Allen & Overy, one of the leading international law firms, is today, 28 January 2016 officially launching its new South African office in Johannesburg, the key hub for its sub-Saharan operations.
The firm’s focus in sub-Saharan Africa has been on the banking and financing sectors, as well as advising on projects in the mining sector on transactions that have included many of large ticket deals in the South African market since opening.
“We started the office with 3 partners and four lawyers just over 15 months ago, today our staff numbers are 5 partners, 6 directors and 23 lawyers, as well as 6 candidate attorneys, assisted by a support staff of 18. This growth signals the demand from our global network and clients for strong executional ability throughout sub-Saharan Africa,” says Michael Duncan, Allen & Overy Co-Managing Partner.
“We are currently involved in a number of multi-billion dollar deals in countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritius, assisted by colleagues in our London, Singapore, Perth, Abu Dhabi and Washington offices, among others. This underlines our ability to service complex cross-border transactions. We have been working with home-grown companies and international corporations alike on opportunities in the banking, finance, energy, infrastructure and mining sectors both in South Africa and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, in areas such as leveraged finance and M&A.”
“In our first 15 months of operations the Firm has conducted more financing of M&A deals than it expected this time last year, we have also seen an uptick in M&A activity globally. There is a clear trend emerging of South African companies having the appetite to make offshore acquisitions – especially in developed markets, such as Brait’s acquisition of Virgin Active and New Look and Mediclinic’s transaction with Al Noor. We see this trend continuing into 2016 especially as South African businesses look adjust investments to counter falling Rand value,” comments Lionel Shawe, Allen & Overy Co-Managing Partner.
The firm has been active in Africa for many years and in the last decade has invested heavily in building a network of relationship law firms in many countries across the continent. Allen & Overy’s first African office was in Casablanca focusing on Northern and Francophone Africa.
Ahead of the 2008 financial crisis few investors gave Africa the attention it deserved. With growth across the continent accelerating and with huge demand for vital investment, capital is now flowing into and across Africa in an unprecedented rate due to increase in international investment. With growing recognition around the globe of the huge potential that the continent offers and the significant changes in risk perception, Africa is expecting a period of extraordinary growth that a decade ago would hardly have seemed possible. The International Monetary Fund is predicting that 14 of the 22 economies set to grow fastest in the years leading up to 2019 will be in Africa.
Although the African growth story was initially based around natural resources, it has become a great deal broader with other sectors now expanding, including energy, infrastructure, financial services, and retail and consumer products.