Norton Rose Fulbright eyes further Africa growth with Egypt, Kenya on agenda

Norton Rose Fulbright has outlined its intention to extend its network to African jurisdictions such as Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria amid the firm’s fast global expansion.

The firm is looking to add new bases in the five African countries following the $1.9bn merger of the UK’s Norton Rose and US firm Fulbright & Jaworski, which went live earlier this month (2 June 2012).

The news come alongside plans to open an office in Brazil in the coming year and Mexico within five years, with discussions over the former set to take place later this year.

Of the Africa launches, Egypt is the furthest from realisation.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa managing director Rob Otty said: “Our immediate priority is of course integration with the US. In terms of any further expansion, Brazil is a priority for us this year and we already have a licence to practice there. The links between Brazil and Africa are increasingly important. Mexico is rapidly becoming more important as it’s economy becomes more important. 

“We have a strong presence in Africa and we constantly keep further opportunities under review. There are a number of areas of growing significance that we are watching with interest – like Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique and Angola – and, over the longer term, Egypt. There is no set timescale to any of these.”

It is unclear whether the African entries would take the form of a deal with a local firm or a unilateral office opening, but Norton Rose Fulbright has confirmed the Brazil launch will not be through a merger due to regulatory restrictions.

Commenting on the nature of a further launch in Africa, Otty added: “The form, if we decide to do something in any [country], will depend on the potential opportunity, the local regulatory framework and client preferences.”

Legacy Norton Rose’s last move in Africa was its recent opening of an office in Tanzania, which followed the termination of its association with local firm CRB Africa Legal (23 October 2012).