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Cameroon

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Editorial

Legal market overview

Despite falling oil prices and a security crisis in the far north of the country, Cameroon’s economy kept relatively stable in recent years with a current healthy GDP growth rate of 5.2%, which is mainly due to its diversification through agricultural and forestry value chains, investment incentives, the shift to renewable energies and an increased involvement of domestic corporations in oil and gas projects in the neighbouring Gabon.

The positive economic climate continues to attract foreign investment and fosters the set-up of foreign subsidiaries as well as increased activity in the construction sector. Large infrastructure projects to further develop road and railway systems and the construction of hotels, commercial and apartment complexes lead to a steady workflow for local law firms.

Growing need for legal advice can also be observed in the media and technology sector thanks to a burgeoning IT scene with several start-ups located in Buea and increasing political will to strengthen cyber security: following the foundation of the Centre for Digital Forensic and Cyber Security, Cameroon, which is among the worst affected by cybercrime in Africa, introduced a strategy to combat internet-based crime and to build a substantial digital economy.

Cameroon’s legal market is characterized by small, local firms that offer a full-service approach, often with a strong emphasis on contentious work. Firms such as LPA-Itineriz, Abeng Law Firm and Geni & Kebe are part of an international network whereas practices like Etah-Nan & Co and Jing & Partners leverage their longstanding experience in the market.

Full-service firm Etah-Nan & Co has particular strength in contentious and non-contentious banking and finance, aviation, energy as well as mining and petroleum matters and acts for domestic and international clients from the public and private sector, including the Commercial Bank of Cameroon, Schlumberger and Ericsson. Renowned managing partner David Etah Akoh regularly advises investors in relation to the Petroleum Code and Mining Code and is highly experienced in syndicated loan transactions. Head of litigation Paul Nan advises on contentious IP, environmental law and competition law issues while Germain Inches Cheudjouo handles corporate and commercial disputes.

Representing a range of national and multinational entities, Jing & Partners has a well-established corporate and commercial practice under the leadership of founding partner Paul Jing. The team packs a particular punch in assisting foreign investors with the acquisition of formerly state-owned companies and subsequent restructuring processes; and advises regularly on asset and structured finance in the commodities, telecoms and energy sectors. Laurent Dongmo has expertise in advising on banking, capital markets, employment and dispute resolution matters.

Led by managing partner Virgile Ngassam, Ngassam, Fansi & Mouafo, Avocats Associés’ ‘highly responsive’ team represents a stellar client roster, including DHL Express, Turkish Airlines and Ecobank, in contentious and non-contentious matters, while it exhibits particular strength in corporate, commercial and M&A instructions. Recent work highlights include advising a foreign organisation on a bilateral agreement with the government of Cameroon as well as a due diligence regarding the establishment of a gas company branch. Laurence Mouafo regularly handles litigation matters and the ‘very proactive’ head of the corporate and commercial department Hyacinthe Fansi is well-regarded for his experience in setting up foreign businesses in Cameroon.

With strong expertise in the oil and gas sector, Abeng Law Firm’s two-partner team handles a steady stream of commercial transactions and matters related to OHADA law for national and international clients; other focus areas are IP, debt recovery and dispute resolution. Renowned managing partner Abeng Roland regularly advises on loan and finance agreements and assists with company set-ups. The firm is a member of the Miranda Alliance.

Located in Douala and Yaoundé, LPA-Itineriz features particular expertise in the mining as well as oil and gas sector and regularly acts for energy operators, project developers, investors and public entities. Yves Moukory and Ghislaine Lovet assisted bus operator STECY with a PPP contract for urban mass transport in the capital and other highlights saw the group advising industrial group NABCO on its purchase by Source du Pays and assisting Asca Asset Management with the structuring of two Central African funds.

Zangue & Partners’ practice covers banking and finance, M&A and dispute resolution for a wide range of clients from various sectors, including energy, mining, oil and gas as well as telecommunications. Under the leadership of Serges Martin Zangue, the team assisted Platinum Power with the development of a hydro plant project and advised HSBC and SCB London on the issuance of a guarantee for a Cameroonian oil and gas company. Other notable clients are Maersk Line, Kenya Airways and Pullman Hotels.

Noted for its ‘wealth of experience’, CT-Avocats focuses on corporate and M&A as well as dispute resolution. In recent highlight work, the group represented Africa Food Distribution in a litigation against the State of Cameroon regarding the importation of vegetable oil; and assisted CCPC Finance with the increase of its share capital. Founding partner Charles Tchuente is praised for his ‘wealth of experience’.

The affiliated office of Senegal headquartered Geni & Kebe fields a solid practice in Douala and focuses on mining, transport and energy law as well as banking, finance and corporate advice. Under the leadership of managing partner Mouhamed Kebe and Aboubcar Fall, the team assists national and multinational entities such as Goldman Sachs, Jindal Steel and Power and Island Oil. In a noteworthy development, the firm became a member of DLA Piper Africa in June 2017.

Henri Job Law Firm covers the full array of corporate and finance, with particular strength in joint ventures, project finance and debt recovery. Other focus areas are employment, insurance, IP, tax and TMT. Managing partner Henri Job is known for his experience as arbitrator and mediator.

Cabinet Nyemb is particularly known for its experience in the dispute resolution arena, where it acts with a special focus on commercial and tax litigation. Recent highlights saw the team acting on behalf of a transportation company in criminal, civil and commercial proceedings related to a rail disaster; and assisting a Cameroonian finance company with a PPP contract for a hotel development project. Managing partner Jacques Nyemb is recommended.

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