Edward Nathan, Sonnenberg merge to target pan-Africa

South African firms Edward Nathan and Sonnenberg Hoffmann Galombik will look to become an Africa-wide powerhouse following their merger.

The two firms announced their intention to merge earlier this month (thelawyer. com, 6 June), pending South African competition authority approval. Edward Nathan chairman Michael Katz and Sonnenberg chair Piet Faber last week told The Lawyer that they “do not expect any problems” with the competition regulator over their application to merge .

“Both firms had separately taken the view that we wanted to regard Africa as an important area; both firms had teams focusing on the continent,” said Katz.

“Following our merger we will have a thrust forward to cover Africa, but how we will do that, we have not yet decided.”

There are many things left for Katz and Faber to decide, including a name for the merged firm.

“The principal of a merger has been agreed, but problems, such as a name and our brand that will serve the entity best, have not yet been resolved,” said Faber, who is expected to take the managing partner role in the new firm.

The two firms signed a letter of intent for the merger after just two weeks of negotiations. The merger will make the new firm the largest by size in Africa, with considerable presence in South Africa’s two largest centres – Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“We share a common vision, and scale was an important factor in this decision. Most South African firms are not operating at optimum scale, but we will achieve that,” said Katz.