Advising Kuwaiti investors in the largest-ever ICSID claim against Egypt
|Pending cases as counsel||8|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$12.53 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||2|
|Third-party funded cases||1|
|Current arbitrator appointments||4 (3 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||2|
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. Ahmed Abdelhakeem and Mohamed Sallam were made counsel in 2020.
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.
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.
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 wastewater plant project and then enforced it. There have been other successes for client Middle East Glass in a mediation of a shareholder 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.
Matouk Bassiouny won an award for Reliance Heavy Industries at the Cairo Centre against South Valley Cement Company over a management contract. The tribunal dismissed all counterclaims against the firm’s client, bringing the value of the award to over €44 million.
The firm has teamed up with King & Spalding to represent a group of Kuwaiti investors in an investment treaty claim against Egypt worth more than US$10 billion – believed to be the largest ICSID claim the state has ever faced. The dispute concerns a cancelled project to build a new city south of Cairo.
The firm provided local law advice to Spanish-Italian venture Union Fenosa Gas in relation to its US$2 billion dispute with Egypt concerning an LNG plant. Egypt finally settled the dispute in 2021 with a cash payment of US$395 million over three years.
It successfully acted for the Egyptian football club Nogoom FC in a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
The firm promoted Ahmed Abdelhakeem and Mohamed Sallam to counsel.
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.
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.
She says Matouk Bassiouny lawyers 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.”
Matouk Bassiouny’s Dispute Resolution Group has maintained a dominant position in the Egyptian market based on its successful representation of multinational clients in high value cases.
The Dispute Resolution Group’s primary goal is to effectively manage risk and resolve disputes pursuant to clients’ strategic interests – whether through amicable negotiation, litigation or arbitration.
Comprised of three partners and over 60 attorneys trained in both common and civil law jurisdictions with high standing in regional and international levels, Matouk Bassiouny’s Dispute Resolution Group provides clients with comprehensive dispute resolution services in both English and Arabic.
The Dispute Resolution Group specializes in arbitration cases held before international and regional arbitral institutions including, the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), as well as Egyptian civil, commercial, criminal, administrative and labor courts.
The Group has a wide experience in fields including:
- International Commercial Arbitration
- Investment Treaty Claims
- Competition Law Matters (including Investigations and Disputes)
- Agency, Franchise and Distribution Disputes
- Energy & Natural Resources
- Healthcare & Life Sciences
- Hospitality & Leisure
- Industrial Manufacturing
- Infrastructure & Transport
- Real Estate
- Share Purchase Agreements
- Securities & Private Equity Disputes
- Media & Technology
- Construction Disputes
- Regulatory Compliance
- Restructuring and Insolvency
- Tax Litigation
- Consumer Goods & Retail
- Product Liability
- Labor and Employment
- White Collar Investigations
- Administrative Law