Clifford Chance Eyes Morocco Launch as Part of Expansion

Clifford Chance (CC) is set to open its first office in Africa, with the Magic Circle firm in the early stages of planning a launch on the ground in Morocco.

The office, for which the firm has yet to seek regulatory approval, is expected to focus on infrastructure and the energy and mining sector, as well as targeting other major international corporates doing business in the region. It is understood the firm plans to relocate at least one Paris partner to the new office.

CC currently advises in Africa through its global Africa group, which is headed up by energy partners Jeremy Connick in London and Anthony Giustini in Paris, but does not have anyone on the ground in the region.

CC declined to comment on the planned launch but said it has advised in Africa for 30 years, with recent work including advising Actis as it acquired a stake in Egypt’s Commercial International Bank and advising Standard Bank on its investment in and strategic alliance with Russia’s Troika Dialog.

The planned Morocco launch is the latest in a series of international efforts by CC, which is also planning to open in South Korea when the country allows international law firms to set up in the country later this year. It will also expand into Australia next month (May 1) when its merger with Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe and Chang Pistilli & Simmons goes live.

One CC partner said: “We are looking at the way the world is developing and where the work is going to be. What you see is CC shifting a little bit, making selective additions where we see opportunities. It can be viewed as a slight rebalancing and is based on what our clients are doing.”

CC’s Morocco plans come after Eversheds also announced plans to launch in Casablanca last month.