herbert smith freehillsTop global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has announced that it will be opening its first Africa office, in Johannesburg shortly. Peter Leon, a top twenty global mining lawyer will join the firm as co-chair of the Africa practice alongside Brigette Baillie, a highly respected energy and infrastructure finance lawyer who will join as a partner in the firm’s highly successful Africa practice.

Peter and Brigette will be joined in Johannesburg by a number of high-quality partners from the Africa practice including Ed Baring, Head of the firm’s Banking & Finance practice in Moscow, Bertrand Montembault, Head of the Paris Energy & Infrastructure practice and Yann Alix, a dual English and French qualified senior associate.

The combined strength of the Johannesburg partners will enable the firm to provide a pan-African offering, including francophone Africa, and they will be fully integrated with the firm’s Africa specialists located across the international platform.

Herbert Smith Freehills is a leading international law firm with 23 offices in 18 jurisdictions and a total of 478 partners across the global network.

Currently ranked the 16th largest law firm in the world by revenue, the firm has, over the past 30 years, established a leading position in Africa. It has one of the largest teams of common and civil law lawyers dedicated to Africa work and acts on matters in almost every country. Consistently ranked in the top tier by Chambers and Legal 500, the firm has more ranked lawyers for Projects & Energy Africa in Chambers Global than any other firm and operates across a large number of sectors including Energy, Mining, TMT, Banks, Consumer & Retail and Financial Buyers.

Commenting on the opening, Mark Rigotti, Joint CEO said:
“Africa is a core feature of our global strategy. With clients from across our international network looking at the tremendous growth opportunities, the opening of an office in Johannesburg is an important step in how we provide a pan-African offering. This is an exciting milestone for the firm and underlines our commitment to provide an end-to-end service for leading global businesses.” 

Both leaders within their respective fields domestically and internationally, Peter Leon and Brigette Baillie join from South African firm Webber Wentzel where Peter was the head of Mining Regulation and Brigette the head of the Energy & Infrastructure Sector Group.

Peter’s areas of expertise include mineral and petroleum regulation in developing countries, black economic empowerment and indigenisation law, international investment law, prevention and crisis management as well as financial services regulation.

“Herbert Smith Freehills is a tremendously well respected global law firm that already has a leading and best-established practice in Africa. The opportunity to work with a leading international firm with a truly integrated African offering is something that I find very appealing and an opportunity to take another step forward in the development of a pan African practice.

“My expertise and experience in the South African market is a good cultural fit with the firm and I am excited about working with them to expand their practice in the region,” says Leon.

Brigette Baillie has vast experience in non-recourse and limited-recourse financing, project structuring and corporate and equity finance and she is named as a leading lawyer in South Africa by Chambers Global.

Stéphane Brabant, co-chair of the Africa practice comments:
“I am delighted that Peter has accepted to join me as worldwide Co-Chair of the Africa practice. We shall act together, not only as advisers for our clients but also more widely as trusted advisors especially for the prevention and management of crisis situations that our clients might face in Africa.

“Our ability to deal with legal questions concerning civil law as well as common law, combined with our expertise in several sectors is a solid basis for a unique platform to service clients across Africa. We look forward to supporting our South-African clients in their expansion plans and as well all African and international investors across the continent, including francophone Africa.”

About Herbert Smith Freehills
Operating from 23 offices across Asia Pacific, EMEA and North America, Herbert Smith Freehills is at the heart of the new global business landscape providing premium quality, full-service legal advice. We provide many of the world’s most important organisations with access to market-leading dispute resolution, projects and transactional legal advice, combined with expertise in a number of global industry sectors, including energy, natural resources, infrastructure and financial services. www.herbertsmithfreehills.com

About Herbert Smith Freehills’ Africa Group
Africa is an exciting region which continues to attract the interest of many of Herbert Smith Freehills’ clients. The firm already has a leading and long-established practice in Africa, having advised on numerous matters throughout the whole of the continent over the last three decades.

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