CDP looks to Moscow

It’s not very often that caviar and vodka aficionados and their Russophile comrades are given an opportunity to embrace their inner Russian. As luck would have it, the reception for the new Conyers Dill & Pearman Moscow office was all that, and more.

CDP head of marketing and business development Ross Weber, along with Caroline O’Hare, head of the Moscow office joined their Cayman-based colleagues on 6 March in celebrating the move at the CDP offices in Boundary Hall.

‘Conyers Dill & Pearman has a reputation as being a bit of a pioneer. Aside from being the first offshore law firm to set foot outside of the home jurisdiction, opening up an office in Guernsey in 1982, the firm was also first to market in Singapore in 2001 and is looking for a similar advantage in Moscow,’ Mr. Weber said.

He said the Moscow office will provide advice on the laws of Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands as they pertain to corporate and commercial work, particularly transactions that are outward investment by Russian companies, such as IPOs, and subsequent public offerings by Russian companies.

The office will also deal with acquisition of foreign assets and businesses by Russian companies, as well as inward investment by western businesses in Russia by way of acquisition of Russian businesses, and bank financing transactions by western banks of Russian businesses.

‘I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,’ said Ms O’Hare.

Formerly a partner at Clifford Chance specializing in banking and international finance, Ms O’Hare has racked up international experience in various parts of the globe, from the Middle East to Bermuda. She’s confident the move to Moscow is going to be worth the many challenges working in this new market will bring.

‘We will be starting out small but the offshore law community is gaining more of a presence in Moscow, and there are already quite a few international law firms that have opened offices there. It’s an exciting time,’ she said.

Mr. Weber said the move makes sense despite some perceptions that Russia is a risky emerging market.

‘Many markets that were once described as ’emerging’ have now clearly emerged, and their big corporations are trading and seeking to do business globally. One of these markets is Russia,’ he said.

‘A great deal of the Russian wealth has been generated by the soaring prices of oil and other natural resources like nickel and aluminium. This has helped produce a generation of wealthy Russian business titans and corporations with assets to invest and projects to finance.’

He remarked that despite the occasional ripple, the political environment in Russia has continued to stabilise.

‘This stability has been mirrored with a staggering increase in GDP. Between 2002 and 2006, GDP almost trebled from $345 billion to $984 billion. The 2007 estimate, according to the CIA’s website, is nearly $2.1 trillion,’ he said.

He also observed that CDP will be able to capitalize on a trend finding wealthy Russians placing their assets in jurisdictions with more rule of law, and where they are not subject to expropriation by the state.

‘Most likely due to geographic proximity as well as a perceived lighter regulatory touch (relative to Moscow or New York), London as a locale and English common law as the governing law have become the choice for Russian corporate finance deals,’ he said.

‘This is advantageous for the offshore jurisdictions that use English Common law as their basis such as Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.’