Banking and finance in South Africa
Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP
Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP has 'the best team in the country' according to one client and has maintained a significant presence in refinancing, fund financings and preference share financings. The large team has a high degree of specialisation and a mix of South African and English law expertise, the latter through Michael Duncan and Kathleen Wong. The team is 'commercially driven', 'proactive and solutions driven', and is close to local and international lenders, working on a high proportion of the syndicated loans in the market. It has a growing proportion of private equity and other borrower work and is also especially active in major refinancings and real estate finance. It advised the lenders on Yebo Yethu's preference share funding for its acquisition of shares in Vodacom; this was the largest-ever broad based black economic empowerment transaction in the telecoms sector. Lionel Shawe is 'the brightest banking and finance lawyer in the country'. Anthony Colegrave is a leader in derivatives. Sibusiso Zungu is recommended for aircraft finance and project financings. Khurshid Fazel joined Webber Wentzel in 2019.
ENSafrica continues to win accolades for refinancings, restructurings and cross-border financings; the team features English and OHADA law experts. A team led by Craig Saven advised IFC on a tier 2 subordinated regulated capital loan to I&M Bank in Rwanda. The firm is also noted for regulatory work and fund-driven financings and is 'commercially savvy', 'understands its clients' businesses, the industry and realities', 'offers solutions to problems' and 'proactively tries to pre-empt any foreseeable problems'. Sean Lederman has an outstanding reputation, as does Roger Rudolph and preference share funding specialist Hermann Wessels. Clinton van Loggerenberg is 'a phenomenal debt capital markets attorney', is 'a pleasure to work with' and is especially recommended for derivatives and structured finance. Project finance expert Bradley Harber has joined from Norton Rose Fulbright.
Webber Wentzel continues to operate at the forefront of a range of financing segments, including acquisition finance, debt capital markets (DCM), real estate finance and funds-driven financings. The largely lender-driven practice advised FirstRand Bank and Investec Bank as joint mandated lead arrangers for the refinancing of the senior term loan and working capital facilities of Peermont Global. Clients praise the team's 'experience and commercial knowledge' and its 'ability to pick up an issue with minimal time to get up to speed'. Kathy Shepherd, Mark Kyle and DCM specialist Karen Couzyn are outstanding. Johann Scholtz is recommended for bank regulatory matters. Khurshid Fazel was a new arrival from Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP in 2019. Johan de Lange left the firm to join real estate development company, Prime Kapital.
Baker McKenzie Johannesburg continues to build its standing in cross-border financings involving the rest of Africa, including engagements from development finance institutions, domestic and international banks, and other multinational clients. The team is praised for its expertise in South African and English law, is 'approachable and pragmatic', and 'dependable and committed'. Wildu du Plessis is a giant of the market, while Jen Stolp is noted for project finance in the renewable energy segment. Stolp led the team that advised Absa and Nedbank on the project financing of the 25MW Ngodwana biomass facility in the Mpumalanga Province. Chris Hogan is an experienced figure in DCM, equity-linked deals and structured lending. Bridgett Majola is a key name at senior associate level. Lodewyk Meyer, who has trade finance expertise, was a new arrival from Hogan Lovells (South Africa) in July 2019.
Bowmans has 'a very commercial approach and is excellent at going above and beyond in driving transactions'. The firm has maintained its prominence in the market thanks to a series of impressive restructuring engagements. It advised various investment and development funds on the restructuring of Real People Investment Holdings' capital structure and third party debt, which involved the clients receiving a significant shareholding in the company; Real People's debt was listed on both the Johannesburg and Swedish stock exchanges. The team is historically strong in acquisition finance and has further cemented its standing in trade and commodity finance. Ulrike Naumann provides 'commercially-minded advice and negotiates strong positions' for clients. Preference share funding expert Jan Kruger and resource financing specialist Jason Wilkinson are also recommended.
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr remains noted for preference share fundings, derivatives, structured lending and bank regulatory matters. It advised Harmony Gold on a $200m equity take out bridge loan facility to fund part of the acquisition of the Moab Khotsong and Great Noligwa Mines from Anglo Gold Ashanti. Deon Wilken heads the department, which also includes seasoned figure Ludwig Smith, DCM specialist Pierre Swart and derivatives expert Bridget King.
Norton Rose Fulbright has an active and broad-based practice that continues to impress in cross-border financings, preference share fundings, restructurings, trade and commodity finance, project finance and regulatory issues. The team has worked on a series of headline restructurings. Jackie Midlane is a top banking and project finance lawyer and Steven Gamble is recommended for cross-border financings. Former department head Riza Moosa left to launch his own firm.
Werksmans Attorneys has a firmly established practice with a lengthy record in acquisition and leveraged finance, structured finance and DCM, project finance and syndicated lending. Restructurings and refinancings are key growth areas; a team led by Elliott Wood advised Blue Label Telecoms as a new shareholder in Cell C as part of the latter's headline restructuring. Danny Andropoulos has cemented the firm's connection to Standard Bank with he and the firm advising the bank on a series of major financings and refinancings. Paul Tindle is another key name an advised Real People on a capital restructure transaction. Richard Roothman is outstanding in structured finance.
FASKEN is a market leader in project finance and has a solid record in structured trade and commodity finance, corporate bonds and general corporate finance. The firm has one of the most stable senior teams in the market. It advised the lenders on the headline portfolio financing of five wind energy projects, producing some 700MW of electricity; the transaction has been classed as the largest single renewable energy financing in Africa. Other work includes assisting the lenders with the financing for seven solar photovoltaic power plants in Kenya. Ashen Jugoo, Lara Bezuidenhoudt and Blaize Vance are all highly reputed.
Hogan Lovells (South Africa) is recognised for its structured trade and commodity finance practice, though it also has broad banking credentials. Cross-border finance and restructurings in Africa are increasingly important elements of the practice and the team is increasingly instructed by debt funds. The department also has a mix of South Africa and English law expertise. It advised PPC on the restructuring and extension of an existing $168m loan to its subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Anina Boshoff is increasingly prominent. Lodewyk Meyer joined Baker McKenzie Johannesburg in July 2019.
White & Case LLP continues to impress in acquisition finance, real estate finance and restructuring. The team advised Nedbank and Absa Bank on the refinancing of Tharisa Mineral Resources’ project finance facility. Joz Coetzer and Craig Whitley are key partners along with newly promoted partner Quintin du Plessis.
DLA Piper has genuine senior level credibility with the presence of Jackie Pennington and Diana Messerschmidt. Acquisition and leveraged finance, preference share financings, derivatives and asset-based lending is at the heart of the practice. The team advised RMB on the refinancing of a major South African BEE investment fund’s debt funding.
Glyn Marais' strong corporate practice provides a solid base for a consistent pipeline of banking and finance engagements. Its versatile and multi-skilled partners are especially adept at corporate loans and acquisition financings, while its eminent financing-driven tax practice led by Richard Glyn provides additional key expertise. Willem de Villiers is a highly rated practitioner.
Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP is known primarily for project finance and acquisition finance. It advised the lenders on the financing of an office accommodation PPP project for the Department of Rural Development. Brigette Baillie and Biddy Faber have excellent reputations, as does English law practitioner Edward Baring.