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Eversheds Represents CCI in Sale of NorTex Midstream Partners

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that it is representing client Castleton Commodities International LLC (CCI) in its sale of NorTex Midstream Partners (NorTex or the Company), a Houston-based natural gas storage and transportation company, to private equity firm Tailwater Capital (Tailwater).

Founded in 2007, NorTex provides revenue optimisation and asset reliability solutions for utilities and power generation facilities in North Texas through strategically located natural gas storage and transmission. The Company operates the largest portfolio of non-utility gas storage facilities in North Texas. NorTex’s asset base includes 36 Bcf of depleted reservoir working gas capacity, 83 total miles of natural gas transportation pipelines, as well as the Tolar Hub – the largest natural gas hub in North Texas. NorTex’s storage facilities have operated consistently for nearly 60 years, serving as critical infrastructure for the greater Dallas-Fort Worth market.

CCI is a global energy commodity merchant with integrated businesses focused on marketing, merchandising, and trading commodities, and the ownership, operation and development of commodities-related infrastructure and upstream assets.

Partner Ram C. Sunkara led the Eversheds Sutherland team in this transaction, with assistance from Partners M. Hill Jeffries, Meredith O’Leary, Lance J. Phillips, Amish M. Shah, Michael J. Voynich, Counsel Ronnie Dabbasi, Graham R. Green, Kyle E. Wamstad and Associates Katherine E. Dugat, Kyle J. Hayes, Michael M. Petrov, Alyssa N. Walker and Kathryn V. Wymer.

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 75 of the Fortune 100, 68 of the FTSE 100 and 113 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 labour 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 United Kingdom) and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP (headquartered in the United States), 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.

CFOs anticipate return to growth and lasting change in 2021

Finance leaders expect a return to growth in 2021 with optimism rising to a record high, according to Deloitte’s latest CFO survey. Despite the surge in business optimism, half of CFOs do not expect demand for their own businesses to recover to pre-pandemic levels until the last quarter of 2021 or later.

The Deloitte CFO survey for Q4 2020, which gauges sentiment amongst the UK’s largest businesses, took place between 2nd December and 14th December 2020, so before new COVID restrictions announced on 19th December and the Brexit deal on 24th December.

A total of 90 CFOs participated in the latest survey, including CFOs of 12 FTSE 100 and 44 FTSE 250 companies. The combined market value of the UK-listed companies that participated is £308 billion, approximately 13% of the UK quoted equity market.

Revenues, risk appetite and economic landscape

There has been a sharp improvement in CFO expectations for UK corporates’ revenues this quarter with 71% expecting a rise over the next 12 months, up from 29% in Q3 2020, while over half (53%) of CFOs expect operating costs to rise. For the first time since 2015, a net balance of CFOs are expecting corporate operating margins to increase in the next year.

Risk appetite remains weak with only 19% believing it is a good time to take greater risk onto the balance sheet, however this is up from just 3% in Q1 2020.

Consistent with the idea of a return to growth CFOs’ expectations for inflation have risen markedly since Q3 2020. Over half of CFOs (59%) expect consumer price inflation to be at or above 1.6% in two years’ time, up from 36% three months ago.

While still showing a net negative balance, CFOs’ expectations for hiring, capital spending and discretionary spending have increased from the record lows seen in Q1 2020, with a strong uptick in each category in the last quarter. Expectations for hiring and spending are running higher than the levels seen between 2016 and mid-2019.

COVID and beyond

More than three quarters (78%) of finance leaders expect COVID-19 restrictions on movement and activity to continue through the first half of 2021, while 57% expect these measures to be removed permanently in Q3 2021.

CFOs believe that the pandemic is set to trigger a fundamental change in the business environment. An overwhelming net balance (98%) of CFOs expect flexible and home working to increase – with a five-fold increase in home working expected by 2025.

Similarly, 98% of CFOs expect levels of corporate and individual taxation to rise, two thirds (62%) anticipate higher regulation of the corporate sector and 59% see the size and role of government in the economy increasing.

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, commented: “Boosted by the prospect of mass vaccination and growth, business sentiment surged this quarter with CFOs taking the most positive view on profit margins for the last five years. This rebound in sentiment occurred despite a backdrop of continued Brexit negotiations and with two thirds of CFOs believing that a no-deal outcome would have a severe or significant negative effect on the economy. In the three and a half years between the EU referendum and the pandemic CFOs have ranked Brexit as the top business risk for all but two quarters. The announcement of a deal after the survey closed is likely to have offered an end-year boost to CFO sentiment. The survey shows that in the first half of December, CFOs expected restrictions on movement and activity needed to combat COVID-19 to continue for the first half of this year. The announcement of further restrictions after the survey will clearly add to such concerns.

“Business leaders believe the pandemic will permanently change the business landscape. CFOs anticipate a five-fold increase in homeworking relative to pre-pandemic levels by 2025 and believe that the state will be both larger and more active in the long term.”

The impact of Brexit

CFOs think a no-deal Brexit would have been a far greater risk to the economy and to business than the actual outcome of a trade deal. Moreover, they saw either Brexit outcome as having a greater negative impact on the economy than on their own businesses. The large companies on our panel are more confident about their own ability to deal with Brexit than the wider economy’s.

Two thirds (66%) of CFOs saw a no-deal outcome as having a severe or significant negative effect on the economy and 18% expected a similarly negative impact on their own business. Just 20% of CFOs saw a trade deal as a major negative for the economy and this dropped to 7% in relation to their own business.

A majority (61%) of CFOs expect the post-Brexit points-based immigration system to act as somewhat of a drag on long-term economic growth. Around a quarter (27%) expect little or no effect, while 6% expect the new immigration system to support growth.

A net balance of 66% of CFOs expect both goods and services trade with the EU to decrease, while 77% expect a decrease in high-skilled immigration from the EU, with only 24% expecting an increase in skilled immigration from outside the EU.

Strategy and spending

CFOs remain in defensive mode with 49% and 46% respectively rating increasing cash flow and reducing costs as strong priorities. Meanwhile expansionary strategies have risen in popularity slightly since Q3, for example, around a quarter (28%) cite introducing new products, services or expanding into new markets as a priority for the year ahead.

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “The pandemic has triggered fundamental and lasting changes in business, with CFOs expecting rising levels of home-working, greater diversification of supply chains and increasing investment in technology.

“CFOs are optimistic about operating in this changing world, with a return to growth expected this year. However, with pandemic restrictions expected to be in place through the first half of this year and elevated uncertainty CFOs are maintaining defensive balance sheet positioning.

“The UK-EU trade deal ends over four years of uncertainty for business and is a far better outcome than the alternative of no-deal. Nonetheless, CFOs also recognise the challenges that leaving the EU may pose in the years ahead. The UK deal has very limited provisions for services, particularly for professional and financial services. These high productivity sectors are major UK successes and make vital contributions to jobs and prosperity. UK businesses urgently need additional clarity on key issues including financial equivalence as well as more information on the specific changes to other cross-border trading services.”

Eversheds Sutherland attorneys named among best in United States

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce that 19 practice areas and 99 attorneys have been recognised in the 2020 edition of The Legal 500 United States, a comprehensive survey of legal service providers. For more than 25 years, the series has provided feedback on law firms from more than 100 countries.

Also this year, The Legal 500 named 11 attorneys to its elite “Leading Lawyers” list. Lee C. Davis and Jennifer Wheatley Fletcher were recognised in the Construction category; Adam B. Cohen and Vanessa A. Scott were recognised in the Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans category; James R. Dwyer and Cynthia R. Shoss were recognised in the Insurance: Non-contentious category; Jeffrey A. Friedman and Jerome B. Libin were recognised in Tax – US Taxes: Contentious; Robert D. Owen was recognised in the Dispute Resolution – E-discovery category; Wade H. Stribling was recognised in M&A/Corporate and Commercial – M&A: Middle-market (sub-$500m); and Peter C. Quittmeyer was recognised in the Technology: Outsourcing category.

Eversheds Sutherland received national rankings in:

  • Dispute Resolution – E-discovery
  • Dispute Resolution – General Commercial Disputes
  • Finance – Financial Services: Regulation
  • Finance – Structured Finance: Derivatives and Structured Products
  • Industry Focus – Energy Regulation: Conventional Power
  • Industry Focus – Energy Regulation: Oil & Gas
  • Industry Focus – Energy: Renewable/Alternative Power
  • Industry Focus – Energy Transactions: Conventional Power
  • Industry Focus – Insurance: Non-contentious
  • Intellectual Property – Patent: Patent Prosecution (including re-examination and post-grant proceedings)
  • Labour and Employment – Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans
  • M&A/Corporate and Commercial – M&A: Middle-market (sub-$500m)
  • Media, Technology and Telecoms – Fintech
  • Media, Technology and Telecoms – Technology: Outsourcing
  • Real Estate and Construction – Construction (including construction litigation)
  • Real Estate and Construction – Real Estate
  • Tax – International Tax
  • Tax – US Taxes: Contentious
  • Tax – US Taxes: Non-contentious

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 75 of the Fortune 100, 68 of the FTSE 100 and 113 of the Fortune 200.

With more than 3,000 lawyers, Eversheds Sutherland operates in 70 offices in 34 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. 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.

Hogan Lovells associate duo named on Yahoo Finance EMpower list

Hogan Lovells associates Sengova Kailondo and Ademola Bamgbose have been named in The EMpower Top 100 Ethnic Minority Future Leader Role Models 2020, which celebrates the achievements of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) business leaders who are helping to make the workplace a more welcoming place for ethnic minority employees.

At Hogan Lovells, London-based banking associate Sengova is an active member of the Steering Committee of our Multicultural Network, as well as our newly established employee network, Race and Ethnicity at Hogan Lovells (REAHL). REAHL focuses on the progression, retention and inclusion of BAME employees.

His efforts helped see an increase in the recruitment of employees from BAME and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Further, Sengova mentors BAME students through firm programmes in collaboration with Rare Recruitment, a specialist diversity recruitment company, and has spoken on numerous panels to hundreds of students.

He also works with Urban Synergy, an organisation that helps young people reach their full potential, where he inspires students to pursue careers in the City. In addition, he is co-treasurer of NOTICED, the UK’s first inter-firm D&I network aimed at promoting networking opportunities to celebrate diversity across the legal sector.

International arbitration associate Ademola also sits on the steering committee of both our REAHL and Multicultural Networks at Hogan Lovells. Admitted to practice in Nigeria, England and Wales, he has previously undertaken a litigation secondment at a FTSE 100 company in London and spent some time at the ICC Court of Arbitration in Paris and a leading commercial law firm in Lagos.

Ademola mentors BAME lawyers and students and takes a front seat in driving Hogan Lovells’s diversity and inclusion agenda. He co-founded Africa Arbitration, a platform designed to promote black practitioners across the globe. He is a Regional Representative (Africa) at the London Court of International Arbitration – Young International Arbitration Group, director of the Africa Arbitration Academy and Honorary Lecturer (international arbitration) at Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan.

He regularly features on leading media platforms and contributes to the discourse on diversity especially in international arbitration.

All those listed were nominated by peers and employees. Nominations were then reviewed by EMpower’s judging panel, which included head of Yahoo Finance UK Lianna Brinded. The panel scored nominees on: the influence of their role; their impact on ethnic minority inclusion inside and outside the workplace; and their business achievements.

£14.7 billion raised in secondary offerings since the start of the year

Overall secondary offerings have reached £14.7 billion across 135 transactions in the UK for the year to date, according to new analysis from Deloitte. A secondary offering refers to the sale of shares in a listed company occurring after a company’s IPO, with the transaction taking place through either London’s Main Market or AIM.

Prior to the lockdown in the UK, the amount of money raised in January and February 2020 was almost twice that of the same period in 2019 (£3.4 billion vs £1.9 billion), signalling increased business optimism. Despite a drop in March, April and May both saw elevated levels of equity fundraising in London.

Chris Nicholls, Head of Equity and PLC Advisory at Deloitte, said: “The UK market has very much been open for existing listed companies seeking additional equity capital, including those from the retail and hospitality sectors. Typically this has been to strengthen balance sheets and improve liquidity in the wake of the pandemic. I would expect fundraising activity to continue into the rest of the year, albeit with only a modest trickle of IPOs.”

Since 23 March this year, the FTSE 100 and S&P 500 have risen 29.8% and 42.8% respectively, boosted by the gradual reopening of world economies and bold government and central bank stimulus measures. However, volatility levels remain elevated compared to long-term averages with the global VIX Index currently in the region of 24, substantially higher than the 2019 average of approximately 15.

Chris Nicholls concludes: “Whilst volatility has substantially reduced from March levels, any VIX reading above 20 traditionally represents a difficult environment in which to launch IPOs. However, global equity markets are recovering strongly from the unprecedented shock to the economy caused by COVID-19.”

UK consulting firms dream of glory at MCA Awards 2019

As the representative body for the UK’s leading management consulting firms, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) has been its industry’s collective voice for more than six decades. Its members make up more than 60% of the UK consulting industry, and employ roughly 45,000 professionals, while working with more than 90 of the leading FTSE 100 companies and the vast majority of the public sector.

Organised by the industry body, the MCA Awards are now entering their 22nd year, and have long been seen as the benchmark for quality within Britain’s consulting industry. The event commends best practices and high-quality performance in the UK’s £10 billion consulting industry across three areas, with awards for client excellence handed out in the process. As well as demonstrating the value of consulting, the event also shows how clients and consultants working together can achieve the best results in the future.

Since January 2019, a team of expert judges has assessed which nominees across 21 award categories will win the battle for the prestigious industry prizes. In the 2019 nominations, PwC leads with 11 nods, closely followed by Big Four rival EY, which received nine. The ceremony is a long way from being monopolised by the professional services industry’s biggest guns however, with Coeus, Arcadis, Arup, GE Healthcare, NHS England, PA Consulting, Atos, BAE Systems, Curzon Company, iMPOWER, Jabobs, North Highland, Parker Fitzgerald, Elixirr, Sia Partners, Simon Kucher, Vendigital and Atkins all having picked up multiple nominations.

The winners will be announced at this year’s award presentation, which takes place at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel. Some 700 guests from consulting firms, their clients, the media and representatives from across all forms of government are expected to take in the proceedings, while the ceremony will be hosted by BBC journalist Clive Myrie. Working for BBC News as London World Affairs Correspondent, Myrie is also Presenter of the BBC Weekend News, while anchoring the famous 10pm slot for BBC News on alternate Sundays.

Looking forward to the event, MCA Chief Executive Tamzen Isacsson said, “After months of preparation, marking and interviews, all eyes are now on the MCA Annual Awards ceremony – which is one of the key events in the UK consulting calendar… The judges have told the MCA the standard has been very high this year and over 40 of the UK’s leading management consultancies will be competing for 21 prizes, including 5 individual awards and 12 project awards. BBC Presenter Clive Myrie will host the awards, which will be promoted in our MCA social media channels, so do please follow us @TheMCA_UK if you are unable to attend on the night.”

Last year 16 different consulting firms managed to scoop a prestigious MCA Award. PwC Advisory and Deloitte Consulting dominated, with the two members of the Big Four grabbing a total of 12 accolades between them. Among the other consulting firms celebrated at the 2018 MCA Awards were Simon-Kucher & Partners, Coeus Consulting, Jacobs, OEE Consulting, PPL, Thales Cyber & Consulting, Arup, Egremont Group, Carnall Farrar, IBM, GE Healthcare Partners, Proudfoot, Turner & Townsend Suiko, and Atos.