29 May, 2012

Baker & McKenzie, the leading global law firm, has opened a new office in Johannesburg with immediate effect with partners, lawyers and staff from Dewey & LeBoeuf South Africa.

An office in Johannesburg strengthens Baker & McKenzie’s presence in Africa and broadens its global platform in leading markets for energy and natural resources. The Firm now has 70 offices in 43 countries, including 26 of the world’s 30 largest economies and 12 of the 15 most resource-rich countries. 

It is Baker & McKenzie’s third office opening in the past 12 months, following the launch of offices in Istanbul, Turkey, and Doha, Qatar.

The team in South Africa includes partners Wildu du Plessis, Scott Brodsky, Chris Moraitis and Morné van der Merwe, and a team of senior lawyers including: Astrid Berman, Esme Ferreira, Amelia Heeger, Rajen Ranchhoojee, Muhammad Sader and Mike van Rensburg.  In total, the office comprises 16 lawyers and 15 professional staff. 

The office has a particular focus on energy, mining and infrastructure, project finance, banking and capital markets, securitization, mergers & acquisitions and private equity. The Legal 500 directory has described the team as having “leading edge energy sector credentials.”  

The office is Baker & McKenzie’s second in Africa after Cairo, established in 1985.  However, Firm lawyers from Paris, London, New York, Chicago and other European, Asia Pacific and Latin American offices have long advised clients on high-profile transactions in Africa across a wide range of sectors, including energy, natural resources, healthcare, IT and telecommunications, retail and more.  According to mergermarket, the Firm has advised on more cross-border transactions in Africa over the past four years than any other leading M&A firm.

“The addition of this highly regarded team underscores our long-term commitment to Africa,” said Eduardo Leite, chairman of Baker & McKenzie’s Executive Committee. “As the continent’s largest economy and biggest recipient of foreign direct investment, South Africa is the linchpin for our expansion plans for the continent. We are pleased to add such a strong team to better serve clients’ growing interest in this fast-growing region.”

The team joining Baker & McKenzie is led by:

  • Wildu du Plessis, one of South Africa’s leading banking and finance lawyers. He represents clients on a broad range of financing transactions and regulatory matters, from leveraged and acquisition finance to debt capital market offerings and project and limited recourse financing.
  • Scott Brodsky, an energy and projects lawyer with over two decades experience advising sponsors, project companies, financiers, governments and financial advisors on projects in Africa, the UK, Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Asia. He has advised on a broad range of projects in the power, renewables, oil and gas, transport and other infrastructure sectors. 
  • Chris Moraitis, who represents clients on a broad range of regulatory and financing transactions, from debt capital market offerings and regulatory aspects of banking to project and limited recourse financing, including aspects of public private partnerships. Moraitis also advises on all aspects of infrastructure projects, including the construction and environmental aspects of such projects.
  • Morné van der Merwe, who advises clients in the mining industry and other sectors on a range of corporate matters including: mining joint venture transactions; securities law; black economic empowerment transactions; corporate finance; leveraged and management buy-outs; public and private mergers & acquisitions; private equity transactions; public offerings and private placements.

“This respected team brings sophisticated knowledge and experience in areas of strategic importance to our clients,” added Koen Vanhaerents, chairman of Baker & McKenzie’s EMEA region. “Africa has vast resources and potential that will drive both inbound and outbound client investment. This is a big step in our continuing effort to expand our capabilities to serve client needs in the region.”

“We look forward to working closely with our new colleagues to establish Baker & McKenzie as a premier law firm in South Africa and the premier law brand in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Brodsky.  “Our team in Johannesburg offers clients a unique combination of enormous international and deep sector experience coupled with the very best South African legal advice.  As part of Baker & McKenzie, we have access to their global reach and resources, enabling us to provide clients in Africa with unmatched capabilities and experience.” 

Added du Plessis, “We were approached by many impressive leading firms. Baker & McKenzie stood out with its unmatched global platform, leading law firm brand, and its highly collaborative, professional approach and team. We believe its global coverage, enviable client base, strong reputation and attractive culture will be of immeasurable value to our clients, our people and our future success.”

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