The Legal 500

Algeria

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Editorial

Legal market overview

Algeria is an oil-rich country and although it has been hit hard by falling prices it is still the largest economy in North Africa. State-owned energy companies Sonatrach, which is by far the biggest company in Africa, and Sonelgaz are central to its economy. Lower oil prices led the government to drastically cut public spending and rein in imports by restricting import licences and to propose introducing customs duties on some products. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika also instigated plans to boost industry, agriculture and tourism with partnerships between state and the private sector.

Restrictions on foreign investment, notably the 49/51 rule limiting foreign ownership of any business entity to 49%, remain in place but some small changes to the country’s investment code show signs that change towards greater openness is slowly happening.

The legal market remains largely unchanged, although Benslimane Avocats & Conseils notably aligned itself with Eversheds LLP by joining the Eversheds Africa Law Institute. Dominant domestic firms such as Chemloul & Associés, Ghellal & Mekerba and Hamza Law Office, often partner with international firms on cross-border matters. Foreign firms that have built flows of work from the state or state-owned enterprises include Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Shearman & Sterling LLP and now Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. Lefèvre Pelletier & associés, Gide Loyrette Nouel and CMS have office in Algiers, and Clifford Chance’s Casablanca and Paris offices are active in cross-border disputes and investments.

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