John Bellew

John Bellew

Head of Private Equity
Johannesburg, South Africa
T: +27 11 669 9494
  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Publications & Insights


John Bellew is the head of Bowmans  Private Equity sector.

He specialises in private equity – fund formation, mergers and acquisitions, management arrangements and acquisition finance. His expertise extends to public market mergers and acquisitions and listings and he has led a number of take private transactions.

John has advised prominent South African and international private equity houses on some of the largest private equity transactions undertaken in the South African and broader African markets. He has represented private equity borrowers and high yield lenders and has formed numerous private equity funds with a focus on South and Sub-Saharan Africa. In recent times he has been involved, on behalf of the South African industry body SAVCA, in various lobbying activities, especially in regard to pension fund participation in private equity funds, taxation and exchange control.

Best Lawyers ranked John as Best Lawyer of the Year for Private Equity Law, 2017.  His expertise has been recognised by various international research organizations including Chambers Global (Corporate/ M&A) and Legal 500 (Corporate M&A; Investment Funds; Private Equity).

John was a founder member of the AVCA Legal and Regulatory Committee and is a member of the SAVCA Legal and Regulatory Committee.

He has B.Com and LLB (cum laude) degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Diploma in Tax (cum laude) from the University of South Africa.

Specialist Services

Relevant Experience

  • All aspects of private equity and venture capital, including fund formation and transactional advice
  • Mergers and acquisitions, including local and cross border transactions
  • Local and international taxation
  • Exchange control
  • Capital markets
  • Acquisition finance


John’s accolades include:

  • Chambers and Partners consistently ranked John in Band 1 for Corporate/M&A: Private Equity for eight consecutive years (2016 to 2023) as well as in Band 2 for Investment Funds in 2022 and 2023.  John was also recognised by Chambers and Partners Global in 2015 and 2016 for Corporate/ M&A, prior to joining Bowmans.
  • Legal 500 ranked John as a Leading Individual for Investment Funds for the past five years (2018 to 2022) as well as a Leading Lawyer for Commercial, Corporate and M&A for the past three consecutive years (2020 to 2022).
  • IFLR1000’s Financial and Corporate Guide ranked John as Highly Regarded for his work in Private Equity for two consecutive years (2021 and 2022).
  • Recognised by Who’s Who Legal 2018 in the categories Private Funds: Formation; and Corporate: Mergers & Acquisitions.
  • Recognised by Best Lawyers, 2017 for Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Private Equity Law and Private Funds.

John Bellew is our go-to lawyer for all aspects of our business. We rely on him and enjoy working with him.

John Bellew has a strong reputation. – Chambers and Partners, 2023

Deep understanding of the industry. He is the definitive voice on the right way to do things. – IFLR1000, 2022

John Bellew is one of the best transactional attorneys in South Africa.

He has an incredibly sharp legal mind, whilst remaining pragmatic and commercial in his approach.

John Bellew is an eminent private equity lawyer. – Chambers and Partners, 2022

The team, headed by John Bellew, has deep history and experience in fund formation.

John Bellew has been a leader in fund formation for many years. He is a skilled negotiator and drives a transaction to a close.

John Bellew is utterly reliable, provides quick turnarounds, and is always available for consultations even at short notice. – Legal 500, 2021

John Bellew is a household name in the South African PE market, with immense experience in buyouts, investments and fund formation. One commentator labelled him “one of the most renowned and successful funds lawyers in South Africa.”– Chambers and Partners, 2021

John Bellew heads the firm’s private equity group and is widely recognised as one of the pre-eminent South African practitioners in the space. He is regularly instructed by private equity and VC funds, as well as international law firms, to assist with M&A transactions in South Africa and further afield. One source commented: “He was very calm and knowledgeable. He really impressed me.” – Chambers and Partners 2020

John Bellew is a leading private equity lawyer lauded by commentators for his “stature, gravitas and reputation.” His counsel is noted as “both practical and considered,” with sources describing him as an “excellent private equity funds lawyer with enormous experience in setting up various forms of PE funds.” He regularly features on major M&A transactions involving private equity clients. – Chambers and Partners 2019

John Bellew is touted widely by sources as a “leading private equity lawyer” with both “transactional expertise and structural expertise.” He represents major corporations and private equity groups in South Africa and across the continent. He is the head of the firm’s private equity group. – Chambers and Partners 2018

 “John Bellew is the ‘undisputed leader’ in private equity” Legal 500 2017

 “John Bellew heads the firm’s private equity team. He regularly acts on fund formation and buyout mandates, including some of the largest transactions to have taken place in South Africa. A key part of his practice involves assisting with the formation of funds focused on Sub-Saharan Africa.”– Chambers and Partners 2017 

 “John Bellew regularly advises clients on private equity deals, fund formation and M&A transactions. He represented Golden Tree Asset Managers in the disposal of its shares in the holding company of Peermont to Sun International.” Chambers and Partners 2016

Publications & Insights