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Africa: Regional Summary

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Regional Summaries

The Legal 500 Africa

Allen & Overy LLP's Africa practice stretches from Morocco, where the outstanding Hicham Naciri leads a 'very strong' Casablanca office, to South Africa, where it operates a market-leading finance practice out of Johannesburg. The firm is 'terrific in projects and financing' and has a flourishing Africa power practice. It assisted CDC and Norfund with the acquisition of Globeq's portfolio of eight power projects in five sub-Saharan jurisdictions, and advised SN Power on the acquisition of an interest in the Bujagali hydropower project in Uganda from Sithe Global. Pre-eminent South Africa finance lawyer Lionel Shawe advised the lenders on a £400m loan to Mediclinic International relating to its merger with Al Noor Hospital Group. The Casablanca team recently advised Saham on the sale of a 30% stake in Saham Finances to South Africa's largest insurer, Sanlam. Tim Scales heads the Africa group from London and has a tremendous transactional record on the continent. South Africa-based Michael Duncan, Jason van der Poel and Khurshid Fazel are also pivotal members of the team.

Clifford Chance LLP's 'well-priced and efficient' practice covers a range of Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone jurisdictions. The firm has been particularly active of late in public and private M&A, building upon its traditionally strong Africa finance practice. Project development and project finance remain central to the Africa team, while international arbitration is an increasingly important driver of work. Recent work includes a series of headline transactions in Nigeria and West Africa; it advised a group of lenders on the multi-source financing of the Azura-Edo 450MW open-cycle gas turbine power station, Nigeria's first-ever independent power project (IPP), and it assisted Actis with the sale and transfer of Globeleq Africa to a consortium led by Norfund and CDC. Paris partner Anthony Giustini is 'a very strong lawyer' and London's Russell Wells provides 'pragmatic solutions'. Other key London contacts include private equity and M&A specialists Spencer Baylin and Nicholas Hughes, international arbitration leader Audley Sheppard QC, as well as mining and renewable energy expert James Pay. Dubai-based Edmund Boyo is highly regarded.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP draws wide praise for its 'big network in Africa and the Middle East and its efficient team in Paris', and for being 'persuasive', 'value for money', and for 'going the extra mile'. Following the launch of a Johannesburg office in 2015, it has also gained further traction in southern Africa, including Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia. Former Paris partner Bertrand Montembault relocated to Johannesburg to reinforce the firm's presence in South Africa, where Brigette Baillie, Peter Leon and Rudolph du Plessis are based. The 'highly skilled and experienced' Baillie, who is 'one of the few lawyers able to manage complex large-scale projects across multiple jurisdictions', recently advised Southern African Power Pool Coordination Centre on the BOSA transmission line, which is to increase connectivity and electricity trading across the entire Southern African region. The firm has also experienced a significant uptick in lender-side work, including a series of substantial power project financings. The firm is praised for its commercial litigation expertise and its 'management of different and difficult arbitration proceedings', and often serves as co-counsel in domestic litigation in OHADA states. Other key partners include Paris-based Stéphane Brabant and Nina Bowyer, as well as a series of London lawyers such as project finance partner Martin Kavanagh, corporate partner Gavin Davies and disputes partners Craig Tevendale (an Arabic-speaking North Africa specialist) and Paula Hodges QC. 'Very knowledgeable' Paris disputes partner Isabelle Michou has 'excellent interpersonal and communication skills'. Paris corporate partner Hubert Segain has 'an acute business sense' and 'knows how to work with local counsel'.

Linklaters is 'proactive', 'commercial', has a 'great depth of knowledge throughout Anglophone, Francophone as well as Lusophone regions' and is 'well informed with strong industry knowledge'. The practice centres on projects, finance, M&A, restructurings and an increasing amount of disputes work. It advised the concessionaires of the Rovuma Basin Area 4 Block LNG project in Mozambique, a first-of-its-kind deal in the jurisdiction and one of the largest-ever LNG projects in the world. It also acted alongside South Africa alliance partner Webber Wentzel in advising the sponsors on the headline Horn of Africa pipeline project, involving an offshore mooring facility in Djibouti and a 550km refined product pipeline from the port of Djibouti to Awash in Ethiopia. In addition, it assisted SABMiller with its $107bn acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev. The firm has worked on a series of restructurings in the commodities field, also handling several distressed acquisitions and disposals by private equity funds. In addition, it has advised on a sequence of sovereign bond issuances by African states. Head of the Africa group Andrew Jones has 'great experience', is 'very supportive' and is recommended for major power projects. Toby Grimstone has an impressive record in African financings and restructurings. 'Proactive' and 'very responsive' Lusophone Africa practice head Francisco Ferraz de Carvalho 'understands the legal framework' in Mozambique. Head of Francophone Africa group Bertrand Andriani, leading London corporate partner Charlie Jacobs and outstanding disputes partner Matthew Weiniger QC are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright has demonstrated real commitment to the continent. Its sizeable team in South Africa sets it apart from its competitors, while offices in Tanzania and Morocco add to its coverage and depth. It also has associate offices and alliance partners in a range of other African jurisdictions, including, since 2016, Kenya, through an alliance with Walker Kontos Advocates. The firm provides 'excellent quality work' and fields 'a knowledgeable group of lawyers' that are 'truly experienced', 'very skilled in negotiations and always able to put their points across very clearly'. It hired Christophe Asselineau from Shearman & Sterling LLP in 2016 to bolster its expertise in mining, energy and infrastructure. The firm is a dominant force in energy, infrastructure and projects throughout the continent. It has an especially fine record in mining and renewable energy. Highlights included advising CBG on the expansion of its Sangaredi bauxite mine in western Guinea and assisting Jindal Africa Investments with the development of a landmark IPP project in Mozambique. London's Martin McCann and Daniel Metcalfe, as well as South Africa's Gregory Nott and Steven Gamble are among the leading Africa practitioners.

Shearman & Sterling LLP's team 'stands out above the rest' and is 'knowledgeable about the sector and the local environment'. The firm has an illustrious record in energy and infrastructure, as well as an outstanding arbitration practice. It has genuine credibility with the major lenders and sponsors that operate across the continent and is noted especially for its power and LNG experience. The firm advised Central Termica de Ressano Garcia, Sasol and Electricidade de Moçambique on the development and project financing of a 175MW gas engine IPP at Ressano Garcia in Mozambique. It also acted for the sponsors on the development and financing of the 300MW Moatize IPP, a mine-mouth coal-fired power project in Mozambique. London's Nicholas Buckworth is 'a top-tier project finance lawyer who knows the African legal landscape'. Iain Elder, John Inglis and Abu Dhabi's Marwan Elaraby are recommended. Disputes partners Alexander Uff and Emmanuel Gaillard are key names too.

White & Case LLP has committed a great deal of effort and resources to its Africa practice, principally through its London, Paris and Johannesburg offices. In 2016, the firm added a Cairo office, helping it build on its already impressive record in cross-border transactions involving Egypt. It also continues to grow its team in Johannesburg, which now has greater corporate and M&A credibility, in addition to its established strengths in finance, capital markets, oil and gas, power, infrastructure and mining. It advised the joint lead managers on the $1.5bn sovereign bond offering by the Republic of Angola. It also assisted Vale with the project development and financing of the Nacala cross-border rail and port corridor project in Mozambique and Malawi. Johannesburg-based Chris Utting heads the Africa practice, which also includes Jason Kerr and capital markets specialist Melissa Butler in London, as well as Paule Biensan in Paris.

Ashurst has an impressive history in Africa, particularly in oil and gas, infrastructure, power and renewables. Clients include Mitsui & Co, ACWA Power International, the government of Uganda, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Tullow Oil. The firm continued to advise IFC and the government of Uganda on the procurement of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway and Kampala Southern Bypass. It also advised Deutsche Bank on $172m of financing to the Republic of Ghana for the first-phase renovation of the Kumasi Market. David Wadham is a big name in power projects and Dubai's Joss Dare is noted for infrastructure. Michael Burns, Antony Skinner and Cameron Smith are also highly rated. Nicolas Bonnefoy left the firm to establish a consultancy practice, while Yann Alix joined the Paris office from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

Baker & McKenzie LLP has 'an in-depth' practice spread across its Johannesburg, Casablanca and Cairo offices, as well as a much wider Africa-focused team in London and other international offices. Power has been a key growth story for the firm right across the continent. The firm advised Marubeni Corporation and Posco Energy on the 300MW Morupule B Phase II coal-fired power generation plant project in Botswana. London's Marc Fèvre and Calvin Walker are key projects and energy partners, with Neil Donoghue recommended for oil and gas. Africa head Wildu du Plessis in Johannesburg is strong in finance, including projects.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has a burgeoning M&A and private equity practice in Africa, which sits alongside its strong energy and infrastructure, finance, capital markets and dispute resolution offerings. The firm advised Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic on their acquisition of The Abraaj Group's 49% stake in Network International. It also represented IFC and The Abraaj Group on the sale of a combined 30% stake in Morocco-based Saham Finances. Shawn der Kinderen, Rob Cant, Bruce Embley and Dubai's Pervez Akhtar are recommended for M&A and private equity. Gabriel Mpubani and Tim Pick are noted for projects.

Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP has 'a good reputation for Francophone Africa', is 'value for money' and 'offers international standards in West Africa'. The firm is noted for projects, finance, M&A and arbitration, with its team principally located in Paris, London and Casablanca. Much of the practice is connected to infrastructure projects. The firm advised a consortium consisting of Veolia, Meridiam and FGIS on the development of a 60MW hydroelectric power plant at Kinguélé Aval on the Mbei River in Gabon. Christophe Eck and Julien David are prominent in African M&A, as is 'good negotiator' Jean-Gabriel Flandrois, who has 'a deep understanding of the local constraints'. Infrastructure specialist Stéphane Vernay, disputes expert Michel Pitron, as well as finance lawyers John Crothers and Arnaud Duhamel are recommended.

Orrick Rambaud Martel is recognised for its government-side engagements in Francophone Africa. The firm continued to advise the Democratic Republic of Congo on the construction of a 4,800MW hydro project, Inga 3, as the first phase of the 40,000MW Grand Inga Dam project. It also advised Golar Hilli and Golar Cameroon on a floating LNG facility located off the coast of Kribi in the southern part of Cameroon. Paris-based Pascal Agboyibor heads the Africa team, which includes Yves Lepage, Simon Ratledge and several London lawyers.

London's Trinity International LLP is 'very successful in the projects space' and 'knows how to close the deal'. It has a primary focus on Africa, where it has built an enviable record. In 2016, the firm opened a Paris office with the intention of expanding its Francophone Africa business. It recently advised Access Uganda Solar on its 10MW project in Soroti District under Uganda's new GET FiT programme; it is the first photovoltaic plant in the jurisdiction. Paul Biggs and Simon Norris are highly regarded.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has real 'strength and depth of knowledge in the E&P sector' and earns praise for 'always being there in support'. It has an exceptional record in the oil and gas, power, renewable and telecoms sectors, and is noted for its strength in restructuring. It advised Zoetic Global on a new 20-year power purchase agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana for 100MW of additional power generation at Ghana's Akosombo Dam on Lake Volta. London's John LaMaster, Sebastian Rice, Marc Hammerson and Washington DC partner Thomas Trimble are recommended.

South Africa's Bowmans is gradually extending its reach, with integrated offices in Kenya, Madagascar and Uganda, as well as a close association with Nigeria's Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie. The firm is engaged in a number of major energy and infrastructure projects across the continent and was South Africa and Africa counsel to SABMiller in its $107bn acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Jonathan Lang heads the Africa practice.

Bracewell (UK) LLP's 'industry knowledge and experience in oil and gas is outstanding'. It advised Ophir Energy on the proposed development and financing of its floating LNG project in Equatorial Guinea. The team is 'very commercial and client-focused', providing 'Magic Circle-standard client service'. Jason Fox, Ben James, Darren Spalding and Julian Nichol are recommended.

Chadbourne & Parke (London) LLP has continued to build its team and track record in Africa for key clients such as ACWA Power and Engie. It further expanded its senior team with the hire of Deon Govender, who joined the nascent Johannesburg office from Absa Bank. The firm advised ACWA Power on the development, financing, operation and maintenance of the Khalladi Wind Farm in Morocco. London's Agnieszka Klich and Ben Donovan and Johannesburg's Lido Fontana are recommended.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP's excellent record in emerging markets and connections to sovereign states is in evidence in Africa, where it has worked on a range of headline capital markets issuances, restructurings and projects. The firm advised the Republic of Ivory Coast on its headline sovereign sukuk using the ijara structure. It has represented a number of other sovereign states, including the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of Congo. The firm also handled cornerstone private equity client TPG's first investment in Africa. Paris-based Barthélemy Faye is recommended.

Clyde & Co LLP's 'knowledge of West African regimes and the renewable sector and is impressive'. Its service is provided 'with the intimacy of a general counsel but with the expertise of the best among outside counsel', and its 'industry knowledge and expertise enables it to provide relevant and extremely useful advice'. A fast expanding team in South Africa and a strong presence in Tanzania demonstrate the firm's commitment to the region. London's Maurice Kenton, John Morris and Philip Mace and Paris' Eric Diamantis are key members of the Africa practice. London legal director Robert Franklin provides 'a dedicated hands-on approach, flexibility and responsiveness at very reasonable costs'. Johannesburg's Daniël Le Roux and Tony Hardie are big names in the insurance sector and Dar es Salaam-based Peter Kasanda is a leader in infrastructure and energy projects.

DLA Piper expanded its Africa network with the launch of a Johannesburg office in 2016. It has a broad spread of offices and alliance partners within its DLA Piper Africa Group. It advised the project company on the development and financing of phase one of a 600MW coal-fired power station in Zambia.

Dentons has 'broad coverage' and 'certainly pays significant attention to Africa'. It is noted for 'mid-sized corporate matters' as well as oil and gas financing. It has a sizeable network, comprising its own Africa offices and associations with leading firms in key jurisdictions. London-based Stephen Shergold is a key figure.

ENSafrica is a major player across the continent with offices in multiple African jurisdictions, including Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. It advised Anheuser-Busch InBev on its $107bn acquisition of SABMiller. Finance, energy and natural resources are key drivers of the practice. Mining specialist and firm COO Otsile Matlou has played a key role in building the Africa-wide practice.

Eversheds Sutherland is 'thorough, diligent and efficient', 'business-oriented' and 'hands on'. It continues to develop its Eversheds Africa Law Institute, a network of law firms that covers over 35 jurisdictions across the continent. The Africa group spans a variety of practice areas and industry sectors. Paris partner Boris Martor heads the Africa group.

Hunton & Williams is 'probably the premier firm for representing governments and government-owned utilities in Africa'. John Beardsworth is 'very empathetic to governments' constraints while fully understanding the needs of the private sector'. The firm advised the government of Egypt on the development of both the 2,640MW Ayoun Moussa coal-fired facility and the 2,250MW Dairut combined cycle gas-fired facility.

Mayer Brown International LLP is noted for Anglophone and Francophone Africa related matters and is also active in Lusophone Africa through Brazilian alliance partner Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown. Historically, the firm has stood out in mining and energy, especially LNG, though it is increasingly active in power. The 'very knowledgeable' team is 'very responsive and commercially oriented to find a solution'. Ian Coles is highly regarded. Tom Eldridge joined from Dentons.

Pinsent Masons LLP is a global leader in infrastructure and energy. It has an excellent record in West Africa, including Nigeria, but is increasingly active in East Africa, advising a number of Chinese contractors in the region. In Southern Africa, it established a new Johannesburg office, hiring a series of senior construction and infrastructure practitioners, including Rob Morson and Shane Voigt from Bowmans. The Africa team 'provides swift responses' and a 'high degree of industry knowledge'. It advised East African Development Bank on the financing of the Lake Turkana Wind Farm project and assisted the Ministry of Energy of Cameroon with its first hydroelectric IPP project. Akshai Fofaria is 'very hands on and follows up diligently'.

Simmons & Simmons has breadth across Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa, covering both transactions and disputes. Energy, infrastructure and telecoms are central to the practice, with a client base consisting of banks, corporates, governments and utilities. The firm advised the lenders on the project financing of a bulk liquid terminal for the import and storage of gasoil, LPG and LNG at Sokhna Port, Egypt. Patrick Wallace, Yves Baratte, Christian Taylor and Paul Bugingo are key partners.

Webber Wentzel is a big player in African M&A and projects, particularly relating to oil and gas and infrastructure. It advised Black Rhino Group on its $1.5bn import facility and pipeline from the port of Djibouti to Awash in Ethiopia. In M&A, it assisted Anheuser-Busch InBev with its landmark acquisition of SABMiller, involving merger control filings in ten African jurisdictions. Robert Appelbaum, Bruce Dickinson, Kenny Patton and John Smelcer are key contacts.