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DLA Piper ends South African alliance as it eyes Jo’burg launch for first foray into Africa

DLA Piper and its South African affiliate, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, are ending their formal alliance as the international firm looks to strengthen its presence in the country.

The move comes after talks regarding further integration between the two, which have had an alliance since 2005, failed to come to fruition with Cliffe Dekker deciding not to become part of DLA Piper’s sprawling Swiss verein.

Consequently, 200-lawyer Cliffe Dekker, which has previously used the branding DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and was fourth in mergermarket’s African and Middle East M&A league table for 2014, and DLA Piper said in a statement that they ‘concluded that their respective interests and strategies are best delivered separately.’

Instead, DLA is pushing on with plans to establish its own presence in the country that has seen a stream of international firms open offices in recent years. In October 2014, Johannesburg, where the firm is targeting, saw Allen & Overy open an outpost with a seven-strong banking and finance team from local firm Bowman Gilfillan.

Other international firms with a presence in the city include Clyde & Co, which opened in May 2014 with a team hire from Linklaters’ local ally Webber Wentzel; Hogan Lovells, which combined with Routledge Modise in December 2013; and Baker & McKenzie, which launched in May 2012. However, there have been concerns raised that the market is becoming over-lawyered given its recent popularity.

The duo said in a statement that they will maintain a relationship when the ten-year alliance ends at the end of August to support existing client relationships and refer clients where appropriate.