Canadian law firm Fasken Martineau in South African deal

Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:18pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian business law and litigation firm Fasken Martineau said on Monday it is combining forces with South Africa's Bell Dewar, beefing up its business in Africa and its expertise in mining and other key areas.

Johannesburg-based Bell Dewar has 76 lawyers on staff, and Managing Partner Blaize Vance will become regional managing partner for Africa for the combined firm, Fasken Martineau said in a release.

Fasken Martineau, with about 700 lawyers worldwide, has had five to 10 lawyers in Johannesburg since 2003.

"We went there because we thought it was important to the mining business that we were doing," said David Corbett, firm managing partner.

The office started out representing Canadian miners operating in Africa and then took on South African clients raising capital internationally, he said.

The Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange are together home to almost 60 percent of all publicly traded mining companies.

"Most recently there's a lot of Asian and Middle East money that's coming into Africa, so it's a question of servicing that," said Corbett. "Clients, you know, were looking, and they expect to have people on the ground to do the work."

Corbett said Bell Dewar's strengths in mining, infrastructure, banking and finance, construction and life science line up with Fasken Martineau's main practice areas.

Fasken Martineau, formed by the merger of three regional Canadian firms in 2000, has offices across Canada and in London and Paris. With about one in five of its lawyers outside Canada, it already has a bigger international presence than any other Canadian-based firm, Corbett said.

The two firms should be integrated by February 1, Fasken Martineau said.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Leslie Adler)