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Baker McKenzie bolsters tax practice with hire of Stephanie Pantelidaki

Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie has hired Stephanie Pantelidaki as Head of Financial Services Transfer Pricing in the firm’s tax practice. Stephanie joins from PwC, where she has worked in both the firm’s United Kingdom and Switzerland offices.

Stephanie has over twenty years’ experience advising on transfer pricing and international corporate tax issues with a particular focus on financial services – having worked with leading institutions in banking and capital markets, investment management, and the insurance sectors.

She started her career in academia as an economic adviser and research fellow at London Business School, and went on to work for organisations including Andersen, KPMG and Baker McKenzie (2006-2009) where she helped establish the Transfer Pricing team in the London office.

Mark Delaney, head of Baker McKenzie’s tax practice in London, said: “Stephanie is a truly exciting hire for Baker McKenzie. We’re seeing increased demands from financial institutions for transfer pricing works and her skills and expertise will enable us to deliver an even better service for our clients.”

Alex Chadwick, Baker McKenzie’s London Managing Partner, said: “We’re welcoming Stephanie back to Baker McKenzie at a great time, with opportunities in abundance for continued growth across the tax practice. Her experience, crossing academia and finance, mean she will bring a lateral-minded point of view to the team. She’s going to be a fantastic asset to us.”

Stephanie’s hire follows a number of recent significant lateral appointments including Leveraged Finance partner Ben Wilkinson, who joined Baker McKenzie from White & Case, M&A partner Nick Rainsford, who joined from Ashurst, private equity partner Justin Hutchinson, who joined from Kirkland & Ellis, Adam Eastell a partner from Slaughter & May and Nick Bryans, also from Ashurst.

Policymakers must offer clarity and coordination to secure net-zero

Government must play a greater role in the global energy market, either through a direct stake or as a co-investor, to support the new emerging energy system, according to a new study by PwC.

The report, Inventing tomorrow’s energy system: The road ahead for molecules and electrons, finds that the growth in renewables, estimated to account for 90% of the global energy market by 2050, and scaling up of hydrogen, will lead to a greener but substantially more complex energy market.

Electrons produced by renewables are set to power factories, heat and cool buildings, fill up batteries that will capture power and become generators and, as electrification hits the transport sector, emerge as the major fuel for cars. While hydrogen will link the electricity and gas markets, allowing for large-scale storage, powering of heavy-transport, and the massive decarbonisation of industrial power demand. Consequently, sectors such as Oil & Gas, Utilities, and Chemicals, which are currently sharply delineated, will begin to converge and form into integrated energy systems over the next decade.

This enormous shift in the global energy sector and the players within it, will require greater coordination and collaboration between government and the market to successfully work towards a greener future.

Dr. Raed Kombargi, Partner, Strategy& Middle East, said: “From South Korea to the United States and Europe, massive economic stimulus is being aimed at building more resilient and sustainable energy systems, providing a new influx of investments aimed at strengthening decarbonisation efforts. The future points towards a much greener system than the one we have today and, from generation to application, a significantly more complex one.

“The development of the new energy system is too complex to leave to the market. Governments will need to take a far more active role in shaping the future and will need to take part either directly or as co-investor.”

To meet global emissions targets, government and business must work together in new, and untested, ways to realise the full potential of renewables. Getting the energy transition right is not only critical from an environmental perspective, but also an economic one.

The report estimates that the cost of transforming the electricity networks in Europe alone will be at least USD$2 trillion over the next 30 years.

It also cites the International Renewable Energy Agency’s forecast that USD13 trillion is required to be spent on power transmission and distribution networks across the globe in the years to 2050.

Dr. Raed Kombargi, Partner, Strategy& Middle East, continued: “As we look ahead to a low carbon future, market participants will need to fundamentally rethink the market-based approach to energy markets, and investors will need to accept the presence of a more ‘visible hand’ guiding and orchestrating the energy transition.

“Innovations from Green Bonds, directly investing in critical infrastructure, to scaling ‘smart’ technologies and modernising operational standards and regulations, all offer governments around the world the opportunity to demonstrate clarity, coordination and ambition in policymaking.”

PwC appoints Sabine Durand-Hayes as Global Leader, Consumer Markets

PwC has appointed Sabine Durand-Hayes (PwC France and Maghreb) as the Consumer Markets Global Leader. Sabine brings more than 25 years of experience assisting private equity and corporate clients with analysis and structuring of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. During her career with PwC, she has advised various multinational agri-food, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), luxury and retail companies on strategic and operational issues, from portfolio management to carve out and integration.

In her new role, Sabine will lead the Global Consumer Markets Industries team, which advises a large network of clients from various industries, including retail, consumer, hospitality and leisure, as well as transport, logistics and packaging, on a range of key areas. In particular, she will focus on optimised omnichannel models; effective supply chain management and organisation, from strategy to execution – enabled by digital, data analytics and new ways of working, including environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), risk and assurance, tax and legal aspects as part of the solution. She will also continue her role as the Global Relationship Partner for one of the world’s largest global food retail companies.

“I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role in leading our Global Consumer Markets Industries practice,” says Sabine. “The ongoing transformation of the Consumer Markets industries in a context of fast-changing consumer preferences, and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, serves as a reminder of how our PwC purpose – to build trust in society and to solve important problems – guides our work with clients and stakeholders. By bringing our capabilities together, we have unique opportunities to connect with all players, from manufacturers and producers, all the way to distribution and consumers, on how to address common challenges. We can provide experience and solutions that make a real impact for our clients and their consumers.”

Kevin Burrowes, PwC’s Global Clients and Industries Leader (PwC UK), says “The opportunities and challenges facing our clients are unparalleled. In collaboration with other industries, our Consumer Markets practice, under Sabine’s leadership, will continue to help organisations repair, rethink and reconfigure their business models to emerge stronger from the crisis.”

Sabine previously was Retail and Consumer Industries leader in France and more recently led Consumer Markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She leads PwC’s Transactions Services Retail & Consumer teams in France. She presently serves as a member of the Supervisory Board of PwC France & Maghreb since 2017, and led the Strategy commission from 2017 to 2020, providing first-hand experience of governance and control in a multinational business.

Sabine trained and worked in PwC UK and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales. She earned a Masters from ESC Montpellier Business School.

Pandemic has accelerated digital upskilling, but key groups still miss out

A new survey of 32,500 workers in 19 countries paints a picture of a global workforce that sees the shift to remote working as just the tip of the iceberg. Reflecting the fact the pandemic has accelerated a number of workforce trends, 60% are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk; 48% believe ‘traditional employment won’t be around in the future’ and 39% think it is likely that their job will be obsolete within 5 years.

However, this is not a counsel of despair, as 40% of workers say their digital skills have been improved through the prolonged period of lockdown, and claim they’ll continue to embrace training and skill development. 77% are ‘ready to learn new skills or completely re-train’ and 74% see training as a matter of personal responsibility. And, 80% are confident they can adapt to new technologies entering their workplace, with a large majority of those asked in India (69%) and in South Africa (66%) saying they are ‘very’ confident.

In addition, 49% of respondents are focused on building entrepreneurial skills with an interest in setting up their own business.

Half of workforce report missing out on career opportunities or training due to prejudice

The survey also found that 50% of workers say they’ve faced discrimination at work which led to them missing out on career advancement or training. 13% report missing out on opportunities as a result of ethnicity and 14% of workers have experienced discrimination on the grounds of gender, with women twice as likely to report gender discrimination as men. 13% report discrimination on the basis of class, with post-graduates and others with higher qualifications more likely to report prejudice. Younger people are as likely as older people to report discrimination based on age.

On top of that, the survey found there are disparities in access to upskilling opportunities. While 46% of people with postgraduate degrees say their employer gives them many opportunities to improve their digital skills, just 28% of people with school-leaver qualifications say the same. Industries like retail or transport, which are most at risk of disruption, score just 25% and 20% respectively; while banking scores 42%.

“If current patterns in access to training persist, upskilling will increase social inequality when it should be doing precisely the opposite,” said Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organisation Practice. “Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most-at risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need. Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not.”

Younger people more focused on maximising income than ‘making a difference’ if forced to choose

Three-quarters of workers globally (75%) say they want to work for an organisation that will make a ‘positive contribution to society.’ This feeling was especially acute in China (87%), India (90%), and South Africa (90%).

However, economic insecurity is limiting people’s ability to pursue purpose driven careers, with younger people particularly affected. Overall, 54% of those polled said, if forced to choose, they would prefer a job that enabled them to ‘take every opportunity to maximise their income’ over a job that ‘makes a difference’ (46%).

Interestingly, those between 18 and 34 are more likely than other generations to prioritise income over purpose in their job with 57% prioritising ‘maximising their income’ over ‘making a difference’ (43%), a margin of 14 points. Those over 55 prioritise making a difference by a margin of 8 points, which rises to 22 points amongst workers over 65.

“As the world continues to grapple with a global health crisis and economic uncertainty, we’ve seen workers come to demand more from the business community, expecting their employers to make a positive contribution to society,” said Peter Brown, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organisation Practice. “Fortunately, focusing on societal impact and maximising profit are not mutually exclusive, and being a purpose-led business can actually help boost your bottom line.”

Employees want the option to work remotely moving forward

The survey concludes that remote working will persist post-lockdown. Of those who can work remotely, 72% of say they prefer a mixture of in-person and remote working, with only 9% stating they’d like to go back to their traditional work environment full-time. This is particularly true of professionals, office workers, business owners and the self-employed, all of whom are able to perform their jobs remotely using technology. Home working need not be limited to professional jobs. 43% of manual workers and 45% of semi-skilled workers say there are many elements of their job that they are able to do remotely.

People’s attitudes to working from home also change by location, providing further evidence of how the pandemic has increased the global digital divide. Workers in metropolitan areas (66%) are more likely to work in roles that could allow remote working than those who live in rural areas (44%).

Workers torn on privacy and technology

44% of workers globally would agree to let their employer use technology to monitor their performance at work including sensors and wearable devices, with 31% against. However, many would not go as far as allowing their employers access to their personal data. 41% of respondents said that they were unwilling to give their employer access to their personal data including social media profiles, with only 35% willing.

PwC appoints Jan Sijbrand and Troy Paredes as external directors

PwC has appointed two external directors to join its global oversight board. Jan Sijbrand and Troy Paredes will join the board of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited (PwCIL), which is responsible for the governance of PwCIL and the PwC Network, oversight of PwC’s network leadership team, and approval of the standards by which each PwC firm must abide.

From 5 March 2021, Jan and Troy will work with the existing 18 board members who are made up of partners and principals from 13 PwC firms from across the world and as of June 24, 2021 they will formally join the new PwCIL board which is currently being elected.

Jan has enjoyed a long career in banking, including head of risk management for ABN Amro, Chief Risk Officer and member of the managing board of NIBC Bank, and member of the executive board and chairman for supervision of De Nederlandsche Bank. In addition Jan was a member of the supervisory board of the European Central Bank from 2015 -2018 and a member of the board of supervisors of the European Banking Authority from 2011-2018. Jan brings a wealth of experience of financial services, risk management, oversight and supervision. Jan also currently serves as deputy chairman of the supervisory board of PwC Netherlands.

Troy is the founder of Paredes Strategies LLC, a consulting firm. He served as an SEC commissioner in the United States from 2008 to 2013 — during the financial crisis and its aftermath. During his time with the SEC, Troy played a key role in rulemakings and other regulatory matters concerning all aspects of securities regulation. Troy brings to the PwCIL board a truly extensive breadth of experience, including governance, compliance, strategy and regulatory. Troy also currently serves as an external director on the oversight board of PwC US.

“I am delighted to welcome Jan and Troy to the board of PwCIL. We are fortunate to have attracted two such talented and experienced individuals and I look forward to working with them,” said Paul Kepple, PwCIL Governance Board Chairman. “Troy and Jan will bring much appreciated outside perspectives, and help us to challenge our thinking and enhance our culture as we work together to build the PwC of the future.”

“Understanding the needs of all our stakeholders across the world has never been more important for PwC. Having Jan and Troy on our global board will bring a wealth of experience and depth of knowledge and add new and unique perspectives to our board discussions,” added Bob Moritz, global chairman of the PwC Network.

PwC appoints Ron Chopoorian as Global Leader, Health Industries

PwC has appointed Ron Chopoorian (PwC United States) as the Global Leader of its Health Industries practice. Ron has extensive client experience and deep industry knowledge across health industries, including payer, provider and pharmaceutical and life sciences. He brings more than 24 years of experience assisting private equity and corporate clients with a broad range of mission critical strategic initiatives, including improving business and commercial strategy, mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures focused on improving shareholder value.

In his new role, Chopoorian will lead the Global Health Industries team, which advises a large network of clients in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, as well as policymakers on a range of key areas including advanced data analytics, integrated patient experience, digital transformation in healthcare, social determinants of health, precision medicine, assurance, tax and legal services, and strategy. He will also continue his role as the Global Relationship Partner for one of the world’s largest multinational pharmaceutical companies.

“I’m excited to take on the role of Global Health Industries Leader during a time when clients, policymakers and society face profound changes, challenges and opportunities,” says Chopoorian. “The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a reminder of how PwC’s purpose – to build trust in society and solve important problems – guides our work with health industries stakeholders. By bringing our capabilities together, we have a unique opportunity to connect payers, providers, pharma and policy makers in order to address common challenges across the health ecosystem. We can provide solutions that make a real impact in delivering the best outcomes for patients, communities and clients.”

Kevin Burrowes, PwC’s Global Clients and Industries Leader, says “The opportunities and challenges facing our clients are unparalleled. In collaboration with other industries, our Health Industries practice, under Ron’s leadership, will continue to help governments and organisations repair, rethink and reconfigure their business models to emerge stronger from the crisis.”

Chopoorian previously was the New York Metro Deals Leader and has launched and served as the national leader of the PwC United States Divestiture Services practice. He also co-led the “Digitising Deals” initiative to enhance value creation and customer experience through the use and deployment of technology in the M&A process. During his career with PwC, he has advised various multinational pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies on a number of strategic and operational issues, from digital enablement and transformation to business and financial due diligence.

Chopoorian earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Business Administration from Manchester Business School. Ron is also a CPA and a member of both the AICPA and the New York State Society of CPAs.