Firm profile for Global 2022
This content is provided by Benzakour Law Firm.
Managing Partner: Rachid Benzakour
Number of partners: 2
Total staff: 10
Languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic
Benzakour Law firm (BLF) is a major Moroccan business law founded in 1968. It is a prominent and very reputable firm in Morocco widely regarded as a top law firm acting in upstream and downstream sides. It has been ranked at the Chambers Africa Awards 2021 as “Morocco Law Firm of the Year”.
The firm offers a large and full portfolio in business law, with a particular focus on assistance to foreign investment and litigation. The main areas of practice are: corporate, contracts, foreign direct investment, shipping/maritime law, energy, aviation, real estate, labour law, tax, merger control/concentration and litigation: collection debt procedures and arbitration.
Abdelaziz Benzakour is a statesman and a revered figure in the country, and was appointed by the King as head of Morocco’s Mediator Institute (2011-2018). He is a former Chief of the Casablanca and Moroccan Bars and is lauded as ‘one of the biggest figures of the Moroccan Bar, with lots of personality, charisma and a great reputation.’ Rachid Benzakour manages the firm. He is a multicultural and multilingual lawyer, dynamic and innovative. He is receiving much praise for his in-depth knowledge and deep understanding of international clients’ needs. ‘He takes care of all our issues, responds quickly and knows the local laws very well,’ noted one client. He was ranked first in the National Bar Exam (year 2000) among 7,000 candidates and is admitted arbitrator before the Moroccan Court of Arbitration.
The firm is very well versed in working in different projects in collaboration with several foreign law firms, such as Hogan Lovells, Ashurst, Reed Smith, Clyde & Co, Simmons & Simmons, Herbert Smith Clyde & Co, Clifford Chance, Stibbe, Bredin Prat, August & Debouzy, BDGS, Bonelli Erede, Ropes & Gray, Squire Patton, Kirkland,Pinsent Masons, Broad & Bright, Cleary Gotieb, Watson Farley, Sullivan & Cromwell, SJ Berwin, Cooley, Simon et Associés, Fieldfisher, Leigh Day, Simpson Millar.
The firm has been working for clients, such as: Export and Import Bank of America: EXIM Bank, BNP Paribas, European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD), Royal Air Maroc (RAM), Lufthansa, Air Lease Corporation, Google, Amazon, Cromology, Johnson Controls Hitachi, Oetker, Alitalia, I.A.T.A, Club Med, Accor, Isuzu, Hyndai, Suez, Henkel, Diebold, Nokia Siemens, Siemens Gamesa, Danone, Alstom, General Motors, Investindustrial, New Look, Sumitomo, Columbia, Aeropuertos Argentina, Philip Morris, KT&G, Posco Daewoo, Amazon, Diebold, Samsung, Groupe Castel, Allianz, Amiblu, Henkel, Amcor, Mapfre, Adidas, Travelclick, ACWA Power, Averda, Al Shafar General Contracting, Endesa, Sita, SNCF, International, Columbia Sportswear, Aerolease, Terex, Simba Toys, Teleperformance Intermediation, General Electric Healthcare, Fieldcore, AAR Corp, Can-Pack, Hermes, Technogym PGS, Acticall, Safran, Vapostore.
Main Areas of Practice:
■ Administrative Law
■ Banking & Finance
■ Real Estate
■ Corporate & Commercial
■ Dispute Resolution (Litigation & Arbitration)
■ Foreign Direct Investment
■ Fraud & White Collar Crime
■ Corporate Restructuring
■ Intellectual Property (IP)
■ Media & Entertainment
■ Private Clients & Trusts
■ Shipping & Transport
For several years the firm has advised the Export and Import Bank of America (EXIMBank) in the financing and delivery of different aircrafts (Iast transaction $80,634,290) and also in the restructuring of financing of aircrafts. It has also been advising other foreign companies, such as Air Lease Corporation in connection with the lease of aircrafts to Moroccan companies. The firm also advised recently Exim Bank and BNP in the restructuring of financing of aircrafts.
The firm has been involved in a number of different ship arrests against vessels for international clients and also provides legal advice in maritime law. Issues advised upon include: issues concerning corporate restructure, labour law, tax, exchange regulations, and liability case for damage to submarine cables or to containers.
Energy/Mining/Oil & Gas:
The firm has assisted bidders in energy projects in Morocco in the Tarfaya project and the extension of Units in Jorf Lasfar. The firm has also advised a consortium led by ACWA Power International (ACWA Power), the Saudi Water and Power giant, in partnership with Aries Ingeniería y Sistemas, S.A. and TSK Electrónica y Electricidad, who have been selected as preferred bidder to develop the USD 1 billion 160 MW Ouarzazate CSP Independent Power Project located approximately 200 KM south of Marrakesh. The firm has also advised the European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD) in relation to a loan (up to £20 million) to SDX Energy Morocco (formerly named Circle Oil) to finance the enhancement of upstream gas production and related gas transport infrastructure to industrial zone customers, facilitating the switch away from polluting fuel oil and reduction of Co2 emissions. The firm provides legal assistance to different operators in the mining sector.
The firm has advised and represented several major international companies, such as Diebold, Henkel, Amcor, Fonds Open Gate, Caisse de Depot et Consignation, EDF, ENGIE, Investindustrial in economic concentration transactions with the necessary notifications to the relevant competition authorities.
Corporate & Financing:
The firm regularly advises foreign investors in corporate transactions in different sectors. Examples include advising Danone, China Gezhouba, Xiezhong, Brookstone, Zhong Hong Group, Rezidor, Grupo Profan relating to some investments in local companies. In another deal, the firm intervened on a microfinance transaction involving a Luxemburg institution fund rural impulse fund, which included legal support for the financing aspects, security documents and Moroccan currency exchange regulations.
The firm is advising Philip Morris, Korean Tobacco (KT & G) in relation to several legal issues. Distribution: The firm has been advising ISUZU Headquarter in relation to the termination of a local distribution contract and represented them before Courts with an excellent result (claimed amount EUR26,000,000).
Litigation & Arbitration:
The firm has represented PWC International in a litigation procedure against the local PWC after its exclusion from the network. The firm has advised several foreign companies and individuals in relation to litigation matters in real, estate in connection with different touristic projects such as Four Seasons, Fadesa, Addoha, Salixus, Alliance (till Euros 2,000,000 a transaction). The firm also represents several foreign companies before Court in recovery claims and seizures, including in distribution area and termination of contracts. The firm is intervening as a foreign legal expert before UK Courts, as a legal expert in relation to disputed cases regarding investments in Morocco.
The firm has advised Oetker Group Palais Namaskar Marrakech, Zhong Hong Group, Rezidor and different investors in projects such Four Seasons.
Law Firm Affiliations:
Chambers and Partners, Legal 500, The Lawyer, Multilaw (Exclusive Selected Member for Morocco) , Meritas (Exclusive Selected Member for Morocco) ICLG, World Bank; The World Justice Project; The International Comparative Guide - Getting the Deal Through - Merger Control; British Chamber of Commerce; International Commission of Jurists - Geneve, PLC - Which Lawyer, H.G org, ICL.