Legal market overview
The election of John Pombe Magufuli to president in October 2015 confirmed the continuing influence and authority of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, a ruling party which has overseen considerable growth and an impressive transition to a market economy. Allegations of fraud surfaced before and after the election, and this is very much a reflection of the difficulties the country still has with endemic corruption. Despite this, investment into the oil and gas and energy sectors has continued, and the government remains committed to the development of infrastructure in the jurisdiction through projects such as the Bagamoyo port and the development of a central rail corridor. Mining activities and transactions have slowed as a result of the dip in global commodity prices.
It is not surprising that the international legal community is increasingly interested in what is one of the largest economies on the African continent. Clyde & Co LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright and South African firm ENSafrica are all present, while Ishengoma, Karume, Masha & Magai Advocates is part of the DLA Piper Africa group, and East Africa Law Chambers is a member of Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group, created by South African law firm Bowman Gilfillan.
Particularly active in M&A, capital markets and finance, ATZ Law Chambers is part of the Africa Legal Network and works extensively with Kenyan member Anjarwalla & Khanna. The firm continues to work on numerous big-ticket M&A transactions and has handled a series of substantial capital markets deals, including rights issues. It advised Atlas Mara on its $265m acquisition of a majority interest in ABC Holdings and its full takeover of ADC African Development Corp, a German listed holding company. Oil and gas remains an important industry for the firm, with Amish Shah particularly well regarded for transactions in the sector; he recently advised Woodside Energy on its acquisition of a 70% stake in the Lake Tanganyika South onshore oil and gas block. The firm is also a major player in the telecoms space, and has extensive experience in competition matters and notifications to the Fair Competition Commission in Tanzania. The team is ‘very well plugged in locally’, and ‘honest and straightforward’, providing ‘business-oriented legal input’. Shamiza Ratansi is ‘dedicated’, ‘business minded’, and ‘always willing to go the extra step’, and maintains a ‘strategic outlook’.
CRB Africa Legal, which launched in 2009, continues to make solid progress. It has developed a particularly fine record in mining and natural resources, including project development and project financings. Founder and managing partner Charles Rwechungura is ‘well connected’ among mining exploration and extraction companies and local and international banks. He leads a growing team which provides ‘the necessary attention’. Dispute resolution specialists Cyril Pesha and Abdul Qaubid Abdallah are also prominent names.
Clyde & Co LLP’s Tanzania branch is a corporate, finance and projects driven practice, with a particular focus on energy and infrastructure. It has an impressive mix of international and local lawyers, and handles a high volume of big-ticket cross-border transactions. It has a very strong standing in oil and gas, representing many international oil majors. Much of the practice is driven by large corporates and investors from outside Tanzania, and involves deals around the region, notably neighbouring states such as Kenya, Burundi and Zimbabwe. Mining is another active segment for the firm, while infrastructure (including road, rail, airports and ports) is a mainstay for the Tanzania office. Clients include Agro Ecoenergy, Econet Wireless, Songas, Swala Oil & Gas (Tanzania), Peak Resources Tanzania and African Development Bank. Barclays, Stanbic and National Bank of Commerce are new clients to the Tanzania office. Peter Kasanda is the sole partner in the Dar es Salaam office, and focuses on major projects in sectors such as infrastructure, telecoms, mining, energy and power. Kibuta Ongwamuhana is the managing director of the Tanzania practice, and is a market leader in tax dispute resolution, with further expertise in competition, arbitration and trade mark disputes. Senior associate Michael Strain is leading the way on the corporate side, covering transactions in the oil and gas, mining, telecoms and agribusiness sectors. Former legal director and strong finance practitioner Teresa Parkes has now left private practice.
FB Attorneys continues in its evolution from a litigation-oriented practice to one more associated with corporate transactions. It now has a more rounded practice, with considerable experience in tax, antitrust, oil and gas transactions, and asset and share transfers, and is particularly active in the mining and financial services sectors. It is also widely known for its knowledge and understanding of the regulatory landscape in Tanzania and its connections to key regulators. Farzana Karimjee has considerable tax advisory expertise. Fayaz Bhojani is now a prominent name in big-ticket corporate and finance transactions in Tanzania, but maintains a ‘balanced practice of litigation and non-contentious work’; he is praised for his ‘genuine local knowledge’ and ‘streetwise’ abilities in the courts. In Gaudiosus Ishengoma and Mustafa Chandoo, the firm has two other seasoned litigators. The firm demonstrates ‘very good leadership’, and is able to ‘read trends in the market very well’.
Ishengoma, Karume, Masha & Magai Advocates was the first member of the DLA Piper Africa group, an alliance of law firms around Africa, and has assembled one of the largest and most respected teams of practitioners in Tanzania. DLA Piper, in a mark of its cooperation with its Tanzanian alliance partner, seconded legal director Alexander Sarac, a member of the London energy and infrastructure finance team, to the firm in 2013. This has contributed to a heightened emphasis on energy and infrastructure in the Dar es Salaam office, covering deals in Tanzania and the East Africa region. Banking clients include National Bank of Commerce, Commercial Bank of Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of Africa and Stanbic Bank, while corporate clients range from Promotion of Rural Initiatives and Development Enterprises to Puma Energy Tanzania and Vodacom Tanzania. The firm is considered to be ‘commercial’, ‘punctual’ and ‘professionally set up’, and has ‘very deep knowledge of the local environment’. Sadock Magai and Protase Ishengoma are prominent names in energy and infrastructure projects, while the ‘very strong litigation department’ is led by the ‘impressive’ Fatma Karume, who is noted for her professionalism and arbitration expertise.
Mkono & Co has a ‘longstanding’ presence in Tanzania, and maintains a prestigious reputation. It continues to work on headline and big-ticket transactions, most notably in the energy industry. The immensely experienced Nimrod Mkono is a member of parliament and is hugely well connected. Wilbert Kapinga is ‘fantastic’, and is regularly associated with ‘big deals’ in the jurisdiction and the wider region. On the contentious side, Audax Kameja has a tremendous reputation, particularly in intellectual property disputes.
Norton Rose Fulbright has an established Tanzania practice which continues to work on many of the headline transactions in the jurisdiction and beyond. It is at the centre of a number of key infrastructure projects, and maintains an active energy practice; renewables, mining and natural resources are particular strengths of the firm, in Tanzania as well as globally. Trade finance and inbound M&A are cornerstone practice areas in Dar es Salaam, including an increasing flow of private equity transactions, and the firm is also known for its advice to DFIs, including the IFC, regarding their lending to Tanzanian corporates. Major clients include Alten Renewable Energy, Deutsche Bank, Sanlam Capital, Catalyst Principal Partners and Frontier Investment Management. The international firm’s strong commitment to Africa and sizeable presence in South Africa are an obvious boon to the Tanzania practice. In 2015, the firm advised Standard Chartered Bank on a $100m secured term loan to Kenya Commercial Bank. Adam Lovett is one of the outstanding international lawyers in Tanzania, and has built up a sizeable body of experience in the jurisdiction. Director Angela Mndolwa plays an important role in the oil and gas, mining and energy sectors; she is known for her M&A expertise and knowledge of the competition and regulatory environment. Senior associate Laura Kiwelu has ‘in-depth experience of the regional power sector which translates into precise and relevant analysis, pertinent suggestions and a strongly commercial approach’.
East Africa Law Chambers has emerged as a market leader in M&A, largely thanks to prominent practitioners such as Stella Ndikimi and the firm’s position as part of South African law firm Bowman Gilfillan’s Africa group. Commodity finance is a burgeoning area for the firm, with Ndikimi and Thomas Sipemba, a recent hire from Ishengoma, Karume, Masha & Magai Advocates, using their banking law backgrounds to good effect. The firm has also seen considerable activity in the telecoms industry, with George Fernandes enjoying a market-leading reputation in this sector. The firm advised Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (ETISALAT) on the sale of its entire equity stake in Zanzibar Telecom Limited (ZANTEL) to Millicom; and acted for UAP Holdings and Old Mutual Holdings on the acquisition of UAP Insurance Tanzania by Old Mutual. Juvenalis Ngowi leads the dispute resolution practice, and Brian Kangetta, who joined from KPMG, is a recognised tax expert.
ENSafrica entered Tanzania through a merger with local firm Rex Attorneys in May 2015. The deal provided the South Africa headquartered firm with a practice headed by two immensely experienced practitioners, in Mwanaidi Maajar and Alex Nguluma. Acting for an impressive roster of local and international banks and a range of foreign investors, the team has a solid record in mining and resources, banking and finance, and tax litigation and arbitration, and it also has a fast-growing oil and gas practice. Mwanaidi Maajar is an acknowledged expert in banking and finance, natural resources and energy, while Alex Nguluma is a market leader in tax consultancy, tax litigation and arbitration, commercial litigation, and insolvency. The firm is ‘moving in the right direction’, according to peers. Clients include NBC Bank Tanzania, African Banking Corporation Tanzania, Wartsila, Symbion Power Tanzania and Statoil Tanzania.
FK Law Chambers is best known for its tax expertise, but has deep and rounded experience in corporate, employment and mainstream dispute resolution. Florens Luoga has a strong profile for tax work.
Yakubu & Associates Chamber focuses on corporate advisory work for private sector enterprises and government agencies, and is particularly active in oil and gas, financial services, and real estate. In 2015, it represented Huawei Technologies Tanzania in a series of disputes, including two breach of contract cases. It also advised Vegeta Podravka, a European food processor, on establishing its business in Tanzania. Saidi Yakubu Othman is a well-connected senior practitioner, having previously worked as head of the deputy speaker’s office in the Tanzanian parliament.