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Banking and finance
Webber Wentzel is an acknowledged market leader in key product areas such as acquisition finance, project finance, asset finance, debt capital markets (DCM) and structured finance. In 2014, it advised Rand Merchant Bank on the listing of Krugerrand Custodial Certificates on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Johan de Lange and Johann Scholtz are senior members of the department, which also includes Kathy Shepherd and DCM expert Karen Couzyn. The firm reinforced the practice by hiring Muhammad Sader and Shaun Browne from Baker & McKenzie, Mike Mclaren from Bowman Gilfillan, and Tahera Cassim from Prinsloo, Tindle & Andropoulos Inc.
Johan de Lange - Webber Wentzel
Commercial, corporate and M&A
Webber Wentzel has an outstanding record in big-ticket deals and a particularly fine one in private equity transactions, although the departure of John Bellew to Bowman Gilfillan is a blow in that context. The team was reinforced by the arrival of the highly respected Gareth Driver and Huneiza Goolam from Werksmans Attorneys, Adam Ismail from ENSafrica, and Mark Phillips from Read Hope Phillips. Colin du Toit has ‘an incredible legal mind’ and is ‘simply one of the top M&A lawyers in the country’, and the ‘business-oriented’ Johannes Gouws is ‘extremely professional’. Sally Hutton, who is recommended for strategic and private equity deals, recently advised Ethos Private Equity Fund VI on its disposal of Tiger Automotive Investments and its acquisition of Autozone Holdings. Key figure Christo Els is senior partner of the firm.
Christo Els - Webber Wentzel
Gareth Driver - Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel provides ‘truly exceptional’, ‘decisive’, and ‘effective’ service. Its large team of experienced competition law specialists includes Daryl Dingley, Desmond Rudman, Robert Wilson and Janine Simpson, as well as Martin Versfeld, who is ‘always available’ and has ‘a wealth of knowledge’. The firm advised Bayer on the South African aspects of its global acquisition of the consumer care business of Merck & Co. Other clients include Old Mutual, Woolworths, Lafarge and Unilever. Lesley Morphet recently joined Hogan Lovells (South Africa).
Webber Wentzel’s team is ‘amongst the best’ and ‘brings insight and understanding of the complexities of managing a construction project’. Much of the firm’s work is connected to its top-tier projects practice, leading the team to become involved in a wealth of matters outside of South Africa, including renewable energy developments and infrastructure projects. Andrew van Niekerk, who has ‘practical experience and knowledge’, is recommended along with Robert Appelbaum and veteran consultant Dairmuid Short.
Webber Wentzel consistently handles big-ticket litigation for major clients. Its impressive caseload ranges from high-end procurement disputes to international trade litigation, telecoms cases and cross-border arbitration work. Nick Alp led the team’s representation of MTN in its $4.2bn dispute with Turkcell. Alp and Stuart McCafferty also defended Anglo American in the silicosis class action. Trevor Versfeld is another senior practitioner and Lara Kahn impresses in business rescue cases.
Stuart McCafferty - Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel mixes a sizeable commercial and transactional IP practice with a growing body of prosecution work. Clients include Dawn Limited, Tracker Connect, Oxford University Press, Danone, Red Bull and MMI Holdings. The team recently advised R&R Ice Cream on the IP aspects of its acquisition of Nestlé South Africa’s ice cream business in sub-Saharan Africa. Bernadette Versfeld and Leanne Mostert head the practice.
Webber Wentzel is intensely focused on the private equity industry with a principal emphasis on GPs, with key fund formation partner Nicole Paige and a multitude of tax specialists in support. Key clients include Ethos Private Equity, Vantage Mezzanine, Capitalworks Private Equity and Carlyle. The team recently worked on the formation of Vantage Mezzanine Fund III and Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund. John Bellew joined Bowman Gilfillan.
Labour and employment
Webber Wentzel has ‘good industry knowledge’, allowing it to provide ‘to-the-point answers’. It has three of the most experienced employment specialists in the market in the form of ‘heavy hitter’ Johan Olivier, Nick Robb and the ‘extremely good’ and ‘very insightful’ Pamela Stein. The team is particularly strong in the mining industry and in the TMT, retail, heavy industry and engineering and financial services sectors. The team has experienced an upswing in retrenchment exercises, transfer of undertakings and restraint of trade matters.
Nick Robb - Webber Wentzel
Legal market overview
Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP further developed its project finance practice with the hire of Jason van der Poel from Webber Wentzel.
Webber Wentzel has ‘very good industry knowledge’ and provides ‘world-class standards’ of service. Although it lost leading mining law specialist Peter Leon to the new Johannesburg office of Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP in 2015, the firm has long traditions in the industry and a deep team of experts. Manus Booysen is a technical mining expert and Bruce Dickinson is a market leader in M&A in the sector. Kate Collier is an expert in occupational health and safety law; Lisa Swaine is recommended for mining litigation.
Bruce Dickinson - Webber Wentzel
Projects and infrastructure
Webber Wentzel is working hard to develop its standing in projects work in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. It is well positioned for energy and infrastructure projects, utilising its mix of South African and English qualified practitioners. The substantial team handles government and private sector mandates, and has upped its emphasis on oil and gas through John Smelcer and Kenny Paton – recent work includes advising Sunbird Energy on the Ibhubesi offshore gas field. The departures of Jason van der Poel to Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP and Brigette Baillie to Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP has been ‘noticeably disruptive’, according to clients, but the arrival of veteran Giles White and the firm’s association with Linklaters LLP has brought in ‘good industry expertise’ and given it ‘a high degree of global support’. Karel Potgieter is recommended for renewable energy projects.
Shipping and transport
Webber Wentzel’s transport and shipping practice covers aviation, road, rail and maritime matters. The firm has one of the leading shipping teams in South Africa, which includes the ‘absolutely first rate’ and ‘exceptional negotiator and contract writer’ Andre Bowley, who has an ‘encyclopaedic knowledge of South African maritime law’, as well as Gavin Fitzmaurice and the ‘very good’ Patrick Holloway. The team has ‘detailed knowledge of the marine industry’ and ‘a great depth of resource in all aspects of shipbuilding and shipbuilding finance’. Scott Edmundson is a market leader in rail and rolling stock procurement. In aviation, the firm represents major international lenders and lessors, an area in which Neerasha Singh is ‘commercially acute’ and ‘provides practical solutions’. In road-related work, Michael Evans and his team are active in the bus rapid transit (BRT) programme.
Webber Wentzel’s emphasis is on corporate transactions, international taxation and tax disputes. The team represents a number of Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed clients and has upped its focus on the broader African continent. The team recently advised BlackStar Group on the tax aspects of its acquisition of Times Media. International tax experts Anne Bennett and Elandre Brandt are highly regarded, as is tax disputes specialist Nina Keyser. Private equity expert Mark Linington joined Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and international tax specialist Michael Honiball moved to Werksmans Attorneys, but corporate transactions tax partner Brian Dennehy re-joined from Standard Bank.
South Africa: Real estate
Webber Wentzel’s ‘responsive’ team ‘will go the extra mile’, and has a broad and impressive practice covering retail, office and mixed-use projects, as well as township developments. Mark McIntosh heads the department, which also includes the ‘proactive’ Sulani Jooste, who has ‘excellent industry and conveyancing knowledge’.
Further information on Webber Wentzel
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