Legal team gets top ranking by Chambers Global 2018

The dispute resolution team at Bermuda law firm MJM Limited has been given a Band 1 ranking by Chambers Global 2018.

The global law firm rating agency said the team is known for being a “distinguished, independent Bermudian firm that is widely respected in the jurisdiction”.

It noted that it maintains “a very strong reputation for domestic Bermudian cases and is regularly instructed by the Government of Bermuda on a variety of constitutional and public law matters”.

Chambers said some of MJM’s highlights were acting for Bermuda’s Ministry of Home Affairs in a long-running land compensation claim against the Corporation of Hamilton concerning Hamilton Waterfront, and that it “successfully represented the Electricity Supply Trade Union in a breach of contract dispute against the Bermuda Electric Light Company. This case related to the provision of free healthcare to union retirees and was reported as the first class action to be heard by Bermuda’s Supreme Court”.

Alan Dunch, Andrew Martin and Fozeia Rana-Fahy were mentioned as notable practitioners. Mr Dunch was praised for “superlative litigation skills”, while Mr Martin was described as “gentlemanly, calm and measured advocate” with “a keen understanding of Bermuda’s legislative, regulatory and political environment.”

Sources quoted by Chambers regarded Ms Rana-Fahy as “knowledgeable, responsive and pragmatic”.

Chambers Guides have been ranking the best law firms and lawyers since 1990 and now cover 185 jurisdictions throughout the world.


Orrick hires six public finance lawyers in Texas

Six public finance lawyers have left Andrews Kurth Kenyon in Texas to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe—part of a larger group expected to leave Andrews Kurth for Orrick in the near future.

Texas Lawyer reported earlier this month that Andrews Kurth, which is shedding lawyers as it nears a merger with Virginia firm Hunton & Williams, was expected to lose a large public finance group to Orrick, which opened its first Texas office in January 2016 in Houston.

On Wednesday, Orrick confirmed that Robert Collie and Gene Locke recently joined the firm in Houston as senior counsel. The firm also confirmed that Jerry Turner joined as a senior counsel in Austin, along with of counsel Nathelie Ashby, Eric Johnson and Bill Medaille.

The firm is opening an office in Austin in connection with the lateral hires.

A spokeswoman for Orrick declined to comment on the extent of the lateral hires from Andrews Kurth in Texas. Locke and Collie, who list Orrick as their employer on their State Bar of Texas membership records, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Andrews Kurth currently lists 18 lawyers in its public finance practice and all are in Texas. Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that some lawyers in that public finance group plan to stay at Andrews Kurth and will not move to Orrick.

Andrews Kurth declined to comment on the departures, but dozens of the Houston-based firm’s Texas lawyers have changed firms in recent weeks. Beneficiaries of the lateral moves include White & Case, which opened an office in Houston this month, Katten Muchin & Rosenman, which opened an office in Dallas, and DLA Piper, which expanded in Dallas with Andrews Kurth laterals.

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Revealed: Germany’s Berenberg targets UK expansion amid M&A boom

Germany-based investment bank Berenberg is one City firm taking Brexit in its stride.

The Hamburg firm, the world’s oldest merchant bank having been founded in 1590, has grown its Square Mile office from 70 to 350 people in the last eight years.

It expects to add up to 100 more London staff over the next 18 months as it targets work on an expected UK boom in corporate takeovers and an anticipated spike in demand for equities analysis after a recent EU regulatory overhaul.

“The partners back at our headquarters in Hamburg have been relaxed both pre- and post-referendum about Brexit,” said Dave Mortlock, head of Berenberg’s London office.

“We have our plan [to grow in the UK] and will look to deliver on that.”

Mr Mortlock said the firm’s existing operations in Germany, from which it can continue to trade across the EU bloc regardless of the outcome of Brexit trade negotiations, meant there was “no obvious reason for us to reshape at all”.

“If other firms leave, we have the opportunity to attract their best talent,” he added.

His comments strike a contrast with other overseas banks in the City, many of which – including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and UBS – have said they will downsize due to Brexit.

Mr Mortlock said Berenberg’s London office would look to more than double the amount of corporate deals it advises on from 17 last year to 50 this year.

Global dealmaking has enjoyed its strongest start to a year in almost two decades, with the value of targeted deals in the UK jumping a third on last year to $21bn (£14.9bn), latest statistics from Dealogic revealed this weekend.

The lion’s share of Berenberg’s work in London is in equities analysis. Mr Mortlock said a recent move by the EU to tighten regulation in this market, called Mifid II, had so far increased demand for its analysis.

Under the changes analysts must explicitly charge customers for their advice, rather than bundling it up with other services.

Mr Mortlock said: “This is a fundamental change for the industry. It’s a challenge and it will take capacity out of the market. But I’m satisfied those that commit like us will get out of it in good shape.”

In full-year results for 2017 Berenberg posted a 69pc rise in equities revenue to €240m (£212m), while its overall staff numbers increased by 70 to 1,576.

Net profits were down 44pc to €90m, although the bank said the previous year’s results were skewed by a one-off gain on the sale of its share in Frankfurt-based investment company Universal Investment.

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Sixth consecutive year of growth for historic law firm

A South West-based law firm established in 1887 has reported a sixth consecutive year of growth and said strategic decisions and investments made in 2016/17 left the business well-placed for the future.

In the year to 30 April 2017, turnover at Michelmores climbed from £32.9m to £33.4m, with the growth achieved despite the firm disposing of its medical negligence practice as well as wider Brexit effects. Operating profit dipped from £8.4m to £7.74m.

During the year, the firm invested in new practice management software as well as expanding into a larger London office in May 2016.

Michelmore’s finance director Graham Johnson said the firm had continued to grow with a strong start to the 2017/18 financial year.

“The strategic decisions and investments we made in 2016/17 have ensured that the firm is well placed going forward.

“As a result, 17/18 has been a strong year so far, in particular the real estate and corporate teams have helped drive financial performance with involvement in a high volume of quality work for national and international clients.”

A review within the firm’s accounts said: “The members consider the performance for the year to be a successful result, where continued growth has been achieved for the sixth consecutive year. This result is encouraging given the continuing uncertain market conditions. The firm has also invested significantly in a new practice management system during the financial year, to further enhance and improve client service.

“The performance for the year has been achieved in a competitive market by continuing a strategy of organic growth, supplemented by attracting a number of senior lateral hires to increase the depth and range of legal specialisms across the firm’s London, Exeter and Bristol offices.

“The firm also took the strategic decision to dispose of its clinical negligence practice, to focus on its strategic sectors.”

Last month, Michelmores appointed Tim Richards as managing partner to take over from Malcolm Dickinson who had been in the post since 2008.


Experience in Business Succession

A large number of small and medium-sized businesses are going to have to make arrangements for business succession in the near future. There are various possible approaches to organizing succession.

According to a study conducted by KfW Research, approximately one in every six small and medium-sized businesses will be planning for business succession by the year 2018. The study states that around 620,000 businesses will be searching for a suitable successor. For a lot of businesses, a change at the management level represents a considerable challenge. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte have the experience required for weighing up the various options and finding a suitable solution to a business’s transition.

Generational change is something many family-run businesses are set to be faced with in the coming years. Often the desired solution is for the business to remain family-owned and the next generation to carry on the business. Having said that, this is not automatically the ideal solution, as the children, for instance, might not have any interest in the company or be suited to continue the business. In these cases, other options such as the sale or partial sale of the company need to be considered. In doing so, it is also important to take taxation and family aspects into account in addition to economic factors.

Selling a business requires intensive preparation, which is why business succession ought not to be kicked into the long grass. The order situation, balance sheets and existing employment contracts play an important role. Another key aspect is, of course, the valuation of the business to ascertain an appropriate selling price. Depending on the corporate form, it might also be a good idea to sell one’s company shares to one of the other shareholders.

It is equally important to consider inheritance claims. The rules of intestate succession kick in in the absence of appropriate arrangements, and this can give rise to problems. For this reason, it Is advisable to prepare what is referred to in German as an “Unternehmertestament” (entrepreneur’s will). With this kind of will, the testator can prevent a community of heirs from pursuing different interests and thus avoid the business’ continuity being put at risk. It is possible to make arrangements in an entrepreneur’s will that already apply during the testator’s lifetime. Another possible option may be to set up a foundation.

Business succession should be planned in advance with due regard to all legal aspects as well as factors pertaining to taxation. Lawyers who are experienced in the field of company law can ensure that the handover of the business runs smoothly.


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Exclusive: Linklaters opens fifth German office to chase banking work

Linklaters will open its fifth office in Hamburg in the first quarter of this year to capitalise on an increase in banking work for German clients.

The firm has made no lateral hires with the launch, instead transferring two existing partners from Frankfurt and Dusseldorf.

Linklaters LLP is a multinational law firm headquartered in London. Founded in 1838, it is a member of the “Magic Circle” of elite British law firms. It currently employs over 2,000 lawyers across 29 offices in 20 countries.

In 2016, Linklaters achieved revenues of £1.31 billion ($1.97 billion) and profits per equity partner of £1.45 million ($2.2 million), making it the world’s fourth highest-grossing law firm, and the most profitable member of the Magic Circle. In the UK, the firm has top-tier rankings across many practice areas, including corporate/M&A, capital markets, litigation, banking and finance, restructuring and insolvency, antitrust and tax. Linklaters counts more FTSE 100 companies among its clients than any other law firm. For direct deals by institutional investors in the first half of 2016, Linklaters tied for first place. In the 2012 Global Elite Brand Index, Linklaters was named the third strongest global law firm brand.