Lerisha Naidu, Managing Partner of global law firm Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, won the Partner of the Year award for the Southern African region at the African Legal Awards 2023, announced at an event Friday 1 September in Johannesburg. 

Lerisha was appointed Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie Johannesburg in July 2022, officially its youngest office Managing Partner in the global firm’s 74-office network. An immediate priority for Lerisha was to implement a cultural reset, developing a strategy that placed people-centricity at the heart of the office's forward-looking approach. This is based on the belief that driving high performance and fostering people-centricity are not diametrically opposed realities; rather, one enables the other. Co-creative leadership is also a feature of Lerisha’s leadership approach, she believes an environment relies strongly, not on any one person, but on working together in a way that optimises collaboration, fosters inclusion and advances authenticity. Under her leadership, the office has substantial progress in embedding this values-based, people-centric culture.

"I’m grateful for this recognition, which serves as an endorsement of our strategy to pioneer a refreshed approach to law firm leadership, underpinned by people-centricity, lived values, innovation and a social conscience, evidenced by meaningful impact,” Lerisha commented.

Lerisha also heads the Antitrust & Competition Practice in the Johannesburg office. She practices across the spectrum of antitrust law, taking on mandates for key clients in Africa. She led the team in the firm’s representation of Unilever in relation to pending antitrust litigation before the Competition Tribunal, involving precedent-setting legal issues. She also led the competition process in the transaction involving GMB Liquidity Corporate Proprietary Limited (a private investment company), which sought to acquire sole control of JSE-listed Grand Parade Investments Limited, through the acquisition of a majority of the issued shares. Lerisha was part of the team that advised the buyer consortium on the exit by Rockwood Private Equity of EnviroServ to SUEZ SA, Royal Bafokeng Holdings and African Infrastructure Investment Managers, one of 2022's largest SA private equity exits. Her team was also involved in advising on one of the first-ever SPAC deals on the continent from an antitrust perspective. In addition, Lerisha was part of the antitrust team that advised Blantyre Capital and local private debt manager, Greenpoint Capital, in their acquisition of Ster-Kinekor’s assets during its business rescue.

“Our Africa bench has an extensive track record of advising multinational corporations and African clients on a range of international opportunities. The majority of our Africa-related transactions are multijurisdictional; in the last year, the firm acted for clients in over 40 countries in Africa,” she added.
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