Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr announces eight partner appointments in strategy to grow service offering in key client sectors

29 Oct 2015 5 min read Article

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) business law firm in South Africa has made eight partner appointments to its finance and banking, employment and tax practices within the last month. This is line with the strategy of the firm to grow its practice areas in the key sectors in which its clients do business, both in South Africa and in other African jurisdictions. These appointments come after director appointments in the Private Equity, Telecommunications, Finance and Energy and Oil sectors were announced earlier this year.

Brent Williams, CDH CEO explains, “The global economic contraction and new competition for legal services on home soil has compelled us to drive and improve innovation around our service. This includes the way services are delivered to our clients and the entrenchment of collaboration among our lawyers, through our network of partner firms and within our clients' businesses, domestically and in the rest of the Africa.”

Williams says that despite the general emerging market malaise affecting South Africa and other African economies, there remain opportunities in all African markets, specifically in financial services, mobile telecommunications, technology, commercial real estate, as well as infrastructure, including road, rail and water, and energy and gas. There is also increased activity in the private equity and M&A space as well as a demand for tax and employment law specialists in South Africa and in other jurisdictions in Africa. 

“We have therefore beefed up our specialist legal expertise with five partner hires in our Finance and Banking practice, two in our Tax practice and one partner hire in our Employment practice, with more appointment announcements to follow soon. In the last year, we have also added senior, ranked lawyers to our Oil and Gas team, our Technology Media and Telecommunications practice, as well as our African Cross Border M&A team.

In the first half of the year Deepa Vallabh was appointed director and Head of Cross-Border M&A for Africa & Asia; Christoff Pienaar was appointed as a Director in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice; Hunter Thyne was appointed a director in the firm's Finance and Banking practice, and Ian Burger and Chris Baird were appointed as directors in the Corporate & Commercial practice. In addition, Megan Rodgers was appointed to head up the Oil and Gas team in the Projects and Infrastructure practice. 

More about the new partner hires

Finance and Banking

Gavin Noeth was appointed a director in the Finance and Banking practice in September. Gavin is one of the pre-eminent project finance lawyers in South Africa and joined CDH from Norton Rose Fulbright.  He has over 20 years' experience in the project financing field.  He advises private and public sector project sponsors and lenders (including development finance institutions) on financing of a range of projects.  He  has significant PPP and export credit (ECIC) experience.

Bridget King, Carmen de Villiers,  Zaaheda Mayet  and Pierre Swart all joined the firm’s Finance and Banking Practice as directors in October.

Bridget King is a derivatives and financial markets lawyer who, before joining CDH, practiced as a director in the Banking and Finance team at Norton Rose Fulbright. She also worked at leading Australian law firm King & Wood Mallesons and before that she worked in Retail Foreign Exchange at Investec Bank Limited, one of the largest investment banks in South Africa. Her areas of expertise include financial services and markets regulation, bank regulation, the regulation of stock exchanges and clearing houses, exchange control, the regulation of derivatives, contracts for differences, and other financial products. She has acted as local South African counsel to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association since 2008.

Carmen de Villiers is an admitted attorney and notary public of the High Court of South Africa. She specialises in a number of legal areas, which include banking and financial services, debt and acquisition finance and has extensive experience in brokering deals both locally and internationally. She previously worked at Webber Wentzel attorneys.

Zaaheda  Mayet  was previously a director at Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc and her area of expertise is employee benefits, with an emphasis on pension funds. She provides advice with regard to various aspects of retirement funding best practice, fund rules, administration, and the resolution of disputes that arise around retirement funding. She was also previously involved in various leadership and management roles in the Land Rights Management Facility - restitution unit at Cheadle Thompson and Haysom Inc. 

Pierre Swart specialises in securitisation, debt capital markets, leverage and structured finance as well as corporate finance (including private equity) and trade and commodity finance. He was previously a director and head of the debt capital markets team of Norton Rose Fulbright in South Africa and also has experience as a front office investment banker which he gained at the global markets division of Absa Capital. In addition, Pierre is also a market leader in setting up market infrastructures including central securities depositories and stock exchanges.


Samiksha Singh has been appointed as a Director in the Employment Practice as from November this year. She has considerable professional experience in all aspects of employment law. Samiksha has directly assisted clients in the civil engineering, construction and building industries during protected, unprotected and violent strikes at several major projects in South Africa, which include the Kusile and Medupi Power Station Projects as well as the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital Project. She also has substantial experience in assisting and advising clients on all disciplinary and employment issues, disputes at the various bargaining councils and Labour Courts, retrenchments processes and section 197 transfers. Prior to joining CDH she practised at Cowan – Harper Attorneys.


Dries Hoek  was appointed a director in the Tax practice in October this year. He  is an expert in all aspects of tax law with a particular interest in the tax issues that flow from mergers and acquisitions, with over ten years' experience advising South African and international companies on domestic and cross-border transactions. He has extensive experience in conducting due diligence reviews, the appraisal of acquisition and disposal transactions, financial modelling and providing clients with general corporate tax planning and advisory. Prior to joining CDH, Dries practiced within Webber Wentzel and Deloitte's Corporate Tax and Mergers and Acquisitions Departments.

Mark Linington will join the Tax practice in November this year after almost a decade with Webber Wentzel, where he was head of Tax and more recently the head of the private equity sector group. He has 25 years’ experience as a tax professional and his areas of focus include mergers and acquisitions tax services and corporate tax services.  Recent highlights include tax structuring for the largest private equity transactions in South Africa's history.

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