Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

South Africa

The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
Click here for more details

South Africa > Commercial, corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Commercial, corporate and M&A
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial, corporate and M&A clients in South Africa using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Thanks in part to its strong presence across Africa, Bowmans has a high market share of big-ticket, cross-border and multi-jurisdictional transactions. Private equity is also a strength of the firm’s commercial practice. The team advised AB InBev on the disposal of a 55% stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, worth $3.15bn, to the Coca-Cola Company. In another landmark cross-border deal, the group advised Associated British Foods on its R5.6bn acquisition of Illovo Sugar. Ezra Davids has a big international profile and other key names include head of M&A Charles Douglas, head of mining Charles Young, private equity leader John Bellew and Robert Cohen.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr maintains a strong market share of listed company deals and has grown its presence in cross-border and international transactions, especially in the healthcare, life sciences and telecoms sectors. Real estate transactions are another forte and private equity is a growth segment, especially since the arrival of fund formation specialist John Gillmer from Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc. The practice advised New Europe Property Investments, the listed real estate fund, on its merger with Rockcastle Global Real Estate and the new entity’s listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The ‘superb’ team is ‘responsive, knowledgeable and easy to work with’. Practice head Willem Jacobs has ‘great personal skills’; Peter Hesseling is a leader in the Cape Town market; Johan Latsky is hugely experienced; David Pinnock is recommended for private equity; and Lilia Franca is ‘active and ethical’ and ‘has perfect drafting and communications skills’. Cape Town’s Gasant Orrie is ‘knowledgeable and unflappable’ and Verushca Pillay is ‘quick and decisive’ and praised for her Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) regulations expertise.

With credibility across Africa, ENSafrica is praised for its ‘extensive and in-depth knowledge’, ‘pragmatic and wide-ranging skills’ and ‘interactive and consultative approach’. The team advised Barclays Africa Group on its separation from Barclays, and also assisted Vodacom Group on the acquisition of an 88% share in Vodafone Kenya from Vodafone Group. The practice also advised Vodacom Tanzania on its listing on the Dar es Salaam stock exchange. Michael Katzhas decades of experience and skill developed at the highest level’, while ‘very good lawyerIan Hayes, Doron Joffe and Koos Pretorius are also leaders. Gary Felthun is also recommended and Lydia Shadrach-Razzino is a ‘rising star’ that ‘gets deals done’.

Webber Wentzel has a highly credible standing in the market, most notably in cross-border M&A, public M&A, private equity buyouts, and BEE deals. The team is ‘hands on’, ‘practical’ and ‘the gravitas of the firm adds huge value internationally’. A team, led by Colin du Toit, advised MTN on its new B-BBEE transaction, involving the unwinding and delisting of its existing structure and the acquisition of a new investment vehicle through MTN Zakhele Futhi. Other key names include senior partner Christo Els, Gareth Driver, Mark Phillips, Johan Brink, and Jesse Watson. Safiyya Patel is ‘timeous and extremely competent’, Hendrik du Preez has ‘excellent commercial and corporate law knowledge’, private equity specialist Sally Huttongets the job done for her clients’ and Ziyanda Ntshona is ‘a very fast thinking, skilled and clever lawyer’.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg is ‘one of the stronger international firms’ and is ‘picking up nice instructions’, advising Daimler, Mercedes-Benz South Africa, and Sandown Motor Holdings on the sale of dealerships and property in the Western Cape province to SuperGroup, the fleet management company. The practice remains strong in BEE work and advised Nokia Solutions on its restructuring to increase its BEE score. It has made further progress in private equity under Scott Nelson and the hire of a tax team from ENSafrica has only enhanced the firm’s capabilities in M&A and private equity. Morné van der Merwe is ‘commercial and looks after his clients’, as do Mike van Rensburg and Marc Yudaken, a recent hire from ENSafrica.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc has gained a significant market share of BEE transactions, thanks in part to its experience in the mining sector; the team advised Exxaro Resources on the unwinding and replacement of its BEE structure. Ross Lomax has impressed in secondary deals in the renewable energy market and the wider team continues to be active in the financial services (including insurance) and telecoms sectors. Kevin Cron is a market leader and Georg Kahle is recommended for mining deals.

Werksmans Attorneys has a lean team that has impressed in outbound transactions for South African corporates and in domestic listed deals. It continues to be a major player in mining deals with clients such as Glencore, and is gaining market share in private equity buyouts and distressed M&A. The practice advised Bidvest on its acquisition of Brandcorp from Ethos Private Equity and also represented Endo International on the disposal of South Africa-based Litha Healthcare to Acino Pharma. The team is ‘responsive’, ‘pragmatic’, ‘commercial’ and has ‘hands on’ partners. The ‘pragmatic’ David Gewer and Kevin Trudgeon are senior practitioners. Brian Price ‘clearly articulates potential issues’ and ‘works together with opposing counsel to reach a fair compromise’. Gerhard Johannes is also recommended. Paul Tindle and Danny Andropoulos have joined from the now defunct Prinsloo, Tindle & Andropoulos Inc.

Fasken further expanded the team with the hire of Michael Teubes from the now defunct Prinsloo, Tindle & Andropoulos Inc, bringing additional expertise in the financial services (including insurance) and energy sectors. The firm continues to be a big player in mining transactions and has experienced growth in private equity and life sciences deals. The firm advised Impala Platinum on its $450m convertible bond issuance in 2017. Dimitri Cavvadas, David Hoffe and Tanneke Heersche are key partners.

Fluxmans is recommended for mid-cap deals, especially in the mining, industrials, retail, manufacturing, and real estate sectors. Ira Epstein and Phillip Vallet are key figures in the firm.

Glyn Marais is outstanding in the listed property and financial services sectors, frequently advising key clients such as Sanlam, Growthpoint Properties and Naspers. The firm has ‘good business acumen and good industry knowledge’ and has worked on several ground-breaking deals over the years. More recently, it advised Sanlam Life on its acquisition of a controlling interests in Lombard Life and Brightrock. Willem De Villiers ‘looks after clients’ interests’ and ‘gives excellent advice’. Francois Marais is also recommended.

Hogan Lovells (South Africa) has impressed in inbound investment work from the US, Europe and Asia. It now receives repeat work from a range of multinationals and has experienced considerable growth in the technology sector. The Johannesburg office advised Germany’s BayWa on the establishment of a joint venture company with Barloworld South Africa. The team delivers ‘fantastic response times and excellent advice’. Warren Drue, Carl Stein, Vaughn Harrison, Jeff Buckland, Danielle Magidson and new hire Vivien Chaplin form an impressive senior bench.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal (Pty) Limited is recommended for mid-market deals and BEE transactions. The firm is noted for listed company and private equity deals. PJ Hope is a prominent name in the market.

Boutique firm Tabacks features senior practitioners Mervyn Taback and Catharine Keene, who have a proven record in listed company deals and transactions in the mining sector.

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP is gaining market share, especially in cross-border deals and private equity transactions. Led by Lisa Botha, the fast expanding team advised Vale on the South African law aspects of its $3.4bn disposal of coal and infrastructure assets in Mozambique to Mitsui. Other clients include Sasol, Emira Property Fund and Africa Finance Corporation.

DLA Piper has a mix of both large local and multinational clients, with an especially strong record in financial services. The team advised FNB Namibia on the proposed acquisition of Pointbreak, the Namibian financial services group. The department has ‘significant industry experience’ and Johannes Gouws has ‘a depth of M&A experience’ and ‘a strong commercial sense’. Peter Bradshaw is also recommended.

Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP is noted for mining transactions in sub-Saharan Africa; TMT, financial services and agriculture are other key sectors. The team features South Africa, English and OHADA law specialists and is led by the eminent Rudolph du Plessis. Clients include South32, China Molybdenum, BAT, Mitsui and Orange.

White & Case LLP showcased its corporate and corporate finance expertise in advising International Housing Solutions on its R1bn listing, the first residential real estate investment trust to be listed on the JSE. Joz Coetzer is ‘brilliant’ and Kabelo Dlothi is praised for his company law expertise.

Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments in South Africa

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to