Finalists: Allen & Overy; Anjarwalla & Khanna; Baker McKenzie (highly commended); Bowmans; LNP Attorneys; MMC Africa Law; Pinsent Masons.

White & Case’s role advising Vale and Mitsui & Co on the development and financing of a $2.3bn railway and port project secured it the Transportation and Infrastructure Team of the Year award.

The so-called Nacala Corridor project will transport coal along a 912km railway line from Vale and Mitsui’s mine in western Mozambique, across Malawi, to a deep sea port on Mozambique’s eastern coast, making it the largest ever infrastructure deal in the region. The firm had to draft a treaty between the Malawi and Mozambique governments (all the more challenging given the neighbouring countries have not enjoyed a close relationship, and because the IMF was investigating the Mozambique government’s finances at the time), as well as agreements with their respective central banks to obtain approval for the project’s accounting structure (which involved developing a synthetic, single borrower structure with a cash-pooling mechanism for the companies to draw from).

The firm called on its network of global lawyers from Dubai to Washington to negotiate multiple documents involving third-party service providers and a host of commercial banks, development funds and export credit agencies. The firm says the transaction is likely to serve as a template for other resource-based infrastructure projects in Africa.

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