Legal market overview
Ivory Coast has an increasingly developed legal market and is at the centre of OHADA, the business law code that operates in 17 Francophone African states. This position explains, to an extent, the decision of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP to establish an associated office in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital, in 2014. In addition, the African Development Bank is now headquartered in Abidjan, having moved to Tunisia for nearly a decade during a period when Ivory Coast suffered two civil wars, the second being a brief post-electoral conflict in 2011.
Ivory Coast is now a much more stable jurisdiction and is increasingly prosperous. Agriculture remains a core component of the economy with coffee, cocoa beans and palm oil being key exports. With economic growth and stability, an increasing amount of foreign investment is entering the country.
Bilé-Aka, Brizoua-Bi & Associés is one of Ivory Coast’s most prestigious law firms with an established record in domestic and cross-border transactions. It is active in Francophone states throughout Central and West Africa, thanks to its detailed knowledge of OHADA. In this regard, Michel Brizoua-Bi is ‘one of the best in the country’ and is ‘generally viewed as an expert in OHADA’. He is ‘very experienced’ and is involved in ‘all the major projects in the country’. Brizoua-Bi’s practice covers domestic and cross-border M&A, financings and projects, with notable experience in the oil and gas, mining and telecoms industries. Fellow partner Joachim Bilé-Aka is another senior figure with a fine record in dispute resolution. The firm works closely with major local and regional corporates and regularly advises international banks and institutions, particularly in project finance in the OHADA region.
FDKA is a well-established local firm that is highly regarded by foreign and international law firms. The firm is noted for its record in M&A and project finance, and for its knowledge of the mining and energy sectors. Dispute resolution is also a key component in the firm’s practice. It is active in major transactions and projects, including PPPs, in Ivory Coast and throughout the OHADA states. ‘Great local lawyer’ Karim Fadika is ‘smart’, ‘has deep experience of major transactions in the country’, and is able ‘to identify the local nuances’ of each deal.
Cabinet Hoegah & Etté provides broad coverage of key practice areas such as corporate law, finance and dispute resolution. Tax is a particular strength of the firm, as is its deep experience in the mining sector. Theodore Hoegah is highly regarded for corporate, tax and mining work. Michel Etté is another seasoned figure with an outstanding record in dispute resolution.
Cabinet Jean-François Chauveau is frequently noted for its standing in project finance, with the firm having experience of advising a range of international sponsors and lenders. In addition, the firm is a leader in public-private partnerships (PPPs). Jean-François Chauveau, who has deep connections in France and throughout Francophone Africa, has a solid record in the infrastructure and mining sectors, as well as in oil and gas.
SCPA Dogue – Abbé YAO & Associés is one of the standout firms in Ivory Coast and is well connected internationally as a member of Lex Mundi. It has close links to France and works alongside French international law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. on a regular basis. The group of three partners has broad experience and ability, with the practice advising on corporate and M&A mandates, financings, projects and capital markets issuances. Abbé Yao is ‘very well connected’, ‘involved in major projects in the country’ and is recommended for foreign investment, financing and capital markets. Seydou Zerbo is a corporate and finance expert, with notable experience in the oil and gas sector.
Anyray & Partners is headed by the highly experienced and internationally well connected Ika Raymond Any-Gbayere, who is a recognised expert in legal and tax issues. Financing in the oil and gas sector is a notable focus, with project finance being a particular strength. The firm’s international clients range from bulge-bracket banks to car manufacturers, technology giants and telecoms companies.
IKT & Associés has an emerging reputation in Ivory Coast and within the OHADA community. The firm is especially well known for structured finance, where it represents a range of international lenders, including development finance institutions (DFIs) and European banks. The firm also regularly advises on corporate law and M&A, projects and dispute resolution. Osther Henri Tella is well regarded; Annick Imboua-Niava and Hermann Kouao are the other partners.
KSK Société d'Avocats is principally known for advising clients on finance, PPPs, M&A and corporate restructurings, including recently working on the restructuring of a financial institution. It operates in a variety of sectors and has solid experience in mining, IT and telecoms, as well as its work for numerous banks, DFIs and other financial institutions. Its dynamic PPP practice acts for public and private sector clients. This includes airport and real estate development projects. Public law expert Kouamé Klemet is recommended along with Zinda Sawadogo, who specialises in finance and securities. Georges Angaman Kouadio is notable for his tax expertise.
CLK Avocats produces ‘solutions that are inventive and practical’, and shows ‘reactivity and involvement in assigned projects’. One client regards the firm as being ‘one of the best business law firms in French West Africa’. Lassiney Camara is an expert in antitrust and competition law.
N'Goan Asman & Associés is strong in domestic and cross border matters, notably in the mining and energy sectors. Georges N’Goan and César Asman are hugely experienced and respected figures in corporate and commercial, including OHADA issues, and dispute resolution.
Firms in the spotlight
GENI & KEBE
GENI & KEBE was founded in 1912 and began acting as a legal adviser firm for foreign embassies and companies. From then to now on, it has been and remains the premier destination law services firm of national and foreign companies, institutions and individuals in Senegal and the Francophone African Region.