Firm / Organisation

Savjani & Co.

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Managing Partner: Krishna Savjani OBE SC
Senior Associates: Duncan Singano, Davis Njobvu, Reena Purshotam, Noel Misanjo
Number of lawyers: 12
Languages: English

Firm Overview:
Savjani & Co is the largest law firm in Malawi with a team of ten lawyers. 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 legal profession in Malawi is fused. Lawyers at Savjani & Co regularly appear in courts throughout Malawi and handle complex litigation. The firm continues to anticipate the needs of the economy and the interests of clients. It has been able to lead 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); bonds, mining, energy and public private partnerships.

Main Areas of Practice:

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/Capital Markets:
Wide experience advising clients on the requirements of the Financial Services Act and all financial services laws including banking, microfinance, insurance, pensions, securities, etc. Capital markets experience includes: listing of companies on the Malawi Stock Exchange (and the listing of global depository receipts on the London Stock Exchange), rights issues, general advice on listing requirements and application of the Securities and Companies Acts, and also bond issues. The firm’s managing partner was Chairman of the Malawi Stock Exchange for ten years and was previously chairman of its Listing Committee. Competition: 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 & Connections:
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 oil and gas, energy, mining, telecommunications, rail and infrastructure development. 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 facilities. Experience in connection with financing and refinancing of infrastructure projects includes advising on the financing, structuring and establishment of a specialist private medical care facility in Malawi — the first of its kind; advising in the establishment of a joint venture for the manufacture of ethanol; advising in relation to financing, structuring and establishment of a major shopping centre in Blantyre and financing of Lilongwe City Mall and Gateway Mall in Lilongwe; advising in relation to a project comprising rehabilitation, operation, management and maintenance of railways. Advised in relation to the joint operating agreement, railway management services agreement and related documents regarding sponsor support, subordination and securities and rail concession agreement; assisted in the negotiation and restructuring of concession agreements from lenders perspective to enable financing of a major cross-border rail infrastructure project; also advised on regulatory issues relating to operation of a railway and assisted in drawing and registration of security documents. Also advised in relation to the establishment of an inland port in Malawi. Advised in relation to PPPs and public procurement.

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. Also advised a major mining client on local requirements on generation of electricity for its mining requirements and 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 and land acquisition as Malawi gears towards having its first IPPs. Environment: The firm has advised various clients in environmental regulatory issues, including requirements for environmental impact assessment in relation to project developments.

Employment & Pensions:
Extensive experience in employment matters having represented clients in the Industrial Relations Court, High Court and Supreme Court. 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. Lawyers have engaged in appeals to the special arbitrator against decisions of the Commissioner for Taxes 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.

Litigation & Dispute Resolution:
The litigation team has wide experience in complex litigation 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 regular litigation concerning contracts, negligence and defamation.

Recent Work Highlights:
■ Three year project concerning financing of the Nacala rail corridor – the largest infrastructure project financing in Africa. Financing and security documents concluded in February 2018
■ 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.
■ Advising on restructuring issues and refinancing in relation to a mining company
■ Advising on energy laws and regulations, public procurement and PPP aspects in relation to power generation
■ Advising a multinational conglomerate in relation to Malawi law aspects for internal restructuring including secondary delisting and listing on the Malawi Stock Exchange