Linklaters Eyeing South Africa?
According to industry sources, Linklaters is in the middle of forming an alliance with South African law firm Webber Wentzel. Both law firms are expected to vote on the deal later this year. The potential joint venture is supposed to be similar to the deal Linklaters created earlier this year for its tie-up with Australian law firm Allens Arthur Robinson.
Both Linklaters and Webber Wentzel are known to be interested in opening offices across the continent of Africa, especially West Africa and Nigeria. The law firms are expected to share the costs for setting up new offices and would be sharing resources and other costs to expand their practice areas. Currently, both firms are looking to intensifying their efforts in the area of practice in natural resources.
The tie-up would also allow Linklaters to access the benefits of membership to the Africa Legal Network, which was joined by Webber Wentzel last year. The ALN has members in Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Sandeep Katwala, the Europe, Middle East and Africa managing partner of Linklaters is in charge of negotiations with Webber Wentzel. Currently, Webber Wentzel employs about 750 people, and has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Other top people from Linklaters involved in the deal include co-head of mining Andrew Jones, and London corporate partner Charlie Jacobs, who is originally from South Africa.
A Linklater partner said, “The idea is to create an alliance agreement which will formalize referrals, and which can be built upon if the relationship proves successful. Joint office openings are definitely on the agenda, but we are still determining which African hubs will be the most important to our combined business.”
Linklaters is on a campaign of establishing its hold on “emerging markets” like Asia and Africa through tie-ups with locally established firms.
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