Executive Interviews

Georges Racine, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan

December 2016


Could you give a brief description of your role, including the best thing about it?

I am a partner at Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) based in Geneva, Switzerland. HFW is a sector led international law firm with over 17 international offices including thee associations. I am a corporate lawyer with experience of working on transactions in 25 countries worldwide including significant experience in Africa and I work with clients across industry sectors including Energy and Commodities. I am part of the Energy and Resources team covering all stages of the Oil and Gas lifecycle, see our website for more details www.hfw.com/Oil-and-Gas.

There are many elements to my role which make it enjoyable, whether it's helping clients and getting involved in negotiations, complex legal issues or avoiding/resolving disputes. I like to achieve results and learn something new every day. 

What do you think are the key challenges for investment in West Africa?

There are a number of challenges which include a lack of legal certainty (if not rule of law), the corruption within court systems and inadequate laws and regulations, lack of trained personnel, poor infrastructure, safety and security threats, terrorism, low quality of life, poor communications, lack of transparency, currency exchange risks, transportation challenges and so on .

What do you think are the best methods of overcoming these challenges?

Openness about success stories will help biuld confidence in investors but there also needs to be significant training, education and political will to help support potential opportunities, initial steps may include implementation of best practices, sancationing of illegal practices and an openness and transparency of how businesses and the markets are operating. 

If you were to take a music album, a book and a piece of artwork or film to a desert island what would they be?

If I went on long-term exile I would stake some Strauss, one of the paintings (preferably oil, so that it stays intact despite the elements) hanging in my house and the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair. About a book, I might either take an empty one and write my own, or bring an album filled with photos of my family and friends, or even try the latest book by Jean d'Ormesson of the Academie francias, called "Guide des egares" (befitting for life on an island), but if it is a very short stay and I doubt it brings any real answers. 

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