The Legal 500

Algeria

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Editorial

Legal market overview

Algeria’s wealth derives from its deep oil and gas reserves, which make it the largest economy in North Africa. State-owned energy companies Sonatrach, which is easily the continent’s biggest company, and Sonelgaz are vital to its economy. Hydrocarbons account for over 95% of Algeria’s export revenues.

The country maintains strict controls on foreign investment, ensuring that any company is at least 51% controlled by a domestic entity. Only the energy sector is relatively open to outsiders, drawing in global oil and gas companies, but in other sectors inbound investment is limited. Expectations of changes to the 49/51 rule on foreign ownership and on exchange controls have ebbed following the re-election of incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April 2014 with 82% of the vote.

Some foreign firms have carved out a presence in Algeria by acting for the state or state-owned enterprises, principally Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP and Shearman & Sterling LLP. Other firms with offices in Algiers include Lefèvre Pelletier & associés, Gide Loyrette Nouel and CMS, of which only the latter employs Algeria-qualified lawyers. Clifford Chance’s offices in Casablanca and Paris are often active in cross-border disputes and investments involving Algeria.

The dominant domestic law firms, which include Ghellal & Mekerba and Hamza Law Office, often partner with international firms on cross-border matters. With locally qualified lawyers, international law firms Thompson & Knight LLP and CMS are ranked among the local firms.

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