Walkers, one of Cayman’s largest commercial law firms specializing in corporate and international finance law, has joined operations with Crills Advocates.
The Jersey-based provider of institutional offshore and domestic legal services will now operate under the Walkers name.
The 1 July merger adds 47 staff to the Walkers group, with five partners, and 23 lawyers in total.
Jersey is now home to Walkers’ sixth office, complementing existing Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong, and London locations with some 400 staff worldwide. Cayman-based Walkers SPV, wholly owned by Walkers, also has a branch office in Tokyo.
Walkers is already a leading hedge fund and private equity funds practice in the Cayman Islands.
Grant Stein, Walkers’ Global Managing Partner, said the decision to enter the Jersey market came about from a need to better serve the firm’s UK and European clients, and to meet the challenge of offering new services.
‘Jersey is a key jurisdiction for many structured finance products and investment funds promoted in Europe,’ he said.
“As a result, Jersey is a market which complements our Cayman Islands’ structured finance practice and market-leading hedge funds practice, and should be a core focus for Walkers,” he said.
Jersey has recently experienced marked growth in both the number of funds serviced and the value of assets they hold, including a 26 per cent growth in the net asset value of funds under administration.
Jersey’s reputation as a major European offshore financial centre is growing. At the recent CIBA conference, a number of experts agreed that it is one of Cayman’s major competitors.
One clear message that emerged was the recommendation that Cayman financial institutions forge alliances and partnerships with Jersey-based firms in order to build their offshore capabilities and strengthen their market presence.
The move is all the more timely as the Jersey Financial Services Commission has been leading efforts to extend Jersey’s presence in the Middle East and Asia, two jurisdictions in which Walkers already has a strong and established presence.
Crills Senior Partner Peter Harris approved the merger. ‘The Lawyer credited Walkers with leading the strategic reshaping of the offshore market,’ he said.
‘The combination of the two firms opens enormous opportunities for clients to take advantage of a broader range of products and services and work with one trusted partner virtually anywhere in the world.’
Jersey as a jurisdiction is a key entry point for companies seeking foreign investments. A Jersey company can be established as a listing vehicle on the Alternative Investment Market, the London Stock Exchange’s global market for smaller and growing companies.
The Jersey merger comes after a year of intense growth efforts by Walkers, including the launch of the first fully-transactional office for an offshore law firm in Dubai, a doubling in the size of its London office, and further development of both its BVI and Hong Kong branches.
Walkers expects to add more staff to the Jersey office over the next year.