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White & Case to Close Moscow Office, Joining Other Exits (1)

March 11, 2022, 4:17 PMUpdated: March 11, 2022, 6:22 PM

White & Case is closing its Moscow office and ceasing all representation of Russian and Belarusian state-owned entities, making it one of the latest law firms to exit the country following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are horrified by the terrible events taking place in Ukraine and condemn Russia’s unjustified invasion,” a White & Case spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “White & Case stands with the people of Ukraine.”

Debevoise & Plimpton, which previously said that it was terminating several Russian client relationships and will not take on any new clients in Moscow, is also closing its office in the city, the firm said.

At least 15 global law firms have announced plans to shutter offices since the invasion began. On Thursday, Winston & Strawn, Baker Botts, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner all said they would cease operations in Moscow.

The law firms are joined by corporations exiting Russia, with British American Tobacco Plc saying it will leave the country. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has said it would withdraw from Russia, and J.P. Morgan Chase said it would unwind its business there.

White & Case said earlier this month it would be exiting some Russian client relationships in response to the invasion and related sanctions imposed by the U.S., U.K. and European Union. The firm has worked with several state-owned organizations, including oil companies Bashneft and Rosneft, as well as Russian bank Sberbank.

White & Case worked on four deals in Russia in 2021 worth more than $473 million, including representing Rostelecom in its $463 million sale of its 44.8% stake in Russian data center and cloud provider SafeData LLC to VTB Bank.

Earlier this year the firm represented Russian nuclear power supplier Rosatom in its acquisition of Quadra, one of Russia’s biggest energy generating companies.

“Our review of Russian and Belarusian client activity is ongoing, and goes beyond our requirements to comply with sanctions,” the firm said.

“We are ceasing all representations of Russian and Belarusian state and state-owned entities in accordance with our professional responsibilities, and not accepting any new mandates from Russian and Belarusian state and state-owned entities,” it said.

The firm in its statement also noted that it has made a $1 million to the Ukrainian Red Cross and matching donations by its people to qualifying relief organization.

Several other law firms—Baker McKenzie, Dentonsand Hogan Lovells, among others— have stated that for the time being they would continue their operations in Russia.

Dentons said in a statement to Bloomberg Law on Thursday that its offices in Russia would remain open. The firm also said it would not undertake any new work for Russian state-owned entities, government officials or others closely connected with the Russian government.

Podcast: War in Ukraine and Life-or-Death Choices for Big Law

(Updated with information about Debevoise office closure in paragraph three)

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com