Legal market overview
With an average annual growth rate of 7%, Mozambique has become accustomed to rapid economic growth thanks to the potential of its abundant natural resources. However, its mining boom has slowed recently amid weakening commodity prices. With infrastructure investment key to exploitation of coal and natural gas, sectors benefiting from foreign direct investment include construction, transport and communications.
Despite its strong economic growth, the country is facing a range of development challenges, particularly as poverty and illiteracy rates remain high.
With a team of 45 lawyers, Maputo-based Couto, Graça e Associados Limitada (CGA) is one of the largest firms in the market and is regularly involved in the market’s most significant transactions. It acts on corporate, banking and finance, and labour matters, and has a renowned dispute resolution department. On international work, it co-operates closely with Iberian firm Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira. Its client roster includes Eni and Vale, among other industrial corporations, as well as tourism operators and public sector entities. Chairman Pedro Couto oversees the banking, finance and insurance practice as well as the firm’s work in energy, natural resources and infrastructure; he and managing partner Jorge Graça are ‘exceptional lawyers’, and litigator Álvaro Pinto Basto is another key name.
SAL & Caldeira Advogados, Lda. provides ‘quick responses’ at a ‘reasonable price’. Since September 2014, the firm has been a member of DLA Piper’s Africa group; it is well placed to handle international transactions, with experience in banking, foreign exchange and immigration matters, and is noted for its ‘strong knowledge of the mining and petroleum sector’. Its recent work includes assisting foreign clients in relation to the transfer of mining titles, the establishment of a local subsidiary, and the acquisition of a participating interest in a local company. Managing partner Samuel Levy, who ‘has his finger on the pulse in Mozambique, and gives practical advice’, leads the firm together with José Manuel Caldeira. Ássma Nordine Jeque heads the corporate and commercial practice group and is another name to note.
Highly rated for its banking and finance work, Pimenta, Dionísio e Associados also covers corporate, commercial and employment matters, and is notable for its sector expertise in energy and natural resources, tourism and agriculture. With offices in Maputo and Pemba, the 16 lawyer firm acts for a strong roster of international clients, and benefits from close co-operation with Portuguese firm Miranda & Associados and its network. Managing partner Paulo Pimenta is renowned for his experience in tax and corporate matters.
TTA – Sociedade de Advogados, formerly known as GLM – Gabinete Legal Moçambique, provides ‘both practical legal advice and commercial input as and when required’, to clients such as construction giant Mota-Engil Moçambique, petroleum company ONGC Videsh, and OPWAY. Acclaimed litigator and arbitrator Tomás Timbane is representing the Republic of Mozambique in an arbitration against Beira Railroad Company CCFB concerning the alleged wrongful termination of the concession agreement for the rehabilitation, operation and management of the Sena Railway. Also recommended is senior associate Josina Correia, who is ‘always available and willing to help’, and provides ‘succinct and client-focused advice’. The firm co-operates with Portugal-based PLMJ, Law Firm’s Mozambique desk.
Fralaw | Ferreira Rocha Advogados, together with Portuguese partner firm Abreu Advogados, stands out for its expertise in banking and finance matters. Among its recent highlights, it advised Africa Finance Corporation on the acquisition of a 22% stake in Ncondezi Energy through a cash box placing. It also represented BP Moçambique in labour disputes, and acted for NuEnergy Gas, insurance company Tranquilidade and Vodacom. Rodrigo Ferreira Rocha and Zara Jamal are recommended.
Henriques & Rocha Associados, formerly known as Mozambique Legal Circle Advogados, provides a full service but has particular expertise in the insurance sector. Managing partner Fabrícia de Almeida Henriques is ‘extremely helpful, proactive and pleasant to work with’, and co-heads the team with Paula Duarte Rocha. The latter is particularly highly rated for public law and tax advice, and recently assisted Grindrod Freight Services in relation to a $50m asset financing arranged by FirstRand Bank. The firm partners with Lisbon-based Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados.