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Norton Rose Fulbright EMEA Chair, Farmida Bi, is awarded CBE

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Chair of Europe, Middle East and Asia, Farmida Bi, has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020 for services to the legal profession and to charity. Farmida is also Chair of the Trustees of The Patchwork Foundation.

The CBE is awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level. CBEs are also awarded for distinguished and innovative contribution to any area.

Peter Scott, Managing Partner, Europe, Middle East and Asia, said: “The firm is delighted for Farmida. She is a lawyer who specialises in innovative and market leading transactions, particularly in Islamic finance, and is a passionate advocate for social justice, who has worked tirelessly to champion social equality both within the firm and in our wider communities. It is great to see that Farmida’s work in the legal profession and her efforts to support the positive integration of disadvantaged and minority communities have been recognised.”

Farmida Bi recognised in HERoes 100 Women Executives List

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Chair of Europe, Middle East and Asia, Farmida Bi, has been recognised in HERoes 100 Role Women Executives List 2020. This is the second time Farmida has been included in the list. The list, supported by Yahoo! Finance, showcases business leaders who are breaking down barriers in the workplace and seeking to drive workplace equality and inclusion.

Farmida is also the firm’s European Head of Islamic Finance. She has more than 20 years of experience in capital markets and Islamic finance transactions, advising on English and New York law.

Farmida has been included in the HERoes 100 Women Executives List based on her work done internally and externally to champion women, and her recent and significant business achievements. As Chair of the firm’s Partnership Committee and Audit Committee as well as a steering group member of the firm’s Women’s Network (WIN), she has worked to recruit more women to management positions, created spaces for meaningful discussions and organised successful inclusion-focused events.

A leading individual for Islamic finance and for debt capital markets in Legal 500 UK 2020, Farmida commented:

“To be included in this list for the second consecutive year is an honour, especially alongside such talented women. At Norton Rose Fulbright, we remain dedicated to creating a workplace which is diverse and inclusive. We value diversity and the opportunities it provides to widen our horizons and understand our clients, and each other.”

Farmida has previously been listed in Financial news Most Influential Women in Europe Finance (2019) and was recognised as an “Outstanding Practitioner” at the International Financial Law Review Women in Business Law Awards. She was also listed in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2019.

Post-Covid changes are permanent and there are more to come

The need for business leaders and policy makers to fundamentally rethink the way they plan, invest and operate in the future is underlined in a new survey of 699 global CEOs released by PwC.

The survey shows the majority of CEOs believe that COVID-19 pandemic driven shifts towards remote collaboration (78%), automation (76%) and fewer people working from offices (61%), are here to stay. Overall, 61% say their business model will be more digital in the future – a change accelerated by the pandemic.

Responses show digital infrastructure, flexible working and employee well-being will top their boardroom agendas as they reconfigure business operations to secure growth in the next 12 months and beyond. Fifty-eight percent of CEOs say ensuring supply chain safety will remain a focus, driving technology investments to enable tracking of products from production to delivery, and to ensure their suppliers and partners are resilient during crises.

“Business leaders need to simultaneously keep their company running today and fundamentally rethink their strategy for tomorrow, so they come out of the pandemic ready to reconfigure their business to thrive in a very different world. And they need to do that, thinking not just about the COVID-19 acceleration of change in society and the rising expectations of their broader stakeholders, but also the other issues that are going to fundamentally reshape the future of business – from climate change to populism,” says Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited.

In a challenge to decades of increased globalisation, almost two in five (39%) of CEOs believe there will be a permanent shift towards onshoring and insourcing, and a similar share expect an enduring increase in nationalism.

Kristin Rivera, Global Leader, Forensics & Crisis, PwC US, comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded CEOs of the importance of building resilience into their operating model. Firms that were able to quickly adopt digital working practices or switch their supply chains were better able to withstand the shock. CEOs now need to simultaneously contend with the unfolding pandemic and to rethink how they operate in the future. Not every innovation developed in a crisis is right for the long term, but there is much to learn.”

CEOs are naturally cautious on their own revenue growth prospects in the year ahead (45% somewhat confident, 15% very confident). 65% are predicting a decline in global growth. Concern about the global economy is highest in Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Business leaders also believe the pandemic increased the importance of responding to a wider range of stakeholder issues, particularly employees. Employee support measures included health and safety (92%), well-being (61%) and financial support (24%). Forty-two percent made contributions to community organisations and almost a third (32%) of business leaders reduced their own pay. Those CEOs who maximised retention (36%) and protected employee health and safety (92%) believe it will have a positive impact on their organisation’s long-term reputation.

Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation, PwC US, comments: “The accelerated shift to flexible working has been valuable for many companies. Whatever new models emerge, it’s clear that employee-oriented policies that invest in safety, protection and well-being could become the new differentiator for recruitment, retention and company reputation.”

The changes driven by COVID-19 add significantly to an already full agenda for CEOs. Climate change remains an influential trend for consumers and businesses alike. When asked if the shift to climate change mitigation would endure, the majority of business leaders (47%) said it would. Business leaders believe short term increases in disposables (including sanitisers, masks) and decreases in the use of the sharing economy would only be temporary.

Limited retreat from cities

While the majority of CEOs (61%) believe that there will be lower workplace density than before, they remain divided about what role cities will play in the future: 34% believe the shift towards de-urbanisation will continue; 38% believing it is temporary.

Divided about the role of government

Business leaders are not expecting extended government support, with the majority (57%) believing state intervention to be a temporary feature, despite the potential for governments to use the support to influence COVID-19 recovery and policies impacting business. Less than one in three (30%) believe government support will be sustained, despite a gloomy outlook for global and organisational growth prospects in the next 12 months. One in five respondents say they declined government backed support for their business during the pandemic.

Bob Moritz comments: “Some CEOs may feel like they’ve passed a critical test. What’s critical now is that they use the important knowledge they’ve gained about their organisations effectively for business and society. The most enduring shift in this pandemic is the reality that it can no longer be a choice between the long and the short term. We need to address both.”

Konexo celebrates its one-year anniversary

Konexo, developed by Eversheds Sutherland, today celebrates the one-year anniversary of its official launch.

During this time, the practice has advanced its position through continued global expansion across Europe, Asia, and most recently the United States. It has also strengthened its capabilities in areas including digital transformation, managed legal services, and trade mark and design law.

Konexo works with global clients across multiple sectors including banking and financial services, telecoms, and diversified industrials, offering clients a breadth of services underpinned by cutting-edge technology such as AI and robotics.

Investing in top talent continues to be a strategic priority. Significant hires include Babar Hayat, Head of Technology and Transformation, who leads the digital transformation practice, while Brett Aubin, Managing Director, heads regulatory response managed services focusing on LIBOR transition services and other repapering projects. Trystan Richards recently joined as Legal Services Director, and will support managed service relationships and repapering projects across the global client base.

Earlier this year Konexo launched Resourcing+, an evolution of its existing resourcing service which was rolled out across its global network. Resourcing+ gives clients immediate and high quality legal talent without having to commit to specific timeframes. Clients using the service include Nestlé UK Ltd, Pernod Ricard UK Ltd and Lion Pty Ltd.

This month, Eversheds Sutherland’s UK Branding Group permanently moved to Konexo. Led by Kate Ellis, it comprises specialist trade mark and design lawyers, attorneys and paralegals. The team provides a dedicated service and acts as ‘one stop shop’ for clients throughout the full lifecycle of a brand.

Graham Richardson, Head of Konexo, said: “We set out to challenge the market and offer clients something different. I am so proud of everything we have achieved so far and I’m especially proud of the team for their drive, hard work and tenacity. As we look to the coming year there will be some testing times ahead. However, by combining our talent, technology and expertise, I am confident that we are well placed to meet those challenges and the needs of our clients.”

Pinsent Masons grows its Financial Services offering in Dubai

Multinational law firm, Pinsent Masons, has appointed Banking & Finance partner Matthew Escritt to lead the firm’s Banking & Finance practice in the Middle East, based in Dubai.

Matthew joins from Norton Rose Fulbright, where he has been for the past 19 years, with the past eight spent as partner in the banking and finance team. During this time he has worked in London, Moscow, Bahrain, Singapore and Dubai.

Matthew is a banking and finance specialist, advising on all areas of structured cross border finance, including syndicated lending acquisition, development finance, asset finance, vendor finance, and structured trade and commodity finance. He is familiar with both conventional and Islamic finance funding structures. He also advises on financial restructuring and insolvency mandates. Based in Dubai, he will be leading the Banking & Finance practice in the Middle East (within the Finance & Projects group) and will focus primarily on clients in the Financial Services sector.

Commenting on Matthew’s appointment, Michael Watson, head of the Finance & Projects group at Pinsent Masons said: “Matthew’s reputation precedes him and we look forward to welcoming him as head of our banking and finance practice in Dubai. His experience and expertise will greatly strengthen the practice, enabling them to deepen relationships with existing clients as well as developing new ones. His appointment is another fantastic addition to our growing international capabilities.”

Alexis Roberts, head of the Financial Services sector at Pinsent Masons added: “Matthew’s appointment is a pivotal one in increasing our financing bench strength and will enable us to better support our clients within the Financial Services sector. His breadth of experience and the clients that he’s worked with will allow us to grow our offering across the sector. We greatly look forward to him joining the team.”

Matthew Escritt, head of Banking and Finance in the Middle East added: “I am excited to have been given the opportunity to lead Pinsent Masons’ Banking & Finance practice in the region and to be part of an international team tasked with growing a strategically important practice area to complement the firm’s existing strengths. It will also ensure that we are able to provide vital, full-service support to our clients as they navigate today’s challenging business environment. Given the diverse talents of the individuals involved and the well-known strengths of the existing practice I am confident that we are well placed to achieve our goals.”

Adding to the growing multinational Finance & Projects group, Matthew’s appointment follows that of Anthony Morton in Frankfurt, James Harris in Asia, Jim Hunwick in Sydney and Eran Chivka in Paris.

Kirkland Advises Sterling Group’s $2 Billion Oversubscribed Fund V

Kirkland & Ellis counselled The Sterling Group, an operationally focused middle market private equity firm, on the closing of Sterling Group Partners V, LP (together with its parallel fund, “Fund V”). Fund V was oversubscribed and closed at its $2 billion hard cap. The majority of Fund V’s capital was committed by returning investors. In addition, The Sterling Group, welcomed several new investors that expanded the firm’s investor base in the United States, the Middle East and Asia.

Read the company press release from Sterling Group

The Kirkland team was led by investment funds partners Matt Nadworny and Brian Delaney and associates Christine Wilson, Samara Sanderson, Nathan Wolcott, Nathan Judd and Josh Wilson; tax partner Stephen Butler and associate Victoria Chang; and employee benefits partner Liz Dyer.