Banking and finance
Werksmans Attorneys’ broad-based practice is especially known for its DCM, structured finance (including securitisation), real estate finance and project finance expertise. In addition, it has an emerging reputation for preference share financings and leveraged finance. The firm advises all the major South African banks, large mining houses and project sponsors. Richard Roothman is a market leader in DCM, with Elliott Wood being well regarded for acquisition finance and Chris Moraitis for project finance. The latter also represented South African Reserve Bank in the restructuring of African Bank.
Commercial, corporate and M&A
Werksmans Attorneys’ lean structure enables ‘good partner attention’ on any mandate, so that it is ‘responsive and can be relied on in an urgent situation’. It remains active in the mining, pharmaceuticals, retail and telecoms sectors, and recently worked on a series of distressed and restructuring transactions. Although it lost leading practitioner Gareth Driver to Webber Wentzel in 2015, the firm retains good depth, including Pierre le Roux, whom one client describes as being ‘probably the best M&A attorney in South Africa’, as well as other senior figures Kevin Trudgeon, David Gewer and Gerhard Johannes.
Werksmans Attorneys has a strong cartel and abuse of dominance practice and expert knowledge of the IT and technology industry. It also has plentiful experience in high-value and cross-border merger matters. The team acted for Computicket in headline abuse of dominance and judicial review proceedings, the latest in a series of such cases handled by the firm. ‘Solid lawyer’ Paul Coetser heads the practice, which also includes Paul Cleland, Ahmore Burger-Smidt, Pieter Steyn and Petra Krusche.
Werksmans Attorneys is noted for contentious and non-contentious matters, especially on behalf of contractors and engineers. In this regard, Jason Smit is ‘an outstanding litigation lawyer’ and regarded by one client as being ‘the most knowledgeable construction law attorney in RSA’. The team is ‘diligent’, ‘professional’ and ‘goes the extra mile’.
Werksmans Attorneys has market-leading practitioners such as chairman David Hertz and the vastly experienced Des Williams, the latter of whom is an emerging name in the international arbitration segment. It is also heading the field in business rescue cases through Eric Levenstein and government and regulatory matters, where Corlett Manaka is to the fore. The team is representing the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) in connection with headline allegations of collusive tendering in the construction industry.
David Hertz - Werksmans Attorneys
Des Williams - Werksmans Attorneys
Werksmans Attorneys has a fine standing in IP litigation through experienced figures Janine Hollesen and Stuart Gardiner. Donvay Wegierski is noted for trade mark portfolio management and the practice manages Telkom’s entire IP portfolio, including some 1,000 trade marks and a multitude of patents.
Werksmans Attorneys is an emerging name in the investment funds field with much credit going to the highly regarded Shayne Krige, who has extensive local and international fund structuring expertise. Clients include Edcon, Shoprite Checkers, Pepkorfin and Standard Bank.
Labour and employment
Werksmans Attorneys remains a big name in TUPE, outsourcing arrangements, and restructuring work. Mining, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals are key industry sectors. Anastasia Vatalidis is in ‘a class of her own in employment law’, according to one client.
Werksmans Attorneys has a strong tradition in the mining sector, with a core focus on coal and manganese. Clients include Glencore Xstrata and South32, in addition to which the team has a growing relationship with Anglo American and new clients including Ichor Coal. Practice head Chris Stevens is widely acknowledged as being one of the leading mining law specialists in South Africa, and he leads a practice that is most associated with coal and manganese. The team is increasingly active in neighbouring jurisdictions such as Namibia and Tanzania.
Projects and infrastructure
Werksmans Attorneys has a dynamic project development practice and attracts a healthy flow of project finance mandates. It has an especially impressive record in the renewable energy and nuclear project development field; similarly so for roads, rail and property development. Clients include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, BHP Billiton, Glencore Operations South Africa, Vestas, SunEdison and South African National Roads Agency. Recent work includes advising Mitsubishi on its interests in the Medupi and Kusile power stations. Dave Walker, Chris Moraitis, Astrid Berman and Deon Griessel are key practitioners. Gregory Nott joined Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc.
Werksmans Attorneys augmented its strong practice by hiring transfer pricing and international tax specialist Michael Honiball from Webber Wentzel, who gives the group more of a cross-border element and links up with the highly respected Ernest Mazansky. Doelie Lessing is also highly recommended in the practice, which represents a variety of major corporates and high-net-worth individuals.
South Africa: Real estate
Werksmans Attorneys continues to make an impression in mixed-use and retail developments. It advised Permasolve on The Point mixed-use retail and commercial development in Sea Point, Cape Town. Hendrik Kotze is the key partner.
Further information on Werksmans Attorneys
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