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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Ezra Davids

Ezra Davids

Bowmans11 Alice LaneSandtonJohannesburgSouth Africa2146
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Ezra Davids is the chairman of corporate/M&A at Bowmans specialising in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, and securities law. Ezra is the most recent chairman of the faculty advisory board of the Law School of the University of Cape Town. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Legal Resources Trust (a non-profit human rights organisation using the law as an instrument of justice); a director of Freedom Under Law (a non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of the rule of law in Southern Africa); and a patron of the Student Sponsorship Programme (a non-profit organisation that places and enables academically talented, low-income students to excel in South Africa’s best high schools). He is a former chairman of the recent developments in global M&A subcommittee of the International Bar Association’s corporate and M&A committee.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

My role models, other than my father, were all lawyers – namely Nelson Mandela, Sir Sydney Kentridge, Oliver Tambo and Arthur Chaskalson. All of them had at least one thing in common: they were changing the world into a better place.

Which case has been your most memorable so far, and why?

Leading our firm’s team as the African legal advisers to SAB Miller in its combination with ABInBev, which at $107 billion is the third largest M&A transaction in global history and the largest by far in Africa.

What was the most challenging part of starting out as a transactional lawyer?

Reconciling my history of anti-apartheid and pro-social justice student activism with the hard-nosed commercial and financial world.

What do you enjoy most about your role as chairman of Bowmans’ M&A group?

Client interaction. Providing strategic leadership to make our firm the best in class in African M&A. Inspiring all our lawyers in our group (partners and non-partners) to be the best they can be.

Which skills are now key to a modern M&A specialist?

A combination of legal technical skills, business acumen, geopolitical awareness and project management.

How do you think the market will evolve in the next five years?

The distinction between high-end M&A law firms and the rest will be even more pronounced. The impact of artificial intelligence on dealmaking and execution is yet to be determined, but undoubtedly will be game-changing and profound.

Is there any advice you would give to younger practitioners who hope to be in your position one day?

Work hard, use your common sense, be hungry to learn, work smart, be personable and leave time for family and friends.

You have had a distinguished career. What would you like to achieve that you have not already?

I want to be a better human being in all respects.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Corporate Governance - 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Ezra Davids is a corporate law specialist applauded for the expert advice he delivers to clients on high-stakes corporate reorganisation and restructurings.

Biography

Ezra Davids is the chairman of corporate/M&A at Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group specialising in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, and securities law. Some of the most recent transactions in which Ezra has advised in include his role as co-lead partner in the firm acting as South African counsel to SAB Miller in its recently completed combination with AB InBev (1.5 trillion rand/$107 billion) and acted as lead partner in the following matters: South African counsel to Bharti in its then proposed merger with MTN (US$24 billion), advising Verizon Communications in its disposal of its subsidiary, Verizon Business (South Africa), acting as South African Counsel to M1 and Investcom in the latter's acquisition by MTN (US$5.5 billion), advising Barrick Gold Corporation in its disposal of Barrick Gold South Africa (US$1.55 billion) and for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in the disposal by Polyus (Norilisk) of its entire shareholding in Gold Fields Limited (US$2.2 billion), for SABMiller in the US$1 billion BEE transaction for its South African subsidiary, for Old Mutual plc in the aborted negotiations related to the acquisition by HSBC of 70 per cent of the issued share capital of Nedbank Limited, for Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Kansai Paint Co Ltd's successful hostile takeover of JSE-listed Freeworld Coatings Limited (2.4 billion rand) and for PPR in the proposed disposal of its furniture and household goods business, Conforama, to JSE-listed Steinhoff International Holdings Limited (12 billion rand).

Ezra is also the relationship partner for a number of the firm's major clients such as Bharti, Verizon, Barrick Gold Corporation, Nokia, UPS, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Eskom and Transnet. He is also the chairman of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Law School of the University of Cape Town and a member of the board of trustees of the Legal Resources Trust and a patron of the student sponsorship programme (a not for profit organisation focusing on providing high school education to disadvantaged students). He is also the former chairman of the recent developments in mergers and acquisitions subcommittee of the business organisations committee of the International Bar Association.

M&A 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Ezra Davids excels across a range of M&A and financing matters and is renowned for his work representing clients in complex deals on an international scale.

Biography

Ezra Davids is the chairman of corporate/M&A at Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group specialising in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, and securities law. Some of the most recent transactions in which Ezra has advised in include his role as co-lead partner in the firm acting as South African counsel to SAB Miller in its recently completed combination with AB InBev (1.5 trillion rand/$107 billion) and acted as lead partner in the following matters: South African counsel to Bharti in its then proposed merger with MTN (US$24 billion), advising Verizon Communications in its disposal of its subsidiary, Verizon Business (South Africa), acting as South African Counsel to M1 and Investcom in the latter's acquisition by MTN ($5.5 billion), advising Barrick Gold Corporation in its disposal of Barrick Gold South Africa ($1.55 billion) and for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in the disposal by Polyus (Norilisk) of its entire shareholding in Gold Fields Limited ($2.2 billion), for SABMiller in the $1 billion BEE transaction for its South African subsidiary, for Old Mutual plc in the aborted negotiations related to the acquisition by HSBC of 70 per cent of the issued share capital of Nedbank Limited, for Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Kansai Paint Co Ltd's successful hostile takeover of JSE-listed Freeworld Coatings Limited (2.4 billion rand) and for PPR in the proposed disposal of its furniture and household goods business, Conforama, to JSE-listed Steinhoff International Holdings Limited (12 billion rand).

Ezra is also the relationship partner for a number of the firm's major clients such as Bharti, Verizon, Barrick Gold Corporation, Nokia, UPS, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Eskom and Transnet. He is also the chairman of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Law School of the University of Cape Town and a member of the board of trustees of the Legal Resources Trust and a patron of the student sponsorship programme (a not for profit organisation focusing on providing high school education to disadvantaged students). He is also the former chairman of the recent developments in mergers and acquisitions subcommittee of the business organisations committee of the International Bar Association.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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