Bowmans has cemented its standing in cross-border M&A and continues to impress in advising foreign investors and multinational clients. It has a high market share of engagements on transformational and headline deals. Ezra Davids is chairman of the corporate group and has an excellent record in cross-border deals. Charles Douglas and Tholinhlanhla Gcabashe jointly head the M&A department, while John Bellew leads the private equity team. Ashleigh Hale and Charles Young are also highly rated.
Commercial, corporate and M&A in South Africa
‘The high quality team is proactive and engaged.‘
‘Ashleigh Hale is an excellent negotiator and is on top of the transaction.‘
‘Charles Douglas is a very capable lawyer and focused on getting deals done.‘
Chevron Global Energy
African Wildlife Holdings Partnership
- Advised PepsiCo on its acquisition of Pioneer Foods, the South African group.
- Assisted Anheuser-Busch InBev and its subsidiaries with the disposal of the soft drinks businesses of Zambian Breweries, Kgalagadi Breweries and Swaziland Beverages to the Coca-Cola Company.
- Acted for Aton on its hostile tender offer for Murray & Roberts Holdings
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr is at the forefront of South Africa-listed company and private equity transactions. It is also gaining ground in cross-border deals and remains strong in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Willem Jacobs is a leader in listed company transactions and David Pinnock is a major name in private equity deals. Johan Latsky is also rated, as are Cape Town's Peter Hesseling, David Thompson and Johan Green. Justine Krige is an emerging name. Since publication, Lilia Franca left the firm.
‘The department has a strong commercial inclination and business sense.’
‘We have found the team to be highly commercial yet practical in implementing the transactions envisaged/desired by the counter-parties. Project management has been very good. We know exactly where we are in the bigger process – there no surprises.‘
‘The team provides well-balanced, practical, and business orientated service offering.‘
‘Willem Jacobs works closely with us to understand our objectives, to ensure that the logic/rationale is thoroughly tested and then accurately translated into best-in-class documentation that is easy to interpret and use. Willem is commercial and practical when advising us, which assists in clear decision-making with a minimum of back and forth.‘
‘David Pinnock is particularly great at cutting through to the actual risk issues which need to be addressed, with practical solutions.‘
‘Peter Hesseling is knowledgeable, commercial and solution orientated.‘
‘David Thompson is an excellent lawyer who has impressive legal and industry knowledge and handles complex and delicate issues with considerable skill.‘
‘Johan Green has the ability to remain calm and rational when the counter-party or their attorneys are no longer acting reasonable or commercial.‘
‘Justine Krige is not only an excellent commercial lawyer, but also extremely helpful, approachable, efficient and always ready to go the extra mile.‘
- Advised Vodacom Group and YeboYethu on a restructuring of the black economic empowerment arrangements.
- Acted for Séché on its take private acquisition of Interwaste Holdings, the South African waste management company.
- Advised MCGF II Partnership and MCGF II Investments on its take private acquisition of Master Plastics, the South African packaging company.
ENSafrica has a significant market share of domestic and cross-border M&A deals, including transactions involving one or more other African jurisdictions. It is also a growing force in private equity deals. Michael Katz, Doron Joffe, Ian Hayes, Koos Pretorius and Julius Oosthuizen are all highly rated.
‘The team is professional, experienced, efficient, responsive and thinks outside of the box.‘
- Advised Sanlam on Sanlam Emerging Markets Ireland increasing its interest to a 100% share in Saham Finances, the Moroccan holding company.
- Advised Sanlam Investment Holdings on its partnership with Phoenix IntraWorks to establish Sanlam InfraWorks, an investment and development company targeting infrastructure and climate-related investments.
- Assisted Discovery with its acquisition of FirstRand Investment Holdings’ 25.01% interest in Discovery Bank.
Webber Wentzel frequently lands many of the headline and transformational deals in the market, whether it be strategic M&A or private equity transactions. Major corporate restructurings and high-value listings also form a significant part of the practice. Sally Hutton is a recognised leader in private equity transactions, while also serving as the firm's managing partner. Similarly, Christo Els is senior partner and a consistent force in big-ticket M&A. Colin du Toit and Gareth Driver are also outstanding individuals, while Jesse Watson is emerging as a future leader in major ECM and M&A deals. Warren Drue, Mark Phillips, Safiyya Patel and Ziyanda Ntshona are also rated. Cape Town partner Adam Ismail has also led a number of the firm's major transaction engagements. Lilia Franca was a new arrival in 2021 from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
‘Webber Wentzel is outstanding and is head and shoulders above its peers particularly when dealing with the most complex and fundamentally transformational transactions.’
‘A dynamic, young team that is commercial and practical, and consistently delivers beyond expectations.‘
‘It is outstanding, proactive, commercially insightful and has unmatched levels of commitment.‘
‘Sally Hutton is top of the pile. Big private equity firms want her on their deals.‘
‘Jesse Watson combines exceptional intellect with deep knowledge of his subject, a down to earth and practical problem solving ability, a charming disposition and a work ethic like none other. Jesse is our chosen go to person under all circumstances.‘
‘Warren Drue goes above and beyond the call of duty for clients. He is a strong negotiator, very commercial and practical.‘
African Rainbow Capital
Liberty Two Degrees
- Advised Pioneer Foods on PepsiCo’s offer to acquire its ordinary shares by way of a scheme of arrangement or standby offer.
- Assisted Naspers with its proposed listing of its international internet assets on Euronext Amsterdam combined with a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
- Advised African Rainbow Capital Financial Services on its acquisition of 90% of the shares of Commonwealth Bank of South Africa.
Baker McKenzie Johannesburg
Baker McKenzie Johannesburg is noted for both strategic M&A and private equity transactions. The excellent South Africa team is increasingly active in big-ticket cross-border M&A, including deals in the mining sector. Restructurings and asset disposals also feature strongly for the practice. Morné van der Merwe is a strong player in big-ticket M&A, including mining-sector transactions. Mike van Rensburg and Marc Yudaken are also rated, the latter gaining further prominence in private equity.
‘The firm has excellent Southern and East Africa experience, brilliantly led out of Johannesburg with seamless advice obtained from correspondent firms in various African jurisdictions in which we operate.‘
‘Mike van Rensburg is a general counsel’s ideal external law firm partner. He delivers pragmatic and timely expert advice in a manner and form that is digestible to the business and sensitive to the commercial realities of the industry and jurisdiction in which our businesses operate.‘
‘Marc Yudaken was always willing to go the extra mile in the interest of closing our deal.‘
CBRE Group and Excellerate Holdings
MIH Ecommerce Holdings
Lvmh Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
- Advised Brenntag on its acquisition of Desbro Kenya, Desbro Uganda, Desbro Tanzania and Desbro Middle East.
- Assisted MIH Ecommerce with its subscription for 60% of the issued share capital in We Buy Cars.
- Advised Aveng Africa on a series of disposals including the sale of its subsidiary Grinaker to Oteo Investment Holdings.
Werksmans Attorneys has traditionally landed numerous engagements on listed-company deals, along with a steady pipeline of private transactions. Given the economic climate, the corporate team has been brought into handle a series of restructurings, working alongside finance and business rescue colleagues. David Gewer, Kevin Trudgeon and Gerhard Johannes are highly rated.
‘Excellence, flexibility and willingness to accommodate.‘
‘Over and above the exemplary legal knowledge, a client centric approach to all engagements certainly makes David Gewer stand out for me‘.
Steinhoff International Holdings
Blue Label Telecoms
- Advised Aspen Pharmacare on the disposal of its global nutritional business to Lactalis Group.
- Assisted Macsteel Global with its $220m acquisition of an indirect 50% interest in Macsteel International Holdings.
- Advised Tsogo Sun Holdings on its proposed disposal of seven mixed-use casino precinct properties to the Hospitality Property Fund.
White & Case LLP has made a significant impact since hiring highly regarded M&A specialist Gary Felthun and a team from ENSafrica in 2018. The new group has achieved prominence in a range of headline deals, most notably in the mining, pharmaceutical and private equity sectors. Newly promoted international partner Craig Atkinson has gained further market recognition and black economic empowerment (BEE) specialist Kabelo Dlothi is a popular choice for a number of black-owned private equity firms.
‘The department is solution driven, willing to go the extra mile for clients, always delivers no matter how tight the deadline, and delivers a high quality product.‘
‘The team is commercially astute, delivering quick turnarounds, and is focused on the big picture while still being attentive to detail.‘
‘It is very good team of lawyers that is able to understand the nuances and technicalities of doing a PE deal.‘
‘Gary Felthun is a street-fighter, definitely an individual that you know will argue the relevant points and not back down in a heated argument. He is also pragmatic and able to advise on what is a real risk rather than something that is remote.’
‘Craig Atkinson’s service delivery and turn around times make him stand out. He is technically very good but he is very commercial and able to apply that to negotiations in order to assure that the deal is concluded.‘
African Royalty Minerals
The Carlyle Group
- Advised Pallinghurst Group on an equity investment in Nemaska Lithium to finance the Wabouchi project, a lithium and electrochemical plant in Quebec, Canada.
- Acted for Eagles Trust and The WB Share Trust on their disposal of shares in Gammatek to Ethos Mid-Market Fund.
- Advised First Carlyle Growth V on the acquisition of shares in Amalgamated Electronic Corporation (Amecor) held by Stellar Capital.
DLA Piper has a relatively small but highly rated practice, most notably in the financial services sector. The team has an impressive client base of South African corporates and has effectively plugged into the international firm's network to advise on cross-border and multijurisdictional deals. Johannes Gouws is managing partner of the South Africa business and has outstanding client relationships in the country and beyond. Peter Bradshaw is the head of corporate in South Africa.
‘The firm has managed to attract some of South Africa’s leading and most promising lawyers in both commercial and M&A.‘
‘Strongly focused on results and solutions, and not concentrating on padding their fees by creating unnecessary issues and conflict with counterparties.‘
‘Under Johannes Gouws’s astute leadership, the firm has grown from a boutique offering to a serious market player.’
Community Investment Holdings
Value Capital Partners
- Advised Community Investment Ventures Holdings on its acquisition of a 34.9% stake in Vumatel.
- Assisted Royal Reesink with its acquisition of Smith Mining Equipment, the South African-based import and distribution company.
- Advised Dimension Data on its acquisition of a 75% stake in e2y across South Africa, Spain, the US and Denmark.
Fasken has a rich history in mining M&A and is a growing presence in energy (including renewables) and life sciences. The firm has particularly strong regulatory expertise and is also noted for equity financing and convertible bonds. Michael Teubes has played a key role in diversifying the practice further into financial services and insurance, including insurtech. David Hoffe and Dimitri Cavvadas are key partners. Stimela Mokoena is noted for mining M&A, while senior figure Blaize Vance is a key name in energy transactions.
African Rainbow Minerals
Main Street 333
- Advised Innovators Resources on its partnership with Wescoal Mining to acquire the Arnot Mine business operations from Exxaro Coal Mpumalanga.
- Assisted Globeleq with its acquisition of a South African renewable energy portfolio from Brookfield Asset Management.
- Advised Lombard Insurance Company on the acquisition of Assetinsure.
Glyn Marais is highly rated for real estate and financial institutions deals. The firm has attracted an impressive client base and is routinely engaged on complex and transformational transactions. Willem de Villiers and Francois Marais have considerable gravitas.
‘The team has deep knowledge of our business and they apply their knowledge of our business in coming up with practical, commercial and legally sound advice.‘
‘The team goes the extra mile to deliver sound advice, on time and within budget.‘
- Advised Naspers on the listing of its international internet assets on Euronext Amsterdam with a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
- Assisted Growthpoint Properties with the sale of its interest in a self-storage business.
- Advised Sanlam on the offering of 5% of its issued share capital to a related empowerment party; this was one of the largest empowerment transactions in South African history.
Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP reinforced its team with the hire of a team led by senior figure Ross Lomax, the former head of M&A at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc. The enlarged team is well plugged into the global firm's network and is active in cross-border deals across Africa. It has a mix of South African, English and French qualified practitioners. Clients range from large South Africa listed companies to multinationals with a presence in Africa and a number of private equity houses. Rudolph du Plessis heads the South Africa corporate practice. Patrick Leyden is noted for energy and mining M&A.
‘Rudolph du Plessis is one of South-Africa’s leading M&A lawyers, known for his pragmatic approach.‘
‘Rudolph du Plessis had a real focus on what mattered to us in the deal and worked to achieve our aims.‘
Associated British Foods
- Advised the financial adviser and South African sponsor on the English, South African and US law aspects of the listings of Old Mutual in London and Johannesburg as part of the managed separation of Old Mutual PLC.
- Acted for Nkholi Consolidated Investments on its acquisition of Peregrine Securities creating Legae Peresec, South Africa’s largest securities trading business.
- Advised Diageo on the disposal of United National Breweries to Delta Corporation.
Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP
Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP is noted for cross-border transactions, BEE structuring and deals involving South Africa-listed corporates. The firm has a strong presence in Africa-wide deals, distressed investments and fintech matters. Lisa Botha heads the team. Former counsel Seraj Haroun has joined Webber Wentzel as a partner.
Liberty Two Degrees
International Finance Corporation
FirstRand Investment Holdings
- Advised Société Générale on the sale of its Johannesburg-based trustee, custody and derivatives clearing business to Absa Bank.
- Assisted Liberty Two Degrees with its conversion from a collective investment scheme in property to a corporate real estate investment trust and subsequent re-listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
- Advised Thomson Reuters on the South African aspects of its global acquisition of Integration Point.
Dentons is an emerging force in M&A, BEE deals and private equity transactions. It has solid experience of domestic deals, Africa transactions and multinational M&A. Shahid Sulaiman is noted for strategic M&A and Angeli Arora is rated for private equity transactions.
- Acted for Lactalis on its acquisition of Aspen Pharmacare’s nutritionals business.
Lawtons Africa is the result of a separation from Hogan Lovells International LLP. It is still working closely with the international firm, including in the private equity sector. Restructuring is another key field for the team. Jeff Buckland and senior consultants Vaughn Harrison and Carl Stein have strong reputations. Former department head Warren Drue has joined Webber Wentzel.
The Inteva Group
- Advised Wabtec Corporation on the completion of its merger with GE Transportation, a former business unit of General Electric Corporation.
Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc
Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc's team continues to be noted for financial services, energy, telecoms and mining deals. Stephen Kennedy-Good now leads the team, while Georg Kahle is recommended for mining sector M&A. Former head of M&A Ross Lomax is now with Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP.