The expansion had been planned for some time, with the firm’s clients among those leading the way, he said.
“We decided to press ahead so we’re ready with an experienced team of local lawyers in key markets to help them harness these opportunities when the time comes.”
Legh said the development had given him a great deal of personal satisfaction.
“We’ve been working on what I call our ‘Africa Project’ for over a decade now and it hasn’t always been easy. To be able to go to the market with this very positive news about belief in Africa’s potential at a time where there’s so much uncertainty, is very gratifying.”
And it’s not an empty gesture, he stressed.
“As a firm, we truly believe that there are significant opportunities available on this continent. We think our clients see them too. And we’re ready to put our money where our mouths are in preparation to support them when the time comes.”
The move comes less than a year after the firm opened an office in Mauritius and entered into an alliance with Assefa & Associates Law Office in Ethiopia.
In Malawi, Bowmans is teaming up with Elton Jangale, who manages PFI Partnerships (PFI). Jangale is a barrister and chartered accountant with more than 18 years’ experience in transaction advisory services.
Legh said, “The tie up will benefit our clients because it formalises an existing relationship and enables us to work together more closely to provide a seamless service in the competition and commercial law space, not only in Malawi, but in the region as a whole.”
Jangale added, “I’ve been working with Bowmans for some time and I am familiar with the way they operate. This is a great opportunity for my firm and for Malawi to join a truly pan-African business whose focus is on improving access to high-quality legal services for its clients.”
The new office in Zambia, registered according to Zambian law as B&M Legal Practitioners, will start with two partners: managing partner, Mabvuto Sakala, who has 18 years’ experience in corporate, commercial, banking and public policy advisory work, and dispute resolution and, Bwalya Chilufya-Musonda, a seasoned lawyer who specialises in mergers and acquisitions, competition, banking and finance, capital markets, and tax law, is the other partner. They will initially be supported by two senior associates.
Sakala said the firm’s commitment to Africa was one of the deciding factors for him and Chilufya-Musonda, as was the nature of complex work that the firm routinely handles for its clients.
“Bwalya and I have previously worked with Bowmans on several occasions and we share in Bowmans’ vision. We think that our partnership with Bowmans will be of great value to our clients as we’ll be able to leverage on the team’s depth, experience, diligence and professionalism.”
Malawi and Zambia are among the World Bank’s top 10 sub-Saharan Africa countries in terms of ease of doing business for 2020. In 2018 they were ranked in the world’s 10 most improved economies regarding regulatory reforms that make it easier to do business.
The new offices mean Bowmans is now in eight African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia with nine of its own offices in seven jurisdictions.
“We believe in Africa’s potential and are committed to supporting our clients and our people, as they seek to unlock opportunity, overcome challenges and realise the hopes that will shape the future of the continent,” said Legh.
Robert Legh is Bowmans chairman and senior partner. He joined the firm in 1986 and became a partner in 1992. He founded Bowmans' competition practice in 1998 and headed it before his appointment as chairman. He has extensive experience in antitrust and regulatory law as well as in mergers & acquisitions and mining law. In recent years he has worked on a number of high-profile cases relating to hostile mergers, abuse of dominance and cartels and was a contributor to the first South African text book on competition law.
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