Baker & McKenzie has acquired South African boutique Vani Chetty Competition Law to create its own competition practice in Johannesburg.
Vani Chetty, founding partner of her namesake firm, came on board as a Baker & McKenzie partner on Aug. 1, bringing with her an associate and two support staff.
“This is a very exciting move for my team and me,” Chetty said in a phone interview with The Am Law Daily. “In competition law, you need many resources, all of which Baker & Mackenzie have. I will never have to turn a client away for lack of resources ever again.”
The Chetty competition team adds to Baker & McKenzie’s current stable of 77 lawyers and staff in South Africa, including 12 partners, two counsel and 35 associates and candidate attorneys focused on such areas as banking and finance, capital markets, corporate and M&A, projects and litigation.
“Vani is not only a recognized expert in competition law but has a strong international client base, which she has built single-handedly,” Samantha Mobley, chair of Baker & McKenzie’s global antitrust and competition practice group, said in a statement. “We are excited that she will be joining our team and providing strategic leadership to help our clients expand their operations in South Africa and the rest of the continent.”
Chetty founded her solo practice in 2007. She began her legal career in 1998 at Edward Nathan (now Edward Nathan Sonnenberg), where she became partner two years later. Through her career, Chetty has advised local and international clients in high-profile mergers and acquisitions and restrictive business practices. She also specializes in financial services, property, construction, steel, insurance, entertainment, petroleum and consumer goods.
Most notably, Chetty represented Redefine Properties in its $1.1 billion acquisition of ApexHi Properties and Madison Property Fund Managers, which was South Africa’s largest property transaction in 2009.
Baker & McKenzie opened its Johannesburg office in 2012 after absorbing litigation boutique Rudolph Bernstein & Associates along with the 31-lawyer Johannesburg practice of Dewey & LeBoeuf shortly after that firm went bankrupt.
More recently, Baker & McKenzie has been seeking to grow its Africa presence by developing a network of independent African firms through their inaugural African Relationship Law Firm Conferences, hosted for firms from across the continent in London.
Based in Chicago, Baker & McKenzie reported gross revenue of $2.4 billion and profits per equity partner of $1.2 million in 2013, making it the second-largest U.S. firm behind DLA Piper on The American Lawyer’s most recent annual rankings.