We believe that our investment funds group in Cayman has made great strides in the last few years. We’ve recruited some excellent people and have also been joined by some outstanding lateral hires,” comments Neal Lomax (pictured), managing partner of Mourant Ozannes’ Cayman Islands Office and co-head of its investment funds practice.
Mourant Ozannes is the largest offshore law firm in Jersey and Guernsey, and is the market leader in both jurisdictions. Last year saw the firm open up offices in Hong Kong and BVI, and move into state of the art new premises at the Camana Bay development in Cayman.
“The intention has always been to replicate that quality of our offering in the Channel Islands in Cayman, and I think we’ve made very good progress towards achieving that goal,” says Lomax.
“To grab market share we have focused intensely on the client service aspect of the business. A lot of clients and onshore counsel have been looking for an alternative Cayman law firm to deal with, so that’s been good for us,” adds James Wauchope, co-head of the investment funds practice with Lomax.
Currently, the Cayman office boasts a team of approximately 70 staff. Mourant Ozannes is one of the largest offshore law firms with approximately 450 staff.
“A key differentiator for Mourant Ozannes is the level of focus we bring to client service.” The legal advice provided, says Lomax, is both “pragmatic and commercial. Partner accessibility and involvement helps set us apart from some of our competitors.”
This mindset applies to funds of all shapes and sizes, from start-ups through to large investment managers. No matter who the client, they all benefit from partner accessibility and oversight.
“Our partners don’t disappear after the initial engagement. We remain actively involved. Our partners have extensive experience in setting up Cayman hedge funds. That translates into being able to get to the nub of issues right away. And it’s something our clients really appreciate.”
The Mourant Ozannes’ Cayman Islands investment funds practice is now regarded by an increasing number of onshore counsel as one of the highest quality offerings in the Cayman Islands, and by clients as a trusted and dependable extension of their own legal and compliance teams.
Mourant Ozannes has continued to increase US market share over the past year. Wauchope comments: “We are working on a number of fund launches for new hedge fund managers at the moment so the market seems quite positive. Numbers are certainly up on what they were 18 months ago.” Lomax agrees that compared to a year ago, the capital raising opportunities for start-ups seems to have improved.
Wauchope says that Cayman remains the domicile of choice for funds set up for Hong Kong based managers. “Cayman is also a popular jurisdiction for investors in the Middle East and Latin America. Last year, for example, we set up a number of funds for Brazilian investors both for large institutional managers and for smaller managers.”
To further underscore the firm’s growing reputation in the Cayman Islands, Mourant Ozannes was a platinum sponsor with Deutsche Bank AG and Paladyne at the inaugural Cayman Alternative Investment Summit held in November 2012. Lomax chaired the second day of the Summit and Wauchope also spoke in addition to keynote speakers that included former US president George W. Bush and Sir Richard Branson.