Bowman Gilfillan launches in Durban with maritime bolt-on

South African firm Bowman Gilfillan is strengthening its maritime expertise by merging with Durban shipping boutique Velden Pike Nichols.

The merger will take effect on 1 August and will see three partners – Mark van Velden, Andrew Pike and Trudie Nichols – as well as five lawyers, one trainee and four support staff join Bowman Gilfillan.

Bowman Gilfillan partner Craig Cunningham said the move would expand the firm’s maritime, logistics and transport offering. As well as Durban, South Africa’s busiest port, the merger gives Bowman Gilfillan access to Richards Bay, the third-busiest port in South Africa with the greatest volume of cargo moved.

Cunningham added that the firm also wanted to expand the transport logistics and international trade side of its practice, with a particular focus on resources.

“Given our expansion into Africa where the fast pace of infrastructure development is being driven largely by substantial oil and gas finds and other commodities, our offices in those jurisdictions have an opportunity to provide legal services in respect of logistics, ports and other infrastructure development,” he said.

The Velden Pike Nichols merger continues rapid expansion for Bowman Gilfillan. Earlier this year the firm moved into Madagascar by merging with local firm John W Ffooks & Co (5 February 2014). It also added Botswanan firm Bookbinder Business Law to its Africa Group (4 October 2013).