how the law firm Dentons wants to conquer Africa – Jeune Afrique

On Wednesday, November 16, in Marrakech, the Africa Partners Meeting was held, a high mass of business law in Africa, which brought together 50 of the continent’s most prominent business lawyers. At the helm of this event, Dentons, a firm present in 83 countries, through 216 offices spread across the four corners of the planet. Employing more than 1,200 business lawyers, it is considered one of the world’s heavyweights in the sector.

In recent years, Dentons has made Africa one of its main sources of growth. In 2019, the bosses of the firm already displayed their ambition: to become a leader on the African market. Three years later, this plan has come to fruition, if we are to believe Me Omar Sayarh, managing partner of the firm in Morocco: “Today we are the leading law firm in Africa, with a presence in thirteen countries and an ambitious development plan aiming, in the next two years, to invest in other markets”, confides to us this personality recognized in the Moroccan environment, who oversees, from Casablanca, with his partner Mehdi Megzari, the activities of Dentons within of the Kingdom.

A very dynamic market

In Marrakech, these ambitions were renewed on the occasion of the Africa Partners Meeting: the African community of lawyers, meeting with Joe Andrew, Global Chairman of Dentons, the South African Noor Kapdi, Managing Director Africa, and several others members of the world board, exchanged around the challenges and challenges of the profession on the continent.

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“Africa presents one of the most dynamic markets in the world. In this time of growth, positive change and new opportunities, we need to meet the ever-changing needs of businesses, governments and international institutions. And the choice to meet in Marrakech to engage in these new challenges is naturally linked to its status as a global hub for international congresses, as well as to the strategic place occupied by Morocco, both a gateway of the continent and a real bridge in North-South partnerships”, explains Me Sayarh, host of the event.

Dentons thus embodies a Moroccan success story, that of the marriage between Dentons and Sayarh & Menjra. A success that extends both to the Maghreb and to sub-Saharan Africa, but also to the Middle East, where the firm supports major institutional and private clients in all of their operations: international development, settlement of disputes, advice on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, new technologies, project financepublic-private partnerships (PPP)…

Various clients and sectors

The firm has supported major Moroccan and international groups in numerous – and complex – transactions: acquisition by WorleyParsons of all the interests and activities of Jacobs Engineering in Morocco, sale of Saham Finances to Sanlam, installation in the country of Uber and from Glovo, assistance from Xlinks with its mega-project to power the UK from Moroccan solar installations, and more.

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It is also Dentons who is behind the structuring, by Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, the Central Guarantee Fund and BMCE Bank, of an investment fund in the form of an OPCC (Organisme de placement collective en capital – investment aimed at financing SMEs, mainly Moroccan and unlisted) as part of the Innov Invest program.

Not to mention the advice on the regulatory aspect for institutions such as the Ministry of Economy and Finance that the firm supports in the project to set up a legal ecosystem for crowdfunding. He is also involved in Morocco’s blockchain integration process.

Local as well as global expertise

The firm’s clientele includes prestigious names, such as the Japanese Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the Korean Dk Mungyo, Casablanca Finance City Authority, IFC (International Finance Corporation, subsidiary of the World Bank), Proparco, the European Bank for Reconstruction and the development (Berd), the South African group Kerzner or the Emirati Emaar Properties.

The firm is polycentric. It is not under the yoke of a dominant national culture.

To all these customers who export internationally, and in Africa in particular, Dentons offers extensive services, as evidenced by a great Moroccan boss, consulted by Young Africa : “It is easier to work with an international firm, which can provide you with advice on regulations in Europe, in the United States, in Asia, but especially in Africa in all the territories and jurisdictions that exist, from Kampala to Nairobi via Dar es Salaam, Luanda, or Johannesburg. All with expertise that covers all of an investor’s needs: regulatory advice, competition law, intellectual property, legal and financial arrangements, structuring of innovative financing, dispute resolution, arbitration, etc.

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“We feel protected as an economic actor to deal with a network such as that of Dentons. Especially since the firm operates in the field with African lawyers, who know, in addition to local law, the cultural specificities of each country. This is the real added value of legal advice…”, adds the captain of industry. This cultural factor is one of Dentons selling points on the continent. “Dentons’ strategy in Africa can be summed up in a few words: create a pan-African firm controlled by Africans in order to support its clients, everywhere, with the same quality as the highest international standards. This strategy is more than beneficial for us, as the Moroccan office of Dentons, since we are able today, through our 17 African offices, to support our local and international clients in all their investments and operations”, details Mr Sayarh.

“When Africa trusts Africa”

The Casablanca office is a good example of this “Africa that trusts Africa”, which has become the motto of Moroccan “capitalists” since King Mohammed VI made it a guideline of his South-South development policy. In addition to Omar Sayarh and Mehdi Megzari, the Dentons board in Casablanca also includes a figure in business litigation, the founder Mohamed Ali Sayarh.

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“Dentons owes its success to its innovative character and disruptive culture in the world of international law firms,” continues Me Menjra. We are polycentric, that is to say that the firm is not under the yoke of a dominant national culture. How could it be otherwise, with a presence in more than 83 countries? We therefore aim to offer our clients talents from different backgrounds and countries with in-depth experience of all the legal traditions of the world”. And to add that this African anchorage, carried by talents from all over the continent, allows the firm to be more effective in the field.

“Rather than offering theoretical legal analyses, we offer tailor-made solutions, essential for closing a transaction, resolving a dispute or meeting a business challenge. Dentons is today more than a law firm, since it has experts who provide integrated solutions, support clients in their commitments, the management of their reputation, whether in critical moments, upheavals, of challenges or opportunities”, concludes the partner manager.

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