Hello and welcome back to the Fides Weekly Update. Here you’ll find a summary of what’s been happening in your industry this week.
For a brief round-up of the key developments, scroll down to take a look our regular ‘Movers & Shakers of the Week’ feature.
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1. FCA kicks off 2019 by tackling regulation the UK’s cryptocurrency market
After roughly two years of fast-paced growth and reams of attention in financial markets, the world of cryptoassets and distributed ledger technology (DLT) is about to receive much stricter guidance as to how it will operate in the UK under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Consultations opened this week, and the FCA released its report setting out preliminary Guidance on how it sees cryptoassets and underlying DLT technology fitting into the UK regulatory framework.
Consistent with the watchdog’s ethos to ensure financial investing is fair and transparent for consumers, the paper aims to define cryptoassets into clear categories, and highlights how such assets could cause harm to investors and market integrity.
Extending the forum to all cryptocurrency businesses, the consultation period is now open for the next two months, where all stakeholders are able to have their say in the FCA’s assessment of cryptoassets and its plans for future regulation.
The FCA’s plans for regulation are based on the understanding attained as part of the UK Cryptoassets Taskforce, which is made up of the FCA, HM Treasury and the Bank of England. Releasing their report on the industry last year, the taskforce laid out the UK’s policy and regulatory approach to cryptoassets and distributed ledger technology in financial services.
Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director of strategy and competition commented on the need for clarity: “This is a small but growing market and we want both industry and consumers to be clear what is regulated, and what isn’t.”
The FCA is set to release its policy statement on cryptoassets this summer.
2. UK listed law firm makes cash call for global growth plans
Newly merged Ince Gordon Dadds has its sights set on overseas offices, for which the firm is looking to raise £10 million in discounted share placing.
The Aim-listed law firm conducted a ‘successful and oversubscribed’ accelerated bookbuild this week, i.e. an admission of shares to the stock market for a discounted price, with the intention of raising funds in a short space of time.
In what was termed a ‘reverse takeover’, Gordon Dadds acquired the London office of insurance specialist Ince & Co in December last year and has entered into network arrangements with a number of Ince’s international offices.
In a statement posted to the stock exchange, Ince Gordon Dadds has confirmed the targeted areas for growth are: Malta, Gibraltar, South Africa, China, Hong Kong and Bermuda, with certain acquisitions already lined up and expected to be announced in Q1 this year.
On announcement of the fund raising, tehe firm’s share price plummeted by 22%.
Since news of the merger was confirmed, Ince & Co has suffered a number of departures, both in the UK and across continental Europe. Here’s a selection of some key leavers:
- Four Hamburg partners departed to launch Clyde & Co’s second German office
- Fellow UK listed law firm Keystone Law hired Ince’s EU Competition head Philippe Ruttley
- Former global head of insurance Joe O’Keeffe exited the firm in October last year to join Stephenson Harwood. The firm also gained shipping and offshore finance expert Martin Brown in Singapore
- In Asia, Ince also lost its aviation finance head Balbir Bindra in Hong Kong
- London head Andrew Jameson stepped down from his position after only 12 months to allow Gordon Dadds CEO Adrian Biles to take the helm
- Watson Farley Wailliams made a play for Greece head George Iatridis
- Norwegian firm Wikborg Rein expand City office with from six to eight London partners with Renaud Barbier-Emery and Jonathan Goldfarb
- The Paris team at Ince & Co are understood to be in merger talks with leading French outfit Gide Loyrette Nouel
Movers and Shakers of the week
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme’s (FSCS) announces eight-strong panel set for the next four years
They retain five firms from the old roster and bring in Clifford Chance, Addleshaw Goddard and Eversheds Sutherland as new additions
Monzo confirms Hogan Lovells, Taylor Wessing and Simmons & Simmons as its key legal advisers
Aviva plans to launch panel review in Q1 2019
Ashurst appoints two new board directors, raising its female board representation to 40%
Freshfields appoints NY partner Noiana Marigo as new US head of international arbitration practice
Ashurst banking veteran retires
Mark Vickers retires from Ashurst’s partnership in London after 40 years at the firm
Dorsey & Whitney boosts City offering
Corporate trusts specialist Helena Nathanson departs Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner to join US firm Dorsey Whitney, alongside senior associate Paul Regan
Office Openings & Closings
Simmons & Simmons’ Bristol outfit moves into bigger office space as it remains on target to grow to 100 fee-earners by April 2019
Dentons takes on an eight partner Venezuelan office previously associated with Norton Rose Fulbright before the firm exited the region in 2012
Inclusion & Diversity
Linklaters makes a rare move in the legal sector by disclosing its ethnicity pay gap figures
Pinsent Masons and BCLP lead Stonewall LGBT rankings
Technology & Innovation
Banking partner Andrew Trahair takes over lead role for the firm’s technology and consulting services, which includes flexible lawyering platform Peerpoint and tech innovator Fuse