Clifford Chance has announced it will close its Kiev office, the firm's only branch in Ukraine, by the end of the year.
The majority of the magic circle firm's Kiev team will spin-off and form Redcliffe Partners, which will have a best-friends referral agreement with Clifford Chance. The boutique will be have three partners, current Clifford Chance counsels Olexiy Soshenko, Dmytro Fedoruk and Yehven Deyneko, who currently head banking and finance, M&A and antitrust respectively in Ukraine. The firm's sole partner based in Ukraine, Jared Grubb, will remain with the firm and relocate to another office. He will act as a relationship partner with Redcliffe when the firm's work together.
Explaining the rationale behind exiting Ukraine, Clifford Chance managing partner, Matthew Layton, said the firm had adopted a new strategy which required concentrating money and resources on "priorities".
Clifford Chance will be the third international firm to close in Kiev in the last two years. In 2013, Beiten Burkhardt pulled out and the entire team joined Gide’s branch in the city. Later in the year, Chadbourne & Parke shut down its base in the Ukraine, citing the challenging market.
A handful of large international firms retain a presence in Ukraine. Baker & McKenzie, which has the longest history of any foregin firm in the country, CMS, Dentons and Russian outfit Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners have the strongest operations, and there is no suggestion, as yet, any intend to close. Dentons did, however, relocate several Ukrainian-based partners to the US recently.