21 April 2004

Cliffe Dekker: legal advisers on acknowledged M&A and BEE Deals of the Year

Ranked as the No 1 legal adviser by deal value in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity for 2003, leading South African law firm, Cliffe Dekker, is additionally honoured by its representation as legal adviser on the acknowledged M&A and black economic empowerment (BEE) deals of the year.

At the 2004 BusinessMap Foundation Empowerment Awards presentation, the Harmony-ARMgold transaction was named the BEE Deal of the Year. Cliffe Dekker acted for Harmony Gold Mining in the series of transactions with ARMI and Avmin that have led to the creation of South Africa's largest diversified empowered mineral resources company.

The transaction was named by DealMakers In March as the deal of the year in DealMakers' rankings of M&A activity for 2003. It was named the second biggest deal of the year in the Ernst & Young Review of Mergers & Acquisitions for 2003.

Cliffe Dekker also acted as legal advisers to Comparex in the IT company's empowerment transaction with BCI. The transaction was named runner-up in the 2004 BusinessMap Foundation Empowerment Awards.

In March, Cliffe Dekker was ranked the No. 1 legal adviser by deal value in the DealMakers rankings of mergers & acquisitions (M&A) activity for 2003.

Earlier, in February 2004, an independent survey of major corporate users of legal services rated Cliffe Dekker as SA's best large law firm.

Though deal-making activity declined globally in 2003, the predominance of black economic empowerment (BEE) transactions in South Africa's mergers & acquisitions (M&A) sector has given positive stimulus to the professional advisers who facilitated those deals. At Cliffe Dekker, the optimism is almost tangible, flowing from the spate of recent M&A, BEE and service quality awards.

Yet, while the firm rides the crest of a wave of accolades, chairman Chris Ewing sees clients' success as the real measure of the firm's achievements.

When our clients' business transactions are acknowledged for their uniqueness and clients benefit from the services the firm rendered to help make the transaction special, that makes us happy. The awards underscore our focus on delivering services and solutions designed to make our clients' businesses successful, and our commitment to building enduring client relationships.

By way of example, Ewing cites Ian Hayes, a director in the firm's corporate and commercial department, who has acted for Harmony since 1999. Hayes has advised Harmony in all of its corporate activities, including 13 acquisitions in the past three years.

Ewing says that BEE transactions currently account for almost 90% of the firm's M&A work.

The BEE Act was passed into law in January 2004. Since the release of the BEE Commission Report in 2001, our BEE team has been honing specialist expertise in this field. Law firms need the skills to advise clients on compliance with BEE policy, to assist them in restructuring to comply with industry charters, apply the scorecard to their business and help them identify and structure opportunities to improve their scorecard.

Though no charter is yet in the making for the legal services sector, the directors of Cliffe Dekker have for some time been actively pursuing a empowerment strategy for the firm. It's transformation policy has already established it as one of the first black-influenced large law firms in terms of the empowerment criteria set out in various charters, including the charter for the financial services sector.

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