What are your backgrounds in terms of advising and acting for clients on ESG-related risks?
Doug Bryden (DB): I have advised clients in relation to a broad spectrum of risks for many years, from environmental to business ethics (including modern slavery and human rights) and on related governance and boardroom responses. The prevailing trend now is to view these operational, reputational and legal issues through the lens of ‘ESG’. The consolidation of these risks under a single banner is proving extremely useful in both explaining those risks to boards as well as streamlining a stronger, better considered management response. On one hand my job as an ‘ESG lawyer’ is to help clients promote ESG awareness within a business and to ensure compliance with an ever-increasing range of ESG regulatory obligations. However, this needs to be carefully balanced against the threat of novel legal risks that ESG programmes and associated public disclosures create. Much of my practice and Heather’s is focused on achieving outcomes which sensibly protect an organisation from such legal risks, without undermining the real opportunities and progress that better ESG management creates. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Interview with Doug Bryden (partner and head of risk and operational regulatory) and Heather Gagen (partner, dispute resolution)”
Robert Sliwinski, of counsel at Alsuwaidi & Company, explains how common law principles are transforming international arbitration proceedings in the GCC region
Over the past six months there have been two important judgments in the Supreme Court of England and Wales which are likely to influence GCC-based arbitrations where they are based on common law procedures and rules. They may also impact arbitrations seated in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) and the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) which are pockets of common law jurisdiction within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar Civil Law Structures. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: The effect of recent English Supreme Court judgments on GCC-based arbitration”
Over the last decade, leased container securitisation transactions have increasingly enabled container lessors to raise capital and leverage growth opportunities based on strong performance and outlook in the container leasing sector. Bermuda has played an integral role for market-leading lessors such as Textainer and Triton, and has a trusted reputation among lessors as the leading offshore jurisdiction offering flexible and innovative structures for container securitisation transactions.
Structuring a Bermuda Container Securitisation Transaction
A typical container securitisation transaction involves the incorporation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV), normally a Bermuda exempted company, although exempted limited liability companies (LLCs) can also be used. The SPV can either be directly owned by the parent or use an orphan structure (held by a Bermuda purpose trust) which removes the asset from the parent’s balance sheet. The SPV will purchase the container leases (or other specified assets) with some form of regular cash flow and issue loan notes or preference shares in the capital markets to finance the purchase. The repayment of principal and interest on such notes is then secured by the purchased assets and the accompanying cash flow. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Container securitisation thriving in Bermuda”
Practice areas: Commercial and company law; state regulations; tax law; real estate; banking, finance and capital markets; litigation and arbitration; IT, media and telecoms; energy and environment; personal data protection; patents and trade marks
Established in 1990, Penkov, Markov & Partners is one of the first law firms in Bulgaria, having nowadays the biggest and most significant client portfolios and being respected both domestically and internationally.
The firm currently has approximately 40 partners and associated members, several external legal consultants, 12 trainees, 12 assistants and staff members. The firm publishes its own newspaper PMP Legal News, circulation 2,200 (published in Bulgarian, English and German languages) which is also available on its website.
Since 1996 PM&P is the exclusive member firm for the jurisdiction of Bulgaria of Lex Mundi – the world’s leading association of independent law firms. PM&P is a member of Lex Mundi and FLI Net and is the first law firm in Bulgaria certified under the ISO 9001:2000 and later re-certified under ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015 standards by Bureau Veritas Certification.
For their professionalism the experts from PM&P are frequently engaged not only in legal advice and procedural representation but also in the legislative process (eg, the Commercial Register Act and the New Renewable Energy Sources Act, as well as competition regulations).
In 2019 PM&P was awarded Superbrand of the Year for a fourth time (2007, 2015, 2017) as recognition for exceptional reputation of the trade mark Penkov, Markov & Partners among its current and potential clients, partners and investors.
Vladimir Penkov, chairman and senior partner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr Penkov has extensive experience in negotiations, research, drafting of legal documents and representation of clients in various areas of commercial law, such as banking and finance, corporate law and commercial contracts, competition, privatisation and foreign investments, investment management, M&A, project finance, public procurement, licensing and know-how agreements, tax law, telecoms, media and IT, energy law and renewable energy sources.
Ivan Markov, partner (email@example.com)
Mr Markov has longstanding practical expertise in legal searches, elaboration of legal instruments and representation of clients in different areas of business law such as company law, commercial agreements, banking and finance law, regulatory permissions, insurance law, M&A, concessions, project finance and the securities related thereto.
Nikolay Cvetanov, managing partner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr Cvetanov has significant experience in research, drafting legal documents and representation of clients in the fields of commercial law and banking and finance law, litigation, corporate law, commercial contracts, financial projects and tax law.
Milena Gaidarska, partner (email@example.com)
Mrs Gaidarska has longstanding practical expertise in legal searches, elaboration of legal instruments and representation of clients in different areas of business law such as: real estate transactions, development and construction, commercialisation of retail, residential and office space, financing and securitisation of real estate projects, M&A, public procurement.
Roman Stoyanov, partner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr Stoyanov disposes with long-term practical experience in research, preparation of legal documents and representation of clients in different spheres of business law, such as administrative law, commercial and corporate law, pharmaceutical law, customs law, litigation and arbitration, and M&A.
At a glance: Penkov, Markov & Partners
Headcount: 50+ lawyers
Offices: Sofia, Bourgas, Varna, Pleven, Rousse, Stara Zafora
Key clients: ARTEKS Engineering Group; Booking.com; Cable Internet Systems; Coca-Cola; EMCO; EBRD; Heineken; Klett Bulgaria; InnoPharma International BG; Markan Holding
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected not only public health and the well-being of humanity, but also a number of economies, businesses and industries worldwide. Family offices have not remained unaffected; not only by coronavirus but also by the ever-shifting global economic environment. New trends that have arisen during the Covid era, including remote working and the demand for greater connectivity, as well as novel strategic and operational risks, are forcing family offices to rethink the way they have been traditionally doing business.
New trends and challenges
The majority of family offices were until recently relying on a more traditional model for their operation; having a few loyal employees and depending on the decision-making power of the head of the family. Currently, however, family offices are faced with a number of new matters that need to be addressed. Namely, have priorities shifted? Is the existing structure and location of the family office fit for purpose? Can the IT infrastructure in place support the electronic requirements of this new era? What about the younger generation – is it willing to step up and adapt to the new conditions? Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Family offices: current challenges and trends”
How would you describe the Nordic legal market generally regarding the last 12 months?
I am only able to speak for the Icelandic market, but over the last 12 months, the only significant change we have experienced is related to the more flexible working environment implemented because of restrictions put in place because of Covid-19. Business has been good although because of the restrictions we experienced delays in dispute resolution cases, but that has been offset by an increase in M&A activity.
What would you say has been the primary impact of the pandemic on the market?
Iceland was probably the country that felt the least impact of the pandemic. From time to time though limitations on the number of people in the workplace were put in force which resulted in the implementation of a flexible working environment supporting employees to work from home. Although the technology was already in place, the pandemic ensured that video conferences and meetings became the name of the game and every employee in the industry optimised those sources to keep the business running without interruption. On the business side Iceland, as with most other countries, has experienced increased M&A activity. In many cases the pandemic caused certain industries to struggle or particular firms, which has led to frantic exploration to increase efficiency. In many cases downsizing and restructuring has been the way forward while in other instances a merger has been deemed the best option. M&A activity has therefore been at an all-time high for the latter period of the pandemic.
How was 2020 and early 2021 for the firm? Would you say it was a successful year? If so, why? If not, why?
The year 2020 and the first half of 2021 have been successful. Turnover has increased marginally, but a lot of costs have been saved and significant gains have been made through alternative billing methods, which promoted efficiency for the benefit of all stakeholders, the firm, the client and the employee.
Have you noticed any noticeable new trends for the firm in the last 12 months? Have any practice areas increased/decreased in prominence?
As stated, before there has been a remarkable uplift in the M&A sector. Other sectors on the rise are the IT sector, although it has probably more to do with increased start-up activity than the pandemic. We do not see any notable downturn in any sector, but as stated before litigation has slowed during the pandemic, but in our opinion that has more to do with Covid restrictions than a poorer inflow of assignments.
What does all of this mean for the future of independent firms in your country? What elements separate out the firms that are ‘thriving’ and those that are not?
All major law firms in Iceland are independent. The big accounting firms have been increasing their presence, but only in limited sectors. Iceland has not experienced the threat of international law firms. The outlook for independent law is therefore positive.
The question of why some firms are thriving and some not is always difficult to answer. In our opinion at LEX Law Offices, the most important element of legal industry is to really understand the needs of the clients. Why is he asking for advice and how can we, the lawyers, deliver as much value as possible as efficiently as possible. If one loses sight of that he is subject to become dispensable.
Are there any particular mandates that you have handled since the pandemic began that have been particularly noteworthy or have ‘bucked the trend’?
LEX was mandated by international investors to advise on the acquisition of the passive telecoms infrastructure of two of the major telecoms companies in Iceland. This has led to other owners of passive telecoms infrastructure exploring opportunities of disposal and it seems that it has created a lot of attention from both domestic and international investors.
Has anything unexpected (particularly positive) come from the pandemic? What do you envisage will be the long-term impact/changes?
Overall, from the company perspective the pandemic has not caused as many problems as one would have expected. The pandemic has tested the resolve of the employees and the management to figure out new ways of processing and delivering advice to our clients. Not unexpectedly, the whole of the firm has walked hand in hand to figure out and implement new methods. This whole process has led to more and better communication between management and employees and in general a better working environment.
Although never neglected I suspect the long-term impact will be on a better working environment and increased efficiency in processing end delivery of service.
For more information, please contact:
Örn Gunnarsson, managing partner, LEX Law Offices
Practice areas: Banking, finance and capital markets; competition law; constitution and human rights; construction, public procurement and tendering law; corporate and commercial law; corporate finance and project finance; data protection and information technology; employment and labour law; energy, natural resources and environmental law; European law; insolvency, bankruptcy and financial restructuring; insurance and tort; intellectual property and technology transactions; litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution; mergers and acquisition; property law; public administration, public parties and urban planning; real estate; shipping, transportation and maritime law; telecommunication law
Tracing its roots back to 1959, LEX is one of the leading full-service law firms in Iceland. Based on a traditional legal practice of litigation, real estate law, bankruptcy law and corporate and commercial law, LEX has been a pioneer in the Icelandic legal environment when it comes to innovation based on new market trends. LEX’s intellectual property practice is second to none, offering its clients full service in that sector. Furthermore, LEX is at the forefront in the space of IT and technology transactions, which has become a trivial component in its advisory across different practice areas. Our team has deep industry experience in various sectors, making it possible to provide practical advice and innovative solutions.
In an ever-changing landscape, foreseeability about project development and project expenses has become a major factor in the operation of any law firm. For years LEX has applied a project management approach in most of its practice areas with great success. All lawyers at the firm have received training in project management and with collaboration with universities, further steps have been taken with certain practice areas, in order to maximise efficiency and implement new processes.
This project management effort has awarded LEX with increased efficiency for the benefit of all stakeholders, the firm, its clients and employees.
Furthermore, it has allowed LEX to introduce alternative billing mechanism in a more focused way than before which has been taken by open arms by its clients.
The M&A team at LEX consists of 12 experts on the subject. The strength of the team does not only derive from the experts within the M&A sector but its capability to draw on other expertise within the firm. In the last few years, the team has been working very notably along with the IP, IT and the technology transactions teams at the firm. In today’s world the IP and technology sectors play an ever-important role and being able to draw on the expertise of top-ranked partners within those practice areas has considerably strengthened LEX’s position in this competitive market. Core areas include complex technology transactions, strategic licensing, e-commerce, cloud computing, IP development, outsourcing and open source.
LEX has been blessed in being at the advisory table in most of the largest cross-border transactions that have taken place in this field over the last few years.
Can you give our readers an overview of Eversheds Sutherland El Heni Law Firm’s legal practice in Tunisia?
We have five main legal practices in our law firm:
Corporate/ M&A: One of the strongest team in the Tunisian market (an average of 20 deals per year) mainly focusing on international investments or very high-profile projects in Tunisia.
Business law including IP/IT, labour, civil, commercial and contract: The team is fully dedicated to foreign clients who use, fully or partially depending on their internal legal team, our legal outsourcing service enabling them to focus efforts on their core business.
Infrastructure, energy, transport: The work is mostly centred around renewable energy, customs and real estate.
Banking and finance: The team is used to assisting the biggest DFIs in Tunisia such as IFC, EBRD, and AFD. In addition, we have a strong insurance activity including the main ones in the Tunisian market (Maghrebia Assurance, Star Assurance, Biat Assurance), and act in project finance.
Dispute resolution: We offer market-leading pre-contentious, and contentious assistance with day-to-day complex matters. We play a key role in shaping the law and adapting it to the needs of our international clients. For instance, our multilingual team is able to report in French, English and Arabic. We also manage and lead high-profile arbitration.
What do you see as the main points that rank Eversheds Sutherland El Heni Law Firm as a leading firm in the Tunisian legal business market?
We operate under international standards, which means that we respect our deadlines, we have a sophisticated billing system, and our flexible team is always available to respond to a client in need. Furthermore, we are a full-service law firm, so we are able to assist our clients in every aspect of their projects. Our large law firm of 20 (in comparison to the Tunisian market) and its organisation in several practice areas, enable us to work on several projects simultaneously and different aspects of the same projects at the same time. Finally, being part of a global network of 70 Eversheds Sutherland international offices across 36 countries, we can offer our international clients, multi-jurisdictional advice across the five continents.
Given the problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic, how did you successfully manage your firm?
Our first two goals were the safety of the team and establishing a strong internal organisation in order to maintain a high quality of deliverables. When the above conditions have been filled, it allowed us to nurture our clients and to fully support them by focusing on their needs. As an example, during the first phase of the pandemic, we sent weekly newsletters informing the clients of the measures taken by the government, as it was constantly changing, making it easier for them to take decisions.
Which sectors are/will be of most interest to foreign investors, and why?
From our knowledge and experience, the promising sectors for investments are the new technology, renewable energy, healthcare and diversified industries.
We are currently drafting the digital and telecoms legislation, as well as assisting many successful startups, and we’ve noticed that new tech is still new but very attractive for foreign investors as regulations are moving towards a more digitalised economy.
As far as the renewable energy sector goes, Tunisia has a good positioning and significant projects are currently ongoing. On the other hand, the healthcare and diversified industry sectors are still stable for the moment despite the current situation, but they should be expanding soon.
Are there any main changes which you have personally made within the firm that will benefit clients?
As a business-oriented law firm, we recognise our clients’ needs and risks. We understand urgent matters may arise at any time in a business, especially during a global pandemic, so we took the decision to organise the team in total flexibility. This way, our team is available at any time, which was truly appreciated and very beneficial to our clients. In addition, we put significant financial efforts into supporting our clients economically, which means that we accept to postpone payment deadlines, split/reduce our fees etc.
What is the main added value of Eversheds Sutherland El Heni as a corporate law firm in Tunisia?
We are able to offer our clients the high-level of service and thoroughness that our international clients are used to receiving in mature markets (US, EU, Middle East) adapted to the Tunisian market.
For more information, please contact:
Fares Koussay El Heni
Deputy head Africa (Paris) and managing partner (Tunis)
Practice areas: Corporate M&A; commercial, social, IP/IT; digital; infrastructure, renewable energy and transport; banking and finance and project finance; litigation and arbitration
Based in Tunis, El Heni Law firm was created in 1980 and joined the Eversheds Sutherland Africa Group in 2013 creating Eversheds Sutherland El Heni in association with El Heni Law Firm. With our managing partner and deputy head of the Africa Group, Fares Koussay El Heni, founding partner, Mohamed Raouf El Heni, and banking and finance partner, Soundès Mejdoub, our multilingual team of 20 represents a diverse range of clients, from multinational and regional corporations to small and medium businesses, governmental bodies, investors, and entrepreneurs.
The firm has a longstanding presence in Tunisia and can offer 30+ years’ worth of knowledge and experience of the Tunisian government, administration, and market. Our clients benefit from the international experience of our lawyers in various legal matters such as corporate/M&A, commercial, social, IP/IT, legal outsourcing, banking and finance, energy and infrastructure, litigation and arbitration, telecoms and digital.
We have a unique strategy that differentiates us from other law firms:
We know how to bridge the cultural and legal gap between the Tunisian market and the investors’ culture by understanding their business.
We anticipate all the potential legal issues and problems that could arise during the project lifecycle by considering every aspects even including currency, customs, and taxes.
We find innovative solutions, respecting clients’ needs and policies, adapted to the local market to allow the project realisation.
We take care of our clients (reactiveness), we think with them (proactiveness), and we are engaged with them (partnership).
Our office is divided into five practice groups according to the experience and expertise of the lawyers. Our large team of multilingual lawyers are well-versed on every aspect of business law and operate under international standards. We are able to advise on various projects simultaneously, but also on different aspect of the same project at the same time. We are business-oriented and value offering an innovative client-experience by anticipating the risks and considering the unique needs of their organisation such as the environment and regulations they operate in.
At a glance: Eversheds Sutherland El Heni in association with El Heni Law Firm
Headcount: 3 partners, 18 associates
Number of offices: 74 offices in 35 countries – 1 office in Tunisia
Key clients: GE, Nokia, IFC (World Bank Group), Scatec Solar, Emerson, Bulgin, Rina, Turkish Airlines, Roche, Kone
Can you give our Legal Business readers an overview of Matouk Bassiouny’s practice in Algeria?
Matouk Bassiouny in association with SH-Avocats is a full-service Algerian law firm headquartered in Algiers. We offer an integrated and efficient service combining a true on-the-ground knowledge with international standards. Our teams in Algiers work seamlessly with our other offices in the MENA region (Egypt, Sudan, and the UAE) enabling us to build on the expertise of our regional practice groups specialised in specific industries and legal practices.
We provide advisory and transactional services to local and foreign investors in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Our team also provides our clients with comprehensive dispute resolution services in English, French and Arabic before Algerian courts as well as regional arbitral tribunals. Our Algiers litigation team includes attorneys qualified before the Appellate Courts and the Court of Cassation of Algeria.
We are client-centric and results-oriented. Building on our sector-focused approach, we provide ‘actionable advice’. Our role is to act as a business adviser identifying and resolving key issues to achieve our clients’ strategic objectives.
What do you see as the main points that rank Matouk Bassiouny as a leading firm in the Algerian legal business market?
Our team of two dedicated partners and three lawyers are trilingual and licensed to practice in Algeria. As we routinely advise international corporations, we operate in line with international best practices, but are also deeply entrenched in the local market, cultural and political environments. It is to be noted that both partners, Houda Sahri and Jean-Jérôme Khodara, have a vast experience in Algeria. Both have worked in Algeria for many years,have a deep knowledge of the Algerian market and are very familiar with the complications of the legal framework in Algeria.
In addition, our firm maintains good working relationships with key Algerian authorities including, the Algerian Central Bank, the Governmental Agency for Investment Promotion, the Algerian Customs Authorities and the Competition Authority, thus allowing us to fast-track administrative hurdles.
Our Algiers office is also licensed to plead before Algerian courts. This puts us in a unique position in the Algerian market, allowing us to serve our clients in all their legal needs, whether of a cross-border or local nature.
Given the problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic, how is this affecting your firm and the legal business market generally in the Algeria?
Despite the political and health instability over the past year, we have seen enormous interest from foreign investors since the issuance of the new finance law that has alleviated the restrictions on foreign investment and the so called 49/51 rule.
Algeria has chosen a highly cautious approach to the Covid-19 pandemic that has slowed down the economic activity of the country. This has of course impacted the legal business, however, the need to diversify its economy has triggered a reform of the investment framework and we have been advising a lot of clients either to explore new opportunities created by this reform or to help existing clients to navigate the changes. So in terms of activity, we have no complaints.
Can you talk about any trends or changes in the landscape you are seeing emerge in the Algerian legal business market?
Algeria is witnessing large changes in the investment legal framework. It started with the alleviation of the general restriction on foreign investment including the restriction to 49% of foreign ownership and the state’s preemption right over foreign transfer of ownership and continues through a pipeline of pro-investment legislation in different sectors including banking, oil and gas and food industry.
In 2020, Algeria also lifted the prohibition on international financing and it is in the process of becoming a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Such developments are expected to result in a significant growth of project finance in Algeria.
We are witnessing a surge of requests to understand the ongoing modifications to the investment framework in Algeria which reflects the raise of interest in the Algerian Market which was considered for a long time as a closed market.
How is your firm positioned for an anticipated resurgence in activity in the Algerian legal business market?
Our team of two dedicated partners and three lawyers are trilingual and licensed to practice in Algeria. We have also access to a pool of more than 200 lawyers of Matouk Bassiouny regional offices with a regional experience.
We are also planning to build our capabilities by growing our team in our Algiers office. Our goal is to train young Algerian lawyers to operate in line with our international standards and believe we also have our role to play to add to the legal market in Algeria.
With the experience of our leading partners and the support of the team, Matouk Bassiouny in Algeria is the first full fledged independent law firm and we are planning to be one of the big market players within the next few years.
Which sectors are/will be of most interest to foreign investors, and why?
We are seeing two tendencies: first, the existing clients having their activity in the sectors that are witnessing major amendment mainly: importation, pharmaceuticals and automotive. While importation and pharmaceuticals are still subject to the 49/51 rule, Algerian authorities, with the objective of promoting the local car manufacturing industry and preserving the country’s foreign exchange reserves, have passed stringent legislation over the last few years in order to curb the importation of new vehicles. The most recent is the exclusion of foreign investors from the activity of importation and dealing in new cars must be 100% owned by Algerian residents.
The second is the rising interest of international financing organisations in the financing of big projects in banking and renewable energies.
Are there any main changes which you have personally made within the firm that will benefit clients?
There are no major changes, however since the firm is evolving rather fast we are expanding our capabilities and enlarging the team of lawyers by recruiting new young and experienced lawyers to provide the best services to our clients.
What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capacity?
Working on successful M&A operations and recovering debt amounts to our clients over the last two years.
For more information, please contact:
Houda Sahri, managing partner, Algeria, Matouk Bassiouny in association with SH-Avocats