Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's formidable achievement at the DealMakers Awards cements the firms position as No1 Deal Partner

18 Feb 2015 3 min read Article

For the sixth year in a row, business law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has advised on more Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) deals than any other law firm in South Africa. The firm has taken top honours in the DealMakers Awards for M&A deal flow since 2009. Concluding a total of 108 deals in 2014, representing 28.35% of market share, secured first place for Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's M & A team in the M&A Deal Flow tables. The team’s M&A deals in 2014 had a combined value of R155,6bn, representing 22.53% of market share, also securing the firm the number one spot on the Legal Advisers M&A Deal Value tables. In addition, the firm was also first for Deal Flow in the Corporate Finance transactions legal adviser tables, having advised on 40 corporate finance deals in 2014, 24.24% of market share.

DealMakers records every M&A deal and corporate finance transaction entered into by any South African listed company. Details include the date, asset, value and various tombstone parties supplying transactional services. The annual winners are ranked by total value and total number of transactions advised on during the year (2014).

According to Brent Williams, CEO of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, “Being ranked first in the Dealmakers M&A Deal Flow category for six years in a row is unprecedented and reinforces our formidable position in the market as our clients’ preferred choice for M&A. It is also key to the firm’s strategy of being the leading business law firm in South Africa, and in Africa, through its partner firms on the rest of the continent. Achieving the top position in the M&A Deal Value table in an anaemic domestic economic environment shows how hard our M&A team has worked to ensure the highest value for our clients. This understanding of our clients and their businesses' needs remains our principle focus and is, I believe, at the heart of our winning ways.”

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's M&A team also recently claimed 1st place by deal count and 4th place by deal value in the Africa and Middle East region of Mergermarket's M&A 2014 Global League Tables, released in January 2015. Its 1st place by deal count placed it ahead of the London Magic Circle firms and its 4th place by deal value, placed it ahead of all other African (including South African) law firms.

Willem Jacobs, National Practice Head of the Corporate and Commercial practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr said that in terms of trends in M&A in South Africa, "The domestic market softened considerably in 2014 on the back of inter alia, socio-economic, labour and energy supply challenges, exchange rate pressures and regulatory uncertainty in the resources sector, which is likely to continue having a chilling effect on inbound FDI during 2015.  

“Usefully, South Africa's economic malaise has focused domestic corporates' attention on opportunities presented in other African markets (specifically mobile telecommunications, financial services and FMCG markets) which are likely to continue to drive outbound M&A from South Africa in the near term.”

In terms of private equity deals, Jacobs said that private equity activity had picked up in the last year across geographies and industry sectors, "we experienced the private equity market in South Africa, and more broadly in Africa, to be more active than it had been for a number of years".

 "We are expecting private equity deal flow to increase over the next 12 months, with investments being moved between funds by way of secondary buyouts and a fairly strong pipeline of new investments. Targets vary in size, with co-investments becoming more common. Private equity exits, particularly in an anaemic South African economic growth environment also appear to be gaining momentum".

“Our M&A teams in Johannesburg and Cape Town have worked on some of the most complex M&A transactions in South Africa and the rest of Africa in the past year. Partnering with our deal-making clients throughout the process and ensuring the deal works for everyone involved are what drive us, as a team and as individuals. The awards we achieve for doing this work are greatly appreciated,” Jacobs adds.

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