Global law firm White & Case LLP is strengthening its practice in Africa with two new partners in its Johannesburg office and the relocation of two partners from its London office.
White & Case's Johannesburg office, which was launched in 1995, will act as the Firm's hub for project finance and bank finance activity in sub-Saharan Africa, offering on the ground English and South African law finance advice. The Firm has been advising clients on complex, cross-border legal issues in the region for more than 30 years and was the first international law firm to establish an office in South Africa, post-apartheid.
"A strong Johannesburg office is fundamental to our strategy in Africa," said White & Case Chairman Hugh Verrier. "The addition of these senior partners in Johannesburg underscores our commitment to our clients in South Africa, as well as the increasing number of multinationals and financial institutions doing business in the region."
The Firm confirms the arrival in early 2014 of Joz Coetzer and Craig Whitley, who join White & Case as new partners in its banking and project finance groups.
Coetzer practices banking and finance law, including project finance, and has been advising clients in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 15 years. Whitley has been practicing for more than ten years with a focus on project finance and bank finance. They are both recognized leaders in their fields and join the Firm from Bowman Gilfillan.
"The addition of two senior lawyers of such high calibre represents an important landmark in the development of the Firm's practice in Africa," said Philip Stopford, head of White & Case's EMEA Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance group. "Their local knowledge will complement our existing practice and enable us to provide an enhanced level of service to our clients in Africa."
Additionally, project finance partner Christopher Utting, a member of the Firm's global partnership committee, will relocate to the Johannesburg office from London in January 2014 and will head the office. Utting is a senior project finance lawyer who has been with White & Case since 2002. He is qualified in both England and New York and has advised lenders, borrowers and investors on cross border financings in project finance, Islamic finance and general banking matters in a wide variety of industries.
Utting will be joined by London-based project finance partner Mukund Dhar. Dhar joined the Firm in 2007 and advises sponsors, developers, utilities and lenders on international projects, project financings and acquisitions. Both Utting and Dhar have considerable experience advising clients in relation to African matters.
"South Africa is a natural target for expansion, given marketplace growth and the attractiveness of Johannesburg to both local and international financial institutions," said Lee Cullinane, head of White & Case's EMEA Bank Finance group. "The redeployment of Chris and Mukund from London will be invaluable in strengthening ties throughout the Firm."
White & Case has considerable experience in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent transactions include:
(1) Advising the lenders on the US$1.2 billion financing of Indorama's nitrogenous fertilizer complex in Rivers State, Nigeria, the largest fertilizer plant in Africa.
(2) Representing PanAfrican Energy Tanzania Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Orca Exploration Group Inc., as gas producer and supplier of gas to Songo Songo power plant and other industrial consumers.
(3) Advising the Republic of Rwanda in connection with its US$400 million 10 year bond debut offering.
(4) Representing South Africa's national electricity company Eskom, in its capacity as single buyer, transmission service provider and distribution service provider, in connection with a pathfinder project to develop two independent open-cycle gas power plants with a combined investment value of €780 million.
(5) Representing Ghana National Gas Company in connection with the commercialisation of gas to be secured from the offshore Jubilee field.
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