Steven De Backer is a director in Webber Wentzel's Africa Group, a member of the Mining and Energy Projects Practice and heads up the firm's Francophone Practice.
Steven lived and worked in Africa for most of his life (including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Tanzania and South Africa) and advises both in French and English.
He is recognised as a leading lawyer in Africa by various professional directories and has been involved in a wide range of international transactions and projects in Sub Saharan Africa on behalf of companies, governments, banks and DFIs. He has particular expertise in the natural resources, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure sectors.
Steven's practice also includes legal advice and counsel in corporate integrity and corporate governance matters and general regulatory compliance areas. He also has significant experience in investment disputes between foreign investors and African host governments.
Steven obtained his master of laws degree at the University of Gent in Belgium. He further holds a Business Management degree and a postgraduate degree in International Tax Law. Before moving to Africa, he spent several years as a legal adviser in a leading European stockbrokerage firm and worked as an advocate with the Brussels office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. From 2004 to 2009 he was a partner with Mkono & Co. Advocates in Tanzania and also headed the firm's Burundian operations between 2007 and 2009.
Steven is a Foreign Trade Adviser to the Belgium Government.
Areas of expertise
Foreign Direct Investments in Africa
Mergers and Acquisitions
General Corporate and Commercial law
SECTORS OF EXPERTISE
Mining & Natural Resources
Energy, Transport and Infrastructure
Advising Vale Logistics, a subsidiary of mining giant Vale, in USD1 billion rail concession agreement with the Government of the Republic of Malawi.
Advising IBM on the establishment and the development of its operations in over 30 African jurisdictions and counsel to IBM on various corporate, regulatory and commercial aspects of consolidating Bharti Airtel's 16 different information technology (IT) environments across its African operations.
Advising Vale, the world's largest Iron Ore producer, in acquiring from BSG Resources, a 51% interest in BSG Resources (Guinea), which holds iron ore concession rights in Guinea, in Simandou South (Zogota) and iron ore exploration permits in Simandou North and Blocks 1 & 2 and in Liberia (Deal value USD2.5 billion).
Acting for the International Finance Corporation on equity transactions in Burkina Faso and Rwanda.
Advising Mantra Resources on aspects of its Mkuju River Uranium Project in Tanzania.
Advising the promoter of a 375Mw gas to power generation plant in Tanzania.
Acting for the Government of Tanzania on the successful privatisations of the National Microfinance Bank and the National Insurance Corporation.
Advising Ophir Energy, Petrodel, Mineragy and Dodsal on production sharing arrangements in Tanzania.
Advising Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund in relation to electricity regulatory issues surrounding the Mtwara Energy Project in Tanzania.
Acting for Face Technologies in relation to the electronic election kits tender in the DRC, and leading the negotiations with the public tender authority (BCECO) of the DRC.
Acting for VTEL International on its acquisition of 100% of the shares of the Burundian Mobile Operator Africell.
Advising several mining contractors and engineering companies (Protech Khutele, Senet, MCSC,…) in relation to the structuring of their operations in Africa.
Advising Indian national railway company ‘RITES’ and Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation on their joint venture to operate the Tanzania Railways infrastructure and act for the joint venture in negotiations of the railway Concession Agreement with the Government of Tanzania.
Acting for Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (GAPCO) in a USD75 million credit restructuring and coordinating GAPCO’s representation in receivership proceedings initiated in Mauritius, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Acting for Alcatel and Electro Banque in relation to the arrangement of buyer's credit facilities for a telecommunications company in Burundi.
Advising the Dar es Salaam Water Authority and the Government of Tanzania in relation to a contractual and investment dispute against Biwater.
Acting for the Unit Trust of Tanzania in connection with the establishment of the groundbreaking Umoja Fund, the first unit trust launched in Tanzania.
Acting for a group of Vendors, including Mitsubishi Corporation and the International Finance Corporation, in the sale of a real estate company, International House Property, in Tanzania.
Advising Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) on a tariff dispute with an IPP.
Advising the liquidators of Parmatour in relation to the sale of Vacanze Zanzibar Limited to i Grandi Viaggi S.p.A.
Advising Engen on the acquisition of Total Burundi.
Advising the World Bank Group in relation to a banking and financial law and regulatory review in Burundi.
Acting for the East African Development Bank in relation to a bonds issue in Tanzania.
Named a leading lawyer in South Africa (Corporate/M&A); Burundi (General Business Law); DRC (General Business Law); Tanzania (General Business Law) and Africa (Corporate/Commercial) by Chambers Global 2012.
Named a leading lawyer in Burundi (General Business Law); Tanzania (General Business Law) and Africa (Corporate/Commercial) by Chambers Global 2011.
Named a leading lawyer in Burundi (General Business Law); also noted for his knowledge of general East African business law and for being consulted regularly on Rwandan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzanian law by Chambers Global 2010.
According to Chambers Global 2009, he is recognised as a "gifted all-round business lawyer" and, “Peers single him out as ‘the lawyer we would most like to see across the table”.
According to IFLR1000, The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms, “De Backer is highly respected by clients" (2009 edition) and "highlighted as a star lawyer with a European legal acumen and a personable and business minded style” (2008 edition).
Listed by Legal Experts EMEA 2012 -2013 as an expert in his field.
Included in The International Who's Who of Oil & Gas Lawyers 2012 as one of the world's leading oil and gas lawyers.