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Linklaters in Exclusive Alliance Talks With South Africa's Webber Wentzel
Linklaters is in advanced talks with South African law firm Webber Wentzel about an exclusive alliance, with both partnerships expected to ratify the deal through a vote later this year.
The deal is set to follow the same formula as the Magic Circle firm's tie-up with Australia's Allens Arthur Robinson, which subsequently rebranded as Allens, and is expected to consist of a formal referral agreement and one or more joint ventures.
One potential joint venture would see Linklaters and Webber Wentzel share the costs associated with new office openings across the African continent, with both firms interested in Nigeria and several other locations across West Africa.
Another focus would be on natural resources, where the firms could team up on client pitches and share resources and costs associated with expanding the practice.
Linklaters will also benefit from the South African firm's membership to the Africa Legal Network (ALN), which Webber Wentzel joined last year.
ALN, which was founded eight years go by Kenyan law firm Anjarwalla & Khanna, currently has law firm members in Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Linklaters' initiative is being overseen by emerging Europe, Middle East and Africa managing partner Sandeep Katwala, who is in charge of negotiations with Webber Wentzel, which has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town and employs around 750 people.
London corporate partner Charlie Jacobs -- originally from South Africa -- and co-head of mining Andrew Jones are also involved in the negotiations.
One partner commented: "The idea is to create an alliance agreement which will formalize referrals, and which can be built upon if the relationship proves successful. Joint office openings are definitely on the agenda, but we are still determining which African hubs will be the most important to our combined business."
Legal Week revealed in July that Linklaters was drawing up plans to enter Africa and was holding discussions with a number of local independent law firms.
The plans were initially set out to partners as part of the Magic Circle firm's three-year strategy consultation earlier this year.
The firm's Australian deal, which went live in May, saw the firms entering into an exclusive alliance in Australia and Asia, alongside an energy, resources and infrastructure joint venture in Asia with shared future investment, and a joint venture in Indonesia with shared revenues.