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Banking and finance
Webber Wentzel’s ‘huge team’ covers all key product areas and is especially strong in acquisition, leveraged, asset and project finance, as well as debt capital markets. The firm has become more lender-oriented, acting for clients such as RMB, Absa Bank and Standard Bank. It advised the senior lenders on the refinancing and recapitalisation of Lonmin. Johan de Lange is ‘a trusted adviser with a great commercial mind’; Kathy Shepherd is ‘commercial’, ‘responsive’ and ‘authoritative’; DCM specialist Karen Couzyn is ‘very knowledgeable, skilled and practical’; and cross-border expert Muhammad Sader is ‘a pleasure to work with’. Also recommended are Johann Scholtz and asset finance specialist Scott Edmundson.
Johan de Lange - Webber Wentzel
Commercial, corporate and M&A
Webber Wentzel continues to dominate in headline M&A and private equity transactions. The firm has an esteemed record in public M&A and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals. It advised Anheuser-Busch InBev on its landmark acquisition of SABMiller, and acted for Al Noor Hospitals Group in its merger with Mediclinic, which included an inward secondary listing of Al Noor on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Senior partner Christo Els and Gareth Driver are regularly involved in complex transactions. Corporate practice head Safiyya Patel, who is ‘a very clear thinker, experienced, impressive and easy going’, has strong expertise in BEE issues. Colin du Toit, Mark Phillips and private equity expert and managing partner Sally Hutton are also recommended. Johannes Gouws and Peter Bradshaw joined DLA Piper’s new Johannesburg office.
Christo Els - Webber Wentzel
Gareth Driver - Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel is the ‘leading M&A competition team in the country’, according to one client, with the sizeable practice noted for its ‘excellent industry knowledge and response times’. The firm has a growing presence across Africa, often working alongside alliance partner Linklaters; it was a key adviser to Anheuser-Busch InBev in its headline acquisition of SABMiller, which required merger control filings in ten African jurisdictions. The ‘pragmatic’ Desmond Rudman has ‘in-depth knowledge’; Daryl Dingley ‘knows everyone in the Competition Commission and has detailed knowledge of how it operates’; Martin Versfeld is ‘very professional’ with ‘an in-depth knowledge of the various industries and business environment’; and Robert Wilson is also recommended. Lesley Morphet joined Hogan Lovells (South Africa), while Janine Simpson left for DLA Piper.
Desmond Rudman - Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel is ‘attentive’, ‘practical’ and can provide ‘various levels of expertise’. The firm is a leader in front-end work in the energy and infrastructure sectors, with numerous mandates now coming from outside South Africa. On the disputes side, the firm is advising Baker Hughes in a cross-border dispute with a contactor in Mozambique. ‘Level-headed’ disputes specialist Priyesh Daya is ‘great to work with’. Robert Appelbaum, Megan Jarvis and Dairmuid Short are also recommended. Deirdré Simaan joined Pinsent Masons LLP. Andrew van Niekerk left the firm in 2017.
Webber Wentzel provides an ‘outstanding’, ‘comprehensive and integrated’ service and its ‘meticulous attention to detail is unmatched’. The firm is at the forefront of major commercial disputes, public interest cases, class actions and procurement litigation. It also leads in business rescue cases through Lara Kahn. The firm advised Absa in a reckless and negligent trading claim against Nedbank. Recommended lawyers include Stuart McCafferty, Trevor Versfeld, Nick Alp and the ‘intelligent’ and ‘tenacious’ Vlad Movshovich, who has an ‘extremely sharp legal mind’.
Stuart McCafferty - Webber Wentzel
Trevor Versfeld - Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel is especially strong in the mining and TMT sectors and in retrenchment exercises, business rescue cases and restraint of trade litigation. The firm provides an ‘exceptional’ service through ‘very knowledgeable’ practitioners. In addition to handling several major mining cases, the firm also represented the South African Airways Pilots Association in arbitration proceedings over the interpretation of its scope agreement with South African Airways. Johan Olivier, Nick Robb and Pamela Stein are recommended. Kenneth Coster is ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘always willing to go the extra mile’.
Johan Olivier - Webber Wentzel
Nick Robb - Webber Wentzel
Kirsten Eiser - Webber Wentzel
Webber Wentzel is noted for commercial transactions, filings and contentious work. It is increasingly active in private equity deals and biotech transactions. Clients include Red Bull, Naspers, British American Tobacco and Emirates. The team advised Al-Noor Hospitals Group on the IP aspects of its reverse takeover by Mediclinic International. Bernadette Versfeld and Leanne Mostert head the practice, which also includes Lara Brandani.
Webber Wentzel is the traditional leader in private equity, with ‘good insight’, ‘rapid response times’ and deep expertise in fund formation, tax and listings. It advised marquee client Ethos Private Equity on the JSE listing of Ethos Capital. The firm is also close to most of the top GPs in Africa, a range of investment banks and top LPs, including DFIs. Nicole Paige is ‘thorough, responsive and professional’.
Webber Wentzel is ‘extremely responsive’, has ‘high business acumen’ and is ‘knowledgeable in both the law and the commercial drivers in the industry’. Its practice provides a scale and depth of service that few firms can match, covering South Africa and numerous resource-rich jurisdictions across the continent. The practice has handled restructurings, disposals, listings and several private equity investments; highlights included advising Rustenburg Platinum Mines on the disposal of its Rustenburg Section asset, and assisting Anglo American with the restructuring of its South African coal business. Vale and South32 are also clients. Transactions specialist and ‘great lawyer’ Bruce Dickinson has ‘in-depth knowledge that is hard to beat’, and the ‘extremely dedicated’ Alison Mills has an ‘attention to detail that is unsurpassed’. Kate Collier, Lisa Swaine and ‘major player’ Manus Booysen are recommended.
Bruce Dickinson - Webber Wentzel
Projects and infrastructure
Webber Wentzel’s ‘attentive attorneys’ form ‘a very professional’ team that provides ‘excellent support’. With Kenny Paton, John Smelcer and Rainer Nowak as key contacts, the firm is very strong in oil and gas, including gas-to-power projects, and it advised Namcor on the development of the Kudu gas project. It also has a sizeable infrastructure practice covering much of sub-Saharan Africa; highlights included assisting BRM HOAP Holdings with the landmark development of a pipeline from the Port of Djibouti to Ethiopia. Giles White and Alessandra Pardini are recommended for their international expertise. Karel Potgieter left for Baker McKenzie Johannesburg.
The ‘very energetic and responsive’ team at Webber Wentzel is ‘focused, engaging, knowledgeable and solution-driven’. It regularly handles major commercial and residential developments, including in the Johannesburg CBD, Pretoria and Cape Town. It advised British American Tobacco on the leasing of its South Africa head office in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Cape Town-based Sulani Jooste is ‘hardworking’, ‘commercial’ and ‘adds value in complex transactions’. Mark McIntosh and Zunaid Rawoot are also recommended.
Shipping and transport
Webber Wentzel’s ‘top’ shipping and transport practice delivers a ‘sound, no-nonsense and commercial approach’ that ‘gets results’. The firm is a market leader in shipping, aviation and rail. It represented Port of Richards Bay, Transnet National Ports Authority and its underwriters in defending claims arising out of the grounding and total loss of the capesize bulk carrier MV Smart. Gavin Fitzmaurice is ‘one of the best shipping litigators in South Africa’ and ‘always gets the job done’. The ‘first-rate’ Andre Bowley (who has ‘a clear grasp of commercial considerations’) and Patrick Holloway are recommended for shipping, while Haydn Davies and Scott Edmundson are aviation experts, with Edmundson also noted for his rail practice.
Webber Wentzel’s ‘technically solid team’ provides a ‘good all-round offering’, delivering ‘great quality and value for money’. It remains a leader in M&A and private equity, in part thanks to private equity tax specialist Brian Dennehy and funds expert Nicole Paige. Many within the team have tax accounting backgrounds and have deep experience advising South Africa-headquartered and foreign multinationals, as well as local businesses. The firm, through Nina Keyser, is increasingly active in contentious matters, and is representing Kumbu Iron Ore in a dispute involving its subsidiary Sishen Iron Ore and the South African Revenue Service (SARS). International tax expert Anne Bennett is highly regarded. Elandre Brandt left the firm.
Anne Bennett - Webber Wentzel
Further information on Webber Wentzel
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