthew’s reputation precedes him and we look forward to welcoming him as head of our banking and finance practice in Dubai. His experience and expertise will greatly strengthen the practice, enabling them to deepen relationships with existing clients as well as developing new ones. His appointment is another fantastic addition to our growing international capabilities.”

Alexis Roberts, head of the Financial Services sector at Pinsent Masons added: “Matthew’s appointment is a pivotal one in increasing our financing bench strength and will enable us to better support our clients within the Financial Services sector. His breadth of experience and the clients that he’s worked with will allow us to grow our offering across the sector. We greatly look forward to him joining the team.”

Matthew Escritt, head of Banking and Finance in the Middle East added: “I am excited to have been given the opportunity to lead Pinsent Masons’ Banking & Finance practice in the region and to be part of an international team tasked with growing a strategically important practice area to complement the firm’s existing strengths. It will also ensure that we are able to provide vital, full-service support to our clients as they navigate today’s challenging business environment. Given the diverse talents of the individuals involved and the well-known strengths of the existing practice I am confident that we are well placed to achieve our goals.”

Adding to the growing multinational Finance & Projects group, Matthew’s appointment follows that of Anthony Morton in Frankfurt, James Harris in Asia, Jim Hunwick in Sydney and Eran Chivka in Paris.

Kirkland Advises Sterling Group’s $2 Billion Oversubscribed Fund V

Kirkland & Ellis counselled The Sterling Group, an operationally focused middle market private equity firm, on the closing of Sterling Group Partners V, LP (together with its parallel fund, “Fund V”). Fund V was oversubscribed and closed at its $2 billion hard cap. The majority of Fund V’s capital was committed by returning investors. In addition, The Sterling Group, welcomed several new investors that expanded the firm’s investor base in the United States, the Middle East and Asia.

Read the company press release from Sterling Group

The Kirkland team was led by investment funds partners Matt Nadworny and Brian Delaney and associates Christine Wilson, Samara Sanderson, Nathan Wolcott, Nathan Judd and Josh Wilson; tax partner Stephen Butler and associate Victoria Chang; and employee benefits partner Liz Dyer.

Eversheds Sutherland strengthen projects offering in the Middle East

Eversheds Sutherland has appointed project finance lawyer, Ashley Halewood, as a partner in its Projects team in Dubai. Ashley joins the firm from Linklaters’ Energy & Infrastructure team in Dubai.

With nine years’ experience working in the Middle East, Ashley has advised on a number of high profile transactions in the infrastructure, renewables, oil & gas, petrochemicals and power and water (IWP, IWPP and ISTP) sectors across the MENA region.

He has represented sponsors, developers, commercial lenders, Islamic finance institutions, ECAs and multilateral agencies, in all aspects of project financing, including bids, acquisitions and disposals.

Ashley is named as a ‘Rising Star’ by The Legal 500 in the Infrastructure and Projects (including Project Finance) sector.

Keri Rees, Co-Head of Global Company Commercial, Eversheds Sutherland said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Ashley. His appointment builds on our existing offering in the Middle East, enhancing the capability we already offer to our clients through the technical excellence and wealth of experience that he brings. Whilst Middle East focused, Ashley is part of a global team and it’s great to see this develop with Ashley already connected with colleagues in London, Paris, Germany and Asia in particular. Despite these challenging times, having Ashley on board reaffirms our ongoing long term commitment to meeting the needs of our clients and the increasing demand for service excellence.”

Nadim Kayyali, Regional Head of Eversheds Sutherland’s Corporate and Commercial team in the Middle East commented: “Ashley is a superb lawyer, with a proven track record in the region and his appointment reflects the investment in talent that the firm has made in the Middle East over the past couple of years. He brings with him a wealth of technical experience and client relationships which will develop further our existing projects teams in Dubai and across the region in Tunisia, Qatar, Jordan, UAE and KSA. We are committed to the growth of our practice in the Middle East, and supporting the strategic growth and strength of our global projects offering, and it is my pleasure to welcome Ashley to our team.”

Ashley Halewood commented: “I am delighted to be joining such a highly reputable team, building on what is already a strong offering in the Middle East, and a great platform from which to grow and strengthen my relationships with clients. It’s an interesting time to be joining Eversheds Sutherland amid our clients’ obvious concerns around COVID-19 and its impact on, amongst other things, the energy and infrastructure sectors. I look forward to working as part of the team to help find innovative solutions to our clients’ challenges and opportunities.”

Tax Period Extended for Excise Tax Registrants

In an effort to support Excise Tax Registrants during the difficult circumstances caused by COVID-19, the Federal Tax Authority has decided to extend the tax period for businesses registered for Excise Tax, which commenced on 1/3/2020 for one month.

The tax period shall now respectively cover the months of March 2020 and April 2020, allowing registered businesses sufficient time to fulfil their tax obligations.

BSA traces its roots to 2001 when it was first founded in Dubai, with the primary mission of offering legal services that combine comprehensive knowledge of local law with a modernised and progressive approach to legal practice.

Today, following the joining of Senior Partner Dr Ahmad Bin Hezeem, former Director General of Dubai Courts, and the opening of further offices across the Middle East and now France, we have consolidated our excellence-driven regional reach.

Our access to key local authorities and our solid legal expertise across a broad spectrum of industries sets us apart as one of the few Dubai headquartered legal practices that have exceeded their original boundaries.

Excise Tax Registrants must fulfil the following obligations:

  • file two separate tax returns, one for March 2020 and one for April 2020, by no later than Sunday, May 17, 2020; and
    ensure that the Federal Tax Authority has received the tax payable for the tax periods as reported in the March 2020 and April 2020 tax returns by no later than Sunday, May 17, 2020.

Our expert tax lawyers are available to assist with this and all your tax needs during these difficult times.

There is no registration threshold for Excise Tax, therefore any person who has the intention to be involved in import or produce excise goods or wish to operate a tax warehouse must register as an excise taxable person.

Our lawyers come from diverse backgrounds with the majority dual-qualified in both regional and multinational jurisdictions and who speak Arabic, English and French fluently.

Our team stays abreast of regional and international legal developments and tailors the firm’s advisory approach to our clients’ respective industry sector needs.