Africa Desk

On your way to Africa

There has been a steady increase in African deal flow and interest from overseas investors since the financial crisis leading to a deal volume for 2015 that was the highest on record since 2007. The rise in inbound investment into Africa, which accounted for 70% of deal value in 2015, proves the attractiveness of the market. Specifically, more than 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa. In 2009, China surpassed for the first time the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner. Astonishingly, China was building 14% of all major projects in Africa as of June 2015. This is more than any other country. President Xi also made a commitment of investing US$ 60 billion to Africa in the coming years, which means significant opportunities for Chinese and African business communities.

The sector attracting the largest amount of Chinese financing has been the power sector. The International Energy Agency, estimates that China now accounts for 30 percent of Africa’s energy growth, with project investments from China of about $13 billion between 2010 and 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, $6,368 million were provided for railway and infrastructure related projects in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique. China has also been investing $11 billion to build a new port at Bagamoyo and $13 billion in the construction of a railway in Kenya. China’s multipronged approach in Africa can also be seen in the telecommunications sector. China is engaged both in the production of content and infrastructure on which African information societies are being built. Investment has been seen in various countries such as Guinea, Nigeria and Tanzania but Ethiopia is the country that has most benefitted from a telecommunications partnership with China benefiting from loans of $ 3.5 billion in a five-year period. Finally, the total value of China’s oversea direct investment stock is set to quadruple to approximately US$100 billion between 2014 and 2020.

On the Singapore side, according to IE Singapore, Singapore-Africa bilateral trade grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.2 % since 2005 and reached $11.5 billion Singapore dollars in 2015.

HJM Asia Law, with its robust presence in Singapore, China and South East Asia presents capabilities both on the local and on the international front to assist clients with their activities in Asia and outbound from Asia.

HJM Asia Law provides a full range of corporate services and is equipped with extensive on the ground Asia experience in assisting Asian businesses with their outbound investment from Asia to Africa. Our clients also benefit from our relationships with firms in various African countries including, but not limited to, South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Ghana, Algeria, Morocco and Nigeria and from a broad network of relationships, and from the firm’s profound experience on diverse facets of cross-border business.

As of 2016, HJM Asia Law is also a member of the following associations and chambers of commerce:

  • Africa South East Asia Chamber of Commerce; and
  • Guangdong Chamber of International Commerce Africa Investment Alliance.

HJM’s strategic alliance with Jules Bernier and Mohammed Houhou’s firm in Algeria back in April 2016 strengthen HJM’s presence and services in North Africa using Algeria has a base to assist clients with a focus on French speaking countries in Africa. Mr Bernier assists the firms in its practice of guiding corporations in Africa, specifically North and West Africa.

Caroline Berube, Managing Partner of the firm, is admitted to practice law in New York and Singapore and is assisted by a team of specialized lawyers from several jurisdictions. She has more than nineteen years of experience based in different countries in the Asia-Pacific region representing companies with cross border activities.

HJM has experiences in numerous areas of practice including:

  • Cross border Merger and Acquisitions, Corporate Restructuring, Incorporation of companies and compliance work;
  • Commercial law including advice on drafting different commercial agreements like distribution agreement, franchise agreement, SPA and OEM agreements;
  • Intellectual property (registration, opposition and infringement proceedings, licensing of intellectual property rights and technology transfers);
  • Regulatory and compliance advice; and
  • Cross jurisdictional dispute resolution for companies or individuals, particularly in China (under CIETAC rules in China).

We truly believe that the practice of law requires an understanding of our clients’ industry and strategy combining knowledge of the local legal requirements. HJM is a multicultural boutique law firm with a personalised feel and we take pride in our innovative legal solutions and business adaptability to deal with the diversity and varied requirements of our South East Asia and China clients investing in Africa.