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Berwin Leighton Paisner wins GIB legal work

London-based law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has been appointed by Gulf International Bank (UK) Limited (GIB) as the sole UK legal adviser for its investment fund business.

The brief follows a wide-ranging beauty parade organised and coordinated by Dominic Bacon, Head of Legal and compliance at GIB and Aftab Hussain, Fund Product Manager. 

BLP has, at the same time, been appointed to GIB's general legal panel.

It is anticipated that BLP will also be appointed as the UK lawyers to the five Cayman incorporated hedge funds and five Dublin incorporated CIS funds for which GIB is the investment manager and which trade as the "Falcon Funds".

The appointment of BLP by Gulf International Bank (UK) Limited represents an important milestone for the hedge funds practice. BLP's Head of Corporate Finance, David Collins, and hedge funds partner and dual US/UK qualified lawyer imothy Spangler, led the pitch team. The team included funds partner David Robins and assistants Daniel Cohn and Victoria Sawyer.

The firm was also able to offer seamless US legal advice through Timothy Spangler and also the support of its New York alliance partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, which has an extensive investment funds and financial services regulatory practice.

David Collins said:  "This represents a significant milestone in our strategy to expand the Funds practice across the various asset classes that make up the alternative investment market.  We have, over the years, built up a significant share of the real estate funds market, and Timothy's recruitment last year from Latham & Watkins was key to our objective of strengthening our practice in the specialist hedge funds arena. Winning the business of a well respected investment manager such as GIB vindicates our approach".

Timothy Spangler added:  "This appointment is a clear validation of the BLP fund's group strategy.  We have for some time felt that investment managers are not particularly well served and we saw a clear opportunity to become a significant player in the hedge funds market, building upon the expertise and profile of GIB and the experience we have gained structuring funds in other asset classes.

GIB's Head of Legal and Compliance, Dominic Bacon said:  "After a long and thorough process, I am delighted with the outcome.  It was a difficult decision to  make as, once one looks outside the obvious choices, there are a number of excellent individuals setting up in this area.  I was however looking for a firm which would not only be able to give first class technical advice but who could also provide it in a practical manner - in particular they had to be able to converse not  only with the legal department but also with the fund managers."

He said: "In addition, it was important that they were willing to provide a personalised service as there are a number of firms who profess experience in this area but in reality all they do is re-hash the last set of documents that they used. It was, therefore, decided to appoint BLP even though, as a firm, they are not as well known in the area as some of the others who pitched for the work".

"One of BLP's first tasks will be look afresh at our documents so that, going forward they really understand our business and strategy and so will be able to add value to the commercial process, something that the lawyers have failed to grasp in the past."

Aftab Hussain, Fund Product Manager at GIB added:  "BLP will be providing an all round service and we are very much looking forward to working closely with them, both in relation to our existing portfolio of funds as well as the various new fund/fund of fund launches which we are planning later this year and early next."

Background Note: Berwin Leighton Paisner is a top 15 City law firm with offices in London and Brussels and alliance offices in New York, Paris, Milan and Rome.  BLP's funds practice occupies a market leading position in the UK legal real estate funds market, acting for institutional clients including Norwich Union, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, UBS Phillips & Drew Fund Management, MWB & Capital & Regional. 

Gulf International Bank (UK) Limited is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.  GIB acts as investment manager for a number of alternative and traditional investment products that span the risk/return spectrum, from dedicated cash management portfolios to leveraged equity arbitrage funds including the award winning Falcon Relative Value Fund.  GIB has assets under management in excess of USD 8bn.

Dominic Bacon who heads up GIB's Legal and Compliance Departments joined GIB in March 2002: previously he had headed up Standard Chartered Bank's North and South American Legal and Compliance Departments.  Aftab Hussain joined GIB in September 2003 from Mellon Global Alternative Investments Limited where he was Chief Operating Officer.

In addition to Berwin Leighton Paisner, GIB's UK legal panel comprises Slaughter and May, Allen and Overy, Barlow, Lyde & Gilbert, Norton Rose, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Coudert Brothers.

Copyright hedgeweek 2003



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