We’re back with a new instalment of the Fides Weekly Update. Read on to see what legal and business news our Researchers have been talking about this week.
Tweet us @Fides_Search to let us know your thoughts!
1) Paris attacks
Our sympathies go out to all friends, families and colleagues affected by the horrific terror attacks that took place in Paris on Friday. Hogan Lovells experienced great tragedy in losing one of their junior lawyers during the attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, Valentin Ribet, a litigation associate and LSE graduate. He was described as “a talented lawyer, extremely well liked, and a wonderful personality in the office.”
The loss from this event has been shocking and it is touching to see how the international legal community have united in the wake of such sorrow.
2) HBOS report leads to probe
A report released yesterday by the BoE and FCA, which looked into the failure of HBOS plc, has identified up to 10 former executives of the bank linked to its collapse.
Some of the former bank’s top executives have retained senior manager positions at other companies, including Andy Hornby, ex-HBOS Chief Executive, now COO at Gala Coral, and Mike Ellis, former group finance director at HBOS, who has taken on a position as chairman of the Skipton Building Society.
The former UK regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), was also heavily criticised for its failure to deal with the reckless management of banks, with the BBC citing the report in saying the FSA had been “deficient” in the way it handled HBOS. Clive Adamson, former director of supervision at the FSA, noted that “the most culpable people were let off”.
The BoE and FCA are considering barring the executives in question and plan to take enforcement action “as early as possible next year”.
3) Back-office centres “more efficient and effective”
This week saw DLA Piper launch a low-cost centre in Warsaw to service its business globally, whilst White & Case are considering opening a further shared services centre, alongside their existing hubs in Tampa and Manila, to provide back office support across its European offices.
The Lawyer revealed DLA chief operating officer Andrew Darwin said: “Our objective is to improve our ability to provide integrated and efficient service internally so that, in turn, our lawyers can do the same for our clients.”
This outlines a trend in which international firms are launching shared services centres, many of those based in the UK. Freshfields launched their shared services centre in Manchester in February this year, with an objective to support their client-facing lawyers in the most efficient way.
Other firms to have opened low-cost centres include Baker & McKenzie, BLP and Ashurst.
4) Asset managers under the spotlight
The FCA have an issued a review on the £6.6 trillion asset management industry, arguing that the level of competition in this market needs to be examined.
The review will concern the services delivered to both retail and wholesale customers, and looks to ensure these consumers are purchasing value-for-money services. The lack of transparency in costs and charges from asset management compBanies will therefore be the one of the focal points of the study, alongside the assessment of the role of investment consultants. The FCA plan to examine how investment consultants in particular affect competition in the market, as they provide critical advice to customers on product and manager selection.
The FCA will publish interim findings in the summer of 2016 and a final report by early 2017. The FT reports.
5) Barclays shell out further $150m to regulator
Barclays will have to pay an extra £98m ($150m) fine to US regulators for misconduct through the use of their forex trading platforms, Reuters reports. The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has also declared the bank must let go of their global head of electronic fixed income, currencies and commodities (eFICC).
Barclays’ super-fast trading systems allowed them to take a “last look” at trades, which they then used to automatically reject clients’ orders. The regulator argued that this misuse of their trading system put the bank’s interests ahead of those of its clients.
This settlement adds to Barclays’ total for forex related fines of £1.53bn, with fines for FX manipulation across the seven implicated global banks totalling over $10bn.
Until next week,
Welcome back to the Fides Weekly Update. Here’s this week’s must-read legal and business news brought to you by our Research team:
Feel free to tweet us your comments @Fides_Search
1) DLA pave the way for a more flexible legal offering
DLA Piper announced this week they will be teaming up with Lawyers On Demand (LOD) to provide a contract lawyer service, with a view to use DLA alumni alongside the LOD’s existing pool of freelance lawyers.
DLA have decided to take a different approach to agile working compared to their competitors, who are building their own contract lawyer businesses, such as Eversheds’ Agile and Pinsent Masons’ Vario. DLA Piper’s director of service delivery and quality Stephen Allen told The Lawyer that working with LOD will allow them “to deliver something holistic and of high quality” as “they’ve seen it, done it, they’ve got several t-shirts”.
Through this deal, LOD, owned by Berwin Leighton Paisner, will have the opportunity to offer their services across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, providing them with a great incentive to developing an international capability.
2) MiFID II shifts down a gear
News broke on Tuesday that the European Commission are considering delaying the implementation date for MiFID II. It appears that a delay may be necessary as the European Securities Market Authority claims the timetable is unfeasible and financial institutions need a sufficient amount of time to build the necessary IT systems.
Furthermore, the proposed regulatory standards under the regime haven’t even been finalised, which means there is a lot of work that remains to be done by not only the banks, but also the regulators.
Pushing back the target from January 2017 to January 2018 may be a wise decision, although some are arguing the delay could cause a loss of momentum. Certain policymakers are backing a piecemeal approach, saying that all chapters of MiFID II shouldn’t have to be delayed equally.
Bloomberg explains that the aim of MiFID II is “to boost transparency and fundamentally alter how equity, debt, derivatives and commodities are traded, cleared and reported throughout the European Economic Area.”
City AM have provided an overview.
3) The Americans get cold feet
Last week’s speculations that Foley & Lardner and Eversheds were in merger discussions has come to an end, with Legal Business reporting that Foley CEO Jay Rothman has stated the firm “are not interested in engaging in further discussions on that topic.”
The US firm claimed that “no decision was ever made by Foley to pursue such an affiliation” and they remain “committed to our strategic objective of expanding the global reach of our firm to better serve our clients.”
It was reported that Eversheds had whittled the potential merger candidates down to two, with Foley & Lardner emerging as the front-runners. Eversheds said in a statement: “We have made our position clear, whilst we appreciate that there will be speculation on our progress, a number of options remain open to us.”
4) ‘Big Four’ prove worthy opponents
James Tsolakis, head of legal services at RBS, has revealed his thoughts on the shake-up accountancy houses have caused in the legal market, Legal Futures reports.
Tsolakis mentioned in his annual review that the rise of non-legal firms taking on an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status has created “intense competition” in the market, particularly with mid-tier law firms. However, the mid-tier have fought back by performing a high number of mergers as well as significant lateral hiring. This response paired with their innovative structures and business models is described by Tsolakis as “little short of spectacular”.
He went on to say that although the current strategy of accountancy firms involves focusing on areas that complement their practices, the “smart money” will be in competing with the magic-circle and other top firms over the more lucrative transactional practice areas, after having taken sufficient market share from the mid-tier.
5) FTSE 250’s favourite firms revealed
Earlier this week, the Lawyer published the rankings of the top firms by client relationships within the FTSE 250.
The findings were sourced from three years’ worth of deals, litigation and panel information, and will make up the first part of the Lawyer’s data and research product, The Lawyer Market Intelligence.
It shows the top five firms to have the highest number of client relationships in the FTSE 250 to be: Slaughter and May, Linklaters, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsent Masons. Click to view full table.
The articles notes that being a company’s official solicitor is no longer an indication of a strong relationship. Ken Woodier, Group General Counsel at Pennon says, “We very much work on the basis of personal relationships. We know the major firms out there very well and tend to target those we want to engage rather than having a formal panel.”
Thanks for tuning in and watch out for the next Fides Weekly Update!
Hello again, and welcome to your instalment of the Fides Weekly Update – the latest legal, business and financial news as compiled by our Research Team. Tweet us @Fides_Search with your thoughts, comments and feedback – we would love to hear from you!
1) Things go from bad to worse at Deutsche Bank
After a record €6.1bn third quarter loss was announced by the bank last week, things went from bad to worse for Germany’s biggest lender on Thursday, when news broke that the bank agreed to pay a $258m (£168m) settlement to US regulators for sanctions violations.
From 1999 to 2006 the bank processed nearly $11bn (£7bn) in payments through its New York branch to clients in Sudan, Iran, Burma, Libya and Syria. The settlement is split between the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Federal Reserve, who will each receive $200m (£130m) and $58 (£38m) respectively. This comes only two weeks after the DFS announced a $787m (£512m) settlement with France’s Crédit Agricole for similar violations.
2) Merger Central
News emerged on Monday that global behemoth Dentons plans to enter a three-way Pacific merger with Australian firm Gadens and Singaporean firm Rodyk & Davidson, subject to a partner vote.
Already the largest firm in the world after its merger with Chinese firm Dacheng in January, the deal would see Dentons expand its reach in Asia Pacific, enter Australia for the first time and add over 500 lawyers from Gadens and 200 lawyers from Rodyk & Davidson. As reported in The Lawyer in June, Dentons CEO Elliot Portnoy and Chairman Joe Andrew revealed that the firm was in talks with 21 firms globally in a bid to rapidly expand operations.
This comes a week after Wisconsin-based Foley & Lardner emerged as the leading candidate for Eversheds US merger, which was heavily backed by a partnership vote last June.
We especially enjoyed reading this article from Katie King at Legal Cheek comparing the proposed mergers.
3) Credit Suisse, Freshfields and HFW get wrists slapped by UK Takeover Panel
The UK Takeover Panel made a bold move on Thursday by publicly censuring Credit Suisse alongside law firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Holman Fenwick Willan for breaching UK Code of Conduct rules, the FT reports.
The misconduct was rooted in transactions carried out in the formation of Bumi Plc, the Indonesian coal group, revived from near bankruptcy by Nat Rothschild. The panel criticised a failure to disclose that Bumi’s founding shareholders, the Bakrie Group, and Indonesian shareholder Rosan Roeslani, acted as concert parties in acquiring stakes totalling more than 30% in Bumi’s predecessor company, given they had close ties to each other when the deal was announced in 2011.
J.P. Morgan have also been criticised for their involvement in the deal, although no public censure has been sanctioned.
This rare ruling by the UK Takeover Panel is seen as a serious matter in investment banking, and will most likely cause the banks and law firms in question to re-evaluate their conduct in order to prevent repetition.
4) The Return of the Mega-Deal?
US companies have spent a record $1.8 trillion on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) this year, figures released this week from Dealogic show. This includes Visa Inc’s $23.4bn (£15bn) purchase of Visa Europe on Monday, with strong deal activity in the US fuelling global M&A.
A worldwide total of $4 trillion has been spent on M&A this year so far, which is just behind the all-time high of $4.6 trillion recorded in 2007. Of this, a record $1.9 trillion has been spent acquiring US companies. Such an uptick in deal activity has been attributed a strong dollar, slowing US exports and a rush by firms to offload cash ahead of the rise in interest rates.
Despite this, regulatory concerns and competition from competitors continue to play a decisive role in the success of deals according to EY’s Global Capital Confidence Barometer, released on Monday. The report revealed that 73% of the global executives surveyed had walked away from a prospective M&A deal in past last 12 months that they perceived to be too risky. The report also cites political instability, as well as currency and commodity volatility as key economic risks to dealmaking activity.
Thus, while mega deals remain prominent, the economic and business risks associated with such transactions suggests that the real action in M&A deals going forward is with medium-size firms.
5) New Managing Partner at Linklaters elected
The race to find the next Managing Partner at Linklaters came to an end on Tuesday as the firm’s global banking head Gideon Moore was appointed to the position, with his four-year term beginning on 1 January.
Moore was selected by the magic circle firm’s partnership board, after having eliminated finance and projects head Michael Kent, Western Europe managing partner Pieter Riemer and co-head of operational intelligence Tom Shropshire from the running.
It seems the firm are looking forward to the change in culture, as Moore is quoted in Legal Week to be ‘a great leader, good humoured and fairly normal’. He began career at Clifford Chance and is taking over from current Managing Partner Simon Davies, who is stepping down a year early to join Lloyds as Chief Legal, People and Strategy officer.
The firm’s next election will be to find their new senior partner, which the Lawyer believes is a choice between corporate partners Charlie Jacobs and Jean-Pierre Blumberg.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of the Fides Weekly Update.
Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update, your round-up of the week’s legal and business news as compiled by our Research team.
Tweet us @Fides_Search with your views and feedback.
1) The Rise of the accountancy firms
PwC Legal is mounting a significant threat to the legal services industry with annual revenues surpassing £40 million despite the firm only receiving its ABS license 18 months ago. This increase in turnover by 15% puts the firm at number 65 in the UK’s top 200 legal practices, as compiled by The Lawyer, with the accountancy firm aiming to reach the UK top 20 by 2019.
PwC is not the only accountancy firm to launch a legal offering with both EY and KPMG launching Alternative Business Structures in late 2014 and hiring aggressively from other firms. In May, EY launched a financial regulatory practice with an 11-strong team hires from Baker & McKenzie and Weil Gotshal & Manges, and has since committed to doubling its headcount from 30 lawyers to 60 within a year.
2) Clifford Chance rejuvenates German offering
Clifford Chance has moved to strengthen its German practice with the appointment of Freshfields global co-head of energy and natural resources Anselm Raddatz, after the decision was taken to strategically review operations in the country last year.
Since then a number of high-profile partners have left the firm including banking and capital markets head Alexandra Hagelüken, private equity head Olivier Felsenstein and former corporate head Arndt Stengel.
Raddatz will be based in Düsseldorf and will co-head the firm’s German corporate group. He will also be a member of the firm’s global corporate leadership group, The Lawyer reports.
3) Barclays reveals new CEO
As one of the worst kept secrets in finance, Barclays this week announced ex-JP Morgan banker Jes Staley as its new CEO. He replaces Antony Jenkins, who was ousted in July after three years of attempting to restore Barclays’ fortunes following the Libor-rigging scandal. Staley had been considered for the role prior to Jenkins appointment in 2012 to replace former CEO Bob Diamond, another US investment banker.
Staley joins Barclays amid the banks restructuring, which is expected to result in 19,000 job cuts and the scaling back of investment banking operations, as well as the implementation of ringfencing plans to separate investment and retail banking functions.
Yesterday the bank reported a 10% fall in third-quarter profits to £1.43bn and announced that it had set aside a further £560m for more customer refunds and litigation.
4) Talk Talk hacked whilst M&S leaked
Events of last week proved why cybersecurity remains hot on boardroom agendas as the news broke that TalkTalk had been hit with a cyber-attack, which may have led to the theft of personal data belonging to over 4 million customers. On Wednesday, Marks & Spencer’s website also experienced technical glitches as customer details were exposed online, highlighting a serious breach in privacy and data security.
These incidents are a stark reminder of the vulnerability businesses face in this informational age, and the financial and reputational risk of not protecting customer data as The Independent reports.
5) 33% women on boards but quotas unwarranted according to Davies
Thursday saw the release of the Davies review, the five year summary of the government’s Women on Boards reports, which raised the target for FTSE 100 companies to reach 33% female board representation by 2020.
Although companies had reached a ‘major milestone’ in meeting a voluntary target of 25% women board members, more needs to be done to improve female representation. Talking to the BBC, Lord Davies said a significant push is now needed to be made in order to capitalise on the progress made so far. Measures such as more female representation on executive committees and a higher proportion of women in senior and middle management positions were suggested to ensure the pipeline for future female board members, although the report stops short of gender quotas which are considered ‘unwarranted’. This is in contrast to other countries across the EU, Germany adopting legally binding quotas in March which required major companies to allocate 30% of seats on non-executive boards to women.
Until next week,
Welcome back to the Fides Weekly Update. Read on to see which latest new stories our Researchers have been talking about this week.
1.) Dentons: Welcome to Italia!
Dentons announced on Monday that they have opened their first office in Italy, The Lawyer reported. 21 lawyers have been hired to join their new Milan office, including Federico Sutti, DLA Piper’s former Europe and Africa managing partner, who will become Dentons’ managing partner for Milan.
2.) The FCA and PRA clamp down on references
The FCA and PRA have set out proposals to implement mandatory regulatory references for candidates planning to apply for various senior management roles at FCA regulated firms. The proposals are a result of a recommendation provided by The Fair and Effective Markets Review in the hopes to strengthen accountability in banking and insurance. Norton Rose Fulbright provide the details.
3.) Standard Chartered axes 1,000 jobs
Reuters revealed Chief Executive Bill Winters plans to cut 1,000 jobs at Standard Chartered. This cull will comprise of some of the banks most senior staff and will allow the bank to reduce costs and increase its profitability within emerging markets.
4.) Round two of Libor trials
After Tom Hayes was convicted of rate-rigging in August, six further brokers are on trial for manipulating the benchmark interest rate. The BBC reported that they aided Hayes manipulate the rate linked to the Japanese yen, causing them to face a total of five counts for the conspiracy to defraud from the Serious Fraud Office.
5.) Ashurst dole out mandates ‘blind’
Ashurst have hired management consultant Dave Cook, who has begun trialling a new scheme in which the allocation of work to the firm’s corporate associates is handed out ‘blind’. The associates will receive mandates based on their previous work at the firm rather than their relationships with partners. The scheme aims to improve gender and social equality in the corporate department and ensure equal allocation of work between the sexes. The Lawyer reports.
Watch out for the next Fides Weekly Update!
Welcome back to the Fides Weekly Update, a selection of all the latest legal and business news compiled by our Researchers during the week.
1.) The start of US-style class action?
Yesterday saw the introduction of enhanced powers under the Consumer Rights Act providing a procedure for US-style class actions in the UK. This makes it easier for groups of consumers to seek compensation from firms that have fixed prices and formed cartels. However, the extent to which such action will take off remains to be seen as explained in this article by The Law Society Gazette.
2.) Clifford Chance and RBS in hot water
News emerged on Monday that Clifford Chance and RBS potentially face further questioning from a Treasury Select Committee after the bank’s attempt to remove a report written by the magic circle firm into its global restructuring group (GRG) from a £30m Libor defence claim. The Lawyer provided further details in this article.
3) M&A worldwide deal rankings were released
Data released by Thompson Reuters showed Skadden retaining its lead in this year’s worldwide M&A legal rankings, The Lawyer reveals. Other movers include Gibson Dunn who jumped 14 places to take eighth place, whilst Cravath moved from sixth to second. On the other hand, Fried Frank missed out completely on this quarters top ten.
4) A&O’s Toronto office is no more
It was announced on Tuesday that A&O are to close their Canadian office after only one year as the firm’s only Toronto partner Francois Duquette decides to move in-house. A&O were the first magic circle firm to establish a representative office in Canada, which handled outbound investment work for Canadian clients. Legal Business provides the full story here.
5) We’re still talking about emissions…
After Volkswagen admitted to rigging diesel engine emission tests in the US and Europe last week, law firms both sides of the Atlantic are preparing to represent thousands of VW owners reports Legal Business. In the US, Quinn Emanuel has teamed up with consumer rights firm Hagens Berman to file a class action complaint in LA, whilst in German prosecutors have already launched an investigation into the former CEO.
Until next week!