Chambers Global 2010 - Guide to the World's Leading Business Lawyers, was launched this month (March 2010). Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr fared well in the latest rankings. Overall, the firm was ranked in six practice areas and 15 individual lawyers were recognised.
The IT & Telecommunications practice retained its top tier (Band 1) 2009 ranking. Both the Competition /Antitrust and Tax practices moved up a tier, to Band 2.
Rankings for other practice areas were as follows: Corporate/M&A, including Private Equity - Band 2; Dispute Resolution - Band 2; Banking & Finance, including Banking & Finance: Capital Markets - Band 3.
Individual recognition was given to the following Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr lawyers:
Nick Altini - Competition (Band U - up & coming)
Preeta Bhagattjee - IT & Telecommunications (Band 2)
Emil Brincker - Tax (Band 1)
Joz Coetzer - Finance & Banking (Band 3)
Pieter Conradie - Dispute Resolution (Band 2)
Ian Hayes - Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
Willem Jacobs - Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
Johan Latsky - Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
Mondo Ntlha - Competition/Antitrust (Band 3)
David Pinnock - Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
David Thompson - Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
Craig Whitley - Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
Deon Wilken - Corporate/M&A (Band 3)
Natalie von Ey - Competition/Antitrust (Band 3)
Through an intensive research process, Chambers' research team interviews lawyers and their clients around the world to identify the world's leading lawyers and law firms - those who perform best according to the criteria most valued by clients.
Firms and individuals are ranked in bands from 1 - 6, with 1 being the best. The 'Up and Coming' band lists those who do not yet have an established reputation but who are driving their firm's growth.
While it is glaringly apparent that a number of our practice areas and lawyers have been ranked below the standards achieved in many other professional directories, it must be noted that Chambers' researches the South African market in March and April of the year preceding the publication of their results. Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's results must be viewed in the context of the research for 2010 having been completed in April 2009, which was just six months after the merger (of Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr Herbstein and Gihwala in September 2008) and before the completion of a number of high level transactions.
Editorial comment is based on Chambers' research, with quotations used when they sum up the prevailing opinion in the market.
The rankings and editorial comment about lawyers are independent and objective. Inclusion in this section of the guide is based solely on the research team's findings. No-one can buy their way in.
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr received the following commentary:
Banking and Finance - Band 3
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr: This firm's banking and finance department continues to reap the benefits of the merger between Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala in late 2008. The 13-partner team now has increased insurance expertise to complement its capabilities in general finance. It also remains a go-to firm for debt capital markets and debt restructuring work, where it provides "excellent and solid advice." Joz Coetzer heads the department and focuses on finance and security structures. Deon Wilken is making a name for himself in project finance. Craig Whitley impresses interviewees, with one saying: "He understands the needs of his clients and follows through - for a younger lawyer, he has a lot of seniority."
Competition/ Anti-trust - Band 2
The ten-partner competition team at this national outfit has been active in both M&A and restrictive practice cases. It represented Vodacom in its high-profile and much-publicised acquisition by Vodafone, and acted for Investec Bank in securing conditional merger clearance for a proposed acquisition of control over RJ Southey. In its restrictive cases work, it has attracted clients including Harmony Gold Mining, Parmalat and South African Airways. Sources are impressed with the level of service provided and remark upon the attorneys' "keen understanding of how clients operate." Mondo Ntlha heads the department and was part of the team that acted for Lonmin in a proposed hostile takeover of Lonmin by Xstrata. Natalie von Ey is developing a reputation for "fantastic work" in the competition arena. She rises in the rankings after interviewees described her as "tenacious, quick in what she does and highly energetic." Nick Altini "knows the law and how to apply it in a commercial context." Commentators compliment his provision of "concise advice in an understandable manner."
Corporate M&A - Band 2
This firm is reaping the benefits of its merger with Hofmeyr Herbstein and Gihwala, and has grown to 130 partners and 300 lawyers. The 31-partner corporate team is active on M&A, restructuring and BEE matters. A highlight was advising Remgro on the restructuring of cross-holdings between Remgro and the Luxembourg-based Reinet Investments, including the split of Remgro's stake in BAT valued at USD6.9 billion. Clients praise the team for its "ability to meet our requirements at the drop of a hat" - something which the merger has augmented. Ian Hayes heads the corporate and commercial department and is acclaimed for his commercially savvy advice on mining, private equity and healthcare. David Thompson works out of the Cape Town office, where he focuses on M&A matters. David Pinnock garnered positive feedback for his ability to "provide a commercial interpretation and avoid getting stuck in technicalities." Johan Latsky leads many of the top deals, and is valued for "his thorough analysis of every aspect of the transaction." Willem Jacobs is making a name for himself as a "commercial legal eagle" thanks to his astute advice. Chris Ewing has taken on a full-time management role as CEO of the firm, having been rated highly for many years thanks to his restructuring and private equity track record.
Dispute Resolution - Band 2
This group has seen significant growth following the firm's merger with Hofmeyr Herbstein and Gihwala in 2008. The dispute resolution team now features 33 partners, who are praised for providing "excellent service" with "terrific response rates." The department has had an active year, advising Adcheck in general litigation and acting for Nu Way Housing on an application for a declaratory order against the Gauteng Department of Environment in regard to a large housing development. Pieter Conradie heads the department and concentrates on product liability issues. He is lauded for his outstanding leadership skills, ensuring that "he always gets the best out of the team around him."
IT & Telecommunications - Band 1
This firm remains a top choice for clients seeking expertise in IT and outsourcing, with commentators applauding the proactive approach of the three-partner group. Outsourcing highlights have been particularly prominent, and the team worked on what was then the largest South African technology outsourcing agreement. Preeta Bhagattjee wins client praise for her "ability to help us win contracts." Janet MacKenzie, who led the team on many mobile telephone regulatory issues, left the firm to work in industry in 2009.
Tax - Band 2
Once a small Cape Town-based team, this outfit has grown in prominence and reach. The Johannesburg office in particular has expanded markedly, with the arrival of the highly regarded Emil Brincker and other attorneys and tax practitioners. The six-partner group acted for Brimstone on its ZAR780 million BEE transaction involving the buyout of Tiger Brands' shareholding in Sea Harvest.