Eversheds expands in South Africa with Durban launch

Eversheds has today secured its eighth office in Africa through an affiliation with Durban-based Knight Turner, which is now known as Eversheds KZN.

It is the latest move to follow the launch of Eversheds’ pan-African strategy in October (1 October 2013), which saw the firm re-enter South Africa via a deal with Mahons Attorneys in December gifting it bases in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Louis in Mauritius (4 December 2013).

Legacy Mahons Attorneys, now known as Eversheds, has a longstanding relationship with Knights Turner and instigated the affiliation with the four-partner firm.

As a relatively small corporate and commercial boutique legacy Knight Turner managing partner Andrew Turner said he has often instructed Mahons in deals where it had panel positions or expertise that Knights did not have in-house.

Knight Turner founding partner Andrew Turner said: “Once you reach a certain level you want to have more reach to ensure that when a big deal comes in you can cover it.”

Eversheds had exited South Africa the previous year after a row over conflicts forced a split with local ally Routledge Modise (22 October 2012).

As part of its African strategy, Eversheds also joined up with El Heni in Tunisia, now known as Eversheds El Heni in Tunis, and also by Eversheds CWA Morocco with offices in Casablanca and Tangier.

Last year the firm created the Eversheds African Law Institute (EALI), which is intended to share best practices. EALI has a network of 33 members in 37 offices across 31 African countries.

Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes said Durban offered “a strong commercial and logistics hub” and the move formed a key part of the pan-Africa strategy.

Eversheds’ Durban office is the latest in a string of international firms to launch in South Africa. Earlier this month Clyde & Co entered South Africa with a five-lawyer raid on Linkaters’ ally Webber Wentzel’s insurance and legal liability group (16 May 2014), in a deal that closely mirrored the firm’s Australia launch, which saw the firm take a team from Linklaters’ ally Allens (2 July 2012).

In April Dentons (9 April 2014) launched there, joining recent arrivals Hogan Lovells (19 November 2013).

Baker & McKenzie, Fasken Martineau and White & Case all have offices in the jurisdiction. Legacy Norton Rose became the first international firm to merge with a South African outfit when it tied up with Deneys Reitz in 2010 (15 November 2010).