Leading Nigerian law firm, Templars has today announced the promotion of star lawyer Desmond Ogba and the hiring of the highly respected Yemisi Awonuga as partners effective Thursday 1 June, 2017.

The two new partners are widely acknowledged as among the leading energy, projects and finance practitioners in the Lagos market.

In addition to having distinguished themselves as finance lawyers, the new partners have both created niche practices for themselves in the energy sector. While Yemisi Awonuga is a standout expert on the economics, regulation, development and financing of gas projects, Desmond Ogba has an outstanding reputation as a trusted advisor on the financing and development of power and infrastructure projects.

According to Managing Partner Oghogho Akpata, “We are extremely happy to have Yemisi join Templars. Her credentials are impeccable and I have absolutely no doubt that she will prove to be an invaluable asset to our clients. As to Desmond, we are immensely grateful for his enormous contributions to the firm and the grace and doggedness which he brings to his work. And it gives me great pleasure to welcome him to the partnership. …. The addition of these two partners further demonstrates our commitment to the growth and consolidation of our market-leading Energy & Projects offering with particular emphasis on Gas and Infrastructure.”

Templars is one of the foremost and largest full-service commercial law firms in Nigeria. It is one of only three elite Nigerian law firms that have been consistently ranked in the topmost tier of energy and projects firms, over the past decade plus. It regularly advises financiers and corporates on some of the largest, most complex and ground-breaking transactions in the Nigerian market including its recent role as sponsors’ counsel on the financing and development of the pioneering US$1 billion Azura-Edo independent power plant, the first truly project-financed power project. It also acted for CNOOC on its US$15.1 billion acquisition of Nexen Inc. as well as for Helios Investment Partners and Banco BTG Pactual on their US$1.53 billion acquisition of 50 percent of the African oil and gas exploration and production assets of Petrobras.

Short bios of the new Templars partners are set out below:

Yemisi Awonuga

Yemisi holds a Master of Science (with distinction) in Energy Studies (Energy Finance specialism) from the University of Dundee in Scotland and a Master of Laws in Commercial Law from Cardiff Law School in Wales.

She is recognised by IFLR1000 Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms and Who’s Who Legal as a leading practitioner with a wealth of knowledge regarding bond offerings, private equity deals and debt restructurings.

She has advised on some of the largest petrochemical, gas processing or gas utilisation projects in Nigeria, including the precedent-setting gas tolling project between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and GFD Energy Limited, and two recently concluded c. US$220 million gas-to-power projects for the Newcross/Platform JV for domestic utilization of gas. She also advised Brass Fertilizer Company Limited on the development of its greenfield petrochemical complex playing a key role in the gas project conceptualization plan, project bankability, equity financing and project documentation. She is currently leading the negotiations and project documentation of a crude oil refinery project involving the ongoing development of the ISBL and OSBL aspects of the project and the sale of feedstock to the refinery.

She has also played a key role in advising on policy-setting matters within the petroleum and gas sectors in Nigeria. She belongs to that rare breed of lawyers who are as much at home with the legal aspects of the oil, gas and power sectors as they are with the underlying technical and commercial aspects.

She was previously a Principal Consultant at a leading energy law firm in Lagos and, before that, the head of the banking and finance practice at a leading Lagos firm.

Her practice at Templars will be largely centred on advising in relation to oil and gas commercialization projects; financing of oil, gas and power projects; and overall strategy, policy and regulatory work in the energy space.

Desmond Ogba

Desmond graduated with First Class Honours from the Nigerian Law School, and holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Ebonyi State University.

He has extensive experience advising project companies and sponsors, commercial lenders, multilateral and export credit agencies and other financial institutions on diverse transactions including project finance, power projects and other infrastructure development, strategic investments, international capital markets issuances, structured finance and corporate finance.

He recently advised the sponsors and the project company on the financing and development of the pioneering Azura-Edo IPP project, and is currently advising other sponsors and financiers on the development and financing of both gas-fired and renewable power plants, and on a number of other infrastructure projects and alternative funding structures in the energy sector.

He was previously a visiting associate at the London offices of Latham & Watkins, LLP and a finance & projects associate at a leading Lagos firm.

A multi-talented lawyer, Desmond serves as Vice-Chairman of the Banking, Finance and Insolvency committee of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law, and was recently appointed to the Technical Committee of the Nigerian Senate on Financial Law Reform.

He is recognised by IFLR1000 and the Chambers Global Guide to the Legal Profession, with clients and other independent sources describing him as “…a good problem solver and very client oriented” … “very effective… strong and bright” and as “someone who is very well versed in banking and finance regulations and developments that haven’t come into the marketplace yet.”

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