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Hogan Lovells commits to disability inclusion

Hogan Lovells has marked the International Day of People with Disabilities by announcing that it has become a member of The Valuable 500 – the largest network of global CEOs dedicated to diversity.

As a member of The Valuable 500 the firm commits to drive change and embed disability inclusion throughout the business. Delivering on its commitment to diversity and inclusion and responsible business is a strategic priority for Hogan Lovells, with ability inclusion a core focus the firm recognises is crucial to achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

CEO Miguel Zaldivar said: “Inclusion of individuals with different abilities is a key focus of our firm. We have had a longstanding commitment to people of different abilities across the globe, and we are excited that our participation in The Valuable 500 will accelerate our progress. We want our people of all abilities to understand that Hogan Lovells is a place where they belong and can thrive.”

The firm has also become a signatory to the American Bar Association Pledge for Change: Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession, further affirming its commitment to disability diversity. Pledge signatories recognise that diversity is in the best interests of their organisation, the legal profession as a whole, and the clients they serve. By becoming a signatory Hogan Lovells commits to encouraging others in the legal industry to follow suit.

In the UK, Hogan Lovells is a Disability Confident Committed employer, and has a long-standing relationship with the British Paralympic Association, being a Gold Partner and the Official Legal Services Provider. In addition, the firm supports British para-sport through its Nicholas Cheffings Para Athletes Bursary and investment in their ambassador and Paralympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion, Ollie Hynd MBE.

Hogan Lovells also provides pro bono legal advice to clients including GB SnowSport, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation, UK Boccia Federation, the International Boccia Federation, the International Paralympic Committee, and the Japanese Para-Sports Association.

In the run-up to the re-scheduled Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games, the firm is sponsoring the Japan Riding Association for the Disabled, working in partnership to raise awareness in Japan of people with disabilities and the need for more inclusion of the disabled in sport. The firm’s sponsorship will provide para equestrian athletes with additional support as they pursue their sport.

Hogan Lovells also advises Movements for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore on a range of matters, and has created an internship program recognised by The Luxembourg Diversity Charter, and in cooperation with Ligue HMC, to change perceptions of intellectual disability by welcoming interns in office support roles for an eight week period.

Caroline Casey, Founder of The Valuable 500, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Hogan Lovells on board in the midst of the continuing pandemic. We believe in collaboration rather than competition and the multiplier effect of the collective impact of 500 leading CEOs and brands. I am confident that over the next decade, if the business community pulls together and stands united in ensuring disability inclusion is a central part of their leadership agenda, we can truly make a difference globally across the next decade.”

Oxana Balayan named among the Top 30 Women in Law

Hogan Lovells partner Oxana Balayan has been named in the ‘Women Who Will’ 2020 report by Obelisk Support and Next 100 Years who champion the talent and potential of women in law around the world. The award recognises the top 30 women of the legal in-house community, private practice and other change makers from within the industry, with nominations being accepted from senior General Counsel and other senior leaders in law.

Clients, including LSE listed Polymetal International plc, a global leader in the production of gold and silver, nominated Oxana Balayan for her ‘inspiring leadership’, ‘fantastic and innovative achievements’ and ‘legendary dedication to clients’.

Hogan Lovells commitment to diversity and inclusion is integral to our success as a global law firm. Oxana Balayan has been a poster-woman for gender equality in Europe and Russia for many years. Oxana leads the Corporate and Finance practice in Russia and CIS at Hogan Lovells, is a successful business woman, a mother of two great children, a marathon runner and a relentless gender equality fighter.

At Hogan Lovells, we fully support this report which aims to shine a light on talented individuals and on the gender diversity of leadership in law and why it matters. Hogan Lovells vision is to become the market leader in D&I, and to create an inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive and belong.

Hogan Lovells advises Shaftesbury on its £300m equity capital raising

International law firm Hogan Lovells have advised Shaftesbury on its equity capital raising which intends to raise gross proceeds of approximately £297 million by way of a fully underwritten firm placing and placing and open offer. Up to a further approximately £10 million in gross proceeds may also be raised by way of an offer for subscription which is not underwritten.

Shaftesbury is a real estate investment trust with a portfolio that extends to 16 acres in the heart of London’s west end, where the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to contain it have had, and continue to have, a material adverse effect on normal patterns of activity and business. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shaftesbury are carrying out the capital raising to help ensure its group maintains a strong financial base, is positioned to return to long-term growth as pandemic issues recede and, should conditions improve, is able to invest further in its exceptional portfolio.

The Hogan Lovells team was led by Corporate & Finance partners Nicola Evans and Raj S. Panasar with support from partners Jonathan Baird, Gill McGreevy (Real Estate) and Elliot Weston (Tax).

Commenting on the transaction, partner Nicola Evans said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Shaftesbury on this significant transaction which ensures Shaftesbury is in a stronger position to deal with the continuing impact of COVID-19. Agility in helping companies with the optimal type of capital raise for the circumstances is key at the moment, as the business environment can change daily.”

Hogan Lovells helps Uber regain its London licence

Hogan Lovells has secured a major win for its client Uber, securing the firm’s right to continue operating in London.

Following a three-day hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month, the judge this week upheld the ride-hailing company’s appeal against Transport for London, finding Uber “to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s licence.” Deputy Chief Magistrate Ikram also noted the company’s efforts to improve its processes and its introduction of industry leading systems.

Uber first secured a five-year licence in May 2012 and sought a renewal in 2017. TfL refused to renew and Uber, represented by Hogan Lovells, appealed to the chief magistrate, who granted it a 15-month licence in June 2018, subject to various conditions.

In November 2019 London’s transport operator refused to grant a renewal saying that Uber was not “fit and proper” to hold the licence. Uber was allowed to continue operating in the capital while the appeal was underway.

The latest decision secures the firm’s right to continue operating in London, having been granted an 18-month licence.

The Hogan Lovells legal team representing Uber was led by Charles Brasted and also included Julia Marlow, Andrew Eaton, Dervla Simm, Telha Arshad and Louis Biggs.

Hogan Lovells identifies seven key trends to watch in the sports sector

Like many other sectors of the economy, COVID-19 has wrought havoc upon the sports world. However, the pandemic has also opened up opportunities. Hogan Lovells’ Sports, Media & Entertainment group provides insights concerning key trends in the sports sector as teams resume play and welcome back spectators.

Key trends to watch in the sports sector

1. Re-opening with caution

The onset of COVID-19 this year brought an abrupt halt to major sports events in the United States and globally, leading to billions of dollars of losses. Now that sports play has resumed, the industry is facing a new reality.

In the U.S., the major leagues—including Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and the National Basketball League—are still looking for ways to bring their fans back into the stands. In the UK, the government recently put on hold a plan to allow some sporting venues to admit spectators with strict safety standards.

“Welcoming fans back raises a host of issues, including the need to conduct health screening, and the privacy concerns associated with the collection of health data,” said Hogan Lovells Partner Craig Umbaugh, Global Head of Hogan Lovells’ Sports, Media and Entertainment Group.

“Sports teams, event organisers and venue operators aren’t used to handling health data, which is regulated differently from the consumer data that these organisations typically collect—such as fan experience and merchandise data,” Umbaugh said. “As businesses decide which measures will be implemented for fan health and safety, anticipating privacy concerns will help build trust and create an experience where fans feel safe.”

Another issue associated with reopening is potential liability if people contract COVID-19 following attendance at games. There are discussions in the United States about seeking federal legislation that would include liability protection for promoters, teams, and venues that host live events in accordance with applicable health and safety guidelines.

2. Investors look to Europe

Even before the pandemic, investment in European sports franchises was an increasingly attractive alternative to U.S. teams. This continues to be true.

“International team audiences are growing, revenues are increasing, and teams are likely to become more profitable,” said partner Matthew Eisler, who is Global Co-Head of the firm’s Sports group. “The moment seems ripe for interested investors to look into cross-border team ownership opportunities.”

Advantages to investment in Europe include the opportunity for greater growth, since the market for sponsorship and naming rights in many foreign countries isn’t as mature as it is in the U.S. Different ownership rules in Europe enable investors in teams to have greater involvement in the decision making. Further, the ability to sell player contracts in Europe provides investors with diversified access to cash flow.

“Another key investment driver in Europe is the growth of the popular profile of football across the continent—beyond its traditional powerbase in the UK and Spain—which has led to more lucrative television and streaming rights,” noted partner Raj Panasar.

Investment in Europe may also be affected by efforts to cap salaries. “This summer the English Football League approved salary caps, which previously only existed in the UK’s English Premiership, French Top 14 and Pro 14 (all Rugby Union) said partner Daniel Norris. “However, the European Union has rejected salary cap proposals in football as an unlawful restriction on competition, so it remains to be seen how widespread salary limits will become.”

3. Private equity looks to sports

Private equity firms are sitting on historic levels of investable “dry powder” that needs to be deployed for them to raise new funds. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 poses for event-based industries, the sports sector is viewed as one of the hottest asset classes available right now.

“The sports and live-entertainment industries were booming before COVID-19, and private equity still sees sports and entertainment assets as high cash-flow businesses that, while mature, will still experience extraordinary growth,” said partner Mark Kurtenbach.

While founders of private equity funds, in their individual capacity, own numerous U.S. professional sports teams, the funds themselves largely have been prevented in the past from owning teams because leagues required individual controlling ownership and limited debt leverage. But these restrictions are loosening. MLB and the NBA have opened the door to allowing private capital groups to acquire minority ownership in professional teams, and Major League Soccer is considering a rules change that could allow investment funds to take minority stakes in clubs.

Despite the recent stop in play, professional sports have seen an explosion of private funds focused on acquiring minority stakes in U.S. professional teams and even controlling interest in European teams.

“These funds include some of the most savvy and experienced sports executives around,” noted partner Michael Kuh. “They can quickly and efficiently do their diligence and execute on deals, even when complicated structures and issues are involved. This can be extremely attractive to leagues, teams, and sellers.”

Outside of team ownership, private equity investors are acquiring ancillary sports and entertainment businesses, bringing with them the PE mindset—an emphasis on profitability and growth.

4. Growth of individual outdoor sports

With many gyms still closed or operating at reduced capacities, and fitness classes on pause, sports enthusiasts have rediscovered the appeal of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed while maintaining social distancing, such as running, cycling, golf, hiking, and fishing.

“Amid significant economic retraction, outdoor brands are seeing positive economic impacts,” Kurtenbach said. “The uptick in individual outdoor sports presents significant opportunities for private equity and strategic buyers, and we expect this trend to drive M&A activity.”

We’re still early in this cycle. The growth in individual outdoor sports has only taken off in the last few months as the effects of COVID-19 have spread. We expect this growth to fuel increased M&A activity resulting in further consolidation across outdoor sports.

5. Rise of niche sports

Another trend picking up steam is the migration of sports from traditional pay television to digital platforms. This can create new opportunities for non-marquee sports.

“Sports fanatics have been abandoning expensive cable sports packages in favor of mobile and subscription services offering popular, underexposed sports,” said Kuh. “COVID-19 didn’t start the move away from pay television, but surely accelerated it.”

The shift to mobile devices and internet streaming (OTT) service presents a prime opportunity for emerging sports to develop audiences and attract sponsors. These include women’s soccer, rugby, professional lacrosse, and action sports such as climbing, board sports and BMX and mountain biking. Many of these niche sports have devoted fan bases that will pay for programming.

6. Growing use of technology

While American sports have made innovative uses of technology for some time, the use of technology in sports is expanding globally.

“In the UK, the results of incorporating technological advances have been mixed,” Norris said. “In tennis, the plan to replace line judges at Wimbledon with hawkeye technology appears to be well received. Cricket has honed its use of technology to a degree that almost any player or spectator would consider materially beneficial. However efforts in other sports, notably EPL football, have been less successful in their infancy.”

The expansion of 5G wireless technology, over-the-top media platforms, and augmented and virtual reality will affect sports media rights, marketing, and fan interaction. New technology will change the stadium experience, encouraging stadium modernisation, and will be a key part to any growth in sports betting in the United States. The challenges of producing live events during a pandemic has led to new opportunities for cloud-based and autonomous production technologies for sports media.

“Whether we are talking about apps, data analytics, wearables, or new hardware, we can expect to see tech deployed to enhance fan engagement and improve athlete training. Teams, leagues, sponsors, and others will be on the lookout for joint ventures, investment opportunities, and ways to integrate new tech,” said Kuh.

7. Re-thinking funding for stadium improvements

Even before the pandemic, municipalities were less likely to spend public dollars on new stadium development, and sports team owners and public officials were looking for new partnerships to generate revenue for stadium upgrades. With the financial pressures brought on by COVID-19, this trend is likely to accelerate.

“In the face of growing resistance from cities and states, more teams are getting creative in identifying revenue streams for future stadium development that also benefits the city,” said Umbaugh.

These plans include funding stadium development and maintenance through real estate projects surrounding stadiums.

Hogan Lovells’ Sports, Media & Entertainment group

Our Sports, Media & Entertainment group advises major league sports teams, world-class media and entertainment companies, media streaming companies, media content developers, and investors. The group’s industry-focused experience extends to licensing and protection of content for video and television broadcasting, music, and web-driven streaming; commercial operations such as sponsorships, naming rights, and brand protection; corporate transactions; management of stadium and arena projects; and free speech issues. We offer clients geographic reach that few firms possess.

Hogan Lovells advises Banco Industrial S.A. on DPR program

International law firm Hogan Lovells advised Banco Industrial S.A. in Industrial DPR Funding LTD.’s issuance of its US$200 million Series 2020-1 Fixed Rate Notes to the United States International Development Finance Corp. (“DFC”, formerly the Overseas Private Investment Corp.) to support women operated enterprises in Guatemala.

This financing will enable DFC to facilitate the financing of small to mid-size enterprises called “2X Eligible Enterprises” in Guatemala. These businesses promote enterprises founded or managed by women or are businesses where women comprise at least 40 percent of their workforce. These enterprises promote wage equality and childcare, and oppose discrimination and harassment.

The Hogan Lovells team was led by New York Finance partner Emil Arca, counsel Russell Slanover and associate Lauren Kimmel. In February, the team also advised Banco del Pacífico S.A. (BdP) on the establishment of, and first issuance under, its diversified payment rights (DPR) securitisation program in Ecuador.