SJB set to launch in Riyadh as real estate team re-jigged ahead of merger

SJ Berwin is set to open an office in Riyadh next year, after its merger with King & Wood Mallesons goes live later this week.

The firm will launch in Saudi Arabia via an association with an undisclosed local firm, with a base expected to open in the first quarter of next year.

The office, which will sit alongside the firm’s outpost in Dubai, will be part of legacy SJ Berwin’s European Swiss Verein arm, pending local regulatory and licencing approval.

Managing partner Rob Day (pictured) said: “Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and most buoyant markets in the GCC with a vast array of projects being undertaken at the moment. There are strong trade connections with Europe and Asia.

“Given the growth we are seeing with the Middle East and with the benefit of our combination with King & Wood Mallesons, this is the logical next step to develop our Middle East practice.”

The firm hired associate and Saudi Arabian law specialist Majed Al-Marshad in 2011 from Ashurst. It is understood that he is playing a key role in overseeing the tie-up.

Meanwhile, SJ Berwin has shaken up its real estate team as the merger’s go-live date nears.

Partner William Boss has been appointed co-head of the London real estate group alongside incumbent Simon Ricketts.

International head of real estate Bryan Pickup will continue in his role, while City-based partner Ed Page and Madrid-based partner Enrique Isla have been appointed as co-heads of the international real estate sector group.

SJ Berwin’s merger with Asia-Pacific giant King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) is set to go live from 1 November this year, creating a firm with revenues of around $1bn (£618m).

The SJ Berwin name will disappear following a transitional period, although the UK firm’s marquee funds practice will continue to lean on the brand, while its European and Middle East offices will use the King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin moniker.