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Norton Rose Fulbright advises lenders on Emirates NBD’s debut loan

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised the book-runners and mandated lead arrangers on a US$1.75bn ESG-linked credit facility to Emirates NBD Bank PJSC (ENBD), involving a syndicate of leading international banks. This is ENBD’s debut ESG-linked loan and one of the region’s first sustainability-linked loans.

Bank of America and Emirates NBD Capital Limited were appointed as Global Coordinators and Sustainability Coordinators and ING Bank NV and HSBC Bank Middle East Limited were appointed as the Sustainability Advisors.

Evidencing its commitment to measurable environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, ENBD has added sustainability metrics including gender diversity in senior management roles and water conservation to the pricing of its loan. The Norton Rose Fulbright team assisted with the review of the ESG performance requirements, advising the Mandated Lead Arrangers, and incorporating the ESG KPIs into the loan documentation.

The Dubai-based Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by banking and finance partner Nicholas Robinson, with advice on the ESG side from partner Louisa Lynch, head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s sustainability practice in the Middle East region. They were supported by associate Noren Bhulji.

Nicholas Robinson commented: “We are proud to have advised the lenders to Emirates NBD on this landmark ESG-linked credit facility, and expect this type of loan will be the first of many for the region as the world looks towards more sustainable financing options. Promoting sustainable finance ahead of 2030 is a $1.5 trillion focus for Bank of America, and this loan helps the bank work towards its aims to create a greener economy through lending, capital raising, advisory and investment services to help low-carbon and other sustainable businesses.”

Louisa Lynch added: “ESG continues to grow in importance for organisations, with 2021 seeing more and more businesses putting proper measurable objectives in place to track their ESG performance. This is a milestone for the region, and ENBD is truly market-leading in its efforts to track and add meaning to the strides it’s making in gender diversity and water conservation.”

Norton Rose Fulbright advises Cooper Pharma on contract

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Cooper Pharma on its granted license with United PPE to develop and manufacture COVID-19 diagnostic tests using Sherlock’s CRISPR technology. The contract has been granted under The 221b Foundation, a non-profit organisation established by Sherlock Biosciences to address the global COVID-19 pandemic while promoting diverse representation in STEM.

CRISPR technology called SHERLOCK (Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unlocking) and the diagnostic platform can achieve single molecule detection of nucleic acid targets. SHERLOCK utilises CRISPR activity for “smart amplicon detection” and can be adapted for use with existing diagnostic instruments, improving time to result due to its significant multiplexing capacity. When a specific sequence of DNA or RNA is present, a CRISPR enzyme is activated and, much like a pair of scissors, starts cutting nearby genetic material, releasing a fluorescent signal that indicates a positive result.

Morocco-based Cooper Pharma is a leading laboratory of the national pharmaceutical industry, which has supported health professionals and aims to increase access to medicines.

Adjou Ait Ben Idir, Dubai-based corporate partner who led on the deal, commented: “This contract will enable increased access to COVID-19 testing in Asia and the Middle East. The design will be able to cover new and emerging variants, which remains of the upmost importance as we navigate through the pandemic.”

Mr Ayman Cheikh-Lahlou, shareholder and CEO of Cooper Pharma, commented: “CRISPR technology is opening massive avenues in the healthcare products application industry. Cooper International is well positioned with its expert team in Dubai to attract CRISPR Companies from around the world to participate in co-development projects and to deploy them mainly across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.”

The Norton Rose Fulbright Dubai team also included senior associate Zaid Al-Rizzo and counsel Jonathan Burton.

Norton Rose Fulbright advises Shell on US$926m sale

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has assisted Shell’s in-house legal team with the disposal of the company’s upstream interests in the Western Desert in Egypt to Cheiron Petroleum Corporation and Cairn Energy Plc for a base price of US$646m, with additional payments of up to US$280m between 2021 and 2024, subject to oil price and exploration results.

Shell’s asset sale in Egypt includes its stake in 13 onshore concessions and its share in the Badr El-Din Petroleum Company (Bapetco). Completion is subject to government and regulatory approvals and is expected to occur in the second half of 2021.

The London-based team was led by senior associate Andrew Davies, supervised by corporate energy partner Hussain Kubba, and supported by associate Jarrett Whitehead. Partner Fiona Millington also provided ECM support.

Hussain Kubba commented: “This high-profile deal in Egypt forms part of Shell’s wider strategy to diversify its Upstream portfolio. We have recently seen a number of significant M&A transactions in the Egyptian Oil & Gas sector, and this transaction further demonstrates our deep bench of experience in terms of both the sector and jurisdiction.”

Maarten Hillen, Senior Legal Counsel at Shell, commented: “As in previous transactions, cooperation with Norton Rose Fulbright was seamless and very effective. The team knows Shell’s ways of working, with a strong focus on in-house support, and added real value to the areas that were material to this transaction.”

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.

Chambers Global 2021 highlights our cross-border strengths

Norton Rose Fulbright ranked first among all law firms with 18 ranked lawyers in the Chambers Global 2021 global-wide practice rankings, as well as standing in the top 10 for total number of global-wide departmental practice rankings, practice rankings across all categories and lawyers ranked overall.

The firm earned 22 global-wide practice rankings, and was ranked in 185 practice areas across all categories, including global-wide and country-specific. The 185 practice area rankings include 16 top tier rankings in China, Greece, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

A total of 234 Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers were individually ranked as leaders in their field. The firm also picked up six new departmental rankings in Africa, Latin America, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States.

In its analysis, Chambers cited clients who provided feedback on the firm’s work, praising its extensive global reach.

“The (Norton Rose Fulbright) international network has become an increasingly important component of their service delivery as cross-border business grows,” one client told Chambers. Another praised the firm’s “ability to function seamlessly with team members in different offices and across time zones.”

A full list of our rankings is available online.

Norton Rose Fulbright announces 2021 Global Charitable Initiative

Norton Rose Fulbright’s 2021 Global Charitable Initiative (GCI) will focus on fighting systemic racism and championing social justice worldwide. This important and timely cause was selected by the firm’s newly appointed Global and US Chair Shauna Clark, the first woman of colour to be chair of an “Am Law 200” firm.

The aim of the initiative will be to raise awareness as to the importance of fighting racism and championing social justice in business, in local communities and as individuals through fundraising, pro bono and volunteering opportunities with charities focused on these causes. Where possible, the firm will join with like-minded clients in these activities to expand its reach.

“I would like 2021 to be remembered as a year of action by the whole firm, uniting to use our time and our talents and our passion to fight racism and champion social justice,” Shauna said. “Our aim is that this initiative will leave a lasting legacy, inspiring our people to support antiracism and social justice causes and to commit to antiracism and social justice volunteering, fundraising and pro bono activities in their local communities.”

In late 2021, lawyers and support personnel firm-wide will be invited to participate in a global activity day. Likewise, each region or jurisdiction will be encouraged to interpret the themes of fighting racism and championing social justice in a way that resonates with their local community and culture, identifying an organisation active in this cause with which to partner in 2021.

“As a global law firm, we can use our voices to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, who don’t have access, who don’t have opportunities,” Shauna said.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Charitable Initiatives are proposed and sponsored by a different region each year. Each region is asked to choose a cause which resonates with the firm globally, motivating lawyers and other personnel to participate and take action.

Past initiatives have included promoting the building of environmentally sustainable communities, fighting hunger and reducing food waste, supporting the Special Olympics and helping to build a facility for Menzi Children’s Home in South Africa.

Find out more about the firm’s commitment to corporate responsibility and diversity and inclusion.