Links wins role on Sino-African banking deal

Linklaters guides Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) through its £2.6bn investment in Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank.

Linklaters has secured South Africa’s biggest banking deal in two years, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) buying a £2.6bn stake in Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank.

Linklaters client ICBC will take two board seats and a 20 per cent stake in Standard, which turned to top South African firm and longstanding adviser Bowman Gilfillan.

The deal is structured as a scheme of arrangement. The 20 per cent stake will come half from a new share issue, and half from the acquisition of existing shares.

Linklaters fielded a team out of Beijing and London, with corporate partners Celia Lam and Thomas Ng leading in China, and Charlie Jacobs and managing associate Iain Wagstaff in London.

Lam also advised ICBC in August when the bank — China’s biggest lender — bought a controlling interest in Seng Heng Bank of Macau.

Goldman Sachs, ICBC’s financial adviser, also recommended Linklaters. In 2005, the magic circle firm and Goldmans advised South African retail bank Absa Group on its £2.9bn acquisition by Clifford Chance client Barclays.

Advising ICBC on South African aspects was local firm Webber Wentzel Bowens, with which Linklaters often works.

The two banks released a statement that explained they will undertake strategic cooperation across Africa and China.

Jacobs told The Lawyer: “I think the deal is further evidence of the power and attraction of emerging markets.”