In line with the drive towards excellence in South African law firms, Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, recently announced that it is merging with Johannesburg-based law firm Bell Dewar.

The merger will create one of the largest law firms operating in Africa, resulting in Fasken Martineau having the largest international footprint of any Canada-based law firm. The merged firm will provide a full offering of legal services to clients worldwide.

“Our firm has long been known for our unique understanding of the African marketplace. This merger speaks both to the power of our brand and to the expanded capabilities and services we now offer to our global clients,” says David Corbett, Fasken Martineau managing partner. “The addition of the Bell Dewar team of lawyers along with our existing teams in Johannesburg, London, Paris and Canada provides us with an unrivalled base of talent and experience to bring to the African and world markets,” adds Corbett.

“As we looked to expand our base and grow our Africa business, we considered a number of potential partners. Fasken Martineau was the obvious choice given the firm’s reach, expertise and global capabilities,” says Blaize Vance, managing partner of Bell Dewar.

“We will fully integrate the two firms over the coming months. This will be completed by 1 February 2013. Upon completion of the merger, Vance will become the regional managing partner for Africa, based at the newly consolidated offices in Johannesburg.”

Bell Dewar currently has 76 lawyers on staff. The new Johannesburg team will add to the firm’s existing capabilities in Africa, especially in the areas of mining, infrastructure, energy, project finance, capital markets and M&A throughout Africa. Bell Dewar currently has strong mining and energy teams, which will be incorporated into the merged entity.

The current mining team advises mining companies, mining and prospecting rights holders, financial institutions, beneficiaries and support industries. In addition to work in South Africa, the mining team has undertaken projects in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The firm was involved in the largest BEE mining transaction to date, namely the Anglo American/Kumba Resources/Eyesizwe empowerment project, which saw the creation of the country’s largest listed empowerment company and one of the world’s largest resources corporations. Subsequently, the firm has advised on the Impala Platinum (Implats) and The Royal Bafokeng Nation, as well as the Lafarge South Africa and Sinako Holdings BEE transactions respectively. These deals have all been given awards for excellence.

Some of the mining team’s more recent work includes advising Wesizwe Platinum on acquiring Africa Wide Mineral Prospecting and Exploration from Platinum Group Metals, advising on project financing for the Elandsfontein platinum mine project, acting for Implats in the US$2.3 billion (R20 billion) Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar and advising Implats on its acquisition of share capital from Afplats.

Bell Dewar is a company affiliate of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and a member of the Fossil Fuel Foundation of Africa.

The firm also has experience in a wide range of energy project related agreements, including power purchase agreements, electricity wheeling agreements and connection agreements, as well as with FIDIC-based EPC and turnkey construction contracts and interfacing with governmental authorities and regulatory agencies.

The combined expertise of these teams with Fasken Martineau’s 150 years of experience in the international mining industry will ensure that the client base of the merged company will have access to world-class professional service in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.