Solicitors governing body: The Law Society of Kenya
Competition authority: Competition Authority of Kenya
Financial regulator: Capital Markets Authority
IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:
The Kenyan legal system is based on a combination of Kenyan statutory law and English common law - dating back to the country's time under British rule - and also comprises aspects of tribal and Islamic law.
The legal market is determinedly closed with very little foreign influence and, with the exception of associations, no foreign firms have branches in Nairobi. However legislative measures are currently being discussed that would allow foreign firms to open offices and firms such as Baker & McKenzie, have expressed interest.
Associate Kenyan firms are currently not allowed to use the branding of their network partners. Firms such as Iseme Kamau & Maema Advocates, who are part of the DLA Piper Africa Group, Coulson Harney, who are a member of the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group and Hamilton Harrison & Matthews (HHM), who have an association with Dentons, have to maintain full clerical independence.
There has been a spate of consolidations in the market in recent times. Most notable was the merger between HHM and Oraro & Co in October 2014. Despite lasting only six months, market indicators suggest that this merger was perhaps in response to the expectation of the entry of international firms, and that a consolidation of Kenyan firms would inevitably follow.
The Law Society of Kenya is a member of the East Africa Law Society, which allows for advocates of the courts of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi or Tanzania to practice in Kenya. This rule also extends to recommended individuals of the Commonwealth.
NBMA Advocates is the Kenyan arm of South Africa based firm ENSafrica. The firm was formed by a spin-off of a four partner team from established local firm Kaplan & Stratton in 2019.
Focusses / specialisms
The firm is experienced in transactions within the banking, capital markets, M&A, project development and finance.
Sectors of focus include agribusiness, aviation, banking, energy, infrastructure, and real estate.
The office advises on Kenyan law and English law.
The firm has developed strong ties with Transnet, Elewana Afrika, Tropical Power Kenya, Matokeo Holdings, Solarion Investment Group, Water Infrastructure Fund Kenya, AFD, Proparco, Investec, Safaricom, Socete Generale, World Courier Operations Kenya, Calltronix Kenya, Omnicane, Twiga Foods, Agri Commodities & Finance, Kisima Farm, TPS Eastern Africa, Brown forman Corporation, and Stanbic Bank.
Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)
During the research period the firm was active banking, capital markets, M&A, project development, and R&I.
In banking the firm acted on behalf of lenders and borrowers in large scale financings.
In capital markets the firm was active on issuances of securities and direct equity investments.
In M&A the firm was active on acquisitions with clients as buyers or sellers, as well as joint ventures.
In the project development space the firm advised developers in the agribusiness, infrastructure, and renewables sectors.
In restructuring work the firm advised corporations on restructuring concerns.
The firm was launched during this research period when four partners split from Kaplan & Stratton.
Nigel Shaw, now managing partner, specialises in project development in the energy, mining, and renewables sectors. Binti Shah specialises in banking, project finance, and structured finance. Amar Grewal-Thethy specialises in banking, capital markets, and M&A. Mahesh Acharya specialises in M&A, private equity, and reorganisations.
Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)
AKFED acquisition of TPS
Securex Group acquisition of Svensson & Ivansson Security Group
Steelmakers $9 million trade commodities facilities
TPS Eastern Africa restructuring
Triopical Power solar photovoltaic power plants
Twiga Foods restructuring
Vista Equity Partners acquisition of Accelya
Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)
Capital markets : Debt
“Extreme competence - the partner we were working with, Binti, was well informed. She was an invaluable asset on the deal team. Another positive attribute would be responsiveness. The ENS team's responsiveness was off the charts, we always knew exactly where we were, what the next steps were and what we needed to do at the particular moment in time to move the deal forward.”
“Thorough, responsive, knowledgeable and creative.”
“Attentive, proactive, very willing and capable. Incisive constructive solutions and options to problems.”
“Very solution oriented. Clearly articulates the problems and identifies commercial solutions. Incredibly committed to tight timeframes and making themselves available at short notice.”
“It understands the in-country legal position and provides the necessary guidance on how to navigate the legal landscape.”
“Highly professional, prompt response, clear advice, and excellent service.”
Restructuring and insolvency
“One stop solution, expertise, customer service oriented and available any time of the day or week.”
“Attention to legal detail, client knowledge and impeccable advisory service.”
“She is superb. Highly knowledgeable, experienced, friendly and provides very quick responses.”
“Quick, bright balance of business/legal, creative and knowledgeable.”
“Incisive, creative, proactive and focus on key issues.”
“Refer to earlier responses which relate specifically to Amar, who we engaged with at his previous firm and followed him to ENSAfrica. I hold him in the highest regard.”
“Amar is responsive, attentive and knowledgeable in respect of his area of the law.”
“Professional high calibre advice, prompt responses and easy accessibility.”
“Professionalism, confidence and trust.”
MWC Legal is a full-service corporate firm from Kenya. The firm’s office is located in Nairobi and is led by James Wairoto Mahinda, managing partner, and Bernard Musyoka, deputy managing partner. It regularly works with firms in the East African Community (EAC), such as ARS Law in Tanzania and Impala Legal in Uganda.
The firm advises on deals across various industry sectors, such as finance, fintech, and real estate. It engages in transactions within the banking, corporate, and M&A practice areas. The firm advises on Kenyan as well as foreign law, such as English and the US (Delaware).
The firm’s banking practice has developed strong relationships with Responsibility Investments, Varmland, Bandwidth and Cloud Services, Triple Edge Media, and Celo Labs. In the M&A the firm has worked with E3 Energy, Qwetu Media Services, Nairobi Business Ventures, and Powerspot Pelletizers.
During the research period MWC was active in banking and M&A. In banking the firm was active on behalf of borrowers and lenders. In M&A it was active on acquisitions on behalf of sellers and buyers as clients.
The firm grew its partnership ranks during the research period. Peter Mwaura joined as part of the banking, finance, and fintech team, having previously been with Anjarwalla & Khanna Advocates. Dennis Muhindi joined as part of the real estate team, having previously been an in-house attorney for the Co-operative Bank of Kenya.
Recent deal highlights
Afrimac Nut Company $3 million financing
E3 Energy acquisition of majority stake in Global Petroleum Products Kenya
Trace Global investment in Qwetu Media services
Triple Edge Media financing
“Diligent, quick, knowledgeable, cost-efficient, independent and hands-on.”