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BTI Consulting Group Recognises Eversheds for Superior Client Service

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that it has been named to the elite 2021 BTI Client Service 30, a list of law firms recognised for delivering superior client service. The rankings are based on unprompted client feedback from general counsel at some of the world’s largest organisations.

The BTI Client Service 30 is a subset of the organisation’s larger client survey, The BTI Client Service A-Team 2021: The Survey of Law Firm Client Service Performance, which evaluates individual law firm performance through thousands of client interviews conducted over the span of 20 years.

This year’s analysis is a result of 350 independent, candid, one-on-one interviews with corporate counsel; firms cannot lobby or self-nominate to be added to the list. Of the 282 law firms recognised in The BTI Client Service A-Team 2021, Eversheds Sutherland ranked among the top 30.

Additionally, Eversheds Sutherland was recognised as a “Leader” in unprompted communication, anticipating client needs, commitment to help, client focus, understanding business, value for the dollar and quality products. The firm also achieved recognition in all three of BTI’s newest categories in the 2021 report: mobilising resources, fielding the absolute best team and quickly assessing the client’s situation.

“We greatly appreciate the confidence of our clients and peers, and are very grateful that they continuously entrust us with some of their most important matters and objectives,” said Eversheds Sutherland Co-CEO Mark D. Wasserman. “We take great pride in meeting the highest standards of service, and it is extremely rewarding to be singled out for this honour.”

About BTI Consulting Group

The Boston-based consulting group is the leading provider of strategic market research to law firms and professional services firms. BTI conducts the only continuous benchmarking market study in the legal services industry based on independent interviews with general counsel and key decision makers who hire law firms.

About Eversheds Sutherland

As a global top 10 law practice, Eversheds Sutherland provides legal services to a global client base ranging from small and mid-sized businesses to the largest multinationals, acting for 70 of the Fortune 100, 61 of the FTSE 100 and 128 of the Fortune 200.

With more than 3,000 lawyers, Eversheds Sutherland operates in 69 offices in 32 jurisdictions across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. In addition, a network of more than 200 related law firms, including formalised alliances in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa, provide support around the globe.

Eversheds Sutherland provides the full range of legal services, including corporate and M&A; dispute resolution and litigation; energy and infrastructure; finance; human capital and labour law; intellectual property; real estate and construction; and tax.

Eversheds Sutherland comprises two separate legal entities: Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP (headquartered in the UK) and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP (headquartered in the US), and their respective controlled, managed, affiliated and member firms.

Dentons advises the European Federation of Energy Traders

Dentons acted as Ukrainian legal counsel to the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET) and provided a legal opinion on the enforceability of the EFET General Agreement concerning the delivery and acceptance of natural gas and its collateral arrangements.

EFET promotes competition, transparency and open access in the European energy sector. It currently represents more than 100 energy trading companies, active in over 27 European countries.

Kyiv-based partners Natalya Selyakova and Maksym Sysoiev led the Dentons team, with significant support from Counsel Nadiya Shylienkova, Senior Associate Artem Lukyanov, and Associate Artur Savin.

About Dentons

Dentons is the world’s largest law firm, connecting talent to the world’s challenges and opportunities in more than 75 countries. Dentons’ legal and business solutions benefit from deep roots in our communities and award-winning advancements in client service, including Nextlaw, Dentons’ innovation and strategic advisory services. Dentons’ polycentric and purpose-driven approach, commitment to inclusion and diversity, and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client and community interests in the New Dynamic.

International Women’s Day 2021

International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, and in particular those working at our firm. The theme for 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge,’ a reminder that we all can and should choose to call out gender bias and inequality to create an inclusive world.

Women are not a homogenous group; they are diverse by nature of their backgrounds, their life experiences, their abilities, perspectives and opinions, and International Women’s Day is about celebrating inclusion of women in its truest sense.

We have much to celebrate in our global firm – we have remarkable women doing notable work throughout the world. In January 2021, we became the first ‘Am Law 200’ firm to name a woman of color, Shauna Clark, as both our Global and US Chair. Recently, Shauna spoke with women leaders of the firm to get their views on the challenges that women face today, including discrimination and micro-aggression in the workplace and the perceptions of female leadership during a pandemic.

“Discrimination is much less overt now, it’s subconscious in many ways and I think that makes it more challenging to overcome,” said Alison Deitz, Managing Partner, Australia. “We, as female leaders, need to be very aware of that and ensure we can overcome it, whether by unconscious bias training or actively putting in place metrics for gender pay equity, to ensure that we’re not discriminating in any shape or form.”

“We’re getting to the point now where gender discrimination is more systemic, so it’s around the actual structures themselves and who is at the table making the decisions and the transparency around that, which is different to what was more bold and in your face in the past,” echoed Angela Tancock, Chief Strategy Officer, Canada.

The reality, then, is that women still are fighting not just for a place at the table – but to be listened to when they get a seat there.

“As a woman I get penalised for my tenacity and for being direct,” explained Natasha Moore, Head of Learning and Development, Europe, Middle East and Asia. “Women are often invited to the party, but we’re not invited to dance.”

One issue that remains is that women who are assertive are sometimes painted in a negative light, which can make them reluctant to display their full confidence or potential.

“In the context of the work place, many women wait until they are 100 percent ready to take up a challenge, whereas our male counterparts would not do that, and what I say to women is – you go the extra mile, not because you are a woman but because you will find very few people in that space, and that is your place to make your mark in, in whatever way you choose to,” said Marelise van der Westhuizen, CEO, South Africa.

“Women who are seen as go-getters can be judged more harshly and we don’t just see that in professional organisations, but in the wider world too,” added Farmida Bi, EMEA Chair. “Women politicians, for example, are held to a different standard. However, the thing I’ve found most interesting about the current pandemic is the discussion around whether female leaders in countries like New Zealand or South Korea have proved to be more successful because they are leading in a different, better way.”

“When I started, I didn’t have the courage to be my authentic self and I became very adept at shifting my personality to make those around me more comfortable, and it was just another weight that I carried, in addition to being black and a woman and young in a male-dominated environment,” Shauna said.

Combatting the issue requires raising issues of disrespect, implicit bias and micro-aggression when we see it, in order to seek to correct and improve it, Shauna said.

“The conversation needs to be about resilience and being human and correcting mistakes,” Shauna said.

“There are both the implicit bias issues that people have – I have them, we all have them – sometimes there are also biases that we hold ourselves to,” added Gina Shishima, Chief Strategy and Operations Partner, United States. “I also think it’s not the best thing to focus on; if I have to say it again, I’ll say it again. I think trying to be cognisant of it is key, but I try to focus on being effective.”

Read more about our diversity and inclusion efforts, including how we strive to achieve gender balance.

Eversheds Successfully Defends Representative in SEC Appeal

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that the firm successfully defended registered representative David Tysk in an appeal to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of a disciplinary proceeding brought by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

In 2013, the firm was hired to defend Mr. Tysk against FINRA’s charges that he acted unethically and violated arbitration procedures. Before this successful appeal, FINRA had ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine and suspended him from the securities industry for one-year, essentially ending his career in the securities industry.

After several years of appeals, including two appeals to the SEC, the SEC found in favour of Mr. Tysk, overturning FINRA’s findings.

Eversheds Sutherland Partner Brian Rubin led the team with support from Litigation Partner Lee Peifer.

Mr. Rubin said, “This is the first time in at least five years that the SEC has completely ruled against FINRA in an appeal of a disciplinary hearing. This case is a great example of how and when to push back against regulators.”

The SEC’s decision can be found here.

About Eversheds Sutherland’s Securities and Enforcement Litigation team

Eversheds Sutherland defends broker-dealers, investment advisers, public companies, accounting firms and individuals in securities exams, investigations, enforcement actions, arbitrations and related securities litigation, including class actions. With a comprehensive understanding of the financial regulatory landscape and an appreciation of our clients’ business needs, we know what it takes to make cases go away—whether that means shutting cases down early, negotiating reasonable settlements or litigating.

About Eversheds Sutherland

As a global top 10 law practice, Eversheds Sutherland provides legal services to a global client base ranging from small and mid-sized businesses to the largest multinationals, acting for 70 of the Fortune 100, 61 of the FTSE 100 and 128 of the Fortune 200.

With more than 3,000 lawyers, Eversheds Sutherland operates in 68 offices in 32 jurisdictions across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. In addition, a network of more than 200 related law firms, including formalised alliances in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa, provide support around the globe.

Eversheds Sutherland provides the full range of legal services, including corporate and M&A; dispute resolution and litigation; energy and infrastructure; finance; human capital and labor law; intellectual property; real estate and construction; and tax.

Eversheds Sutherland is a global legal practice and comprises two separate legal entities: Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP (headquartered in the UK) and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP (headquartered in the US), and their respective controlled, managed, affiliated and member firms. The use of the name Eversheds Sutherland is for description purposes only and does not imply that the member firms or their controlled, managed or affiliated entities are in a partnership or are part of a global LLP. For more information, visit eversheds-sutherland.com.

Pandemic Slows China’s Global Deal Making in 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has so far not triggered a Chinese buying spree of distressed assets but further slowed the pace of outbound acquisitions by Chinese companies in 2020.

According to Baker McKenzie’s 7th annual analysis of Chinese outbound investment trends, conducted in partnership with Rhodium Group, completed Chinese outbound M&A totalled just $29 billion in 2020, down almost half from $53 billion in 2019 and a record high of $139 billion in 2017. This is the lowest figure since 2008. Worldwide, only completed Chinese acquisitions in Latin America in 2020 kept pace with the previous year.

Adding greenfield investment to completed M&A, North America and Europe attracted a combined total of $15.2 billion of Chinese FDI. Completed investment in North America outpaced completed investment in Europe for the first time in five years, fuelled by the completion of several billion-dollar transactions. Investment in Europe was more fragmented and consisted of smaller transactions spread across geographies and industries.

All other regions of the world also saw declines in Chinese M&A activity in 2020 compared to 2019, except for Latin America where completion of a number of energy and utilities acquisitions announced in 2019 in Brazil, Chile, and Peru kept year-over-year activity flat compared to the previous year. Acquisitions in Asia fell by a third to $7.1 billion.

After the hurricane

China’s reintroduction of outbound investment controls, increasing regulatory scrutiny in many parts of the world over Chinese investment, geopolitical tensions, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all created headwinds for investment in recent years. But improving political and macroeconomic conditions seem likely to change this downward trend for Chinese investors in this year. The M&A pipeline remains low in early 2021 but China’s favourable macroeconomic conditions, a more predictable regulatory setup abroad and a less contentious geopolitical environment could help increase deal appetite and support a rebound in Chinese deal making globally, as well as continued growth in investment into China.

The drop in completed Chinese outbound M&A in 2020 stands in contrast to M&A flows in the other direction. Foreign M&A into China rebounded strongly in 2H 2020 and reached full-year levels similar to 2019. China’s relatively early and rapid recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 have made it an attractive target for foreign investors looking for near- and intermediate-term economic growth.

“We think 2020 is likely the low point for Chinese outbound investment if political and macroeconomic headwinds moderate,” said Michael DeFranco, global head of M&A at Baker McKenzie. “The commercial incentives for Chinese companies to invest in European and North America markets remain strong, and several variables – including higher sustained levels of investment by Western companies into China – are moving in a direction that is supportive of greater deal making in both directions in 2021.”

North America: investment edges up

In 2020, Chinese investors completed $7.7 billion worth of deals in the United States and Canada, up from $5.5 billion completed in 2019. This came even as regulatory scrutiny and tensions with China were elevated in both countries. California, Ontario, Delaware, North Carolina, and Massachusetts were the North American regions seeing the most Chinese investment.

Entertainment, health and biotech, and natural resources were the top sectors in North America. Billion dollar deals like Tencent’s stake in Universal Music and Zijin’s stake in Canada’s Continental Resources drove high industry concentration in North America in 2020.

Canada accounted for a larger share of total Chinese FDI in North America than in previous years (17%), reflecting momentum in mining deals and persistently low US investment.

Chinese companies continued to make major asset divestitures in North America in 2020. For example, Platinum Equity agreed to acquire Ingram Micro from HNA for $7.2 billion in December 2020. And in September, PetroChina dissolved its Alberta shale gas joint venture project with Ovintiv after outing up $2.2 billion for a 49.9% stake in the project in 2012.

The United States attracted more greenfield investment from China in 2020 than Canada. However, total Chinese greenfield investment in the United States was still modest at around $700 million. The biggest greenfield deals in the US included expansions of existing US footprints for companies like Haier-owned GE Appliances, Fuyao Glass, and Geely-owned Terrafugia.

Chinese companies nearly halve investment in Europe

Completed Chinese FDI in Europe continued its downward trajectory in 2020 to $7.5 billion from $13.4 billion in 2019, registering a lower total than in North America for the first time since 2016. Compared to North America, Chinese M&A transactions in Europe targeted medium-sized targets across a broader spectrum of industries. Chinese greenfield activity in Europe in 2020 was more robust than in North America, with nearly $1 billion in completed investment during the year. There were more midsized transactions in Europe dispersed across industries such as real estate and hospitality, automotive, and energy.

As with investment in North America, outbound capital controls and increased scrutiny of Chinese investment in host countries presented headwinds, as did the coronavirus pandemic. For example, FAW Group discontinued talks to acquire Italian truck maker Iveco for €3 billion during the year, with FAW citing the pandemic as a factor in its decision.

Germany ($2.0 billion), France ($1.0 billion), Poland ($780 million), Sweden ($719 million), and the United Kingdom ($427 million) received the most investment. Investment levels in Germany reverted to the roughly $2 billion normal range typical before 2019. Chinese investment in France mounted a comeback in 2020 after falling precipitously in 2019 thanks to a few major completed acquisitions. Investment in Poland focused on a single major warehouse portfolio acquisition, while in Sweden there continues to be sustained Chinese investment above historical averages.

With the uncertainty of Brexit, persistent Chinese restrictions on outbound transactions in real estate and other service sectors, and increasing tensions with China, the United Kingdom fell to the fifth among European countries this year with only about $427 million of investment through a few smaller completed M&A deals like Jingye Group/British Steel. But a major billion-dollar Huawei greenfield R&D investment announced in June suggests Chinese firms are still interested in the UK and will bolster future totals if it comes to fruition. Levels of Chinese investment in Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands also fell to very low levels.

Compared to North America, Chinese M&A transactions in Europe targeted medium-sized companies across a broader spectrum of industries. The top deals by investment size included targets like a warehouse network in Poland and a few other Central European nations (GLP, $1.1 billion), Germany’s Steigenberger Hotels AG (Huazhu Group, $780 million), France’s Asteelflash (Universal Scientific Industrial, $422 million), National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Evergrande, $380 million), and France’s Maxeon Solar Technologies (Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor, $300 million).

There were also large multi-year greenfield projects announced during the year such as SVolt Energy Technology’s announced $2.4 billion battery plant in Germany slated to open in late 2023.

EU-China Investment Deal

The proposed CAI Deal will facilitate minor additional opening of the EU market to Chinese investors. The European market was already very open to Chinese and other foreign capital. The CAI commits the EU to further open its energy sector, with the focus on retail and wholesale, but excluding trading platforms.

The CAI will not limit EU member states in deploying defensive measures including FDI screening, legislation to address subsidy distortions in the Single Market, the adoption of a more restrictive procurement regime and its push to reduce risks related to 5G.

“While regulatory and political headwinds for Chinese investors in the EU will persist and the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is not an instant game-changer, it does send a strong signal that Chinese investment is welcome in Europe, which is likely to positively impact investor psychology,” said Thomas Gilles, chair of Baker McKenzie’s EMEA-China Group. “That, combined with potential political encouragement by Beijing, could help revive Chinese FDI in Europe and reverse the downward trend since 2017.”

Outlook brightening?

“Recent signals – most importantly the transition to a new US administration and a successful conclusion of the CAI – point toward a more constructive global environment for Chinese companies compared to the previous four years, which could help improve investor sentiment and risk appetite,” said Tracy Wut, Baker McKenzie’s head of M&A for Hong Kong and China.

Additionally, China’s current account surplus ballooned in 2020 as global travel halted Chinese overseas tourism spending while Chinese exports recovered before many other nations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This has put appreciating pressure on the renminbi and is creating an opportunity for China to allow more capital outflows, including outbound M&A.

Finally, Chinese investors will have more transparency on ‘red lines’ in overseas jurisdictions as new investment screening regimes are settling: “Tougher investment screening rules and related policies have substantially increased regulatory risks and uncertainty for Chinese investors, especially in data, technology, infrastructure, and related areas in recent years,” says Sylwia Lis, an international trade partner in Baker McKenzie’s Washington, DC office. “Additional uncertainties came through ad-hoc tightening of review criteria in many jurisdictions during the height of the pandemic. Looking ahead, while foreign investment review rules and practices will undoubtedly continue to evolve, some of the uncertainty around new regulatory regimes is easing as legislation has been implemented and regimes become functional.”

Hogan Lovells boosts Paris practice with leading hires

Hogan Lovells is strengthening its Corporate & Finance Practice in Paris with the hire of leading M&A and Private Equity partners Matthieu Grollemund and Hélène Parent. They join with five associates from Baker McKenzie, where Grollemund co-headed the Paris Corporate department.

Matthieu and Hélène’s practice focuses on M&A and Private Equity transactions with an emphasis on buy-out funds, high-end growth or venture funds, and family offices with significant private/public equity activity. They represent numerous public and private companies and private equity funds in a wide range of domestic and cross border transactions, including business combinations, divestitures, leveraged buy-outs, IPOs, and restructuring matters. In addition, they regularly advise boards and committees on a variety of governance and other issues.

Their appointments follow the additions announced in Private Equity last year in London (Ed Harris and Leanne Moezi), United States (Adam Brown), Shanghai (Don Williams, Tony Mou, and Cheng Xu) and Frankfurt (Nikolai Sokolov).

“We are very happy to be joining Hogan Lovells” said Grollemund.The firm has a great culture based on collaboration, cooperation and cross selling and we are excited to be adding our experience to such an impressive team. The partners’ conqueror mindset combined with the strength of the firm’s high quality full service platform and its depth of capabilities in Europe, Asia, the Americas and beyond, present unique advantages for our clients.”

David Gibbons, Global Head of the Corporate & Finance Practice at Hogan Lovells, added: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Matthieu Grollemund, Hélène Parent and their team of associates to Hogan Lovells. They will add significant depth to our existing Tier 1 team in Paris who are already executing a broad range of sophisticated transactions for clients. Furthermore, Matthieu and Helene’s reputation for excellence in technology and life sciences M&A aligns with the strengths of the firm and our own focus on highly-regulated industries.”

The Hogan Lovells Corporate & Finance practice provide end-to-end transactional solutions to clients globally across a wide range of capital strategies and funding structures. We have over 400+ partners (and approximately 1,400 lawyers) within the Practice, located across all the major financial centres in the world. We are a fully integrated global team that combines exceptional transactional experience with deep industry sector knowledge. Our Corporate practice in Paris is ranked as Tier 1 in the market by multiple sources and has recently been involved in major transactions, such as the acquisition by TowerBrook Capital Partners of the rail activities of Consolis group and the acquisition by PAI Partners of a majority stake in Euro Ethnic Foods.