Covington & Burling is poised to open offices in Dubai and Johannesburg after hiring a four-partner team from Chadbourne & Parke ahead of the latter’s planned combination with Norton Rose Fulbright.

The partners leaving Chadbourne will bring a sizeable group with them—somewhere around 25 associates and counsel—from the firm’s offices in Dubai, Johannesburg and London. Three of those Chadbourne partners will launch offices in Dubai and Johannesburg for Covington.

Chadbourne’s Dubai office head Jack Greenwald and project finance partner Richard Keenan will open an office in the emirate for Covington, while Chadbourne project finance partner Ben Donovan will set up shop for the firm in South Africa.

Donovan will split his time between Johannesburg and London, where Covington has also hired Chadbourne project finance partner Agnieszka Klich and former Allen & Overy project finance partner David Miles, who left the Magic Circle firm late last year and in recent months has served as a consultant to flexible lawyer service Peerpoint.

All five new partners are expected to start at Covington in the next few weeks. In a statement, Covington chair Timothy Hester said that his firm has “been focused on building our project finance capabilities for many years, and these opportunities fit very well with that strategy.”

Hester, elected Covington’s leader a decade ago and re-elected to a new term in 2015, noted that the firm’s Chadbourne recruits in Dubai and Johannesburg will create a bridge between Covington’s outposts in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Covington, which is based in Washington, D.C., currently has 10 offices around the world, including five in the U.S. That brick-and-mortar number will soon expand to 12 with the Chadbourne team.

The departures from Chadbourne are the latest from the firm following its agreement earlier this year to join forces with Norton Rose Fulbright. The American Lawyer reported Wednesday on Alston & Bird’s addition of Chadbourne’s IP practice leader, Paul Tanck, in New York. In January, Baker McKenzie brought on Chadbourne project finance partner Margarita Oliva Sainz de Aja to develop its Latin America finance practice from New York. In December, Cooley hired a three-partner arbitration team from Chadbourne.

Covington, meanwhile, has made a number of significant hires this year, picking up a pair of former Patent Trial and Appeal Board judges last month and adding former BG Group plc general counsel Graham Vinter as senior of counsel in London. Covington also added five partners in London from King & Wood Mallesons, including the latter’s former Europe fraud and investigations head Ian Hargreaves, former global litigation head Craig Pollack and disputes partners Louise Freeman, Greg Lascelles and Elaine Whiteford.

Chadbourne, whose New York headquarters are located in the same New York office building as Norton Rose Fulbright’s offices in the city, is expected to finalize its combination with Norton Rose Fulbright by the end of the second quarter of this year. Norton Rose Fulbright CEO Peter Martyr told The Australian this week that his firm’s deal with Chadbourne would not preclude further expansion efforts in the U.S.

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