Corporate partner Jesse Watson receives the award from awards host, broadcaster Leanne Manas (left) and Natalie Hill, Legal Week Corporate partner Jesse Watson receives the award from awards host, broadcaster Leanne Manas (left), and Natalie Hill, Legal Week

Finalists: AB & David; Afriwise; Baker & McKenzie; Bowmans; Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr; Hogan Lovells; Orrick/Olaniwun Ajayi; TTA – Sociedade de Advogados (PLMJ Network); White & Case

Webber Wentzel’s role as lead African legal adviser to AB InBev on the beermaker’s mega-merger with SABMiller helped crown it the M&A Team of the Year. Led by senior partner Christo Els, the deal raised a number of challenges that showcased the firm’s M&A expertise. One example was its work on the secondary listing of AB InBev’s ordinary shares on the Johannesburg stock exchange under the JSE’s fast-track listing process, which will see the listing replaced by new shares once the merger is complete.

The firm is also playing a role in shaping a proposal to continue and enhance a black economic empowerment scheme, initially set up by SABMiller in 2010.

The M&A team is responsible for project managing the entire process by coordinating with the client, the client’s advisory teams (both local and international), other lawyers within the firm (to advise on tax, exchange control, competition and other aspects of the deal), local counsel elsewhere in Africa and with SABMiller and its advisers, ensuring matters are addressed appropriately and swiftly. The team has played a key role in resolving a number of regulatory issues and in securing exchange control approval as a precondition of the merger.