With average GDP growth of 4.9% between 2000 and 2008 and a promising outlook, thanks mainly to its natural resources, growing population and access to large amounts of public and private capital, Africa offers companies significant business opportunities.
The main growth areas are mining, oil and gas, agriculture and agribusiness, consumer goods and services – such as telecommunications – and infrastructure development and operation.
At the same time, legal and tax systems across the continent are undergoing profound changes. Examples include the OHADA (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires) initiative to harmonise Africa’s business laws, regulatory convergence achieved through various economic and customs treaties between different African regions and reforms triggered by partnership agreements between the European Union and North African governments.
CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats, which has been particularly active in French-speaking North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa for over 50 years, provides effective, constructive counsel to its clients by leveraging its experience, a skilled legal team of Africa specialists, offices in Algiers and Casablanca and network of local correspondents. In addition, CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats Africa team is able to draw on the resources of the entire CMS organisation and is a participating member of CMS Africa Desk.
Recognised experience in Africa
Our years of experience and close ties with Africa have enabled us to develop an understanding of the local environment, which we combine with our international expertise to provide clients with assistance tailored to their specific needs.
According to Chambers Global 2014, Corporate/Commercial (Africa):
"What the team is known for A Paris-led team that is notable for its activity in francophone Africa, working alongside offices in Algiers and Casablanca. The team advises on issues such as structuring investments, acquisitions and disposals, tax and competition law for both international and locally based clientele.
Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients) Industry knowledge: "They have knowledge of the area and how things work, and know the local lawyers to go to."
Our main operations in Africa
- Legal and tax advice, taking into account the economic and administrative environment
- The preparation of legal documents, such as articles of association, shareholder agreements and contract addendums, and assistance in negotiating terms
- Guidance through all stages of the business creation or agreement negotiation process
- Due diligence, particularly when target companies are located in several African countries
- Document drafting, transaction structuring and assistance with the negotiation process
- Coverage of the national and international tax issues raised by such transactions, particularly for the purposes of choosing investment vehicles and their location
- Outcome analyses in light of merger control regulations applicable to economic and customs unions such as the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEMAC)
Business optimisation and restructuring:
- Optimisation of investment and financing arrangements, investment fund involvement, short-term debt refinancing with exchange rate guarantees, LBOs and OBOs
- Analysis and optimisation of intercompany financial flows
- Ongoing support to established national or multi-national clients in several African countries concerning corporate, commercial, tax and labour law in French-speaking African countries
Mining and oil & gas:
- Assistance and advice to oil & gas companies through the various stages of exploration and development – including for natural gas sale contracts – and oil asset sales and acquisitions, particularly in North Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and more recently in Mauritania, Mali and Niger
- Advice on downstream transactions mainly concerning natural gas conversion and oil distribution
- Advice to mining companies on applying mining regulations, assistance in negotiating mining permits, concession agreements or amendments and drafting and negotiating agreements with government agencies
- Assistance and advice to service providers and subcontractors for the mining and oil industries
Infrastructure development and operation:
- Advice on infrastructure projects pursued under public-private partnerships, privatisation projects and government withdrawals from investments
- Advice during the fendering for performance of public procurement contracts
Litigation and arbitration:
- Assistance with litigation or arbitration proceedings at the national and/or international level involving the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) or the OHADA Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA)
Advice to governments:
- Analysis and drafting of laws and regulations aiming at encouraging private sector development and concerning the regulation public procurement and public-private partnerships, on behalf of African governments.
The International Desk Team
Our multidisciplinary team of lawyers based in Paris is dedicated exclusively to business projects in Africa. Most of them have lived in Africa and practiced law on the continent. They are fully proficient in the business and tax laws of the major African countries, benefit from international experience and have access to an African business law resource centre built up over more than 50 years.
Team members travel regularly to Africa to work alongside clients or with the Algiers and Casablanca offices. When additional local assistance is required, they leverage the support of trusted law or tax specialists whose skills are ideally matched to the project concerned.
CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats Africa team works in cooperation with other lawyers within CMS where necessary, mainly to draw on their specialised expertise, cover the multi-national aspects of a project or share experience. The offices in Shanghai, Moscow or Sao Paulo may also be involved in the case of projects involving parties from Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).