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Doing business in Mozambique

Contributed by VdA – Vieira de Almeida

Mozambique is a thriving African economy which, during 2016, had to face the challenges of changing commodities prices, but nevertheless saw international investors maintaining its interest in the growing oil and gas industry in the country and long-awaited LNG investments are expected to come on stream in the near future.

In accordance with the World Economic Outlook (October 2016), issued by the International Monetary Fund, Consumer Prices in Mozambique where expected to increase by 16.7% in 2016 and 15.5% in 2017, while real GDP was expected to change by 4.5% in 2016 and 5.5% in 2017.

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As a natural resources based economy, Mozambique has been hit by the decline in commodity prices and is facing a debt crisis following the discovery of undisclosed debt of $1.4bn in April 2016. International investment has decreased as a result, although two gas mega-projects in the Rovuma basin that are still on the horizon are expected to increase revenues significantly by 2018. The government is also looking to further promote investment in the country by implementing business-friendly regulations. International capabilities are therefore of major importance for local firms.

The shared language and similar legal systems provide the basis for strong cooperation with Portuguese firms such as Miranda & Associados, Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados, PLMJ, Law Firm and Raposo Bernardo. Iberian firm Cuatrecasas and international firms Clifford Chance, DLA Piper and Shearman & Sterling LLP also have significant country desks and excellent connections with local lawyers.

Couto, Graça e Associados Limitada (CGA) is one of the largest firms in Mozambique, acting on a wide range of commercial matters. Highlights included advising Windlab on matters relating to its energy park portfolio and assisting Eni East Africa with its offshore activities in Area 4 of the Rovuma basin. Other areas of expertise include banking, finance, labour and dispute resolution. The firm leverages its cooperation with Cuatrecasas to act for a large pool of international clients. Name partners Pedro Couto and Jorge Graça, as well as Telmo Ferreira and litigator Álvaro Pinto Basto are recommended.

Up to date with all developments in Mozambique’, SAL & Caldeira Advogados, Lda. provides an ‘excellent service’ in banking, foreign exchange, immigration and a wide variety of other matters. The Maputo-based firm opened its fourth office, in Pemba, in 2015 and is well connected internationally through its membership of DLA Piper Africa. Eduardo Calú took over as managing partner from ‘all-round talentSamuel Levy, while Leopoldo Amaral made partner. Senior partner José Manuel Caldeira and land law expert Ássma Nordine Jeque are also recommended. Clients include numerous businesses from the extractive industries as well as construction and real estate companies.

Pimenta e Associados is particularly proficient in the banking and finance sector, advising numerous financial institutions on investments in Mozambique. In international mandates, it cooperates closely with Portugal-based Miranda & Associados. From its offices in Maputo and Pemba, the firm covers the full range of corporate and commercial work. Highly regarded managing partner Paulo Pimenta stands out for his tax expertise.

TTA – Sociedade de Advogados’ lawyers ‘take the time to understand a client’s business in order to provide practical advice’. The full-service firm is well placed to handle high-profile transactions; it assisted MultiChoice with the incorporation of a company and advised Mecwide on a financing provided by a Portuguese fund for an investment in Mozambique. On these matters, the firm partnered up with the Portuguese PLMJ, Law Firm. ‘Knowledgeable and experienced’ litigator and arbitrator Tomás Timbane heads the firm. Senior associate Josina Correia is also recommended.

Full-service firm Avillez, Bacar, Centeio & Cambule, Sociedade de Advogados (ABCC) changed its name from SCAN – Sociedade de Advogados in January 2016. Banking and finance expert Francisco Avillez advised paper producer Portucel Soporcel on a capital increase from the International Finance Corporation for the construction of a factory. Oldivanda Bacar is ‘knowledgeable and professional’.

HPF Advogados – AVM Legal Network Member, partner of Portuguese firm AVM, is commended for its wide-ranging experience across labour, corporate and tax matters. Recent highlights include advising Nokia Solutions and Networks on setting up an investment project, assisting Colgate-Palmolive with distribution and wholesale agreements, and representing industrial brand management company Barloworld in labour disputes. Name partner Hélder Paulo Frechaut is recommended.

JLA Advogados changed its name from Fralaw | Ferreira Rocha Advogados in late 2016, following the departure of its former name partner. Banking and finance expert Zara Jamal took over leadership of the firm; she recently advised investment company Actis on the development of two shopping centres and assisted Turkish Airlines with employment, immigration and corporate matters. The group provides full commercial assistance to wholesale company Brithol Michcoma Moçambique. The cooperation with Lisbon-based Abreu Advogados delivers a steady flow of cross-border mandates.

The key contacts at Henriques & Rocha Associados are ‘proactive’ managing partner Fabrícia de Almeida Henriques and Paula Duarte Rocha. The firm collaborates with Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados’ Mozambique desk to assist with the full range of corporate matters. It advised insurance company Fidelidade on the structuring of an insurance investment. Other sources of work include construction for energy projects and the setting up of various joint ventures.

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