Uganda

Reviews

IFLR1000 Reviews

AF Mpanga

AF Mpanga is the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group member for Uganda. The team is consistently recommended by clients. David Mpanga is highly experienced in energy sector matters and clients speak highly of Julius Musoke, who was previously principal counsel of the African Development Bank. The firm covers all manner of contentious and non-contentious work. Recent deals saw the team advise the borrower, Eaton Towers Uganda, on a $60 million acquisition and development financing from the IFC and Standard Bank. The firm worked with Allen & Overy on the project.

ENSafrica

ENSafrica Uganda is constantly growing in profile in the Ugandan market. The team has specific expertise in the telecoms sector but has a good track record in all manner of energy and infrastructure projects. Key contacts are Bernard Katureebe, formerly a legacy SNR Denton banking and finance lawyer, Alexander Kibandama, whose expertise lie in projects, project finance and M&A, and Donald Nyakairu, a former head of legal at a telecoms solutions provider. Ronald Tusingwire manages the litigation team.

Kampala Associated Advocates 

Kampala Associated Advocates appears on some of the country’s weightiest deals and over the past couple of year it has kept a strong profile in energy work for clients such as Tullow Oil. The firm has an association with Dentons. 

Key contacts are David Mpanga and associate partner Aisha Naiga Kiwola. The firm has a broad spread of expertise and some high profile figures including Charles Kallu Kalumiya, who focuses on international and public law and Elly Karuhanga, a former president of Tullow Oil Uganda. Karuhanga also serves as Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum.

The firm was recently supporting global firms representing clients in litigation in the commercial court in Uganda and in ICSID arbitration over various matters, including a tax dispute. 

Kampala Associated Advocates

Kampala Associated Advocates appears on some of the country’s weightiest deals and over the past couple of year it has kept a strong profile in energy work for clients such as Tullow Oil. The firm has an association with Dentons. 

Key contacts are David Mpanga and associate partner Aisha Naiga Kiwola. The firm has a broad spread of expertise and some high profile figures including Charles Kallu Kalumiya, who focuses on international and public law and Elly Karuhanga, a former president of Tullow Oil Uganda. Karuhanga also serves as Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum.

The firm was recently supporting global firms representing clients in litigation in the commercial court in Uganda and in ICSID arbitration over various matters, including a tax dispute. 

Kasirye Byaruhanga & Co

Kasirye Byaruhanga & Co consists of four partners and 14 associates. The firm is part of the Mackerel International network and is active in litigation, with a substantial part of its practice dedicated to transactional matters and retainer clients. 

Key contacts include partners Andrew Kasirye and Paul Rutisya. The team has been representing clients such as Excel Construction, the Association of Ugandan Oil and Gas Services and Eko Power. 

Katende Ssempebwa & Co

Katende Ssempebwa & Co is the Ugandan member of the LexAfrica network. The firm is probably the most visible on energy and infrastructure projects and it is also the most often recommended port-of-call for international clients. 

Key contacts are Frederick Ssempebwa, a leading legal figure in the region who has done considerable high profile work on national legislation (including on the constitution of South Sudan), and managing partner John Katende. Partners Sim Katende and Soogi Katende are widely considered leading individuals. “Very good,” says a client, “once you find people like this that you are happy with you stick with them”.

Over 2013 the firm has been advising the government, alongside Eversheds, on the $3 billion construction of an oil refinery. It also acted for Total, Puma, American Tower Corporation (ATC) and the African Development Bank on various matters and assisted Warid Telecom Uganda on its $500 million merger with Bharti Airtel.

MMAKS Advocates

Masembe Makubuya Adriko Karugaba and Ssekatawa Advocates (MMAKS) is the ALN member firm for Uganda. The firm has a team of 12 lawyers dedicated to commercial transactions and they are highly regarded by clients. The firm has a full service offering and has been building its oil and gas capacity. It also offers a strong track record in mining and in contentious cases.

Head of corporate Phillip Karugaba is a key partner, while banking and finance head Rachel Musoke is also a well-established contact. Other names to watch are partner Apollo Makubuya, who has been visible on high profile mining-sector disputes, and senior associate Fiona Magona. 

Sebalu & Lule Advocates

Sebalu & Lule is DLA Piper’s member firm for Uganda. It is a large firm with a busy energy and infrastructure practice, which recently included mandates for the lenders on the Bujagali II dam and on Uganda’s only copper mine. 

Nicholas Ecimu leads the energy and infrastructure practice. Barnabas Tumusingize is a well-established senior lawyer in the market and the firm boasts a number of talented junior lawyers, among them Brenda Ntambirweki and Paul Mbuga. 

The firm was advising the Ugandan government on the concession of the Kilembe Mines (copper) and was assisting a concessionaire on a PPP (public-private partnership) rail project. The team was also representing Electromaxx on project financing of $35 million to expand its thermal power plant form 20MW to 35MW. 

Shonubi Musoke & Co

Shonubi Musoke & Co is a well-established leading firm in Uganda for energy and infrastructure. Distinguishing it from competitors, the team has a close relationship with Norton Rose Fulbright and manages an associated office in Burundi: Shonubi Musoke Gilbert & Partners.

Key contacts are senior partner Alan Shonubi and partners Noah Mwesigwa and Andrew Kibaya. In March 2013 the firm hired Innocent Kihika from the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company, a move that boosts its credentials in the power market. Kihika brings with him insider expertise in all areas of energy law 

The firm is on the panel for Total and counts Neptune as one of its oil and gas clients. It worked on the UMEME IPO, one of the most high profile equity capital markets transactions in recent years, and has been engaged by the Aga Khan Foundation. Elsewhere the firm advised the IFC and Standard Bank as lenders of a $60 million acquisition and development financing to Eaton Towers Uganda.

AF Mpanga

AF Mpanga keeps its top tier position this year in corporate finance. The practice saw no significant changes and continues to be led by a team of five partners. In a sign of its proximity to the oil and gas sector, in 2014 the firm did lose an associate to the in-house legal team of an oil and gas company. 

The team remains strong in corporate work, bank financing and projects, with key clients such as CNOOC, Citibank Uganda, Stanbic Bank Uganda and Coca Cola manufacturer Century Bottling Company. In 2013-14 it won new instructions from the East African Development Bank and Vivo Energy (formerly Shell Uganda), among others. On cross-border work, the team remains the exclusive member of Lex Mundi and the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group and has good relations with international counsel including White & Case, Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills, among others. 

Highlight deals over the past year saw the team advise Guaranty Trust Bank Nigeria in its acquisition of Fina Bank, a deal valued at $100 million on completion in December 2013. The acquisition was executed alongside acquisitions in Rwanda and Kenya, marking the Nigerian banks’ entry as an East African bank. It will operate as GT Bank in Uganda. 

Elsewhere, the firm advised CNOOC in negotiations with the government in relation to new oil and gas regulations and worked with Herbert Smith Freehills to act for Standard Chartered Bank and Svenska Exportkredit on the local facility and security on an umbrella project financing to a telecoms service provider.

Another notable deal had the firm assist the Investment Fund for Health in Africa (IFHA) on its investment into a hospital in Uganda.

ENSafrica

The four-partner team of ENSafrica maintained a consistent team in 2013-14. Between them the partners have a few historical areas of strength, including TMT, projects, tax and commercial litigation. Since coming into operation, the office has won over clients such as Hilton Worlwide, RBS, Heineken, IFC, the Ugandan National Road Authority, PetroSA, Total and Housing Finance Bank Uganda. 

Among its notable deals, the firm worked with lead counsel Norton Rose Fulbright to advise Standard Chartered Bank UK in relation to its $40 million financing in February 2014 to telecoms company Airtel Uganda. 

The team won several instructions from development finance institutions, among them advising the IFC on Uganda-law aspects of two $4 million facilities to Pearl Dairy Farms and FMO on $52 million of project financing for the construction of four small hydro power plants in Uganda. Allen & Overy led in the latter while ENS also handled the power purchase agreement review and land matters. 

In another notable case the team, along with AF Mpanga, has been advising the government of Uganda (Uganda National Roads Authority) in relation to a tender for the construction of new roads and motorways worth €63 million. The case involved a claim against the government by a bidder that was refused the tender.

Kiwanuka & Karugire Advocates

Kiwanuka & Karugire Advocates is a three-partner team led by Kiryowa Kiwanuka, who focuses on energy, oil and gas matters, and corporate finance partners Edwin Karugire and Peter Kauma. The team has had a growing practice over the past year and maintains a reputation in the market for quality. “Very high and specialised service,” says a European energy company off the back of company and commercial work. Clients rate the team for the quality of advice it provides and for being solution driven. 

Clients include New Vision Printing & Publishing Corporation, resources company Exalo, Ugandan Communications Commission and the National Social Security Fund.

Notable transactions over the past year saw the firm advise Guangzhou Songsong Energy Group and its subsidiary Uganda Hui Neng Mining on its application for a phosphate mining licence in Tororo, Eastern Uganda for a $560 million mining project. It is one of the biggest investments outside of oil and gas in the country’s natural resource sector.

In another deal, the firm advised the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago on its bid for the construction of a refined oil pipeline from Eldoret in Kenya to Kampala (Uganda). The $400 million cross-border infrastructure project will be the country’s first oil pipeline. The process was still open in mid-2014. 

A third interesting case saw the firm act for White Showmans on the construction of a 5-star Radisson Hotel in Kampala.

MMAKS Advocates

MMAKS continues to be highly regarded particularly for its financial and corporate transactional practice, which is led by three key partners. According to a financial institution on an M&A deal the firm provides “excellent advice and documentation” and “strong legal support”. Clients rate the firm for being consistently good. On cross-border work, the firm remains the ALN member for Uganda.

Over 2013-14 the firm has been very active on financing transactions, often for commercial lenders and development finance institutions but also for borrowers, and it won mandates on some very interesting corporate work. The team also paired up with several international law firms, among them Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance.

In highlight deals, the firm worked with Allen & Overy to advise the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) on a $13 million financing to Rwimi EP Company for the construction of a 5.6MW hydro power plant Kasese District. The project comes under a program between the Government of Uganda and KfW targeted at clean renewable energy for the Ugandan National grid (GET FiT program).

The firm acted for the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) on a third phase funding of $14 million to Aya Investments for the refurbishment of the Hilton Kampala and with Clifford Chance supported Proparco on a $75 million financing to the Export Trade Commodity Group (ETC) for the development and construction of agricultural commodities, storage infrastructure and processing facilities. 

On the corporate side, in 2014 the firm was representing a majority shareholder of a listed company on an exit to private equity and retail investors, a first of a kind in Uganda, and the private Kampala Hospital on an equity investment for a 51% stake through a subscription for shares. The investment will help settle outstanding debts and fund refurbishment and equipment purchases.

Sebalu & Lule Advocates

Sebalu & Lule maintains a solid grip on the top tier. In 2013-14 it made a notable addition to the partnership with the recruitment of Gertrude Wamala Karugaba, former general counsel of Stanbic Bank Uganda, in December 2013. The hire boosts the firm’s already strong profile for capital markets work, as well as for banking, finance and M&A. The firm maintains its association with DLA Piper and in 2013-14 secured a notable panel appointment from Tullow Operations, one of the three licensed oil and gas companies.

In highlight deals, the firm advised CfC Stanbic Bank in its role as transaction advisor and Kakira Sugar as issuer on a $30 million notes issue listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange to fund an expansion programme. The issuance, in November 2013, marked the first listing on the fixed income securities segment of the exchange, with all the other listings being by financial institutions or the Government of Uganda.

In notable financing deals, the team has been acting for lenders Barclays Bank Uganda and Barclays Bank Mauritius and hedge counterparty Absa Bank on a $40 million refinancing facility to a company to expand a heavy fuel oil (HFO) plant and for the lenders on the Bujagali II hydropower dam project. In the latter, the firm also worked on hedging arrangements, which are still few and far between in the market. 

On the M&A side, the firm advised Mauritius Union Assurance, listed on the Mauritius Stock Exchange, on its indirect acquisition of a stake in Phoenix of Uganda Assurance Company as a result of the acquisition of majority stake in pan-East African insurer Phoenix TransAfrica Holdings.

Shonubi Musoke & Co

The corporate finance transactions team remained unchanged through 2013-14, under the helm of four partners including Innocent Kihika, who joined in March 2013 from the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company. The firm maintains a strong and long-standing relationship with Norton Rose Fulbright and was recently chosen as the sole relationship firm for Baker & McKenzie. These associations benefit the firm in the form of training schemes and the firm currently has a senior associate Brian Shonubi, on secondment with Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa. 

“Good, very prompt and sensible advice,” says a banking and finance client, while another says the firm is “very professional in all their undertakings with us” and provides “timely feedback and legal advice and input on very short notice”. According to another the team goes “out of their way to ensure that such information is relayed to us on time, they are always getting better”.

The team has an especially strong profile in energy and infrastructure work and for banking and finance. It is a panel advisor to Total, Eni and Neptune Oil and wins instructions from the IFC, Ecobank, Standard Chartered Bank and others. 

Highlight deals saw the firm work with Clifford Chance to advise electricity company Umeme on a $190 million loan facility from the IFC and a syndicate of local banks to refinance its capex program. The facility, granted to a company that has only recently listed, included debt buy back and hedging elements. Another standout deal saw the firm advise Umeme on the sale by majority shareholder Actis of its stake to selected institutional investors and a public offering on the Uganda Securities Exchange to certain retail investors. The deal was the largest such transaction on the exchange. 

Elsewhere, the firm advised Elgon Siti (PVT) on a $52 million project for the establishment of a 21MW mini hydropower project on the Mt Elgon river in Eastern Uganda. The work included advice on power purchase agreements and agreements with the Ugandan government.

On the banking side, the firm advised Standard Chartered Bank Dubai on an amendment and restatement of a $120 million revolving loan facility to the Export Trading Group in May 2014 and Proparco on a $6 million credit facility to a local bank NC Bank in January 2014.