Hogan Lovells appoints energy partner duo as Africa practice co-leaders

UK firm recently made first partner-level lateral hire in South Africa since high-profile Johannesburg office relaunch in 2019

Olivier Fille-Lambie (l) and Arun Velusami Images courtesy of Hogan Lovells

Top three UK firm Hogan Lovells has underscored its commitment to developing its presence in Africa with a leadership shakeup that will see partners Olivier Fille-Lambie and Arun Velusami take over as co-leaders of its global Africa practice from Andrew Skipper, who will become the practice's chair. 

Fille-Lambie and Velusami, based in Paris and London respectively, both belong to the firm’s infrastructure, energy, resources and projects practice and its internal Africa leadership team. They are set to take over from Skipper, who has held the role for more than seven years, in January. 

Skipper will support the management transition and continue to promote and engage with the practice’s work as its chair, the firm said on Monday. 

The move comes just a few weeks after Hogan Lovells made its first partner-level lateral hire in Johannesburg - its sole physical site in the region - since its high-profile split with local ally Routledge Modise and subsequent office relaunch in 2019, nabbing Pinsent Masons’ South African transactional services practice head Chris Green. 

The firm’s wider Africa regional practice is home to 150 lawyers working out of offices in Beijing, Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Washington DC. 

New appointee Fille-Lambie has been with Hogan Lovells for more than two decades and focuses his practice on acquisition, projects and structured finance and on the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), a system of corporate law and implementing institutions currently applicable in 17 African countries. 

“Together we have built a market leading Africa practice combining our global team and network of hub offices around the world with close relationships with local law firms to advise major inbound, outbound and pan-African clients across English, French and Portuguese-speaking Africa on their strategic goals,” Fille-Lambie said, adding that he was “looking forward to collaborating with Arun and the wider team as we continue to build business in Africa”. 

Velusami, meanwhile, joined Hogan Lovells in 2017 after 15 years at Norton Rose Fulbright and specialises in advising developers, lenders and governments across Africa on major infrastructure projects. He brings with him particular expertise in the power sector, having advised on thermal, solar, wind, biomass and hydropower projects for nearly 20 years. 

“With more than 40 years of experience on the continent we are committed to understanding, operating in, investing in and respecting Africa, principles that Andrew has instilled and we will continue,” Velusami said. 

Velusami added that given the “relationship-driven” nature of the firm’s business in Africa, he anticipates the practice will be able to “leverage and grow existing” relationships as well as building new ones in-person once Africa opens up post-pandemic. 

He added: “[...] We have a key role to play in advancing economic recovery on the continent and to continue Africa’s development as a major centre for international business.”

In other Africa-focused legal news, US heavyweight Baker McKenzie signalled a refresh of its own Africa leadership team last week when it appointed Paris-based partner Michael Foundethakis as head of its Africa Steering Committee. The appointment followed incumbent Wildu du Plessis leaving the firm in September alongside Johannesburg managing partner Morné Van der Merwe and director of Africa operations Bruce Shubach to set up a boutique law firm.

And in October, South African big five member Bowmans signed a cooperation agreement with French heavyhitter Gide Loyrette Nouel, in a move intended to boost each firm’s reach across Africa.

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