Corporate Counsel Emphasize Importance of Local Expertise as Companies Seek to Capitalize on Africa’s Economic Growth at Investing in Africa Symposium in London

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Investing in Africa Symposia Series: Jointly Organized by Lex Mundi and the Association of Corporate Counsel

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It is important to invest time in the selection of your local advisers, I have found that you often learn and achieve more in one week in-country than months over the phone or via email.

The third and final installment of the Investing in Africa symposia jointly organized by Lex Mundi and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) took place in London on Tuesday, December 3, at the offices of Baker Botts L.L.P., Lex Mundi member firm for USA, Texas.

Lex Mundi and ACC joined forces to present a series of symposia focused on current legal developments and business opportunities in Africa. Building on the success of earlier events in New York and Paris, more than 70 General Counsel, European Counsel, EMEA Heads of Legal and representatives of Lex Mundi member firms, discussed some of the key challenges that arise in connection with doing business across Africa.

The half-day symposium presented a unique opportunity to hear from local counsel and to debate issues including Africa’s rapidly evolving legal regimes and the harmonization of laws within regional institutions such as COMESA and OHADA. Panel discussions covered:

  • Doing Business in Africa: Lessons Learned for Mitigating Risks
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: Current Developments and Prevailing Trends
  • International Arbitration: Advantages, Constraints and Enforcement

In addition, a series of regional roundtables enabled corporate counsel to share experiences and address the practicalities of doing business in:

  • Anglophone West Africa
  • East Africa
  • Francophone Africa
  • Lusophone Africa
  • South Africa

The keynote presentation at the London symposium was given by Charles Robertson, Global Chief Economist & Head of Macro-Strategy (EMEA) at Renaissance Capital and author of The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa's Economic Revolution.

“The economic evolution of Sub-Saharan Africa mirrors developmental paths already seen in India and across Asia, albeit with a 20-year lag but which nonetheless implies an even better next 20 years for the continent. In current prices, and assuming Africa does no better than India/Asia, the continent should grow from 2 trillion USD in 2012 to 29 trillion USD by 2050,” Robertson explained.

An expanding economy will also bring widening democracy and a decrease in corruption as per capita income grows, he further predicts. “Africa will move up the value-added curve, from resources and services which help drive growth today, to service exports, textiles and increasingly heavy industry from the 2020s. There is the opportunity to deliver a better performance in the coming years than Asia achieved over the last 40 years.”

The macro picture was refined by corporate counsel and Lex Mundi member firm partners from across 15 African jurisdictions, who detailed their own efforts to facilitate investments, and who emphasized the very local legal and cultural issues that have to be considered when doing business across the continent.

“For a multinational I see the business Africa risk as being a failure to invest and compete – the opportunity is too great to miss. It is key to conduct a thorough due diligence both of the market in which you are looking to invest and any prospective local partners,” said Pat Rich, Africa Regional Counsel, Business Development and Projects, at Diageo. “It is important to invest time in the selection of your local advisers, I have found that you often learn and achieve more in one week in-country than months over the phone or via email.”

Panelists at the London symposium included corporate counsel, investment bankers and Africa-focused partners from USA/European Lex Mundi member firms Baker Botts, Gide Loyrette Nouel and Houthoff Buruma, as well as African member firms, Angola Legal Circle (MLGTS Portugal), Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah (Ghana), Bowman Gilfillan (South Africa), Mozambique Legal Circle (MLGTS Portugal) and Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie (Nigeria).

The symposia were specifically designed for in-house counsel advising organizations that operate in Africa or are considering entering African markets. Lex Mundi President Carl Anduri explained, “These symposia formed part of Lex Mundi’s broader objective to help clients in Europe and North America deepen their knowledge of local investment conditions and the relevant legal frameworks based on our unique footprint in Africa and the longstanding relationships among Lex Mundi member firms.”

The first Investing in Africa symposium was held in New York on October 1. The second was held in Paris on October 10.

Lex Mundi in Africa
With more than 500 lawyers on the ground in 15 African jurisdictions, Lex Mundi’s member firms have experience working together to provide investors coordinated legal advice and service covering all relevant areas of commercial and financial law, including mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution, antitrust and competition, compliance and tax. Lex Mundi’s member firms in Africa are working on transactions across the continent. Together they provide extensive coverage and are committed to working together to provide on-the-ground expertise in Africa. Read more at http://www.lexmundi.com/lexmundi/Africa.asp.

About Lex Mundi
Lex Mundi is the world’s leading network of independent law firms with in-depth experience in 100+ countries. Lex Mundi member firms offer clients preferred access to more than 21,000 lawyers worldwide – a global resource of unmatched breadth and depth. Each member firm is selected on the basis of its leadership in – and continued commitment to – its local market. The Lex Mundi principle is one independent firm for each jurisdiction. Firms must maintain their level of excellence to retain membership within Lex Mundi.

Through close collaboration, information-sharing, training and inter-firm initiatives, the Lex Mundi network is an assurance of connected, on-the ground expertise in every market in which a client needs to operate. Working together, Lex Mundi members are able to seamlessly handle their clients’ most challenging cross-border transactions and disputes.

Member law firms are located throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America. Through our nonprofit affiliate, the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, members also provide pro bono legal assistance to social entrepreneurs around the globe.

For more information, please visit [http://www.lexmundi.com and http://www.lexmundiprobono.org.

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Kathleen Pope-Sance
Lex Mundi
+1 (713) 328-4521
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Carl Anduri
Lex Mundi
1.925.962.0115
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