Think offshore centre and certain calm images spring to mind: elegant yachts, crystal blue water, sparsely-populated beaches and gently sloping palm trees. However, in September this idyllic cliché was superseded in the public consciousness by horrific scenes of destruction as Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Maria ripped through the Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands, where nine of the top ten offshore law firms have an office and nearly 400,000 offshore companies are registered, were catastrophically affected.
Favoured by Chinese companies in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, ‘a BVI’ is shorthand for an offshore company, so renown is its status. But while the narrative coming out of the British Overseas Territory has been defiant with Lorna Smith, interim executive director of BVI Finance, saying there was ‘no doubt’ it will fully return, it could take some time before full operational normality as a commercial and litigation centre is restored. At press time, the territory’s company register continued to function via the online portal, VIRRGIN and just prior to the disruption, company incorporation certificates were sent to London by the BVI Financial Services Commission to have them issued there. The commercial division of the High Court had resumed and matters were being heard by the commercial judge sitting in nearby St Lucia in person, or by teleconferencing or videoconferencing if agreed by the parties. Continue reading “Offshore: Riding the storm”
Trump, Brexit and the Panama papers ensured a turbulent 2016 for the ten largest offshore firms. But our annual survey of leading players underlines the resilience of those leading the pack
Despite a year of pronounced headwinds, our annual focus on the ten largest offshore firms reveals that 2016 activity levels remained robust with an increasing focus on Asia and continued strength in dispute resolution. However, among the leadership of these firms there is little doubt that Brexit has had an inevitable effect on performance.
Continue reading “The year offshore in review – The Iron Islands”
The Panama Papers scandal brought another bout of unwanted attention to offshore jurisdictions. But law firms note the attention has helped distinguish one centre from another
On April Fool’s Day this year, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co notified its clients that it had sustained an email hack. It instantly became the world’s best-known law firm following the leak of 11.5 million documents, cherry-picked by global media outlets, that revealed confidential client information. The Panama Papers made news and so did offshore law firms. Again.
Continue reading “Standing apart – the offshore fallout from the Panama Papers”
With a number of offshore centres inextricably linked to the UK economically, we ask partners what Brexit means for business
‘The morning after the night before, there was stunned silence,’ says David Cadin, managing partner at Bedell Cristin. For offshore law firms, the long-term implications of Brexit are no clearer than for their onshore counterparts and they are equally loath to make predictions when uncertainty continues to surround terms for the UK’s departure from the EU.
Continue reading “Aftermath – the offshore world post the Brexit vote”
While increasingly playing their part in the world’s biggest deals, the world’s ten largest offshore firms are also undergoing structural changes. Our annual offshore survey assesses recent developments among the leading firms of 2015.
The offshore transactional market continues to go from strength to strength. Our annual focus on the ten largest offshore firms again reveals impressive activity levels during the last year. According to Appleby’s recent private equity report, during the third quarter of 2015 deal activity was even more robust than usual: there were 660 offshore deals during the quarter, worth a total of $60.7bn. Of those, 26 involved private equity firms either acquiring or disposing of their investments. With a combined worth of $16.1bn, private equity deals therefore represented over a quarter of total offshore activity by value in Q3 2015.
Continue reading “Standing tall – 2015 in review for the offshore elite”
Offshore legal practices continue to sell or relaunch their lucrative fiduciary businesses. Legal Business assesses the divergent strategies.
In July, global offshore firm Appleby announced the management buyout (MBO) of its fiduciary business for an undisclosed sum, backed by private equity house Bridgepoint. Completion is subject to regulatory and legal approvals, but is expected to wrap up by the end of 2015.
Continue reading “Making gains – to be or not to be in the fiduciary business”
Attention is now on Bermuda as offshore firms look to cover the Caribbean.
Mythical triangles notwithstanding, the island state of Bermuda plays host to the prestigious America’s Cup in June 2017. But while it may be two years before the world’s sailing elite descends on the island state, competition for the local offshore firms has already arrived. In May, Cayman-based Walkers announced it would open in Bermuda later this year. This came just one month after Bennett Jones’ (Bermuda) law practice was launched through an association with Canada-based law firm, Bennett Jones.
Continue reading “Changing Tack – Bermuda triangulation”
With global corporate markets experiencing a resurgence in 2014, the strongest offshore law firms had key roles to play in the world’s most high-profile deals and disputes. Legal Business’ annual offshore survey assesses recent highlights and profiles the leading offshore law firms.
In many ways, the last 12 months have represented another robust year for the ten largest global offshore law firms. In our first annual report on those firms last year, a number cited double-digit increases in revenues on the previous year. This year, a number are again reporting significant growth.
Continue reading “The tide is high – the report card on the world’s top offshore players”
With transactional work picking up globally, offshore funds are back in vogue. We assess the most active offshore firms and the key recent developments
The renewed sense of optimism emanating from the world’s major financial centres has clearly made its way offshore. While the global financial crisis put successful launches of offshore private equity, real estate and listed funds on hold, the mood has clearly changed. New funds and start-ups are upbeat again and the fund practices of offshore law firms are enjoying healthy flows of work.
Continue reading “Offshore: Putting funds back on the map”
With corporate lawyers finding their feet once more, Legal Business examines the often overlooked role of offshore firms in major global corporate and capital markets transactions
2014 has been the year where the corporate lawyer has begun to feel valued again. Take Dublin-based drug manufacturer Shire’s proposed £32bn takeover by US giant AbbVie, which is scheduled to close this year and pitches US/UK corporate heavyweights Sullivan & Cromwell and Herbert Smith Freehills opposite Davis Polk & Wardwell and Slaughter and May for Shire. But while those elite international firms make the headlines, the deal is to be implemented via a scheme of arrangement in Jersey, based on advice to Shire from a Mourant Ozannes team led by partner Robert Hickling, with Ogier’s Simon Dinning heading a team for AbbVie.
Continue reading “Centre of the universe – the offshore counsel role in big ticket deals”