This firm appears in the Who's Who Legal 100 2014
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FIRM OF THE YEAR - SOUTH AFRICA
Webber Wentzel’s alliance with Linklaters is now just over a year old and the two firms have already jointly advised on over 30 African transactions; the most groundbreaking of which was a US$2.1 billion combination of the majority of Barclays’ African operations in 13 countries with Absa Group.
|Asset Recovery||2||Information Technology||3|
|Aviation||4||Insurance & Reinsurance||5|
|Banking||1||Labour & Employment||1|
|Corporate Governance||1||Private Funds||1|
|Corporate Tax||1||Project Finance||1|
|Environment||1||Telecoms & Media||2|
The firm has also won our award for South African firm of the year for the fourth consecutive time and has continued to expand its presence in our research. Moreover, along with its alliance to Linklaters, Webber Wentzel is now in association with ALN, a group of leading law firms in sub-Saharan Africa, who are committed to working together to provide extensive coverage to its clients. As a result the firm has become one of the leading players on the continent.
|Total Listings in WWL||45||Established||1868|
|Home jurisdiction||South Africa||Total size of firm||400|
|Number of partners||c. 150||Number of offices||2|
PEOPLE AND PRACTICES
The insurance and reinsurance sector is one of the foremost practice areas of the firm and its “elite” lawyers regularly deal with the financial services board on behalf of insurers and financial services providers. Daniël Le Roux is a “multi-talented” practitioner who also features in our listings for asset recovery and aviation. Johan Henning is a “leading light” in the insurance field and continuously acts for various insurers both domestically and abroad. Zelda Swanepoel features in our research for her “diligence” and “sound knowledge” in relation to long-term and short-term insurance matters.
Significantly, Webber Wentzel’s listing in M&A has doubled since last year’s edition. Christo Els, co-head of the M&A practice, works “tirelessly” for his clients; notable matters include advising Anglo American plc in relation to South African law for its acquisition of De Beers for US$5.1 billion. Johannes Gouws, former general council of Absa Group, is an “outstanding” South African M&A specialist. John Bellew, who co-heads the private equity practice with over 20 years of experience, has advised African and international private equity firms on some of the largest private equity transactions in the South African market.
Energy and mining are also very important practices for the firm. Manus Booysen, co-head of the mining, energy and natural resources practice, is “highly praised” by clients for his advice in domestic and international mining, energy, oil and gas matters. Brigette Baillie is head of the project finance environment and development practice and is nominated for her expertise in no less than four areas: environment, project finance, public procurement and banking. Bruce Dickinson is an expert in M&A in the mining industry; he was notably involved in the first black empowerment mining project finance transaction in South Africa and subsequently the largest such transaction to date. Also highly nominated is Steven De Backer, whose expertise in the natural resources, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure sectors is considered “invaluable”.
Competition law is, likewise, an integral part of the firm and has been for many years. Along with the acclaimed Desmond Rudman and Robert Wilson, Martin Versfeld adds “strong” experience in the construction, tobacco, air travel, health, forestry and liquid fuel industries. Lesley Morphet is also nominated for her “excellent” advice, particularly regarding her assistance with competition queries and notifications in a number of African jurisdictions.
In 2013, one of Webber Wentzel’s proudest pro bono moments was assisting the South African National AIDS Council Trust with amendments to its trust deed to ensure its compliance with tax legislation. The council is crucial to the coordinated response against HIV and AIDS, TB and sexually transmitted infections between the state, businesses and society.
The collaborative alliance with Linklaters has provided Webber Wentzel’s clients with access to a global network of 2,500 lawyers in 29 offices around the world. Indeed, along with its association with ALN, the firm is determined to expand its network in Africa and the world at large. In addition to improving these relationships in 2014, Webber Wentzel is looking to grow the firm both from within, as well as through lateral hires.
Webber Wentzel is a leading law firm in Africa, being consistently ranked at the top by a diversity of international ratings agencies in 2012.
With a staff complement of approximately 800 people (including over 150 partners and more than 450 professionals in a variety of legal disciplines), the firm serves a blue-chip client base from offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Webber Wentzel’s strategy is to help its clients wherever they do business. Work on the African continent represents a growing area of practice and, together with a network of best-friend law firms, the firm has assisted clients in cross-border deals in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Webber Wentzel has entered into a collaborative alliance with global law firm, Linklaters, which is recognised for its leading African practice – having worked on numerous landmark transactions in almost every country on the continent over the past 30 years. The alliance will see the two firms working closely together for the benefit of clients in Africa.
Webber Wentzel is also associated with ALN, a group of leading law firms in Africa.
Specialist areas of practice
Banking & Finance: advises most of the major South African banks and several of the local institutions who participate in senior and mezzanine financings.
Competition: provides world-class legal services across the full spectrum of competition law, including merger notifications, cartel investigations, competition litigation, exemptions and compliance, and regulatory advice.
Dispute Resolution: specialises in complex, multi-jurisdictional disputes covering commercial, regulatory and constitutional issues. Clients include national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and government entities.
Employment & Employee Benefits: offers advice on all aspects of employment law including discrimination in the workplace, corporate governance, black economic empowerment and employee benefits such as pension and provident funds and medical schemes.
Financial Regulatory & Carbon Trading: specialises in financial services law and regulation and has advised a number of local and foreign institutions on the financial regulatory implications of carbon trading.
Insurance, Shipping & Transport: acts for national and international insurance companies, underwriters, underwriting managers, brokers and insureds in a range of complex commercial insurance matters; some of the most experienced and respected maritime practitioners in South Africa who advise on all areas of admiralty jurisdiction and practice.
Mergers & Acquisitions: advises both local and international corporate clients on structuring, negotiating and documenting complex and innovative cross-border transactions.
Mining, Energy & Natural Resources: has the largest dedicated mining practice on the African continent and is uniquely positioned to provide mining clients with comprehensive legal services covering all aspects of mining and resources law.
Private Equity: has more than 20 years’ private equity advisory experience in the South African and wider African markets and is widely regarded as a market leader in fund formation and transactional work, locally and throughout the rest of Africa.
Projects – Finance, Environment & Development: is, and has been, involved in a number of high-profile project finance transactions, many of which are the first of their kind on the African continent.
Public Law: known for providing excellent service and comprehensive, in-depth legal advice to both the public and the private sector.
Real Estate: includes property lawyers, notaries and conveyancers equipped to deal with any property-related transaction on behalf of a national and international client base, ranging from individuals to developers to multinational corporates.
Tax: includes highly qualified tax specialists with extensive experience in developing bespoke solutions to the various tax issues encountered by clients.
Technology, Media, Telecommunications & Intellectual Property: at the forefront of the multimedia industry and the increasing convergence of media and communication technologies. Intellectual property experts deal with all aspects of this specialist area of law.
These practices work together to harness the relevant skills, knowledge and experience to assist with the legal challenges facing individual clients.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.