Corporate review – Welcome back to the new normal

The overall success of M&A in 2012 hinges on the eurozone but there is much to be positive about, you just have to be prepared for a scrap

Confidence is a funny thing. During the first eight working days of this year, there was a sense that 2012 was going to be different. Deals had to be done, investors had to get their hands out of their pockets. Renewed optimism or even hope seemed to be a welcome antidote to the relentless doom and gloom that dominated the media for much of 2011. But then on Friday the 13th of January, talks collapsed over the restructuring of the Greek government’s debt and the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the debt of nine eurozone countries, including France. The new-year optimism vanished overnight.

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Dual Core

With the number of large-scale tech M&A deals increasing in 2011, some believe that another technology bubble is forming. Following the coalition government’s pledge to help the developing local tech sector at Silicon Roundabout, LB finds out how law firms are placing their bets, and who is getting ahead of the game.

All eyes in the legal community are firmly fixed on East London. Taylor Wessing’s October move to open a second London office in Tech City, located near the Old Street roundabout, renews focus by commercial law firms on the technology scene, and signals a flourishing of the UK’s tech sector.

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Power Surge

Energy clients are dictating law firms’ strategic direction and hiring policies. For now at least, energy is king. LB finds out why.

On the last day of August ExxonMobil dominated the business pages, when news broke of its $3.2bn Arctic exploration deal with Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. The story surprised energy specialists – a similar deal between BP and Rosneft was previously scuppered by TNK-BP, the partners in BP’s existing joint venture in Russia. The UK oil major suffered a double hit that day, when it was revealed that bailiffs had raided its offices in Moscow, linked to a case brought by TNK-BP shareholders over the failed Arctic deal with Rosneft.

These events attracted significant media attention, not just for the energy companies concerned but also the law firms involved. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which ironically advised BP on its failed deal with Rosneft, was now advising Rosneft in the deal with ExxonMobil. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld was advising the US oil major.

Deals and (more often than not) disputes between the energy giants and local incumbents have attracted significant interest in the press in recent years but it is also an inescapable fact that clients of the energy practices at some of the world’s largest law firms have dictated global growth strategies.


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Redrawing the map

The latest boom in transactional work from emerging economies is a welcome antidote to difficult home markets for international firms. LB looks at the differing approaches to growth and who the clients of the future might be

It is easy to understand how law firms get carried away by the opportunities that new, emerging markets present. In the past five years there has been a rush to set up offices in places that a generation ago would have held little attraction. The shift of transactional power has now fundamentally moved to emerging economies led by Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries). Continue reading “Redrawing the map”

The New deal

The private equity dealmakers of the boom years have been shifted off the front pages. As the market shows signs of recovery, the US firms are challenging the established order

As private equity comes blinking into the light after a torrid couple of years, advisers are grappling with a new market, where leverage is a dirty word and once mighty European buyout houses look distinctly off colour. Continue reading “The New deal”

Double vision

With the market recovering slowly, Ashurst’s new-look corporate management team has its work cut out. The duo not only has to build and retain market share, but also restore some much-needed morale to the firm’s transactional team.

In City parlance, Stephen Lloyd and Simon Beddow could be said to be buying at the bottom of the market. Ashurst’s new corporate heads, in place since July, have taken over a practice hit hard by the drop off in deal activity and by the firm’s own restructuring. Partners have been asked to leave the practice, while some of its best young talent has left of its own accord.

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Shop around

Kraft Foods’ hostile takeover of Cadbury sparked renewed hysteria about foreign takeovers of the UK’s FTSE 350. For the Magic Circle, it means a client base under threat. LB reveals the winners and losers in the great British sell-off

Slaughter and May has acted for the target in more foreign takeovers of British household names than any other law firm in the past five years. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the only Magic Circle firm to have seen its FTSE 350 client base shrink over the same period. And it is Freshfields, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy that most often get the call from bidders as foreign direct investment changes the face of the elite corporate client base in the UK.

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Breaking convention

Despite the lip service paid to renewables, fossil fuels are far and away the leading source of global energy consumption. In the first part of LB’s global energy focus, we analyse the current trends in coal, natural gas and oil

In December 2009 Copenhagen replaced beleaguered golf star Tiger Woods as the most popular search term on Google — a fact that the United Nations Climate Change Conference boasted proudly on its homepage — as, of course, the Danish capital played host to the environmental summit. In finding ways to conserve it and make it cleaner, energy is now officially top of the global agenda.

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