Legal market overview
Abundant natural resources give Mozambique vast economic potential to a country that has become familiar with rapid economic growth; resources include some of the largest undeveloped coal reserves in the world. Major infrastructure projects, such as the redevelopment of the 670km Sena railway line – ravaged by mines as a result of the 15-year civil war and sporadic, ongoing hostilities – from the port town of Beira to the interior are currently underway to support economic exploitation, attracting substantial investment from energy and natural resources companies.
Albeit that foreign lawyers and law firms may not practise local law, the country is a major hub for international firms seeking mandates in Lusophone Africa; Dentons and Shearman & Sterling LLP co-operate with local partners or use associations with Portuguese firms to advise on the market. A number of Iberian firms, such as Raposo Bernardo and Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, also utilise local tie-ups or partners with relevant expertise in their main offices, and the latter has a formal co-operation agreement with Couto, Graça e Associados Limitada (CGA).
Couto, Graça e Associados Limitada (CGA) – a 45-lawyer firm which is the result of the 2011 merger of three leading Mozambican firms – has significant strengths in banking and finance, infrastructure and natural resources. Recent mandates include advising Vale on a concession contract to finance, construct and operate a 600MW coal-fired power plant and acting for Eni on the regulatory aspects of a $20bn LNG production plant in northern Mozambique. The key figures are Pedro Couto, Jorge Graça and head of litigation Álvaro Pinto Basto.
SAL & Caldeira Advogados, Lda. ‘meets international standards’ and is highly rated for its energy and natural resources sector expertise. Its broad-ranging recent instructions include advising an international consortium on regulatory aspects of the development of a coal gasification plant. Clients include international banks, oil and gas players, and multinational services companies. Senior partner José Manuel Caldeira and managing partner Samuel Levy co-head the seven-partner firm, which made numerous hires at associate level and has offices in Tete and Beira as well as Maputo.
GLM – Gabinete Legal Moçambique displayed its energy credentials when it advised Anadarko Petroleum and ONGC Videsh on the acquisition of a participating interest in the Rovuma Basin Area 1 offshore gas block. Other clients include Banco Comercial e de Investimentos, Electricidade de Moçambique, and MultiChoice. ‘Outstanding’ litigator and arbitrator Tomás Timbane, who is a notable energy sector expert, leads the team, which works closely with Lisbon-based PLMJ, Law Firm.
Pimenta, Dionísio e Associados has substantial expertise in natural resources and banking with a client roster which includes oil majors, development banks and commercial banks. Managing partner Paulo Pimenta heads the 13-lawyer firm, which also has strong experience in tourism and agriculture and is part of the Miranda Correia Amendoeira & Associados network.
Fralaw | Ferreira Rocha Advogados has a strong reputation in the energy and banking and finance sectors, and recently advised NuEnergy Gas on a joint venture for the exploration of coalbed methane in Tete province. Rodrigo Ferreira Rocha leads the six-strong practice, which also acts for clients such as Efacec Moçambique and Brithol Michcoma Moçambique. The team works closely with Portuguese firm Abreu Advogados.
Mozambique Legal Circle Advogados has notable inbound investment experience and insurance-related regulatory capabilities. Fabrícia de Almeida Henriques and Paula Duarte Rocha co-head the five-lawyer team, which recruited experienced associate Alexandre Chivale from SAL & Caldeira Advogados, Lda. in May 2014. Recent instructions include advising Grindrod Freight Services as borrower of a $50m asset financing. The firm collaborates closely with Portuguese firm Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados.