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, 2020, 2019, 2018 & 2017 ranked John in Band 1 for Corporate/M&A: Private Equity.
  • Ranked by Legal 500 in 2020, 2019 & 2018 as a Leading Lawyer for Investment Funds.
  • Recognised by Who’s Who Legal 2018 in the categories Private Funds: Formation; and Corporate: Mergers & Acquisitions.
  • Ranked as a Recommended Lawyer by Legal 500, 2017 for Corporate and Commercial as well as Mergers & Acquisitions (Private Equity).
  • Recognised by Best Lawyers, 2017 for Banking and Finance Law, Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Private Equity Law and Private Funds.
  • Recognised by Chambers and Partners Global in 2015 and 2016 for Corporate/ M&A.

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