Olaniwun Ajayi LP, a leading law firm in Africa, is pleased to announce the opening of its London-based international practice. The London office, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, is a breakthrough for a major law firm founded in Africa, marking a significant milestone in the firm’s nearly sixty-year history and for legal services in and for Africa.
With over 100 lawyers, Olaniwun Ajayi has established itself as a market leader and eminent full-service law firm in Africa with its roots in Nigeria. The firm is distinguished among its peers as a strategic adviser and partner of choice on many complex, multi-disciplinary, corporate, commercial and policy matters arising on transactions in Africa and across all major sectors.
While the firm will continue to work alongside leading international firms on many matters, our London-based international practice takes forward the firm’s strategy to meet the requirements of clients for more streamlined, integrated and end-to-end cross-border legal services solutions on their investments, projects and initiatives across Africa. Our London office will reinforce Olaniwun Ajayi’s existing transactional capabilities in corporate finance, project development, corporate/M&A and private equity, in enabling us deliver to financial institutions, project sponsors, private and institutional investors, governments and government agencies the specialised English law, cross-border and transactional services integral in structuring and executing many of the investments and bankable projects on the African continent today.
With the launch of our international practice, Olaniwun Ajayi is able to assure its clients greater efficiencies and coordination in execution and cost management on cross-border projects in Africa, critical at a time where every cedi, dollar, euro, franc, naira, rand and shilling must be made to count towards Africa’s growth and development. The firm is also delighted to announce that three new partners have joined the firm to lead the London office – Howard Barrie, Chuks Ibechukwu and Dr. Gabriel Onagoruwa. Our new partners bring with them a combination of decades of experience advising on a broad range of projects in Africa and a thorough understanding of the African context.
Howard has a long history of advising on international financing matters in particular in project finance, structured trade finance and cross-border lending. On projects and project finance, he has advised governments, development finance institutions, project developers and commercial banks on projects and their financing in many infrastructure and energy sectors, including on public-private partnerships. Africa is a particular focus and he has worked on transactions in more than 16 African countries. He joins us from Dentons and has been a partner of major international law firms for almost 30 years, recognised by many directories for his expertise for energy and infrastructure, and in the oil and gas and mining sectors, as an Africa specialist and for trade finance, and has been shortlisted by the Financial Times for its Legal Innovator of the Year award. Howard also previously worked at Norton Rose.
Chuks joins us from International Finance Corporation (IFC), where he was Senior Counsel and Africa Regional Lead for Advisory Services and Private Equity and Funds. Prior to IFC, he worked for over a decade at three international law firms – Latham & Watkins, Allen & Overy and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft – specialising in various aspects of corporate finance, including project and infrastructure finance, asset finance, leveraged and acquisition finance and debt capital markets. With a focus on impact investments and development finance, over his career, he has advised on more than 50 project, corporate and structured finance deals that have achieved financial close, contributing in excess of US$40 billion of committed capital towards projects in almost 20 emerging markets.
Gabriel is a highly experienced transactional lawyer who specialises in energy and infrastructure projects in Africa. His practice focuses on advising development finance institutions, national and international oil companies, commercial banks, multilateral lending agencies, sponsors and developers in relation to large-scale project financings, structured finance, investments and acquisitions across the energy, power, renewables, oil and gas including LNG, petrochemical, mining and real estate sectors. He regularly advises on market leading cross-border transactions in these sectors across Africa, and particularly in Nigeria. He joins us from White & Case and has been recognised as a leading individual for finance in emerging markets by Legal500.
“We have demonstrated over the years, the pioneering spirit of this firm, and that we are prepared to innovate and push the envelope where we see client need and avenues to unlock opportunities not only for clients, but also for our people. Our London office will enable us provide first-in-kind end-to-end legal services to our clients on projects in Nigeria that demand high-end, specialised English law advice with cross-border transactional support. The office is also the cornerstone for our broader international growth strategy and value proposition to expand our reach so that we can provide a similar integrated solution to clients on projects in other jurisdictions in Africa. As we transition to becoming a global law firm, our focus is on maximised quality and efficiency firm-wide, and we are confident that this first step will meet and surpass our clients’ expectations in this regard.” Dr. Tominiyi Owolabi, Managing Partner