ENSafrica head of property Andrew Bembridge with awards judge Bill Skirving, Hannover Re Group Africa

Finalists: Baker McKenzie; Bowmans; Dentons; GLA – Gabinete Legal Angola (PLMJ Network) (Highly Commended); Hamilton, Harrison & Mathews; TTA – Sociedade de Advogados (PLMJ Network); Webber Wentzel

ENSafrica attained the Property and Construction Team of the year award for its work advising a foreign client on a complex South African asset sale that comprised 50 properties in different stages of development, with some located in potentially environmentally hazardous areas.

Led by the firm’s head of real estate Andrew Bembridge, the deal was made even more challenging by the fact it was a share sale transaction and there were no warranties on the underlying environmental state of the properties, requiring extensive due diligence procedures from all parties (including ensuring that representations made at interviews between the buyer and seller on environmental issues were not binding). Furthermore, because no cash payments were supposed to be involved, ENSafrica had to agree innovative ways to allow its client to retain control of the sale companies and assets over a nine-month period until the final share payment had been made. The firm also had to coordinate with three sets of lawyers instructed by the purchaser across a range of disciplines, as well as handling a change to payment terms after the deal had been signed.

“Complex matter well dealt with. Significant geographic and cultural hurdles to overcome, plus the thorny matter of environmental issues,” praised a judge.

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