Linklaters’ South African ally boosts energy team with hires from Bond Dickinson and PetroSA

Linklaters’ South African ally Webber Wentzel has made a raft of partner hires to strengthen its oil and gas team, picking up lawyers including Bond Dickinson partner Kenny Paton.

The firm has recruited four partners in response to a growing need for oil and gas work in the region. Owen Tobias and Candice Gabriel join Webber Wentzel from South Africa’s national oil company PetroSA, where Tobias was general counsel and Gabriel a senior legal adviser.

Pulane Kingston is moving from investment company Sphere Holdings, where she was a founder and non-executive chair. Paton, meanwhile, has joined the firm from Bond Dickinson’s Aberdeen office.

The quartet bring a range of experience to Webber Wentzel. Paton has a history of advising on major projects and operations, Tobias and Gabriel have experience of advising national oil companies, while Kingston has regulatory and government expertise.

The recruitment follows last year’s hire of oil and gas specialist John Smelcer from Latham & Watkins to head up the firm’s sector group. Smelcer said regional oil and gas discoveries meant the sector was becoming more sophisticated.

In a statement, Smelcer added: “Our vision is to be the leading legal strategic advisory and transactional oil and gas platform in the region. Clients entering into and active in the region will be able to turn to a local platform that delivers the quality that they have come to expect from Houston and Aberdeen based firms, but with the understanding and ability to get things done on the ground in the region.”

Webber Wentzel signed up to an alliance with Linklaters just over a year ago (3 December 2012).