Dentons finalises Mozambique tie-up nearly two years after it was announced

Maputo-based Fernanda Lopes & Associados-Advogados adds five partners and eight lawyers to Dentons' 250-strong Africa team

A view of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique

Dentons has completed a combination with Fernanda Lopes & Associados-Advogados (FL&A), a leading independent law firm in Mozambique.

The firm finalised the deal earlier this week, almost two years after the combination was revealed in 2019 as part of the firm's wider Pan-Africa expansion plan. Four other tie ups were also announced at that time – with LEAD Advogados in Angola, Sayarh & Menjra in Morocco, Kyagaba and Otatiina Advocates in Uganda, and Eric Silwamba Jalasi and Linyama Legal Practitioners in Zambia. 

The Mozambique deal is the last of the quintet to be finalised, after the combinations with Sayarh & Menjra and Kyagaba and Otatiina went live in 2019 and the Angola and Zambia deals were completed in 2020. The firm added two more Africa locations to its network this year when it combined with female-led Nigerian firm ACAS-Law in April and Tanzania-based East African Law Chambers (EALC) in March. 

A spokesperson for the firm said the merger with FL&A took more time to complete as a result of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"We never commit to a specific date because launching combinations involves the time and talent of many of our teams around the world and we know that some things are out of our control," they said. 

"The global pandemic, and all of the travel, supply chain, and IT complications from it, proved that this is the best strategy. Each of our combinations is unique and involves many moving parts including but not limited to when the combining firm believes is the right moment to launch for their market and their clients, which is also complicated by a global pandemic that is still raging in many places in the world, and in particular, in Africa."

Following the finalisation of the deal, FL&A’s five partners and eight lawyers join Dentons’ international network, adding local expertise across a variety of practice areas, including corporations, contracts, labour, real estate, intellectual property, litigation and banking.

Founded in 1995 by managing partner Dr. Fernanda Lopes, FL&A is one of Mozambique’s oldest and largest full-service law firms. 

By combining with FL&A, Dentons said it will gain a key strategic foothold in Africa’s energy market due to Mozambique’s standing as the continent’s third-largest holder of liquified natural gas and its power generation potential from untapped coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar sources. 

“The combination with FL&A-Advogados builds upon our strategy to become the leading Pan-African law firm owned and controlled by Africans and located in key markets,” said Elliott Portnoy, Dentons’ global chief executive officer. “Mozambique, with its vast potential across multiple sectors including energy and infrastructure, is a priority market for our clients.”

Noor Kapdi, chief executive officer of Dentons’ Africa region, said the firm “quickly identified” FL&A as a key player in the Mozambique legal services market and aligns with Dentons’ strategy of adding locally-controlled firms to its Africa network. 

In a statement announcing the news, Dentons highlighted its ‘polycentric and anti-colonial’ approach to expanding its foothold in Africa as a ‘stark differentiate’ from its competitors, working to disrupt the traditional model for providing legal services in Africa by focusing on ‘combining with leading Pan-African law firms owned and controlled by leading local professionals. 

The deal brings Dentons’ Africa headcount up to more than 250 lawyers working across 17 offices in 12 countries. 

Last year, Dentons appointed former German diplomat Albrecht Conze as counsel to support and advise German investors in their business activities in Africa, particularly those relating to energy and infrastructure projects.

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