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John O'Connor

Co-Managing Partner

Level 15 Burj Daman
Dubai International Financial Centre
Happiness Street
PO Box 506873
United Arab Emirates
Languages English

John O'Connor is a partner and heads the CMS Dubai office. He also heads our Corporate and Commercial Practice in Dubai.

His expertise covers all manner of corporate and commercial transactions, including domestic and cross-border M&A, transaction structuring, joint ventures, capital raising, franchise and distribution contracts, agency arrangements, restructurings and reorganisations. He regularly advises domestic and international businesses on their cross-border activities as well as inbound and outbound investments.

John has authored numerous articles on legal developments relating to corporate structuring, joint ventures, distribution and agency contracts, directors’ liabilities and issues relating to cross-border transactions.

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Relevant experience

  • Delhaize Group on the acquisition of Serbian retailer Delta Maxi Group with operations in Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Albania for EUR 932.5m.
  • A market-leading U.S. hedge fund on its USD 360m auction sale of a Middle East-based oilfield services group.
  • A prominent Dubai-based real estate developer on a AED 1bn joint venture for the development and sale of three large plots of land in Dubai Marina.
  • A UK private equity fund on its USD 30m acquisition of an oilfield services group based in Dubai and with operations in Singapore and Brazil.
  • The shareholders of a middle eastern temporary utilities group on a group reorganisation and warrant issue, debt refinancing, joint venture and sale of a further 20-35% of the group, valued at USD 100m.
  • A major european bank on capital raising across seven jurisdictions in the Middle East.
  • A multinational hardware business on its USD 500m bid for a global business with operations across North and South America, Europe and Asia.
  • A listed energy fund on its GBP 131m issue of “C Shares” to the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.
  • A UK developer on its GBP 119m secondary listing of shares on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.
  • Advanced Computer Software Group plc on the acquisition of 5 separate health-care based IT services  businesses with values ranging from GBP 5m to the GBP 100m acquisition of COA Solutions Group.
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  • 2005 - LPC, Oxford Institute of Legal Practice, Oxford, UK
  • 2004 - European Comparative and International Law, LLB, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
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Quarterly leg­al up­date for in­ter­na­tion­al busi­nesses...
20 Aug 19
Brave new world - eco­nom­ic sub­stance re­quire­ments in­tro­duced in the...
New reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing eco­nom­ic sub­stance (Cab­in­et of Min­is­ters Res­ol­u­tion No.31 of 2019) (the “Reg­u­la­tions”) have been im­ple­men­ted in the UAE. The Reg­u­la­tions in­tend that all in-scope UAE en­tit­ies...
CMS Leg­al Up­date: Is­sues to be aware of when en­ter­ing...
03 Jul 19
UAE up­date: re­lax­a­tion of for­eign own­er­ship re­stric­tions
In 2018 the UAE passed the For­eign Dir­ect In­vest­ment Law (the “FDI Law’), which was in­ten­ded to pave the way to re­lax­ing for­eign own­er­ship re­stric­tions on com­pan­ies re­gistered “on­shore” in the...
30 Apr 19
The New DI­FC Com­pan­ies Law Re­gime - Key Changes
With ef­fect from 12 Novem­ber 2018 (the “Im­ple­ment­a­tion Date”) the Dubai In­ter­na­tion­al Fin­an­cial Centre (the “DI­FC”) in­tro­duced the eagerly an­ti­cip­ated new com­pan­ies law re­gime which re­places the...
18 Feb 19
The new UAE Cent­ral Bank law
On 23 Septem­ber 2018, the Pres­id­ent of the United Ar­ab Emir­ates (“UAE”) is­sued a new Cent­ral Bank law (De­cree-Law No. 14 of 2018 (the “New Cent­ral Bank Law”) which came in­to ef­fect on 1 Oc­to­ber...
27 Sep 18
ADGM con­tin­ues to pave the way for in­nov­a­tion with new li­cences for...
In­tro­duc­tion On 1 Septem­ber 2018, the Abu Dh­abi Glob­al Mar­kets Free Zone (“ADGM”) an­nounced it will make avail­able a new com­mer­cial li­cence spe­cific­ally for tech­no­logy start-ups. This li­cence will...
29 Aug 18
Hotel Struc­tures in the Middle East - All Change
The ho­tels mar­ket in the UAE has his­tor­ic­ally been dom­in­ated by the tra­di­tion­al hotel man­age­ment agree­ment (“HMA”) struc­ture between the hotel own­er and their chosen op­er­at­or. The past few years has...
24 Jul 18
Wide­spread up­dates to visa and im­mig­ra­tion re­quire­ments an­nounced...
The UAE Cab­in­et an­nounced a num­ber of changes to the ex­ist­ing visa and im­mig­ra­tion re­quire­ments for non GCC na­tion­als on 13 June 2018. These in­clude the ab­ol­ish­ment of the man­dat­ory bank guar­an­tee for...
10 Jul 18
Up­date to UAE Part Time Work­ing Reg­u­la­tions
In or­der to im­prove the flex­ib­il­ity in the la­bour mar­ket, cut costs and make use of hu­man re­sources with­in the UAE, the MHRE is­sued Min­is­teri­al Res­ol­u­tion No. 31 of 2018 (the Res­ol­u­tion) which came in­to...
21 May 18
New UAE Visa Sys­tem In­tro­duced to En­cour­age In­vest­ment and In­nov­a­tion
On 20 May 2018, the UAE Cab­in­et an­nounced changes to the visa re­gime in the United Ar­ab Emir­ates, to take ef­fect across all Emir­ates. There will be a new visa sys­tem, un­der which in­vestors and pro­fes­sion­als...
21 May 18
UAE Cab­in­et ap­proves 100% For­eign Own­er­ship by Year End
On 20 May 2018 the UAE Cab­in­et ap­proved a de­cision to al­low 100% for­eign own­er­ship of UAE com­pan­ies.  This de­cision has been eagerly an­ti­cip­ated since last year’s amend­ments to the UAE Com­mer­cial Com­pan­ies...