Despite the general air of uncertainty that continues to pervade the local economy, business law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) has advised on the most M&A deals in South Africa over the past decade, proving that it is business as usual for agile law firms that are innovative enough to adapt.
Cementing the firm’s longstanding position as an industry leader, this impressive level of deal facilitation garnered recognition from DealMakers at their 19th Annual Awards Dinner, with the firm winning the first-ever award for Legal DealMaker of the Decade for Deal Flow between 2010 and 2019. The prestigious event was held last night to honour advisory excellence in the M&A industry. DealMakers tracks all M&A deals and corporate finance transactions entered into by South African listed companies.
In addition to being recognised as DealMaker of the Decade, the firm was also ranked first for Transaction Flow in General Corporate Finance, which Brent Williams, CEO at CDH, believes stands testament to them being the business law firm of choice.
“We have built our reputation on being commercial in our approach, yet providing our clients with certainty when it comes to their legal spend. We are known as being the lawyers who are accessible, transparent and will get deals done efficiently,” Williams says.
As testament to the firm’s transformational commitment, CDH was also recognised as the leading M&A legal advisers on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals, winning the BEE Award for Deal Flow.
With sustainability and transformation remaining a key focus going forward, Williams adds the firm will continue to foster deals of this nature: “In addition to supporting clients, we will continue to support the industries that our clients operate in by facilitating transformative and sustainable deals.”
The in-depth and vast business sector understanding evident within the CDH Corporate team is supported by lawyers from various other practice areas, such as finance and banking, competition, tax, real estate and more recently, fintech. Director and National Head of CDH’s Corporate and Commercial practice, Willem Jacobs says that this diverse set of capabilities allows the firm the agility and innovation necessary to adapt and thrive in a tough deal-making environment.
“The volume of reportable M&A deals has certainly reduced year on year for the past few cycles. However, we have always prided ourselves on flexibility in order to offer our clients great value for money, and in a weak economic environment, this strength is accentuated,” says Jacobs.
Regarding the future of the industry and the year ahead, Cape Town Managing Partner and Corporate and Commercial Director, Gasant Orrie believes that nurturing the partnerships forged through time and experience with clients will be critical. “Our approach is based on the motto ‘we want to do more work with this client’. This focusses our attention on the fact that intensely negotiated, complex billing in a particular matter is not of utmost importance in the longer term. It is a simple truism that the relationship is what matters – we try to stick to that.”