Linklaters and South African firm Bowman Gilfillan have bagged lead roles on the acquisition by Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) of a R36.7 billion ($5.6 billion; �2.7 billion) stake in South African group Standard Bank.

Linklaters’ team was led in Beijing by M&A partners Celia Lam and Thomas Ng, with senior City corporate partner Charlie Jacobs heading up the team in London.The instruction represents a coup for Linklaters, with ICBC having opted for top 10 City law firm Herbert Smith as lead counsel on its dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai last year, when the bank was valued at $21.96 billion (�10.8 billion).Bowman Gilfillan advised longstanding client Standard Bank.Rival South African firm Webber Wentzel Bowen and Chinese giant King & Wood also grabbed a slice of the action, each advising ICBC on local aspects of the deal.Linklaters has advised on a number of notable bank mergers in Africa in the past, including acting for Absa when Barclays bought a �2 billion ($4.1 billion) majority stake in the bank in 2005. Jacobs also spearheaded the team on that occasion, while magic circle rival Clifford Chance advised the UK bank.Linklaters also advised the National Treasury of South Africa on funding initiatives in overseas capital markets, landing the role in 2005 after a pitch led by London finance partner Giles White.Commenting on the latest role, Lam said: “ICBC’s acquisition of a strategic stake in Standard Bank is the first significant Chinese investment into a South African financial institution.”