Pinsent Masons announces further hires for inaugural Africa practice

05 Dec 2016 | 03:33 pm | 3 min. read

International law firm Pinsent Masons has announced a number of heavy-hitting new hires as it finalises its plans to move into new premises in Sandton, Johannesburg in January.

The firm intends to open its infrastructure focussed practice with seven partners comprising the foremost infrastructure specialists in the market supported by seven construction and project lawyers, bringing the total to fourteen qualified lawyers.

The team is equipped to cover the full spectrum of legal advice in support of infrastructure clients from corporate to projects and construction law, in South Africa and across the African continent.  The South African office will be fully integrated into the global firm and is committed to delivering legal services throughout Africa in a more innovative way.

The new partners are:

  • George Sibanda, a corporate specialist who was previously a partner and Board member of Webber Wentzel and has advised on numerous transactions, including the largest ever IPO on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange
  • Deidré Simaan, formerly a partner and co-head of the Infrastructure group at Webber Wentzel
  • Claire Barclay, formerly a director in the Projects and Infrastructure practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc.
  • Daniella Zussa, a projects and construction partner who was previously a partner at Bowmans and has advised on many of Africa's largest projects including the Medupi and the Kusile Power Stations
  • Junaid Banoobhai, a construction disputes specialist – also from Bowmans – who has advised on disputes related to the  ‘coast to coast’ fibre optic installation project for three of the largest mobile and data providers in South Africa.

The team of seven construction and projects lawyers, six of whom have been appointed from Bowmans, are Senior Associate Bavesh Pillay and Associates Mlungisi Mahlangu,  Tahnee Cunningham, Tshegofatso Kgomo, Kimera Reddy, Salomi Vorster and Thembela Ndwandwe.

Finally, Pinsent Masons has appointed Murray Thompson as Chief Operating Officer in Africa. A former COO of Baker & Mackenzie in South Africa and CFO of Weber Wentzel. As the firm's COO for Africa, Murray will oversee the firm's expansion into Africa.

These appointments follow the appointments, announced in July this year, of Rob Morson and Shane Voigt, South Africa's market-leading Infrastructure and Construction team to spearhead its expansion into the African infrastructure market.

Richard Foley, Senior Partner of Pinsent Masons says:

"Our intention for Africa is to build something markedly different to what already exists in the market. We have assembled a veritable 'dream team' of talent which is built around the needs of our clients in the infrastructure sector. We plan to bring some of our market-leading innovation with us to the South Africa market and to do things differently. All of our new joiners are passionate about our ability to challenge and disrupt the market for legal services. They have come to the right place!"

George Sibanda says:

"Pinsent Masons has a global reputation for excellence in the infrastructure sector, among others. By bringing together the best talent in the South Africa market and allying it to teams with an equal commitment to the sector across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, we are creating something quite extraordinary. When we add Pinsent Masons' track record for innovation and doing things differently into the mix, we have a combination that we believe will really impact the South African and broader Africa market."

About the new joiners

George Sibanda was a former partner and Board Member at South African firm Webber Wentzel. George is a well-known practitioner in Johannesburg having acted in a number of notable matters including the largest IPO ever on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, for Life Healthcare Group Holdings Limited in its ZAR7 billion initial public offer. George has recently been undertaking an MBA focusing in particular on change and innovation within the professional services sector. He previously spent over two years as Legal Counsel at Shell South Africa Energy.

Deidré Simaan joins from Webber Wentzel where she was a partner and co-head of the firm's Infrastructure group. She has worked on some of the most significant projects across Africa including in respect of Majuba Rail Project and Venetia Mine.

Claire Barclay joins as a partner from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc. where she was a director in the firm's Projects and Infrastructure practice. Claire has advised on public-private partnerships including in respect of the Second Nyali Bridge PPP in Kenya and a major Road Decongestion Programme Toll Road PPP in Mauritius.

Daniella Zussa, Daniella joins from Bowmans where she has been involved in front end procurement, contract strategy and negotiation and subsequent contract management of many of Africa's largest projects including the Medupi and the Kusile Power Stations. She has also acted for a number of local and international companies and state owned entities in relation to a number of procurement and construction projects undertaken by various mining houses throughout Africa. She is an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and Notary Public.

Junaid Banoobhai, also joins from Bowmans. He is recognised as a leading lawyer in construction disputes and his experience ranges from major construction to IT and energy projects. In recent years he has been the lead lawyer in significant disputes on some of the largest infrastructure projects in South Africa including the Medupi, Kusile and Ingula Power Stations and also advised on disputes in a joint ‘coast to coast’ fibre optic installation project for three of the largest mobile and data providers in South Africa. 

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