Simmons enters South Africa with Fasken Martineau alliance

Simmons & Simmons has gained a South African presence by allying with Canadian firm Fasken Martineau’s recently-acquired Johannesburg operation.

Fasken Martineau merged with the 76-lawyer Johannesburg-based Bell Dewar in February 2013, which brought in expertise in mining, infrastructure, energy, project finance, capital markets and M&A (22 October 2012).

The new alliance, which takes effect today (1 August) was brokered between Simmons senior partner Colin Passmore and Fasken Martineau managing partner David Corbett.

Passmore described the alliance as a “natural progression” having acted opposite Fasken Martineau on several Africa deals in the past.

Simmons is not planning to permanently relocate any lawyers to Johannesburg but the office will provide a base in the region, concentrating mainly on energy and infrastructure, TMT and some financing work.

Key players in the alliance to begin with will be Simmons London-based energy partner Patrick Wallace and Paris-based partners Yves Baratte and Christian Taylor, along with Fasken Martineau’s South Africa managing partner Blaize Vance.

Commenting on the move Passmore said: “We took the view that this represented the neatest way for us to get a foothold in Africa and take advantage of the fact that they already have 80 lawyers on the ground.”

He said he did not expect to be able to cover the whole continent from South Africa but called it “a natural starting point” for looking at how the firm could extend its reach in the region.

“This isn’t the end of the story for Simmons in Africa,” he added.

The latest alliance comes just one week after Simmons’ Saudi Arabian ally Hammad & Al-Mehda extended its reach with a new office in the country’s capital Riyadh (28 July 2014). Simmons has been working in alliance with Jeddah-based Hammad & Al-Mehdar since May 2011 (5 May 2011).

Simmons has a long history of expanding its reach through global alliances. The firm tied up with Tokyo-based TMI in September 2001 (24 September 2001) and Sociedade Rebelo de Sousa in Portugal.

It has also has a similar alliance with US firm Seward & Kissel to do hedge fund and asset management work since 2012 (4 October 2012).

Simmons unveiled a 7 per cent increase in turnover for the 2013/14 financial year, with revenue rising to £268.6m from £250.3m in 2012/13 (8 July 2014). Net profit also went up by 13 per cent, to around £75m from £66.2m, while average profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 5.3 per cent to £553,000 from £525,000 last year.

The results mark a turnaround for Simmons, which saw revenue decline in 2012/13 (9 July 2013), while net profit and PEP remained roughly static.