24 July 2008 by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr merger receives Competition Commission approval

Clients set to benefit from combined pool of talent and capabilities from 1st September 2008

The Competition Commission has unconditionally approved the merger between Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala, effectively paving the way for the formation of one of the largest legal firms in South Africa, to be known as Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

The merger will become fully effective from 01 September 2008 with some 127 directors in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The new entity will continue to promote empowerment and diversity in the legal profession with approximately 30 percent of shares in the firm owned by black directors and some 24 percent held by women. Chris Ewing will be the CEO and Dines Gihwala the Chairman.

Both Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr have solid reputations across a wide range of practice areas and this new combination will offer existing and prospective clients access to an enhanced pool of talent and capabilities, within the full range of practice areas and with true global reach.

Commenting on the merger approval, Dines Gihwala, Chairman designate of the new firm said: “We’re delighted by the Competition Commission’s approval and can now focus on bedding down what will be a superior legal outfit with the critical mass, skills and reputation to meet the requirements of our combined client base locally and around the world.“

Globally, a noticeable trend sees law firms placing added emphasis on specialisation and capacity. In South Africa, due to the limited local skills pool, the only way to achieve these imperatives is by way of merger. Cliffe Dekker’s longstanding relationship with the DLA Piper Group, which will extend to the new merged firm, offers clients access to comprehensive and coordinated legal services through an unrivalled network of firms across the African continent and in all major business centres around the world.

Chris Ewing, CEO designate of the new firm, commented: “This merger is not so much about size as it is about quality. What we aim to offer is a service that provides access to in-depth skills supported by the capacity to meet the challenges and requirements of our clients, whatever their size and wherever they may be, without compromising the highest possible level of service.”

A key feature of the tie-up will include narrowing the practitioners’ areas of expertise whilst broadening their specialist skills in particular fields of law. Addressing the skills challenge will also be high on the agenda and the economies of scale resulting from the merger will allow for greater emphasis to be placed on training and recruitment of the best talent in the industry.

The new firm will initially operate from both firms’ existing offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In the interim, various departments will be integrated into each firms’ current premises to commence the process of combining practice areas and teams.

The new Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr brand, incorporating the DLA Piper ‘look and feel’, will be unveiled in September.

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