Firm / Organisation

Savjani & Co.

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Managing Partner: Krishna Savjani OBE SC
Number of lawyers: 11
Languages: English

Firm Overview:
Savjani & Co is probably the largest law firm in Malawi. It was established in 1978 by Krishna Savjani OBE SC. Based in Blantyre, the country’s commercial capital, the firm offers extensive insight into the opportunities and intricacies of Malawi’s economic and legal environments. Savjani & Co. offers a full range of legal services. The firm continues to anticipate the needs of the economy and the market. Historically it has led in syndicate financing; project financing; financial restructuring; commercialisation and privatisation of public enterprises; listing of companies on the Malawi Stock Exchange (and also listing of global depository receipts on the London Stock Exchange) and bonds. In recent years it has led in mining, power, water and public private partnerships.

Firm Culture and Ethos:
Savjani & Co. continues to be driven to be and remain, a go-to law firm. It consistently endeavours to provide top quality and focused legal advice, high level technical legal skills, reliable client services and commercial astuteness. The firm does so by subscribing to these core principles:
■ Excellence at all times
■ Unquestionable professional conduct
■ Teamwork
■ Commitment to making a difference to clients

Main Areas of Practice:

The firm has significant experience concerning capital markets, including primary and secondary listing of companies on the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE). Advised on various rights issues and capital raises on the MSE. The firm has also advised on the listing of global depository receipts on the London Stock Exchange. Mr. Savjani OBE SC (the firm’s managing legal practitioner) was the chairman of the MSE for 10 years and was involved in the drafting of the MSE Listing Requirements that are still in force to date.

Corporate / Commercial:
Comprehensive experience in a wide range of corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions, banking, finance and securitisation, project finance and structuring, capital markets (bonds, bonus issues, rights issues) and listings on the Malawi Stock Exchange, competition, mining, energy and taxation. Key clients include major corporations operating in Malawi including subsidiaries of international companies, banks, insurance companies, energy and mining companies among others.

Financial Services:
Wide experience advising clients on the requirements of the Financial Services Act and all financial services laws including banking, microfinance, insurance, payment systems, pensions, securities, etc.

Wide experience in competition law, including filings with the Competition and Fair Trading Commission and the COMESA Competition Commission; advising clients on all aspects of competition law.

Infrastructure Projects and Concessions:
Savjani & Co. provides advice on the legal and regulatory frameworks for infrastructure projects and concession agreements. The firm has advised domestic and international actors in various transaction including but not limited to: health care, hospitality, infrastructure development and rail works . The firm has advised project sponsors, lenders, and contractors on drafting and negotiating concession agreements, offtake contractual agreements and other long term contractual arrangements with state owned enterprises, structuring complex debt and equity financing arrangements, negotiating and drafting commercial contracts including sub-contracts for civil works, mechanical and electrical works, logistics, access road construction and security documents. Advised in relation to the establishment of an inland port in Malawi and the establishment of an inland oil terminal. The firm has further advised in relation to PPPs and public procurement projects in general.

Advised mining companies on all aspects of mining starting from prospecting and mining licences, negotiation and drawing of state / development agreements dealing with, amongst other things, fiscal stability provision, dispute resolution and operations of a mine. Also acted for lenders to mining projects.

The firm has considered various connectivity issues under the energy laws of Malawi. The firm has advised major companies and organisations on local requirements on generation of electricity. The firm has advised on the legal requirements for the sale of surplus electricity generated to ESCOM (the state-owned power producing company). The area of power generation is still new in Malawi; however, the firm has seen a lot of growth in this area over the past few years and is currently involved in advising IPPs on power generation issues (solar, thermal and hydro) and land acquisition.

The firm has advised various clients in environmental regulatory issues, including requirements for environmental impact assessment in relation to project developments.

Employment and Pensions:
Extensive experience in employment matters. Experience includes: advising in relation to proposed restructurings and matters incidental thereto such as redundancy processes and severance packages for employees declared redundant; advising in relation to labour relations issues including statutory requirements on how employers should relate with trade unions; representing companies in Malawi in proceedings by striking staff; advising major organisations in Malawi on the Pensions Act and mandatory pension schemes; drafting employment contracts, employee handbooks and manuals; and advising on disciplinary and grievance procedures and termination of employment among others.

Real Estate:
Wide experience in dealing with all aspects of land transactions including mortgages and charges among others. Also advised in relation to land ownership in project areas including rights of a project company in respect of land over which a mining licence had been granted, landowners rights and minerals ownership, ownership rights in relation to infrastructure built in the project area by a project company, constitutional rights or other recognised legal rights of landowners, relocation and compensation arrangements between landowners and a project company, medical, social services and other social responsibility obligations of a project company under project documents and Malawi law.

Experience includes advising a mining company on the scope of the duty exemptions under a mining development agreement with the Malawi Government and on the effect of various stability provisions in the development agreement; advising a mining company on various tax issues and available exemptions in relation to a fiscal regime proposal to be negotiated with the Government of the Republic of Malawi. Advising on a variety of tax issues, including tax avoidance and transfer pricing.

Intellectual Property:
Experience includes registration of trademarks, advising on the requirements of the Trademarks Act and the Registered Designs Act, advising on various aspects of intellectual property.

Dispute Resolution:
The team has wide experience in disputes concerning, among others, company law issues (including corporate governance, duties of directors, shareholder rights and expectations), liability of insurers, interpretation of mining project insurance policies, mining licence renewals, validity of mining licence, transfer of mining licence, interpretation of state agreement containing fiscal stability provisions, judicial review, employment, quarrying, as well as issues concerning contracts, negligence and defamation and torts.

Recent Work Highlights
■ Three year project concerning financing of the Nacala rail corridor – the largest infrastructure project financing in Africa
■ Advised in relation to the establishment of an inland port in Malawi to facilitate transportation of goods through a recently constructed railway corridor. Advised on regulatory issues for construction and operation of the port e.g. land acquisition, compensation for occupiers of land, procurement regulations, PPP aspects, project development agreement with the Government, direct agreement with lenders, regulatory issues relating to construction and operation of the port etc.
■ Advised on restructuring issues and refinancing in relation to a mining company
■ Advised on the conversion into a public company and listing of the same company’s shares on the Malawi Stock Exchange in an initial public offering (‘IPO’). This was the first IPO in Malawi after a break of 10 years. It is also the first listing after establishment of the central securities depository