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Offshore firm Harney Westwood & Riegels has sealed an association with Mauritius firm BLC Chambers in a bid to grow its presence in Africa.
The move is the next step in Harneys’ efforts to develop its Africa practice as the continent becomes increasingly important for the offshore market. It follows the 2011 hire of Walkers lawyer Patrick Colegrave as a counsel. Colegrave focuses on the southern African region, using Zimbabwe as a base.
The four-partner BLC Chambers is a member of the Africa Legal Network (ALN), giving it access to firms in Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Zambia. South Africa’s Webber Wentzel, which recently signed an alliance with Linklaters (3 December 2012), is an associate member.
BLC also works alongside Mauritian fiduciary services business Axis.
Harneys’ global managing partner Peter Tarn and BLC managing partner Iqbal Rajahbalee both said in a statement that they were excited by the cultural fit between the firms.
Colegrave said Harneys had been looking at Mauritius for some time. The island is used as a domicile for a large number of companies, particularly Indian and Asian, investing into Africa.
“Obviously Mauritius is an important jurisdiction for Africa in an offshore context,” Colegrave said. “It’s been something that we’ve been considering for a while. It positions us, we feel, extremely well to become a leader of offshore legal services in the Africa space.”
He said BLC’s membership of ALN was not a particular draw, but rather that the two firms would leverage off each other’s African contacts to make the most of the association.
Other large offshore firms present in Mauritius are Appleby, Bedell Cristin and Conyers Dill & Pearman, all of whom run their own offices in the country.
Meanwhile, Carey Olsen recently signed an association with British Virgin Islands firm Hempel & Boyd, which has an office in South Africa it plans to expand (23 January 2013).