Solicitors governing body: Law Society of South Africa
Competition authority: Competition Commission South Africa
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
One of the powerhouse economies of the continent, South Africa is economically important both because of its domestic activity and as an investment hub for large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Rich in natural resources, the economy expanded rapidly following the end of Apartheid, with GDP almost tripling and the emergence of a large middle class. However, high levels of crime and unemployment and a stuttering economy mean that many of the problems associated with poorer developing nations remain.
In addition to the abundant mining industry, one of the major areas of development in the country is within the energy sector. Years of under-investment and poor maintenance has left an energy gap in the market. While that has led to problems with rolling blackouts, it has also created sizable opportunities for investors. Alongside the massive coal industry – around 90% of coal consumed on the African continent comes from South Africa – there are significant schemes like the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which seeks to massively increase the amount of electricity being produced from renewable sources in the country.
Increasingly, given the expertise gained by lawyers in mining, energy and infrastructure, South Africa has also become a hub for inward investment into the whole of Southern Africa. Consequently the market is dominated by international firms, largely from the UK, but also from North America and continental Europe, with a few domestic and regional firms also in the mix.
Government regulations prevent foreign law firms from entering into partnerships or fee-sharing arrangements with local lawyers and only domestically-qualified lawyers are able to practice. Therefore, the presence of international firms takes place through alliances and agreements with local firms who maintain a de jure independence, but in reality are de facto part of the network of international firms. Most firms are based in Sandton, Johannesburg’s central business district, but several also have branch offices in Cape Town and other cities.
Adams & Adams is an independent South African firm with a particular strength in IP but it also advises on M&A and restructuring and insolvency matters.
The M&A team worked mainly for acquirers on deals in the oil and gas and real estate sectors over the research period.
In restructuring and insolvency area the firm advised debtors on matters in the banking industry.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Setso $5.7 million real estate acquisition
In South Africa, Allen & Overy is active across all financial and corporate areas and it has a particular strength dealing with banking and capital markets matters.
In banking, the firm is often mandated by lenders on multi-currency syndicated facilities, revolving credit facilities, loan facilities, and project finance and refinancing deals.
In the capital markets area during the research period the firm advised dealers, lead managers and issuers on medium term notes programmes and notes issues. It also worked for bookrunners, underwriters, managers and global coordinators on block trades, secondary listings and on one IPO.
In M&A the firm recently represented acquirers on financial services, real estate, fintech and automotive sector deals.
In the projects area the firm acted for sponsors and contractors on the development of PPP projects in the real estate and healthcare sectors and worked on energy projects.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Absa Group $400 million notes issue
•Aspen €3.4 billion multi-currency syndicated facility
•Copperton 102MW wind power plant
•Government of Kenya $660 million and €300million financing
•Government of the Republic of South Africa $1.4 billion bond issue
•Khanyisa coal power plant
•Rand Merchant Bank $500 million 6.25% bond issue
•The Mauritius Commercial Bank $800 million financing
Bowman Gilfillan is one of the most recognised firms in South Africa and it is best known for its capital markets, M&A and power project development practices.
In recent banking work the firm advised lenders and borrowers on revolving credit facilities, and refinancing and acquisition and project finance work.
In the capital markets area the firm was busy representing issuers, guarantors, dealers and underwriters on notes issues, and working for issuers and underwriters on IPOs and secondary listings.
In M&A the firm was recently often acting as counsel to acquirers with deals in the fintech, energy, consumer goods, mining, technology, infrastructure and telecommunications sectors.
The firm also worked for contractors, sponsors and project companies on the local and cross-border construction and development of mining, power, infrastructure and oil and gas projects.
During the research period Jackie Leggett joined the firm as a banking and finance partner.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Beitbridge Border Post PPP
•FineLine acquisition of Trader Plus
•Harmony Gold $300 million acquisition of AngloGold Ashanti gold assets
•Mercedes $370 million notes issue
•Mphanda Nkuwa $5 billion financing
•Richards Bay LPG terminal
•Roggeveld 140MW wind power plant
•Vivo Energy £603 million LSE IPO
"It is a quality firm providing a quality service." – Banking
"They are very good, but the partner doesn't always stay involved like the other firms." - Banking
"Bowmans has consistently shown deep knowledge in the area of banking and capital markets over the years, and have been proactive in advising us regulatory developments that may have an impact on our ability to continue to comply with the DLR and the instruments that we issue from time to time." - Capital markets: Debt
"The firm has an outstanding substantive knowledge of its areas of law. It is extremely competent in providing relevant legal advices and handling complex litigation." - Financial services regulatory
"The firm is extremely competent and portrays a professional and highly valued service." - M&A
"The firm is very experienced and has a knowledgeable team. It is very strong on environmental law. It has a very impressive team which assist us a lot." - M&A
"We are very happy with their quality of work, level of expertise and turnaround time." - M&A
"As always, we got an exceptional service from the Bowmans team. Team composition was as outlined by us. No complaints on the service." - Project development
"The firm is professional and efficient. It is highly committed to the task, easily approachable and easy to work with, with direct access to senior staff in the team." - Project development
"The firm is very professional and responsive, even heading into the festive season." - Project development
"The firm is excellent and very professional. It has a quick turnaround, a great attention to details and client protection. Only weakness might have been paying too much attention too minutia on certain matters at the expense of pragmatism. The latter was however limited." - Project finance
"He is responsive to questions and enquiries. He is excellent at sticking to timelines and communicating feedback."
"She is extremely competent and knowledgeable. She has excellent articulation skills."
"She is extremely competent in her practice area, including regulatory law. She is highly professional and able to make decisions involving difficult risk assessment. She is excellent in training young practitioners."
Claire Tucker and Melissa Strydom
"They are very, very good. They have excellent knowledge; they are problem solvers and have a detailed eye. Recommendable."
"I have never had a compliant with this lawyer. We have a very good working relationship and complement each other in terms of experience."
"He has a very satisfactory approach and service."
"He is very good at finding solutions for problems and arguing for our position. Could improve in the client relationship."
"She is effective, very good with communication, hardworking and striving for excellence."
"He is a careful listener, with clearly solid experience and expertise, often offering good alternatives in the negotiations. Resilient in getting his clients requirements the requisite attention and debate."
"He has a very high quality of work, professionally executed."
"The review herein is based on interactions with the above mentioned lawyer. Good quality work product, good communication, and around-the-clock availability."
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr works across all financial and corporate practice areas.
In recent banking work the firm advised mainly borrowers on refinancing, loan facilities and project finance deals.
In capital markets work the firm advised issuers, guarantors and dealers on notes issues, and worked for the Global Credit Rating agency in the establishment of a mortgage loan backed securitisation programme. It also worked for issuers on IPOs, assets listings and on one convertible bond issue.
In M&A the firm was working mostly for acquirers on industrial, manufacturing, retail, mining and agricultural M&A deals.
In projects work the firm has worked for developers, sponsors and contractors on the development of mining, power, oil and gas and infrastructure projects.
During the research period four M&A partners (Badian Maasdorp, Banzi Malinga, Rafael Eliasov and Christopher Baird) left the firm to move in-house.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Atlatsa Resources $155 million debt restructuring
•Lonmi $216 million refinancing
•Lower Maguduza 13.5MW hydroelectric power plant
•Metehara 100MW solar photovoltaic power plant
•Nedbank Group $101 million notes issue
•Nyali Bridge PPP
•Old Mutual acquisition of SunEdison solar power plant portfolio
•Séché $40 million acquisition of Interwaste
"The firm is knowledgeable and customer centred." - Capital markets: Debt
"The firm has a highly experienced team in debt funding and they are excellent drafters of agreements." - Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation
"The firm gives excellent advice and insight into commercial matters and has deep knowledge of the law. It also has the ability to deal with shareholders from other geographies." - M&A
"The firm has a very high level of work in all areas and it is provided by various partners." - M&A
"The firm has client focused outcomes and a good understanding of subjects. It has an understanding on commercial impacts and associated risks. It advised accordingly. It has good availability and support." - M&A
"The firm has incredible attention to detail and is very comprehensive in all aspects of its work." - M&A
"The firm has strong commercial and technical capabilities, and a good understanding of our key requirements." - M&A
"The firm is competent. They are leaders in their field of expertise and deliver on time." - M&A
"The firm is knowledgeable. The turnaround time can improve." - M&A
"The firm is very good overall. Always meets deadlines, is accessible, has a high quality work and a good understanding of clients' needs." - M&A
The firm provided a prompt legal service, taking into account practical and commercial requirements." - M&A
"We are very happy with the firm's work. They are a knowledgeable and easily accessible team. They focus on crucial aspects." - M&A
"We are very happy with their work." - M&A
"CDH is a professional and highly skilled organization. I have received outstanding service and advice from them." - Project development
"The firm does a good work by has no depth of experience. The most experienced lawyers have left." - Project development
"The firm is extremely professional, through and provides a timeous delivery." - Project development
"The firm is very knowledgeable. However, there is only one partner left in their finance team." - Project finance
"I worked closely with Richard Marcus and his team to successfully complete a number of complex and difficult rescues successfully." - Restructuring and insolvency
"Strengths: the firm has a very dedicated personal, a wide range of expertise and they come with influence, and client relations are good. Weaknesses: Expensive." - Restructuring and insolvency
"The firm has a professional service and gives sound advice." - Restructuring and insolvency
"The firm has excellent turnaround times and execution speed. It has a very professional conduct (verbally, written and in meetings) with both ourselves and the other parties in the matter. It is always available." - Restructuring and insolvency
"The firm is highly knowledgeable about administration of estates. The turnaround time and responsiveness could be better." - Restructuring and insolvency
"The firm's professionalism and the support they give one another and their clients is of a very high standard." - Restructuring and insolvency
"They were very good, professional and very knowledgeable on the subjects. The firm is very efficient and effective." - Restructuring and insolvency
"He has very good interaction and problem solving skills. He is always willing to help and research if subject not known to the individual. The legal support team and associates are always available and meet deadlines."
Andre de Lange
"He provided a very high level of output. He has excellent turnaround times and is excellent at proposing solutions."
Andries le Grange
"He is experienced, knowledgeable, calm and precise."
"She has an excellent client interaction and relationship management. She is very approachable and has good availability. She has a strong legal knowledge, is good at problem solving and assertive with other parties."
"David is an excellent lawyer who combines a good commercial skill and ability with a deep knowledge of the law. He has the ability to get to the heart of a problem."
"He is knowledgeable and practical. He does not sweat the small stuff."
"She is very knowledgeable, but is quite junior."
"She has a high quality of work and always meets client's needs. No complaints."
"Her strength is her knowledge and experience in many sectors in South Africa. No apparent weaknesses."
"She is an excellent and professional lawyer."
"He is detailed orientated, knows the business and is innovative in applying his mind."
"I was absolutely happy with the work. He went out of his way to resolve some very complicated issues. He is professional and very knowledgeable. Excellent."
"Julian has a wealth of knowledge on insolvency law and as a bonus is that he understands and appreciates the banking industry. He is professional but also friendly and approachable."
"Strengths: very good client relationship, sticks to deadlines, keeps the team on her toes, is very knowledgeable and a deep thinker. Areas to improve: be 100% sure of account admin."
"He is highly experienced and has an excellent understanding of the industry and laws. He is also an excellent drafter of agreements."
Peter Hesseling and Tessa Brewis
"Both Peter and Tessa deliver high quality work in line with our requirements. The understanding of our requirements within the context of our industry is invaluable in moving transactions forward."
"Strengths: they were responsive and accessible with knowledgeable and practical advice and assistance."
"He is a brilliant man, a pleasure to work with, of undoubted integrity."
"He is highly knowledgeable of administration for estates. Sometimes seems to have a "stretched" workload. He is over-committed."
Roux van der Merwe
"He has excellent knowledge, experience and had an excellent application to our situation."
"She has an incredible attention to detail and fantastic communication skills."
"I have known Tobie for many years and his service has always been excellent."
Werner De Waal
"He has an exceptional orchestration of multiple workflows, an in depth knowledge and is a good leader. He is always willing to go the extra mile."
"He has very good experience and is a practical solution driver, advice that is valuable to us."
ENSafrica is broadly strong across all financial and corporate practice areas and is well known for its cross-border work throughout Africa.
In banking the firm has done recent work both lenders and borrowers including on a multi-currency loan, and acquisition financing, refinancing, loan facilities and project finance deals.
In the capital markets area recently the firm represented issuers, managers and arrangers on bond issues, asset-backed securitisation note programmes and notes issues.
In M&A the firm has worked for acquirers on deals in the insurance, consumer goods, financial services and transport sectors. It also advised sellers on the agriculture and telecommunication sector deals.
In the projects area the firm was busy advising developers and sponsors on the construction and development of power and oil and gas projects across Africa.
Recent staffing changes include the recruitment of directors Bradley Harber from Norton Rose Fulbright and Venetia Govender from Investec. Directors Ntokozo Maelane and Nike Pillay left the firm.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Altron Finance $133 million refinancing
•Barclays Africa Group $400 million notes issue
•Experian $263 million acquisition of Compuscan
•FirstRand Bank $500 million notes issue
•Khanyisa power plant
•MTN Zambia multi-currency loan
•Pioneer Food Group $334 million refinancing
•SEMIL $1 billion acquisition of Saham
"We received an excellent service. The agreements were of high quality and standard. The turnaround time was very good." - Asset finance
"The firm was always on the pulse of the transaction and provided good commercial suggestions." - Capital markets: Debt
“The firm had a good engagement around complex regulatory framework. It demonstrated a good understanding of our challenges as a firm and how to tackle issues.” – Financial services regulatory
"The firm is great. They have always gone beyond the scope of work to ensure they have provided the best service possible to me as their client." - Investment funds
"The firm is very good. However they need to acknowledge all lenders involved and not only focus on the larger lenders." - Investment funds
"ENS Cape Town has a strong M&A practice under Chevan Daniels, the partner we typically work with. They are experienced, respond quickly, draft very well, and most importantly for us, Chevan is very commercially astute rather than simply good with the legal work, so adds measurable value to transactions and negotiations in addition to drafting secure agreement. ENS is a large, full-service practice, which allows Chevan to pull in his property law, employment law and litigation specialist partners for specialist advice where required." - M&A
"Strengths: highly professional and very proactive; works very closely with client objectives; holistic in approach; has a quick turnaround. Areas for improvement: fees charged could be revisited given recurring nature of professional relationship." - M&A
"The firm did an extraordinary work. They have an amazing team and a quality of services." - M&A
"The firm has a very good appreciation of the key project principles and the law. The lawyers are experienced and provide quality advice, which is well researched and embeds experience from other projects. The firm coordinates very well with the ENS Africa, Uganda office; it provided quality risk analysis for the project; it established a good strategy in setting up negotiation positions for the different documents; it has a good turnaround time. We are happy with the delivery." - Project development
"I rate the firm very highly, and the director responsible for the management of the work is equally rated highly." - Project finance
"The firm did an excellent work. The project was successfully closed. The firm is able to bring correct skills, is very responsive, professional and has a value for money offering." - Project finance
"Chevan was quite stretched about a year ago and his team was quite thin, but they have taken steps recently to appoint additional resources for his team which has helped."
Clinton Van Loggenberg
"I rate Clinton as the go to lawyer in the capital markets area. He has a good manner with clients, is very commercial and innovative in his thinking."
Eric le Grange
"Eric is excellent at his work. He has a very good understanding and appreciation of the oil and gas projects and the dynamics around the development and financing of such projects. He has great negotiation skills and seeks to ensure that his client’s needs are achieved. He offers alternatives to achieve a win-win result for both parties. His legal knowledge combined with his experience on other projects has always come in handy."
"Jessica is very knowledgeable, efficient and pragmatic. She is very responsive and is committed to deliver the mandate on time and on budget."
"She is an excellent lawyer and provides sound advice to her clients. She is always prepared for whatever the matter is. She has built a great team around her who are always available to help on any matter."
"He is one of the best M&A lawyers in the country."
"I was initially sceptical of Lebusa's capacity to manage this deal, but I was proven wrong. He had a great ability to choose the correct legal experts from ENSafrica to work on the team, and managed their workflows with great ease. He was outstanding."
"Strengths: highly energetic, professional, has an impressive passion for the job, the turnaround time is excellent, proactive, well prepared in advance, very solution orientated, willing to go beyond to help clients, excellent communicator, accessible, reverts promptly, and is holistic in approach to support clients. Weaknesses: No top of mind weaknesses to note."
"He is professional, knowledgeable and responsive."
"Sean is an expert in his field and is able to quickly cut through the volume of information and get to the crux of the issue. He also offers pragmatic and reasonable solutions to the issue."
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin is best known for its work in project finance and development.
In banking work during the research period the firm worked mostly for lenders on refinancing, revolving credit facilities and project finance deals.
In M&A the firm primarily advised acquirers in the mining, energy, retail, and insurance sectors.
In the project area the firm acted as counsel to sponsors on the development of power projects.
A notable staffing change was the departure of projects partner Phologo Pheko who joined TGR Attorneys and corporate partner Jan Bouwman stopped practicing.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Buffalo Coal Dundee Proprietary financing
•Chókwè 40MW power plant
•Impala $267 million revolving facility
•Kangnas 140MW wind farm
•Lombard Insurance Company acquisition of Assetinsure
•Reatile Industrial Proprietary acquisition of a 37.5% in Pragma
Webber Wentzel works in alliance with Linklaters and is a top tier firm across all the ranked practice areas in South Africa.
In recent banking work the firm represented mainly lenders on project financing, refinancing and acquisition financing deals.
The firm advised on capital markets matters too, working for issuers on notes issues, listings and IPOs.
The firm was busy advising acquirers in M&A deals and saw deals in the telecommunications, financial services, transport and mining sectors.
The firm worked for developers, contractors and sponsors on the construction and development of infrastructure, mining, oil and gas and power projects.
During the research period two banking and finance partners, Gabi Richards-Smith and Shaun Browne, left the firm, as well as five corporate partners, Hendrik Human, Jean Milner, Stacy Mogale, Zachary John Truscott and Xonali Hlatshwayo. The firm hired two corporate partners from Hogan Lovells: Warren Drue and Ghassan Sader.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•AfriSam Group $348 million financing
•Comair acquisition of Metaco
•Hankyu Hanshin Express acquisition of Intraspeed South Africa
•Jupiter Mines $162 million Australian Stock Exchange IPO
•Khoemacau Copper mine
•Rain Group $71 million financing
•Royal Bafokeng Resources $70 million asset acquisition of Maseve Investments
•Saldanha Oiltanking MOGS development
"The firm's work was of an exceptional quality and the firm went above and beyond our expectations." – Banking
"The firm has an excellent team, turnaround time, quality of work, knowledge on the subject matter, and availability." - Banking
"Overall I was very happy with the firm's service. They were proactive in resolving issues and managing the group of lenders." - Banking
"The firm is excellent. Karen Couzyn is knowledgeable, accessible, responsive and a pleasure to work with." - Capital markets: Debt
"The firm is professional, on time and has a market related fee." - Capital markets: Debt
The partners at the firm are leaders in their respective fields, in particular in capital markets, financial services regulations, fund formation and taxation. Further, they have extensive domain experience and always considered various options for consideration. The transactions extended over a 12-month period and during that period that was a sufficient cover to ensure that our needs were always catered for. We could not have worked with a more appropriate law firm for our transactions. The various teams brought their prior experience and understanding of the various legal and regulatory frameworks. At times, deliverables were not presented timeously. It was primarily due to the multiple internal functions that had to opine on the work. However, better communication would have managed expectations from a client side. - Capital markets: Equity
"They have a very strong capital markets and tax practice, both of which we work with closely on IPOs in particular. Whilst they are only able to provide local legal counsel support, they have an alliance with Linklaters which means that they are generally able to provide a seamless service when it comes to providing local and international legal support on our transactions." - Capital markets: Equity
"The firm did a good work overall." - Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation
"The firm gives pragmatic and commercially minded advice with sufficient depth and has breadth of capability for large regional M&A opportunities." - M&A
"Top notch!" - Private equity
"The firm is competent, practical and has orientated lawyers who innovatively resolve problems of different areas in a transaction." - Project development
"The firm is very good." - Project finance
"Alessandra Pardini is not only efficient and effective in advising and drafting contracts but she is well versed in her subject and an excellent advisor and the best in her field of expertise that I have seen in years. I commend her for the excellent and great work done." - Project development
"She has very strong knowledge and skills."
"She is the top in her field."
"Angela added comprehensive value throughout the deal evolution lifecycle and differentiated herself with extensive informal insight and guidance at early opportunity origination stage (prior to the mandate)."
Dawid de Villiers
"He is a true professional, and has excellent knowledge on the subject matter."
"He is a senior partner but has a very hands on approach to transactions and is always available for his clients. He has considerable experience, which he brings to bear on all transactions and can make a big difference to the ease of execution of complex transactions. He is very pragmatic, very client friendly and very much a safe pair of hands."
"She is excellent, knowledgeable, practical, responsive and accessible."
"She is very good."
"She is excellent, highly competent and extremely knowledgeable."
"She provided very good work and advice in this project. She was pro-active and was a valuable asset to our company to get this project complete."
"Mark is a pleasure to work with. His depth of knowledge is complemented by his practical approach to matters and attention to detail. He is accessible, responsive and has a unique knowledge of the day-to-day business operations of his clients."
"He is a practical and orientated lawyer finding innovative solutions."
"Tamryn is an absolute star. She is always available. She managed the workload and timelines exceptionally well. Would recommend her to any of my peers."
Werksmans Attorneys is broadly strong across all financial and corporate areas and often does work for major financial institutions and banks in South Africa.
The banking team has recently advised lenders and borrowers on acquisition and general corporate financings, project finance, and refinancing work over the research period.
In the capital markets area the firm focuses on the debt and structured finance side mandates, acting for arrangers, dealers, issuers and rating agencies on bond issues, note programmes, high yield bonds and securitisations deals.
In M&A, the main sectors of activity for the firm recently were mining, retail, financial services, pharmaceutical and telecoms. The firm saw work for both buyers and sellers. It also worked for private equity funds on their launch in and investments into Africa.
The projects team advised project companies and sponsors on the development and construction of power and infrastructure projects.
Recent Deal Data highlights
•Berkshire Partners acquisition of Teraco Data Environments
•Bidvestco $87 million bond issue
•Gautrain Rapid Rail Link development
•Investec $135 million financing
•MAS Real Estate €69 million financing
•Sappi Papier €450 million high yield bond issue