Geoffrey Burgess is a corporate partner with a broad international practice in Europe (including Russia), Africa and India, with particular focus in the private equity, TMT, healthcare and aviation industries. He is also a member of the firm’s ESG and Special Situations teams.
Mr. Burgess joined the firm in 1997 and has been resident in the London office since 1999. Mr. Burgess co-leads the India and Africa practice groups at Debevoise and is also a leader in the firm’s Private Fund Transactions Group, with a focus on GP replacement projects. He is a member of the Africa Venture Capital Association (AVCA), and previously served as co-chair of its Legal and Regulatory Committee. Mr. Burgess is a member of the London office’s pro bono committee and is a volunteer at law clinics for social entrepreneurship at unLtd and for disability benefits in Hammersmith & Fulham.
Mr. Burgess graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill B.Sc., with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Morehead Scholar, and in 1993 received his J.D. from Columbia, where he was a Stone Scholar, received a Parker School Certificate in International Law and served on the Journal of Transnational Law as head notes editor, Parker School Journal of East European Law as founding managing editor and Survey of East European Law as managing editor. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow, Institute of State and Law (Moscow) in 1994.
Mr. Burgess is recommended for Private Equity by The Legal 500 UK (2023). He is also listed as a leading individual for his work in emerging markets, with clients noting that he is “a strong advocate who has worked extensively in emerging markets, including in Africa, and brings a commercial reasonableness to the table to get deals done.” Sources have also said that he “has been invaluable in navigating the complexities of emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East,” and that he is “responsible, thoughtful and commercial.” Mr. Burgess is also recommended for Private Equity and M&A by IFLR1000 (2022). India Business Law Journal also mentions that he is “highly regarded by Indian clients” and has named him to its “International A-List”, which recognises the top India-focussed lawyers at international firms. He is further recommended in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2023), where he has been described as “a brilliant M&A lawyer” and “highly accomplished and very innovative,” for his work in India. According to clients, he “provides practical, business-oriented advice in addition to an understanding [of] the legal complexities of emerging markets.” The 2017 edition of the guide praised him for being “an exceptional transactional lawyer with pragmatic business sense.” He was further noted as having “vast experience of Russian inbound and outbound transactions as well as India-related deals.” The guide has stated that he is known for a “broad-ranging Russia, CIS and India Practice.” It has also described him as “excellent and responsive” and “particularly distinguished by his ability to strategically navigate complex negotiations.” Mr. Burgess has been described as having “considerable experience in advising Russian clients from his London base.” Sources add that he enjoys a “huge amount of respect” and “stands out for his aviation experience,” though “his practice ranges from private equity and international mergers & acquisitions, to financings and joint ventures.”
Mr. Burgess is the author of various articles in trade publications on European private equity and Russian transactional issues. He is also the subject of an interview provided to the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association as part of its AVCA Member Interview Series (May, 2021). Other recent publications include “Addressing ESG Considerations in the M&A Context,” a chapter in the latest edition of GLI Mergers & Acquisitions, published by Global Legal Insights (July, 2022); “Debevoise & Plimpton on the growth of GP stakes,” Private Equity International (December, 2021); “Foreign Direct Investment Rules in Selected European Countries: An Overview,” Journal of Investment Compliance (April, 2021); “Governance in Emerging Market Private Capital,” Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (April, 2019); “AVCA Legal & Regulatory Bulletin: The OECD BEPS Action Plan and Tax Considerations for Investors,” AVCA Legal & Regulatory Bulletin (February, 2019); “Africa Insurance M&A: Global Insurers’ Next Frontier,” Legal & Regulatory Bulletin (Fall Edition, 2017); “Opportunities and Trends in Healthcare—How to Achieve Scalable Impact,” Sustainable Investing in Emerging Markets (October, 2017); and “M&A In Russia: Opportunities And Risks In The Current Environment,” India Unleashed (June, 2017). Mr. Burgess is a regular speaker at the Fundraising Masterclasses held by the Emerging Market Private Equity Association, including delivering sessions in Mumbai and London. Other recent speaking engagements include “Bilateral Investment Treaties, Currency in M&A, and IPOs of African Corporates,” International Lawyers for Africa (September, 2022); “Optimising Exit Opportunities and Options for VCs and PE Firms,” Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (June, 2022); “Demystifying Minority Equity Investments in India,” Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Legal Information Series (January, 2022); “Introduction to ESG,” The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia Webcast (December, 2021); “The Latest on Mauritius and Other Regulatory Conditions Affecting Fundraising: Mauritius Update and Path Forward & Fund Domicile Alternative and EU Regulatory Considerations,” GPCA Africa Council Meeting (October, 2021); “Deal Management during the Pandemic,” EMPEA Global Private Equity Conference (May, 2021); “Private Equity and Healthcare in Africa,” AVCA 2021 Annual Conference (April 2021); “Preliminary Considerations and Transaction Structuring,” M&A Masterclass Series (February, 2021); “Managing & Resolving Shareholder Disputes,” Aarna Law/Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (October, 2020); “Cross Border M&A in Emerging Markets,” ALB Virtual In-House Legal Summit 2020 (October, 2020); “Learning from Practitioners: Practical Considerations for Securing LP Commitments from a DFI,” EMPEA Member Program (September, 2020); “CAMA 2020 and the Private Equity Industry,” Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Nigeria (PEVCA) and ÆLEX (September, 2020); “Overview of the COVID-Related Actions of the EU and Main State Assistance Measures Available to Employers in the UK,” A Primer on the Economic and Political Effects of COVID-19 on the EU and the UK (April, 2020); “Uniting Against the Impacts of COVID-19: Legal Considerations,” Uniting Against the Impacts of COVID-19 (April, 2020); “Using Dispute Resolution Strategies to Protect and Enhance Investment Value in Nigeria,” ÆLEX & Debevoise Joint Seminar (December, 2019); “M&A in Emerging Markets,” EMPEA Masterclass – London (October, 2019); “Deep Dive Case Study Workshop – Healthcare,” EMPEA Sustainable Investing in Emerging Markets Summit (October, 2019); “A Look at the Healthcare Industry,” IFLR India M&A Forum (September, 2019); “Global Trends and Challenges in Healthcare M&A,” Networking and Discussions on Healthcare M&A (September, 2019); “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... Can Arbitration Best Reflect the Complexity of the M&A Transaction?,” Dispute Resolution in M&A Transactions Conference, 5th Edition (May, 2019); and “A Good Company Always Attracts a Buyer: Examining Pathways to Liquidity via Trade Sales, Secondaries and IPOs,” 16th Annual AVCA Conference (April, 2019).