Norton Rose opens fifth office in Africa

28 July 2011

Contacts

International legal practice Norton Rose Group has today announced it will open a new Casablanca office in September 2011. This will be its fifth office in Africa, in addition to Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and an associate office in Dar Es Salaam.

Norton Rose Group has long been established in North Africa particularly through the Paris office. The practice is the only law firm ranked a tier 1 foreign firm in Morocco in the 2011 edition of Legal 500 for Europe, Middle East and Africa and is recognised as the ‘the leading international firm in the Moroccan market’. Additionally, it is tier 1 for General Business Law: Lawyers Based Abroad: Morocco in Chambers Global 2011.

Norton Rose Group will now be ranked as a local practice and expects to grow its client base through increased penetration into regional markets. Locally, Norton Rose Group is well-recognised for its key industry strength in financial institutions, energy and infrastructure, all expected areas of growth in the region. The practice’s expanded global presence means it is uniquely placed to advise investors from a wider group of countries on their African operations.

The Casablanca office will further develop the growing Francophone practice developed by Norton Rose Group and leading Paris based corporate partner, Alain Malek, for over 10 years.

Tim Marsden, Deputy Managing Partner, Norton Rose LLP, said:

“We are already world leaders in Africa and extremely well-established on the continent. We have been very active in the North African market for some years and Casablanca provides a further focus for our existing practice in that region.”

“The Casablanca proposal is not in reaction to recent market announcements, but has been some months in development. This move is not accelerated but is a natural progression of our number one Africa business. We are in a unique position to develop Africa’s international business ties with the rest of the world.”

Alain Malek, Paris corporate partner, and the only leading individual in the 2011 edition of Legal 500 for Europe, Middle East and Africa for foreign firms in Morocco said:

“Even before the addition of Norton Rose South Africa, we were a leading player in Morocco and Francophone Africa. We have extremely knowledgeable lawyers in Paris and London, and internationally. With Norton Rose South Africa and now the Casablanca office, our Africa offering is unparalleled.”

This move follows the addition of Norton Rose South Africa (incorporated as Deneys Reitz Inc) to the Group on 1 June 2011, providing Norton Rose Group with more offices in Africa than any other international law firm. The practice is active across 40 African jurisdictions.

For further information please contact:

Sarah Webster, Head of PR
+44 (0)20 7444 5942
+44 (0)77 2535 0425
sarah.webster@nortonrose.com

Notes for editors:

1. Highlights of Norton Rose Group’s relevant directory rankings:

Legal 500 2011
Morocco - Foreign firms
Tier 1

Norton Rose LLP is ‘the leading international firm in the Moroccan market’, and represents local clients as well as international organisations carrying out business in Morocco. Corporate finance partner Alain Malek ‘has excellent local knowledge’ and has handled some of the most complex, high-profile M&A transactions in the country. His team attracts repeat instructions from CDG, and recently advised on its partnership with FinanceCom and France Télécom regarding France Télécom’s agreement to acquire 40% of the capital of Médi Télécom.

Chambers Global 2011
General Business Law: Lawyers Based Abroad: Morocco
Tier 1

Norton Rose LLP: This is the leading overseas firm for a wide variety of corporate and finance matters in Morocco, and works with local as well as international clients. Alain Malek heads the practice from the Paris office, but spends significant amounts of time on the ground in the country. He has been involved in some of the biggest M&A transactions to take place in the jurisdiction, including assisting Zalagh in its merger with Group Atlas and advising CDG subsidiary Fipar-Holding on financing and real estate aspects of the establishment of a USD600 million car factory. Clients say that they value Malek's Morocco expertise and view him as a positive and client-oriented practitioner.

Chambers Global 2011

Norton Rose Group has enjoyed ‘Tier 1’ rankings in both the Corporate & Commercial and Projects & Energy categories for Africa for 3 years, since they were created in 2009 in the Chambers Global legal directory. The practice retains a ‘Tier 1’ position in the latest edition of Chambers Global 2011.

Corporate and Commercial: Africa
Tier 1

This firm is a leading player across several African regions. It acted on numerous recent deals in Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola, as well as Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Kenya and many other countries. The 2011 addition of South Africa's Deneys Reitz into the Norton Rose network gives the firm not just a strong South African base, but also access to the Africa Legal network. Africa Legal continues to grow, with Tanzania's CRB Africa Legal joining the alliance in 2010. The London and Paris offices are home to some highly knowledgeable lawyers in the field, and the firm's presence in China and Australia means it is well placed to advise investors from those countries on their African operations. The team's Morocco highlights include advising Fipar-Holding on financing and real estate matters linked to a EUR600 million car plant development. In Angola, the group advised Sonangol on a USD1.5 billion financing led by Calyon. In DRC, it acted for China-Africa Development Fund and Zijin Mining Group on the USD281 million acquisition of Platmin Congo BVI. A South African highlight was advising South African Airways on a joint venture in the Democratic Republic of Congo to form the airline Congo Express.

Sources Say: “Excellent business understanding and robust in defence of their client's interests.” “A firm with a long-standing experience.”

KEY INDIVIDUALS Alain Malek is a leading North Africa and francophone Africa expert at the firm, and has extensive experience working in Morocco. He is a specialist in cross-border project finance. Julian Jackson leads the Africa Legal alliance and is highly adept in the field of international finance. Sources see him as “very attuned to detail, with an excellent work ethic.” Steven Gamble is experienced across acquisitions and financings and is a key part of the group.

Projects and Energy: Africa
Tier 1

This firm is extremely active in the projects and energy field and is home to a highly respected Africa group. It frequently works across energy, infrastructure and project finance and is also a prominent player on the mining side. Its merger with Deneys Reitz in 2011 adds a whole new dimension, both in South Africa and across eastern Africa via the Africa Legal alliance of law firms. Outside the continent, the firm is home to a strong group of lawyers across the London and Paris offices, and the practice is also boosted by the firm's presence in the Middle East, China and Australia. Work highlights include assisting BHP Billiton in relation to a mining agreement in Liberia, in addition to advising the African Development Bank on the Main One Cable project, due to run across the entire west coast of the continent.

Sources say: “Extremely knowledgeable about projects and energy and they have vast experience.”

KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Metcalf is recognised for his work in the oil, gas and power sectors. He recently assisted IFC in relation to a hydroelectric project in Zambia. Nick Prowse has experience across the energy sector, with a particular specialism in natural gas. He is seen by sources as “a standout partner with a lot of experience in the sector.” Michael Dale is the South Africa contact for projects. He is particularly noted for his work in the mining sector. Alain Malek is a key contact for matters relating to francophone Africa, especially Morocco and the north-west Africa region. Mark Bankes, who works for the firm on a consultancy basis, is a notable presence in mining and energy and has worked in Ghana and Zimbabwe, among other countries.

2. About Norton Rose Group

Norton Rose Group is a leading international legal practice offering a full business law service to many of the world’s pre-eminent financial institutions and corporations from offices in Europe, Asia Pacific, Canada, Africa and the Middle East.

The Group’s lawyers share industry knowledge and sector expertise across borders to support clients anywhere in the world. The Group is strong in financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

Norton Rose Group has more than 2600 lawyers operating from 39 offices in Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Athens, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Calgary, Canberra, Cape Town, Dubai, Durban, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, Moscow, Munich, Ottawa, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Prague, Québec, Rome, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Warsaw; and from associate offices in Dar es Salaam, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.

Norton Rose Group comprises Norton Rose LLP, Norton Rose Australia, Norton Rose OR LLP, Norton Rose South Africa (incorporated as Deneys Reitz Inc), and their respective affiliates.