Portuguese Law Firms ‘Must Diversify Business In Africa’

Author:Iberian Lawyer
Profession:Iberian Lawyer
 
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The economic downturn affecting the oil industry in Angola and Mozambique means Portuguese firms are now targeting property, agriculture and Francophone Africa.

With the fall in oil prices having caused a downturn in the economies of Angola and Mozambique, lawyers in Portugal argue that it is essential that law firms begin to look for non-oil and gas-related opportunities in Lusophone Africa as well as potential business in other parts of the continent.

Rui Amendoeira, managing partner at Miranda, Correia, Amendoeira & Associados, has no doubts that building practices in African countries other than Angola and Mozambique - which have traditionally been the primary focus of Portuguese firms - is a realistic strategy. He adds: "It's not just realistic, but a must, given the economic downturn that Angola is experiencing at the moment - it is critical for Portuguese firms to look beyond these two jurisdictions, where there is a lot more competition these days."

This was the strategy behind Miranda's decision to expand into Francophone Africa, specifically Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congo. To aid this expansion, Miranda last year announced it had added Paris-based firm Cabinet Sophie da Cunha to its Miranda Alliance network. With regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Amendoeira highlights the "increasing activity" in the infrastructure, mining and telecommunications sectors.

However, Amendoeira says viewing large firms from the US and UK as competitors in Africa, or actually attempting to compete with them would be a "big mistake". He adds: "Miranda has been working in tandem with these firms, in some cases for 25 years - we can assist international law firms by providing a bridge into Africa for their clients."

With regard to non oil and gas-related opportunities in Lusophone Africa, Amendoeira says investors are targeting deals in the property and agriculture sectors. "In Mozambique, there has been recent investment in commercial real estate," he adds. "Meanwhile, prior to the civil war, Angola was a key exporter of coffee, tobacco, rice and maize." In addition, Amendoeira says there is a booming tourist industry in Cape Verde, while São Tomé and Principé are gaining popularity as holiday destinations.

Broadening horizons

Rui Mayer, a partner at Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, points to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Kenya, Namibia and Equatorial Guinea as active markets for...

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