Eversheds Sutherland continues Chicago growth with Tim McCaffrey

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that Timothy J. McCaffrey has joined as counsel in our recently opened Chicago office. Mr. McCaffrey is the fifth attorney to join the Chicago office since it opened in May; he joins Partner Robert D. Owen in establishing Eversheds Sutherland’s Litigation Practice Group in the Windy City.

“We are committed to growing our presence in the Midwest and are thrilled Tim is joining us in Chicago,” said Ronald W. Zdrojeski, Partner and Co-Head of Eversheds Sutherland’s Global Litigation Group. “His strong reputation in the real estate market will be beneficial to clients with interests in Chicago and beyond.”

Mr. McCaffrey focuses his practice on real estate litigation and regularly counsels clients on real estate development, acquisitions, dispositions, financing, leasing defaults and disputes, and commercial foreclosures. He also has extensive experience advising construction clients including the representation of owners, contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals in disputes related to design and construction defects, project cost disputes, and mechanic’s liens.

In the last 20 years, Mr. McCaffrey has represented some of the largest private equity fund and real estate developers, owners, and managers in litigation over their assets. He has significant experience in civil and criminal litigation that includes class action lawsuits, antitrust actions, and breach of contract actions in the securities, construction, health care, pharmaceutical, and financial industries. In addition, Mr. McCaffrey brings white collar fraud criminal experience that includes cases involving public corruption, mortgage fraud, tax fraud, health care fraud, public finance, and insurance fraud.

He has also worked on numerous internal investigations and represented clients with respect to government investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Litigation Practice Group

With more than 100 litigators, Eversheds Sutherland’s Litigation Group has tried and argued cases in the US Supreme Court, all 13 circuits of the US Court of Appeals, the Court of Federal Claims, the Tax Court and hundreds of federal district and state trial and appellate courts. Eversheds Sutherland’s litigation team represents regional, national and international clients from a broad range of industries, including energy, financial services, securities, insurance, construction, manufacturing, automotive, distribution, education, professional services, data privacy, electronics, technology and defense.

How overseas growth can enhance your business

Expanding overseas can play a critical role in the prosperity of many mid-market companies, so it’s no surprise that 37% of businesses expect to increase exporting in the coming year. And if companies are not considering overseas growth, they can be sure their competitors will be.

Forging New Ground

One company that is already looking at exporting well beyond Europe’s shores is Norfolk-based Centurion, which has been making protective head gear, including helmets and face screens, since the nineteenth century. To safeguard its future, CEO Jeff Ward led the business through a total rebranding and restructure when he joined three years ago.

“Centurion is a 140-year-old business and, while our history is something we’re enormously proud of, it was hindering our progress,” says Ward.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that we were stuck in the past. Yes, we’d developed our product range and, yes, we were doing OK, but we weren’t growing and our approach to business was dated. We expected new business to come to us instead of going all out to raise our profile, to network and to make the types of connections that would lead to new contracts.”

Despite being one of the leading players in its sector, Ward says Centurion lacked visibility and definition in the market. “We were too vague about our identity, about what made us stand out from our competitors. Starting from scratch and looking at every aspect of our business helped us focus our attention on who we were and on our goals – the most vital of which was expanding overseas.”

Approaching Overseas Growth

Ward worked with our advisers on several aspects of Centurion’s restart, including raising its profile locally, optimising its R&D tax relief and, more recently, overseas growth. Over the past year, its international sales have grown by 30% – from £6 million to £9 million – and Ward expects this to continue in 2019, mainly in the Middle East and the US, where the company has a new partnership.

Repositioning itself in both the domestic and international marketplace was key to Centurion’s recent growth. “Exposure, perception and connections are vital when you are trying to expand,” says Ward. “Grant Thornton elevated our profile, initially on a local level by showcasing our company and its success as one of the top 100 businesses in Norfolk, and then by advising on our overseas growth. These are still early days, but I’m happy with the opportunities that are opening up. I’m excited about the partnerships we’ve established and hope that more will follow this year.”

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Optimistic companies expect revenue growth over the next 12 months

With disruption rewriting traditional business operations, private business leaders remain steadfast in their optimism about the year ahead. In its second report on this important market segment, “Global perspectives for private companies: Agility in changing markets,” Deloitte details that despite market challenges, three-quarters of private business leaders express high or extremely high confidence in the success of their private firm over the next 24 months.

In a survey of 2,550 private company leaders across 30 countries, Deloitte found that the majority of respondents anticipate growth in six of eight key business metrics in the next 12 months. The strongest growth is predicted for revenue, productivity and profits – with companies in the Americas taking the lead in terms of expected increases, compared to counterparts in the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions.

“Private business leaders don’t necessarily view today’s disruption as negative, but rather as offering new opportunities for growth,” said Jason Downing, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and the U.S. Deloitte Private leader. “Despite some concern about trade policy and geopolitical uncertainty, the majority of executives we surveyed are highly optimistic about growth and truly have confidence in their company’s success in the year ahead.”

Proactivity is catalysing productivity

Technology has brought business closer to its customers but it has also upended business models. It has driven efficiencies but also fostered uncertainties. To address these conditions, firms globally are not staying idle but considering (43%) and implementing (40%) new business models to navigate disruption.

In conjunction with exploring new business models, companies are also looking for ways to improve growth. Globally, the top two strategies for firms are increased productivity (29%) and new product/service development (24%). Interestingly, these same two categories rank as the top competitive advantages.

Talent as the differentiator

Despite advances in adoption and implementation of technology, private business leaders realise their employees can be the differentiator and are investing in them through the following initiatives: 39% are devoting assets to training programs, 35% are increasing the number of full-time employees and 33% are investing in leadership development.

In order to attract and retain employees, 4-in-10 firms plan to reimagine learning and development programs using experiential formats, develop strategies to build an inclusive workforce, and increase their focus on flexibility and well-being programs.

Social purpose fuels corporate profits

With the influence of social media and the rise of employee activism, the majority of private business executives recognise that having a strong company culture is not a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” More than three-quarters (77%) of survey respondents agree that culture is strategically important to the success of the business.

Culture encompasses much more than the activity happening within a business and private company leaders today recognise this new reality. Specifically, the concept of social responsibility is resonating with private firms worldwide, with 66% viewing it as a top or high priority for their organisation. To make the most of these initiatives, organisations are focusing on corporate strategy as well as employee and customer branding to separate themselves farther from the competition.

Conducting business across borders

Regardless of business size or industry, technology has blurred borders and provides every company with the ability to be a global enterprise. In fact, the top driver cited for M&A activity over the next 12 months is the opportunity to enter new global markets (39%). The survey found that many private business executives expect to conduct an aggressive merger and acquisition strategy, with 42% believing it is likely or very likely they will participate in an acquisition in that timeframe.

This potential expansion comes in the face of uncertainties ignited by global trade tensions. While 24% of global respondents view trade barriers as a significant risk to growth, it is not at the expense of private business’ optimism: 15% of respondents cite entry into foreign markets as their company’s main growth strategy over the next 12 months.

“Despite some areas of uncertainty, private businesses remain the engine behind the global economy, fueled by their agility and ability to innovate,” Downing said.

About Deloitte Private

Deloitte Private is exclusively focused on serving private clients of all sizes and driven to address the opportunities and challenges unique to private businesses. Deloitte Private delivers audit and assurance, tax, consulting and risk and financial advisory services tailored for private companies, including family-owned businesses, closely held (nonfamily) businesses and private equity and venture-capital-backed businesses.

About Deloitte

Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 5,000 private and middle market companies. Our people work across the industry sectors that drive and shape today’s marketplace to make an impact that matters — delivering measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to see challenges as opportunities to transform and thrive, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en.html about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

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Morton Fraser chalks up 60% revenue growth over last five years

INDEPENDENT law firm Morton Fraser has chalked up revenue growth of nine per cent, topping the £20 million mark for annual billings for the first time in its history (£21.7m). It also saw profits soar 13% in the year to April 30, 2018, with revenue having grown 60% over the last five years.

The Scottish firm, which employs over 270 staff, attributed its growth to its investment in people. And it declared its strong commercial performance would result in another increase to Morton Fraser’s performance-related bonus scheme, which will reward all staff with up to 13% of their annual salary.

Chris Harte, chief executive, said that the quality of the team at Morton Fraser was the “one consistent factor underpinning this period of growth for our business”. Mr Harte said: “We have some exceptional talent and some of the best specialist teams in the country. The roster of truly independent Scottish firms is dwindling, and our focus on talent is setting us apart.”

Performance highlights included a “fantastic year” for the firm’s commercial real estate division, boosted by a strong performance in London. It also advised Rockspring on the purchase of 9-10 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh and BAM Properties on its role in the city’s largest speculative office development at Capital Square.

Morton Fraser’s corporate team played an integral part in Quattro Group’s multi-million-pound acquisition of Scotland’s big gest privately-owned plant hire operator, AB2000.

Mr Harte said that the firm, which merged with Macdonalds five years ago and has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, continued to work with longstanding clients including Diageo for which Morton Fraser is lead legal adviser for the global drinks giant’s commercial real estate work in the UK.

It also saw an increase in its international work, with a growing number of referrals through the global network Interlaw.

“It would be wrong to assume that a proudly independent firm in Scotland can only do business in Scotland,” Mr Harte said.

“Our connections and reputation extend not only into the City of London, but also internationally.

“We help overseas clients to assess their options here and also support domestic clients in other jurisdictions too,” he added. “We are the only Scottish firm in the Interlaw network but you still need a reputation for excellence to succeed internationally.”

The firm, said Mr Harte, had spent the last five years “getting into the right shape and investing in people”, and has increased its headcount by 30%. “That has been the bedrock of success for us,” he said. “A lot of people have been working really hard to get us to this stage and it is still about trying to retain and attract the right people.

“As we become more successful it makes it easier for us to have conversations with people we think might be interested in working for us and we have had people choose to relocate to Scotland rather than move to another firm in London, for example.”

There was also an increase in profits and turnover for international law firm Pinsent Masons which employs 540 staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Its unaudited results for 2017/18 showed a 6% increase in global turnover to £450m. Fees billed rose by 10% on the previous year. In the last five years, turnover has increased by more than 40% while profit growth has jumped by 60%.

The results follow a period of investment which has included setting up a technology and financial services-focused practice in Dublin. In the last year, Pinsent Masons has added an energy and infrastructure practice in Perth to complement its Australian business in Sydney and Melbourne.

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Afghanistan is moving from stabilization to growth

Aside from the development of Afghanistan’s military capabilities and pursuing the peace process, the other equally important factor that will allow the country to achieve peace and stability is the economy.

An economic transformation is taking place in Afghanistan right now, with a goal to boost private investment to create jobs and sustainable industries.

During the past few months, the government has passed significant economic legislation, opened up opportunities across new sectors and cut bureaucratic red tape to encourage businesspersons to invest.

These changes have already produced results — more than $500 million in investment contracts have been signed since the beginning of the year, and we estimate a boost in Afghanistan’s structural GDP growth rate from 2.5-3.0 percent to about 4.0 percent over the coming years.

In the past, a foreign investor had to visit an embassy two times to get entry into the country — once for a letter of introduction, once to receive a visa. He or she had to spend a great deal of time visiting multiple offices in Kabul to obtain costly permits.

The investor’s rights were not protected by legislation, and he or she would find it nearly impossible to obtain credit; all of this, in addition to security concerns. It’s no wonder then why economic growth languished over the past decade, and investors were scarce in Afghanistan.

Over the past few years, the National Unity Government has taken action to create a more enabling environment for investors and private-sector development. First, the government reduced regulatory burdens, cutting the cost of obtaining a new business license from $440 to only $1.

We simplified regulations by reducing the costs and simplifying procedures to obtain both electricity connections and building construction permits. We’ve opened a one-stop shop where investors can obtain all permits in one location. We now offer visas-on-arrival and easier foreign authentications for investors.

Second, we passed important new legislation that forms the legal foundation of a market economy. Our new Companies Law dramatically improves the protection of investors’ rights, allowing them to take minority stakes in operating companies, confident in knowing that their rights are protected.

We also passed a new Insolvency Law to make it easier to obtain capital for businesses and to enter into bankruptcy procedures for companies that do face challenges. This law replaces one that had not been updated since 1942.

A new mining law that provides a strong legal foundation and a transparent bidding process for the sector will be passed before the end of 2018.

Third, a number of large regional projects are being implemented. Whereas five years ago, Afghanistan did not have a single operational railroad, we now have four functioning railway connections with three neighbors.

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project, which had been discussed for decades, stared construction at the Afghan border earlier this year. We are in the process of finalizing the Host Government Agreement (HGA) and have reconfigured the project to make it financially feasible.

The CASA-1000 project, which will connect Central Asian Hydropower potential to South Asia, is in the procurement sage. Each of these projects will generate jobs and align regional countries’ interests with Afghanistan’s economic development.

Fourth, we opened up entirely new sectors to investment by eliminating government monopolies. In the power sector, we passed new regulations to allow for investment. This led to three contracts signed in December 2017, reduction of bureaucratic requirements and attracted over $200 million in private investment into the country.

Private companies are now constructing two gas generation plants in northern Afghanistan, as well as expanding a hydropower plant and constructing a solar plant in southern Afghanistan.

In the telecom sector, we opened up opportunities in our fiber optic backbone. Companies enthusiastically responded with more than $300 million in commitments. These fiber licenses were signed last month.

These actions have dramatically improved Afghanistan’s business environment, as evidenced by the steady flow of power and telecom investments we have seen over the past several months.

We look forward to also seeing these improvements reflected in significant improvements in Afghanistan’s international rankings, namely next year’s World Bank Doing Business report.

When the National Unity Government took office, we had to triage our economic challenges. Government revenues were declining, payment arrears were building, and we had a large contingent financial risks. We stabilized the economy by signing on to an economic reform package with the International Monetary Fund.

Since then, government revenues increased by more than $500 million, state banks have been fully recapitalized, and the currency has stabilized. Though we have a long road ahead of us, Afghanistan is now moving from policies of economic stabilization toward policies of economic growth, with results to show for it.

Ajmal Ahmady is the economic advisor to the President of Afghanistan and sits on the board of the TAPI pipeline company. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MPA/ID from the Harvard Kennedy School, and he previously worked at various asset management firms and the World Bank.