Global offshore law firm Walkers' London office has doubled in size in the past year, due to an increase in work from the British Virgin Islands.
Continued growth in funds and corporate finance work from the Cayman Islands has also contributed to the firm's London expansion.
"The BVI recently surpassed Bermuda to be the number two domicile for hedge funds, second only to the Cayman Islands," says Ann Nealon, a Partner in Walkers' London office. "Our global BVI practice is seeing increased levels of activity in both funds and structured finance from Asia and Eastern Europe."
Organizations in the BVI are seeing this growth, too. Folio Administrators, a BVI-based hedge fund administrator saw 70 per cent growth in the past year, with USD 2.55 billion in assets under administration currently. Changes to the BVI's fund legislation and its recent de-listing by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have added to its position as a jurisdiction of choice. There are currently more than 2,200 private and professional funds and 200 public (retail) funds recognized and registered in BVI, worth an estimated USD 60 billion.
Walkers' expansion in London parallels this growth trend. The firm's London office has doubled in size over the past year with last month's addition of Stephen Pollard. Christopher Hall, Jonathan Heaney, Julie McKay, and Catherine Ross also joined the Firm in the past year, bringing the London office to nine lawyers. While the firm's work is still largely Cayman law, four of the London attorneys are licensed to practise BVI law as well, which means that Walkers is well-positioned to serve its clients looking to structure work in either or both jurisdictions.
"The growth of the London office illustrates Walkers' ongoing commitment to client service," says Heidi de Vries, Managing Partner of the Walkers BVI office. "In addition to the strong teams in the BVI, Cayman, Dubai and Hong Kong, our European clients can speak to someone in their time zone at our London office. Having BVI lawyers both in London and on the ground in the BVI means our clients get service in real-time wherever and whenever they need it."
The growth in London comes off a record year for Walkers. More attorneys were added to all of the firm's offices worldwide, including the BVI and Hong Kong and Walkers formed more exempted limited partnerships than any other firm in the Cayman Islands, establishing the firm as the leading Cayman private equity practice.
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