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It was looking good for a while. Giant South African companies such as Anglo American, Billiton and South African Breweries are swarming like flies around the London Stock Exchange – the prospect of tapping into a more fluid market to raise funds from which to venture down the acquisition trail is more than most mere mortals could handle. Corporate lawyers at the likes of Linklaters could not have been more happy. Anglo American’s relisting means Linklaters’ team, led by David Cheyne, has been busy since October last year and they are reportedly expecting to bill about £1m in fees. And now Slaughter and May has picked up another FTSE 100 trophy client in South Africa’s largest life assurer, Old Mutual, through its £4bn re-listing scheduled for the middle of the year.But South Africa’s finance ministry has thrown a spanner in the works. It is insisting that Old Mutual will be the last company allowed to go offshore. While this might not be the end of the saga, it will definitely delay any more UK listing work coming out of the country. Perhaps the Free Trade Agreement signed by the European Commission and the South African government in December will offer some recompense.

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