6 March 2006

DLA Piper Group signs third African ally

London - DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary ("DLA Piper") has consolidated it's reach across the African continent by signing an agreement with Zambian firm Chibesakunda & Co making them a member of DLA Piper Group. This will be DLA Piper's third alliance agreement with and African-based law firm following on from its tie up with DLA Matouk Bassiouny in Egypt and leading South African law firm, Cliffe Dekker.

The recently signed agreement is another significant step in DLA Piper's African strategy and marks its ongoing commitment to deliver a range of local and international services across the continent. Mwelwa Chibesakunda, a former partner and head of banking and finance with Denton Wilde Sapte's associate firm Corpus Globe, will lead the newly established firm. Mwelwa, who has over 14 years, banking, M&A and commercial experience in Zambia, is widely considered to be one of the countries most experienced banking lawyers. Prior to joining Corpus Globe, where he worked for 10 years, Mwelwa also worked for the Ministry of Justice in Zambia and was head of the international law and agreements department upon his departure.

With the additional support of two associates and two other fee earners, Chibesakunda & Co will focus on the needs of local corporate and commercial clients and also specialist services for international clients in fields such as mining and related project financings, trade, export and telecoms finance. Chibesakunda & Co's clients will also have access to DLA Piper Group's international network which stretches across Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, Asia and the US.

Grant Henderson, one of DLA Piper's Africa experts, has been seconded to Chibesakunda & Co to support the development of the firm. Grant has worked in Zambia for over 10 years and has a wide range of African transactional-related experience in the areas of M&A, restructuring, insolvency and privatisation, all of which serve to complement Mwelwa's banking and finance focus.

In 2005 DLA Piper demonstrated its interest in Africa by appointing African specialists Charles Morrison and Grant Henderson, before entering into an exclusive agreement with DLA Matouk Bassiouny in Egypt and Cliffe Dekker in South Africa. The arrival of Chibesakunda & Co will see DLA Piper developing stronger links with international clients across Africa.

Charles Morrison, said: "Chibesakunda & Co is an exciting development in the Zambian legal market that, as mining and other finance work develops, increasingly has a need for lawyers of the highest professional calibre. I am very pleased indeed that we have been able to bring into DLA Piper a firm headed by a lawyer of the standing and professionalism that Mwelwa is widely known and respected for. Building a relationship with an established Zambian lawyer will enable us to develop the many opportunities that exist, especially those related to our existing mutual client base. In the long-term Chibesakunda & Co may become fully integrated with DLA Piper but in the meantime our agreement will serve to provide a strong link with Zambia's business and financial community."

DLA Piper is currently working on a variety of projects and transactions across Africa, including advising the Government of Zambia on the sale of its state-owned commercial bank, major oil infrastructure projects in Ghana and Mozambique, as well as commodity trade finance deals in 12 jurisdictions across the continent for international banks.

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