Loyens & Loeff

Middle East and North Africa

There are strong political, cultural and economic connections between the Arab countries in the region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The legal and tax frameworks within the region, however, are diverse and fragmented. Furthermore, the concepts applied in some of these countries substantially differ from the concepts that international companies and financial institutions from other parts of the world are familiar with. Good examples are the minimum ownership rules and the concept of free zones, as applied in the United Arab Emirates.

For many enterprises, these and other aspects make it particularly challenging to deal with the legal and tax aspects of doing business in this region. Our Region Team MENA understands these concepts, as well as opportunities and pitfalls of local tax regimes, to provide guidance in respect of your inbound activities in the region.

The members of our Region Team Middle East and North Africa also advise clients from this region, such as sovereign wealth funds, corporates, family-owned businesses, family offices, private equity funds, asset managers and financial institutions that invest or trade in Europe or other regions in the world. Our services for clients in the MENA region focus on tax, legal and regulatory advice for activities such as the following:

  • Cross-border investments
  • Joint ventures with foreign counterparties
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Establishment and maintenance of European headquarters
  • Set-up of investment funds
  • Implementation of tax governance
  • Transfer pricing
  • Tax compliance
  • Commercial and tax litigation

In order to best render the above services best, the team comprises members from various Loyens & Loeff practice groups. They combine their profound understanding of the local markets in the MENA region with their extensive knowledge of, among others, international tax law, corporate structuring, merger and acquisition, banking and securities law, regulatory law, and employment law. In addition to being part of the MENA team, members also participate in Loyens & Loeff teams that focus on specific industries and sectors, such as energy, real estate, investment management and corporate finance.

Iran has been subject to economic sanctions, primarily imposed by the US and the EU, for decades. As per 16 January 2016, the majority of the sanctions against Iran have been lifted following the implementation of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The lifting of sanctions unlocked a large part of the Iranian market for foreign businesses and it enabled Iran to re-enter the world economy. Considering this, as well as the fact that Iran has a population of over 80 million and very substantial natural resources, the lifting of sanctions offers huge economic opportunities, both for Iran and for the EU. The implementation of the JCPOA was therefore eagerly anticipated by many.

Although many of the sanctions have been lifted, a number of restrictions still apply to doing business in Iran. Every party doing business in Iran should carefully consider if the contemplated activities may be subject to sanctions. Our MENA Team will be happy to assist you.

More information
Considering to investing or expanding your business out of the Middle East & North Africa region or into one of the countries in this region? Please contact us to discuss if and how we can be of any help.