Ezra Davids
Chairman and Senior Partner - Bowmans (South Africa)

Ezra Davids is Bowmans’ chairman and senior partner. He specialises in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), capital markets, and securities law. Some of the most recent transactions on which Ezra has advised, as our lead partner, include acting for:

  • PepsiCo on its USD 1.7 billion acquisition of Pioneer Foods, which was named Deal of the Year 2020 by DealMakers. The acquisition was one of PepsiCo’s largest outside the United States;
  • SAB Miller in its combination with AB InBev (valued at ZAR 1.8 trillion/ USD 107 billion);
  • Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Kansai Paint Co. Ltd in its successful hostile bid for JSE Listed Freeworld Coatings Ltd (valued at ZAR 3.3 billion), which remains the first and only successful cross-border hostile bid in South Africa;
  • Bharti in its then proposed merger with MTN (valued at USD 24 billion);
  • Verizon Communications in the disposal of its subsidiary, Verizon Business (South Africa), to MTN;
  • M1 and Investcom in the latter’s acquisition by MTN (valued at USD 5.5 billion); 
  • Dis-Chem, a major South African pharmaceuticals retailer, on its recent IPO on the JSE (valued at ZAR 20 billion);
  • Alexander Forbes, a major South African financial services company, on its IPO on the JSE (ZAR 12 billion);
  • PPC, the largest cement company in South Africa, in successfully defending itself against an attempt to replace the entire board in the most high-profile example of shareholder activism in South Africa to date; and in its response to an approach by Afrisam to combine the largest and second largest cement manufacturers in South Africa;
  • Barrick Gold Corporation in its disposal of Barrick Gold South Africa (valued at USD 1.55 billion);
  • Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in the disposal by Polyus (Norilisk) of its entire shareholding in Gold Fields Ltd (valued at USD 2.02 billion);
  • SABMiller in the USD 1 billion BEE transaction for its South African subsidiary; and
  • PPR in the disposal of its furniture and household goods business, Conforama, to JSE-listed Steinhoff International Holdings Ltd (valued at ZAR 12 billion).

Ezra is the relationship partner for several of the firm’s major clients such as Barrick Gold Corporation, Bharti, ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Orange, PepsiCo, Total, UPS and many others.

He is the former chairman of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Law School of the University of Cape Town and a serving member of the university’s council (board of governors); member of the boards of trustees of the Legal Resources Trust and Freedom Under Law; director of the Social Justice Initiative; and a patron of the Student Sponsorship Programme (a non-profit organisation focusing on providing high school education to disadvantaged students).

He is also the former chairman of the Recent Developments in M&A Sub-Committee and a serving officer of the very same Corporate/M&A Committee of the International Bar Association.

Ezra is frequently recognised as a leading M&A lawyer by credible international rankings organisations. Most recently he was named a ‘Market Leader’ by IFLR.

He is a regular contributor to international M&A and equity capital markets publications and is co-contributor on the mergers’ chapter of the Modern Company Law textbook. 

Ezra was the first practising African lawyer to be featured on the front page of the American Lawyer.