Linklaters seals alliance with South Africa’s Webber Wentzel

Linklaters has agreed an exclusive alliance with South African law firm Webber Wentzel, with the deal set to go live early next year.

Simon Davies
Simon Davies

The magic circle firm has recently closed a vote on the tie-up, which follows a similar alliance with Australia’s Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens) earlier this year (23 April 2012).

The Webber Wentzel tie-up launches on 1 February 2013 and gives Linklaters its first presence on the ground in Africa.

It also grants Linklaters access to the Africa Legal Network, of which Webber Wentzel is a member, although the alliance is with Webber Wentzel and not the rest of the network. Other members are in Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The firms entered alliance talks earlier this year after Linklaters turned its attention to Africa following the Allens deal (9 August 2012).

Linklaters global managing partner Simon Davies said in a statement: “Our alliance with Webber Wentzel, South Africa’s premier legal firm, is an exciting development. Our strategy is to meet our clients’ needs in markets across the world by focusing on delivering an excellent quality client experience whether through our own offices as we build out our network or working in partnership with the very best firms in particular markets such as Webber Wentzel. We are confident that this collaborative alliance will further enable us to build lasting relationships with clients in Africa and those outside looking to invest in this dynamic market.”

Senior partner Robert Elliott added: “Linklaters has a proven track record of supporting clients in achieving their Africa-focused strategies, having worked on many of the landmark deals on the continent over many years. Our alliance with Webber Wentzel further strengthens our market-leading service through an enhanced on-the-ground presence and the combining of teams of the best local and international lawyers, and underlines our long-term commitment to clients doing business across the African continent.”

In a statement, Webber Wentzel senior partner David Lancaster said: “Demand for cross-border legal services continues to grow strongly. This arrangement is consistent with our strategy of helping clients whenever they do business in Africa. There is huge potential for Africa growth – and therefore legal work – in a large and complex market.

“We have worked closely with lawyers from Linklaters on many occasions and have always been impressed with their knowledge, experience and unwavering client-focus. The firms are a good fit culturally, with complementary practice areas, many shared clients and strength of brand in our respective markets.”

The news follows confirmation in Linklaters’ LLP accounts for 2011-12 that it paid £2.5m to its highest-earning partner, an increase on £2.2m last year (30 November 2011).

The accounts, filed last week at Companies House state: “The total profit and remuneration payable to any member in a particular year can be substantially above that of a member on full profit entitlement because of compensation for such costs as tax and accommodation payable to members on secondment to other jurisdictions, or because of payments associated with joining or retiring from Linklaters LLP.”

Separately, the accounts detail the firm’s remuneration system, with most members who become equity partners receiving between seven and ten equity points, although a lower entry point may be agreed in certain circumstances. Profit share entitlement then increases by 1.5 points per year to a maximum of 25 points. The points entitlement is reduced in certain jurisdictions to reflect the local market, the accounts say.

The accounts also confirm revenue rises in the UK and the Middle East and in Asia and drops in the Americas and continental Europe.

Turnover for the UK and the Middle East rose by around 1 per cent from £522.551m in 2010-11 to £526.445m in 2011-12, while Asian turnover jumped 4 per cent from £135.22m to £141.234m.

However, Americas revenue fell 2 per cent from £88.49m to £87.148m and continental European billings fell marginally from £451.062m to £449.594m.

The breakdown represents slightly different results from those published when the firm announced its provisional, unaudited financials earlier this year (6 July 2012).