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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Matouk Bassiouny

23 April 2020

The Egyptian firm had success for a UAE telecoms client

Pending cases as counsel 9
Value of pending counsel work US$2.3 billion
Treaty cases 1
Third-party funded cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 6 (4 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 3

This Cairo-based firm was founded in 2005 by John Matouk and Omar Bassiouny with an emphasis on corporate and M&A, project finance and capital markets, alongside its disputes work.

Matouk, who heads the disputes group, is a New York-qualified lawyer and US-Egyptian dual national.

In 2015, the firm hired partner Amr Abbas from another Egyptian firm, Sharkawy & Sarhan. He previously spent three years at White & Case, where he worked on investor-state and commercial arbitrations, and before that worked at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Abbas has also advised Egypt’s competition authority and had a hand in drafting natural gas legislation.

A recent addition to the team is partner Mohamed Shehata, a former general counsel at Emirati-owned mobile operator Etisalat Misr.

The team has experience as counsel in ICSID and ICC cases as well as matters before Egypt’s main arbitral institution, the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration.

Who uses it?

Clients in the telecoms sector regularly use the firm, including Telecom Italia and the UAE’s Etisalat. It has also advised ArcelorMittal; Spain’s Union Fenosa Gas and hotel chain Melia International; US commodities trader Cargill; and California-based Agilent Technologies.

Meanwhile Egyptian contractor Orascom Construction and carmakers Skoda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Uber have used it for local litigation matters. It has also defended Uber in a complaint before the European Competition Authority.

Track record

Matouk Bassiouny paired with Latham & Watkins in 2015 to represent Luxembourg steelmaker ArcelorMittal in a US$600 million ICSID claim against Egypt concerning the construction of a steel plant near the Red Sea. The dispute settled a year later on confidential terms.

The firm obtained a US$68 million ICC award for the Emirates International Investment Company against a major cross-border company, winning costs. It advised the same client in a shareholder dispute with a prominent Egyptian business tycoon relating to control of a major steel company, obtaining a US$6 million award.

It won a Cairo Centre award worth 40 million Egyptian pounds for German-owned construction client Bamag MENA in a dispute over a waste-water plant project and then enforced it. There have been other successes for client Middle East Glass in a mediation of a shareholders dispute; and for Cargill in a Cairo Centre case against two Egyptian companies.

In the courts, it has helped a Japanese carmaker block claims of US$1 billion by enforcing an arbitration clause, and successfully defended a Swiss Chambers award in favour of client Agilent against an annulment challenge.

Recent events

Matouk Bassiouny is representing Reliance Heavy Industries in a US$46.5 million dispute before the Cairo Centre against South Valley Cement Company over a management, operation and maintenance contract.

The firm also advised Union Fenosa Gas on Egyptian law issues in relation to its US$2 billion dispute with Egypt concerning a natural gas liquefaction plant. Egypt agreed to settle the dispute in 2020 with a cash payment of US$395 million over three years – to satisfy an ICSID award worth US$2 billion.

In 2019, Matouk Bassiouny won an award of approximately 750 million Egyptian pounds for Etisalat in a Cairo Centre arbitration filed by Vodafone Egypt. The dispute related to an interconnection agreement and regulatory administrative decisions by the telecoms regulator.

A few months later, Etisalat’s general counsel Mohamed Shehata joined the firm’s dispute resolution group as partner. Shehata has extensive experience in large commercial disputes before the Egyptian courts, arbitral tribunals and regulatory bodies. He has also sat as arbitrator and served as a member of Egypt’s State Council.

Mohamed Samir Rady joined the arbitration team in 2019 as of counsel, bringing 20 years of experience in complex and cross-border arbitration and litigation matters.

Matouk Bassiouny’s head of litigation Osman Mowafy left after more than 12 years with the firm to co-found a new firm, Adsero – Ragy Soliman & Partners.

Client comment

A client who wishes to remain anonymous says that when it comes to disputes work, she would not consider using any other firm in Egypt. 

“Matouk Bassiouny lawyers manage to provide international class legal expertise with impeccable English, in an easy-to-understand manner,” she says. “They also have a depth of experience in local law matters and the policies and procedures that apply in Egypt. This makes them very rare in the Egyptian market, in my view.”

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