These include: Africa In-House Team of the Year; Energy & Natural Resources (Africa); and Small Team (Africa). This the second successive year that the AFGRI Legal team has won the Africa In-House Team of the Year and the Energy & Natural Resources (Africa) Team of the Year awards.
AFGRI Group’s director of legal risk and compliance, Pieter Badenhorst, said the awards acknowledged the role played by in-house legal teams especially in an environment where focused and detailed knowledge of legal issues was critical.
“We are delighted to be recognised by In-house Community – especially alongside our colleagues in the Asia region,” he said.
The In-House Community Awards has run for the past four years and is a core event for the Hong Kong-based In-House Community established two decades ago to enable in-house teams to “more easily fulfill their ethical, legal, compliance and business responsibilities”. The awards reward global teams who are members of the community.
AFGRI Group, a member of In-house Community, is an investment holding company focused on the food, agriculture, and financial services-related businesses. It provides products and services that support sustainable agriculture and food security.
Badenhorst said, “I am blessed to have a highly skilled, dynamic and innovative legal team working for me. We take pride in doing most of the complex legal work in-house, rather than outsourcing it to law firms.”
In-house legal teams were a more cost-effective route to legal support especially for business working across regions, he said.
AFGRI Group, for instance, is represented in 11 African countries and Western Australia.
In 2018 the company raised ZAR 1 billion in capital with the in-house team completing ZAR 3.2 billion merger and acquisition transactions.
“We provide legal advice and a value-added offering that our people will not get from external firms.”
A great deal of the in-house team’s work is in enabling cross-border deals by working with locally-based lawyers familiar with regional politics, laws and regulations.
“Every deal is unique, with specific elements. Never be arrogant and assume you know every legal system. You can’t have local knowledge of every system in Africa, so best use local specialists in those countries. There are some very skilled lawyers in Africa. You have to know how to find them or you won’t manage your risk satisfactorily.”
“We always work with respect,” Badenhorst said.
***MTR Corp, ADGM, Clifford Chance, Baker McKenzie and Lawcadia were among the winners at the awards dinner which took place on May 30.
Andrew Cooke of Flash Entertainment was named In-House Counsel of the Year and Alain Charles Veloso of Quisumbing Torres won External Counsel of the Year.
According to the awards website, the goal of the awards is to share “the innovative solutions pioneered by in-house counsel and external providers uncovered through the awards process” and in so doing “stimulate the entire in-house community”.