“Whenever I get recognition from an awarding institution or when we are able to successfully close out a huge transaction, I’m always in awe of the things we have been able to achieve in a short time. I take it as a testament to the good work we do at our firm and the feedback they (awards-issuing institutions) must have received from existing clients who are satisfied with the quality of our work,” said Mobolaji Oriola.
Mobolaji, a rising star and specialist on matters related to energy and banking & finance, says his firm is currently advising on three M&A transactions for three separate clients, involving the acquisition of companies in East Africa and South Africa. “For a young firm, we do have a lot of transactions in our portfolio. We have just recently advised an energy company on a financing transaction with respect to one of the oil fields in Nigeria. It involves structuring the financing required for the construction of an oil facility and pipelines connecting the oil facility to an export terminal,” he shared.
All these transactions come with their unique challenges, but Mobolaji says excuses won’t wash. “I tell my team that being a lawyer advising on these high level transactions means that your legal expertise will affect the lives of a lot of people. If you successfully advise on an oil asset acquisition, gas supply transaction or an M&A, for example, the ripple effect goes beyond your client. Your expertise affects the beneficiaries and stakeholders of the resultant entity,” he explained. “I see every challenge as an opportunity to demonstrate capacity, competence and, most importantly, character, such that everyone who interacts with me not only has their problem solved, but also leaves with a good feeling. That is very important to me.”
Mobolaji is currently pursuing his MBA, and has just been accepted in the 2024 cohort of the University of Oxford Private Equity Programme. He hopes to leave a legacy of an institution that outlives its founders. “My co-founder and I have a primary goal, which is to build the world’s most respected African law firm; a law firm built by Africans, with a global outlook. To build that, we need to acquire globally relevant knowledge and skills. That is my primary reason for always returning to top business schools like Oxford and Harvard for a degree, course or programme.”
Passionate about community work, Mobolaji leads an award-winning non-profit organisation, The Riverwood Switch Foundation, that focuses on providing free education to financially disadvantaged children from low income communities in Nigeria. In recognition of his philanthropic work, Mobolaji won the 2017 Prof Smaranda Olarinde Leadership Award and the 2018 Unity Bank Humanitarian Award.
Asked what he thinks is the single biggest issue the African legal sector needs to overcome in the next five years, Mobolaji responded: “I think the single biggest issue isn’t really about the legal sector, but more about creating one single African economic bloc. We talk about the issues around AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area), but there are restrictions affecting trade across Africa. These issues have a resultant effect on the African legal sector because the legal sector is still largely operating in silos.”
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