1 September 2008

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr merger fully effective

New SA major combines capabilities in 10 core specialist practice areas to become the business law firm of choice for clients with national and international needs

As of today, corporate law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr will operate as a single entity with more than 130 directors and some 280 lawyers fairly evenly spread between offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Led by CEO Chris Ewing and Chairman Dines Gihwala, the firm will provide a wide range of specialised business legal services through 10 core practice areas. This announcement follows the unconditional approval by the Competition Commission of the merger between Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr Herbstein & Gihwala in July 2008.

The firm will offer a complete range of corporate and commercial legal services aligned to the changing needs of a client base increasingly seeking a blend of capacity and specialisation to meet their requirements on a national and international level. To this end, the firm has added the ‘DLA’ logo to its brand identity, signalling a strengthening of its alliance with what is now arguably the world’s largest global legal group, DLA Piper. The DLA Piper Group relationship was formalised in 2005 and has increasingly offered local clients true global reach through access to global practitioners.

Dines Gihwala, Chairman of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, said: “I am truly excited about the future of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. This combination is the product of two firms of similar size with almost identical cultures, values and solid reputations.

“Together, my colleagues and I anticipate taking advantage of a culture that truly binds and builds to offer a first-rate legal outfit with the critical mass and depth of skills to continue adding value and providing competitive edge to our clients."

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr will continue to promote empowerment and diversity in the legal profession, a strong commitment which is reflected by approximately 30 percent of shares in the firm owned by black directors and some 24 percent held by women.

Chris Ewing, CEO, said: “With the merger now fully effective, we are ready to entrench ourselves as the business law firm of choice in South Africa offering a complete solution to our clients’ needs.

“Addressing the skills challenge and transformation imperatives remain top priorities. Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr will strive to be the employer of choice for aspiring and established practitioners and offer an attractive environment for the best talent in the industry to develop and grow.”

The firm is being branded as a “business law firm” and will concentrate on offering not only corporate and M&A work, but also on a full suite of business legal services structured around ten core practice groups, led by highly experienced and recognised national and regional practice heads:

  • Corporate and Commercial
  • Competition
  • Dispute Resolution: Litigation and Arbitration
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Finance, Projects and Banking
  • Real Estate
  • Tax
  • Technology, Media, Telecoms
  • Trusts and Estates

The size and organisational structure is aimed at offering clients greater specialisation and improved service.

Commenting on the merger Nigel Knowles, Joint CEO of DLA Piper, said: "On behalf of everyone at DLA Piper I want to congratulate Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr on its successful merger. As the world continues to get smaller and businesses in South Africa embrace opportunities that challenge their existing business model or take them into new markets, there is a growing need for legal advisers that have a broad range of technical skills and a global reach. With this merger Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has created a platform that will enable it to help clients meet these challenges, at home and abroad."

Chris Ewing said:”Our clients and our people are at the heart of everything we do around here. We aim to offer 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.”

Starting today, a rolling marketing campaign and revamped website will reveal the new Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr brand.

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