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Norton Rose Fulbright hires oil and gas head from South African firm Bowman Gilfillan

Norton Rose Fulbright has enhanced its top tier energy practice in South Africa with the hire of energy specialist Lizel Oberholzer, following recent expansion by other international law firms in the market.

Set to join the firm this month (August) as a director from local firm Bowman Gilfillan where she served as head of oil and gas, Oberholzer focuses on the upstream and midstream sectors, and is experienced in energy, resources, and utilities regulatory law.

Having tied up with local firm Deneys Reitz in the region 2011 and named Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, the firm currently ranks first tier in mining, projects and infrastructure, and real estate and construction by the Legal 500.

The appointment follows recent expansion in the region by Baker & McKenzie, which in late May opened an office in Johannesburg with lawyers and staff from Dewey & LeBoeuf in South Africa followed by the acquisition of local competition firm Vani Chetty last week.

Simmons & Simmons also forged a presence this month through an alliance with Fasken Martineau in a bid to enhance its respective African offerings.

On Oberholzer’s appointment, the firm’s global head of energy Simon Currie said: ‘We have a leading global oil and gas practice, and the arrival of Lizel into the team will further strengthen our offering to our global clients. We strongly support the growth of Cape Town as a hub for the oil and gas industry in Africa.’

Head of energy at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, Matt Ash, added: ‘Her appointment continues the growth of Norton Rose Fulbright’s strong regional and global energy and natural resources practice, particularly in the oil and gas sector.’

It comes as partners at Bowman Gilfillan are said to be in talks with magic circle firm Allen & Overy as it pursues plans to break into South Africa. On this, an Allen & Overy firm spokesperson said: ‘Africa is a strategically important region and one that we continue to monitor very closely for further growth opportunities. We are regularly approached by interested parties across the continent but we have nothing to announce at this time.’