Macfarlanes targets more African work as firm looks to develop referral relationships

Macfarlanes is looking to build new referral relationships in Africa to take advantage of increased investment in the continent.

The firm has targeted between 10 and 15 key growth countries and wants to develop relationships with around three local firms in each as part of an expansion of its African practice, led by M&A partner Howard Corney.

Earlier this month, Macfarlanes moved to build its African imprint with the hire of Baker & McKenzie energy and projects partner Scott Brodsky.

Brodsky, who had co-managed Baker & McKenzie’s Johannesburg office, will share his time between Africa and London. 

The firm is focusing particularly on Ghana, Angola, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique, looking to take advantage of a surge in deal activity in the oil and natural resources sector. 

Macfarlanes also operates an ongoing secondment programme sending associates to its clients that carry out work on the continent. 

In a further move to boost the practice last year, the firm hired corporate partner James Dawson from Addleshaw Goddard. Dawson has worked extensively with Heineken, which has a strong presence in Africa. 

Corney said: “Our African practice is benefiting from an increased focus in the region, which is being driven by a number of factors including natural resource wealth, growing populations and a lack of local infrastructure, each of which creates opportunities in its own right. 

“In addition to the larger, international corporates that have invested in the region for some time, we are also seeing an increase in the number of private investment funds looking at African opportunities. 

“However, investments in the region still carry a different risk profile to more developed regions and not all investors have the appetite to accept those risks, even if prospective returns are that much more enticing.”

Related: CC looks to strengthen Africa ties by giving training to local lawyers.