Herbert Smith Freehills to enter Africa with Guinea launch next year

Herbert Smith Freehills is expanding into Africa with the launch of a new office in Guinea.

The launch of the base, which will open in early 2013, comes after Herbert Smith and Australia's Freehills completed their merger on 1 October this year.

The firm said the Guinea move had come in light of increasing interest in the West African jurisdiction from its energy and infrastructure clients.

The office in the capital of Conakry will be headed up by projects partner Bertrand Montembault, who is currently based in Paris, alongside senior associate Salimatou Diallo. The base will mainly focus on corporate and projects work.

Herbert Smith Freehills Africa head Stephane Brabant commented: "Having a presence in Guinea is a clear demonstration of our commitment to being a firm that works in Africa through Africa, and we want both our clients and local communities to benefit from this presence.

“Our Conakry office will for example give us an opportunity to support the development of graduates and young lawyers in Guinea and the West African region, and also to support the investment that is being made in legal resources for the country and the broader region."

Legacy Herbert Smith had pushed back a decision over a launch in Guinea earlier this year. The firm had originally intended to make a final call on whether to open in the African country by June; however, it was delayed in light of other commitments such as the Freehills merger.

Herbert Smith Freehills senior partner Jonathan Scott added: "A major priority for Herbert Smith Freehills over the next few years will be to grow our on-the-ground African capability in line with our developing pan-African strategy. The broader context for this is the firm's commitment to develop an integrated global platform. 

“Such a capability will enable us to provide an end-to-end service aligned to the investment corridors being built between Africa and countries such as China, India, Japan, Russia and Australia.

The news comes days after Norton Rose launched a new Africa base in Tanzania, which is currently staffed by two partners and focuses on financial institutions, energy, infrastructure, mining and commodities and transport.

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