National Bank of Egypt
The National Bank of Egypt is the largest financial platform in Egypt and one of the largest in Africa and the Middle East. Its in-house legal team manages deals worth billions of US dollars in the infrastructure, and energy sectors, as well as handling all other legal matters for the company. Group head Mahmoud Abdellatif, is responsible for setting the strategies and the overall supervision of the department consisting of five expert lawyers. The team is involved in different critical and sensitive tasks on a daily basis, including advising on large transactions worth billions in terms of investment, financing and development; reviewing the agreements and documentations for major projects like international M&A and project finance; and serving as members of different steering committees to ensure that long term on-going projects are running smoothly. The in-house legal team based in the Egyptian headquarters handles legal matters for the Bank’s subsidiaries in different parts of the world including in Africa, UAE, China, the US and the UK. It is exposed to different jurisdictions, regulatory and compliance rules including authorities outside of Egypt, such as the Financial Conduct Authority and National Crime Agency in the UK. Saad Tharwat Roshdy, senior legal counsel, says that the team has had to adapt to Egypt’s economic difficulties, requiring new strategies particularly related to SME’s in remote and poor areas. He said, ‘[the Bank] saw an opportunity in the field of the derivatives and in the securities investment by foreign nationals to utilise the benefit of the higher interest rates applicable in Egypt than their home countries. So we have modified the contracts that we use in order to seize these opportunities and this was accompanied by different strategies and approaches’. Additionally the team has made major changes in its use of technology to optimise productivity and revenue. Saad Tharwat Roshdy adds, ‘[the team has] changed the normal approach of in-house lawyers who were mainly concerned with indicating what the law says. We are business-oriented lawyers who adopt holistic approaches to make our business and community better and make clear that innovating is our driver. We have been the main financial pillar to the government to reform the infrastructure in Egypt and rehabilitate the highways and roads to create more investment opportunities’.