Firm Profile > Webber Wentzel > Johannesburg, South Africa

Webber Wentzel
South Africa

Banking and finance Tier 1

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.

Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 1

Webber Wentzel has a large team with top-level professionals at senior and junior level. It has a virtually unrivalled client base of blue-chip domestic and multinational corporates, and financial sponsors. The firm is making a further impression in renewables secondary deals, equity offerings, real estate acquisitions and 'is streets ahead in private equity'. Clients include Anglo American, African Rainbow Capital Investments, Murray & Roberts, Uber Technologies and Gold Fields. Led by Charl Jonker, it advised Old Mutual on its landmark managed separation, including the unbundling of some 33% of its shareholding in Nedbank Group, the acquisition by Old Mutual Limited of Old Mutual plc by scheme of arrangement and the listing of Old Mutual Limited on the Johannesburg, Malawi, Namibian and Zimbabwean stock exchanges. Other key partners include senior partner Christo Els and Gareth Driver, who is 'superb' and 'one of the top M&A practitioners in South Africa'. Mark PhillipsColin du ToitSafiyya Patel, Ziyanda Ntshona, capital markets expert Jesse Watson, who is 'versatile and very experienced', and 'outstanding' private equity leader Sally Hutton are all highly rated. Warren Drue was a new arrival from Hogan Lovells (South Africa) in February 2019.

Competition Tier 1

Webber Wentzel has gained even greater market share, most notably in market investigations and inquiries, thanks in part to its ability to field a number of senior practitioners at any one time. It represented Air Namibia in investigations by the South African and Namibian Competition Commissions into alleged predatory pricing by Air Namibia on the Cape Town to Windhoek route. Desmond RudmanRobert Wilson and Daryl Dingley are all senior names, while Martin Versfeld is 'always available and responds very quickly' and younger name Shawn van der Meulen is 'great to work with, very professional and accessible'.

Dispute resolution Tier 1

Webber Wentzel is further cementing its leading standing in dispute resolution, having impressed in constitutional and administrative law disputes in recent years. It has achieved additional growth in international arbitration, white-collar crime and anti-corruption disputes, and judicial review cases. The team is 'very proactive', 'very meticulous' and 'has a solid understanding of commercial matters'. Vlad Movshovich is 'very able', 'very competent' and 'a top disputes lawyer'; he represented Norilsk Nickel in its $277m claim against Botswana's BCL, involving London Court of International Arbitration proceedings. Trevor Versfeld is 'a very astute and experienced litigator' who 'provides excellent strategic and technical legal advice'. Nick Alp and Stuart McCafferty are also big-name litigators, while Kathryn Gawith is recommended for professional liability disputes.

Employment Tier 1

Webber Wentzel remains noted for mining sector employment issues, including retrenchment exercises, strikes and labour relations. A team led by senior figure Johan Olivier advised Harmony Gold Mining Company on the design and implementation of a company-wide employee relations framework policy. Nick Robb, whose 'gravitas and personality really counts in litigation', Eugene Phajane and Pamela Stein are also key names. The team's 'extremely capable professionals' are praised for their 'innovation and problem-solving' abilities. Lizle Louw has joined with a team from ENSafrica. Senior associates Jessica Braum and Nivaani Moodley are also noted.

Investment funds Tier 1

Webber Wentzel reinforced its standing in hedge funds with the hire of Michael Denenga from Dentons; clients praise him for his 'invaluable support and understanding of complex technical matters without losing sight of the big picture' and his 'thought leadership in terms of industry best practice and global standards'. His arrival has prompted an even greater focus on black and African fund managers. The firm advises a number of major private equity funds, including Ethos Private Equity. Recent highlights include advising on the establishment of Ashburton, a mezzanine debt fund established to make investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. The team is 'professional', 'ethical', 'very thorough' and is praised for its 'focus on client service'. Department head Nicole Paige  is praised for her 'industry knowledge' and Ashford Nyatsumba is 'extremely professional and service oriented'.

Mining Tier 1

Webber Wentzel is noted for its illustrious mining client base, the breadth of its practice across sub-Saharan Africa and its sheer depth of expertise and resources. The firm has 'excellent legal connections' in 'neighbouring countries' according to one client.  It has over 40 partners and 80 other lawyers that operate in the mining sphere. The firm advised Rustenburg Platinum Mines on the disposal of its 85% interest in Union Mine and its 50.1% interest in Masa Chrome Company to a subsidiary of Siyanda Resources. Mining M&A specialist Bruce Dickinson is 'knowledgeable and personable' and provides 'advice that is to the point'. Mining law expert Manus Booysen is also highly reputed and Jonathan Veeran is recommended for regulatory matters. Rita Spalding and health and safety specialist Kate Collier are also highly regarded.

Projects and infrastructure Tier 1

Webber Wentzel has developed further market share in PPP projects, mining projects and secondary market renewables deals and is increasingly instructed on engagements outside of South Africa. The firm is a popular choice for public and private sector developers and sponsors; it is also a leading player in private equity-driven transactions. It advised the lenders on the 100MW Acwa Power SolarReserve Redstone concentrated solar thermal power plant in the Northern Cape. Alessandra Pardini and Alexandra Cluver are key members of the team. Oil and gas specialists John Smelcer and Kenny Paton have left the firm, with the former becoming an independent consultant in Cape Town. Jason van der Poel rejoined the firm from Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP in June 2019. Gibbs Johnson left the firm.

Shipping and transport Tier 1

Webber Wentzel has a wide-ranging practice, with genuine strength across shipping, aviation, rail and road. The team is 'extremely knowledgeable and commercially aware, with wide contacts in the industry'. It is at the forefront of rail infrastructure in Africa and has acted in some of the largest admiralty cases in South Africa's history. It acted for Hollard Insurance in claims arising out of damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Irma to catamarans in the Voyage Charter fleet based in the BVI. Andre Bowley has 'a great legal brain and pays attention to detail', Patrick Holloway is 'a big hitter with vast experience' and Gavin Fitzmaurice 'responds quickly' and 'provides an efficient, legally accurate and commercially astute service'. Scott Edmundson is at the forefront of aviation and rail finance.

Tax Tier 1

Webber Wentzel has 'an excellent tax function' operating across the spectrum, from international tax and transfer pricing to corporate tax, fund formation and tax litigation. Team members are 'out-of-the box thinkers' and provide 'an exceptional client service', 'quick turnarounds'  and 'exceptional quality of work'. The team advised Capitalworks Private Equity on the takeover and delisting of Sovereign Foods Investments. International tax expert Anne Bennett is 'the top specialist in her field', while Brian Dennehy is recommended for private equity fund structuring. Graham Viljoen and tax litigation specialist Nina Keyser are also highly rated.

Construction Tier 2

Webber Wentzel has fewer recognised senior-level construction specialists than some of its competitors, but it does have a solid mix of front-end and disputes expertise across the firm. Dispute resolution partner Priyesh Daya has a strong record in construction cases and represented Baker Hughes in a cross-border dispute with a contractor in Pemba, Mozambique. The firm also advised Dankocom, the EPC contractor, on the Ilangalethu 100MW concentrating solar power project located in Upington, Northern Cape. Megan Jarvis is noted for front-end and back-end work. Tyron Theessen is a recommended senior associate.

Intellectual property Tier 2

Webber Wentzel is known primarily for transactional and commercial IP work, and it is further augmenting its standing in trade mark prosecutions. Building on its existing blue-chip corporate client base, the firm is increasingly working with start-ups and early stage companies. The team advised Ethos Mid-Market Fund on the IP aspects of its acquisition of the Echo Group. Leanne Mostert leads the team, which includes partners Bernadette Versfeld and Lara Brandani.

Real estate Tier 2

Webber Wentzel has 'very good conveyancing and commercial partners' who have 'a practical and personal approach', are 'very knowledgeable' and 'able to quickly advise on complex problems'. It advised Anglo American on the disposal of certain Eskom-tied thermal coal operations in South Africa, involving the transfer of properties, to Seriti Resources Holdings. Mark McIntosh is 'incredibly knowledgeable and solution oriented', Desiree Bayman is 'very thoughtful' and Sulani Jooste heads the team.

The firm: Webber Wentzel is a leading South African full-service law firm providing clients with innovative solutions to their most complex legal and tax issues across sub-Saharan Africa. With over 400 lawyers, the firm’s multi-disciplinary expertise is consistently ranked top-tier in leading directories and awards. Webber Wentzel’s collaborative alliance with Linklaters, association with ALN (Africa Legal Network), and its complementary network of best friend law firms across Africa provide clients with market-leading support wherever they do business.

Areas of practice: High-profile matters include acting for or advising:

African Rainbow Capital on the establishment and listing of Mauritian-incorporated African Rainbow Capital Investments Ltd on the JSE.

Anglo American on the restructuring of its 77.69% shareholding in Anglo American Platinum Ltd and the transfer thereof to Anglo American South African Investments (Pty) Ltd, valued at ZAR 73bn.

Anglo American on the restructuring of its shareholding in De Beers’ South African interests and the transfer thereof to Anglo American South African Investments (Pty) Ltd, valued at ZAR 14bn.

Anglo American concerning the disposal to a subsidiary of Seriti Resources Holdings (Pty) Ltd of certain thermal coal operations in South Africa.

Arise B.V. in its acquisition of a 27.7% stake in CAL Bank in Ghana.

Comair in relation to proceedings between Comair and South African Airways (SAA), where SAA was ordered to pay Comair ZAR 554.2m (plus interest) for damages arising out of the anti-competitive practices of SAA.

CMC Networks on regulatory aspects relevant to the acquisition by the Carlyle Group of a shareholding interest in CMC Networks.

Ethos Private Equity in respect of RMI Investment Managers and Royal Investment Managers’ acquisition of a 30% stake in Ethos.

The government of the Republic of Uganda and Uganda National Oil Company on the Uganda Refinery Project.

Oil Tanking MOGS Saldanha in relation to the development and construction of a commercial crude oil blending and storage terminal in Saldanha Bay.

The government of the Republic of Uganda and Uganda National Oil Company on the Uganda Refinery Project.

Primedia (Pty) Ltd and the South African National Editors Forum in a challenge to the South African parliament’s broadcasting policy.

The Standard Bank of Namibia Ltd and the Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd in relation to the financing of equity contributed by the Zimbabwe Power Company to the expansion of Kariba dam and rehabilitation works for Kariba and Hwange power stations.

Vodafone Group plc in the disposal of its indirect 34.94% interest in Kenya’s Safaricom Ltd to Vodacom Group Ltd, valued at ZAR 35bn.

Department Name Email Telephone
Administrative law
Banking and finance
Business rescue and restructuring
Capital markets
Corporate investigations
Dispute resolution
Intellectual property
International arbitration
Investment funds
IT and telecommunications
Media and broadcasting
Private equity
Real estate
Regulatory (including financial)
Transfer pricing
Photo Name Position Profile
Mr Andre Bowley  photo Mr Andre Bowley
Mr Haydn Davies  photo Mr Haydn Davies
Mr Priyesh Daya  photo Mr Priyesh Daya
Mr Brian Dennehy  photo Mr Brian Dennehy
Mr Bruce Dickinson  photo Mr Bruce Dickinson
Mr Christo Els  photo Mr Christo Els
Mr Gavin Fitzmaurice  photo Mr Gavin Fitzmaurice
Mr Peter Grealy  photo Mr Peter Grealy
Ms Sally Hutton  photo Ms Sally Hutton
Ms Nozipho Mngomezulu  photo Ms Nozipho Mngomezulu
Ms Nicole Paige  photo Ms Nicole Paige
Ms Safiyya Patel  photo Ms Safiyya Patel
Mr Jesse Watson  photo Mr Jesse Watson
Mr Hendrik du Preez  photo Mr Hendrik du Preez
Number of lawyers : 400+
Contacts : Christo Els (senior partner)
Contacts : Sally Hutton (managing partner)
Other offices : Cape Town

We believe that justice should be equal for all and, as a firm, we fight to protect human rights and safeguard the rule of law. In a country where the majority of our people face major economic and social challenges, it is important that the firm does what it can to assist in improving the lives of all South Africans. Our focus is on education, access to justice and economic development – whether it be through providing free legal services to various organisations and communities, or having a ‘hands on’ approach to develop communities through our CSI projects. We are involved in a number of initiatives that specifically advance black law professionals outside the firm including the Webber Wentzel Empowerment Trust which is an independent trust, established as one of our empowerment efforts with the mandate and objectives to provide sustainable opportunities for aspiring Black legal professionals. The firm also provides opportunities for our staff to participate in social, economic and environmental initiatives through our employee volunteerism program. We collaborate with government and private sector stakeholders to effect change within the wider legal profession. We are members of Business Leadership South Africa which focuses on advancing a modern, inclusive and growing economy; upholding the Constitution and protecting the integrity of the state; and demonstrating that business is a national asset central in addressing poverty, unemployment, economic injustice and workplace transformation. Being a responsible and contributing corporate citizen is a key component of our overall business strategy at Webber Wentzel and through our values we strive to develop a culture that celebrates diversity.