Linklaters in $800m South African BEE transfer deal

Linklaters is increasing its dominance of the South African government’s Black Economic Empowerment Programme (BBE) after landing a multimillion-pound sale for Impala Platinum Holdings.

Linklaters corporate partner Charlie Jacobs is acting for the longstanding South African client on offloading its 27.1 per cent stake in Western Platinum and Eastern Platinum (referred to jointly as Lonplats) to Lonmin plc for $800m (£483.2m). Lonmin, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is being advised by Allen & Overy corporate partner Jonathan Gould.

Earlier this year the magic circle firm represented Investec, the first South African financial services company to divest 25 per cent of its stock to black empowerment investors. Linklaters was also involved, in a smaller role, in the Gold Fields BEE deal announced in June.

“These are the three large deals in which we have been involved. The Impala one is the most significant BEE transaction in the mining sector to date,” said Jacobs.

Last year, the South African government introduced draft legislation to force businesses in the mining sector to sell 15 per cent of their stock to wholly-owned black companies within five years. Linklaters is likely to benefit from these reforms as it has relationships with a number of South African mining companies, including Anglo American, the world’s third-largest mining conglomerate, and BHP Billiton, which is also advised by Slaughter and May.

Jacobs said that he expects to be involved in more BEE transactions in the future. “The focus will continue to be on the larger deals, typically where we can add value on the structuring and financing side. Where companies have overseas listings we are more likely to be involved as well,” added Jacobs.

Impala and Lonmin are also being advised by local firms Webber Wentzel Bowens and Cliff Decker respectively.