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Williams Parker Attorneys Named Super Lawyers, Rising Stars

Williams Parker has announced that Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters lawyer-rating service, has named 13 of its attorneys as 2018 Super Lawyers and three as 2018 Rising Stars. Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The multi-phased selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. The following Williams Parker attorneys were named as 2018 Super Lawyers: Charles D. Bailey, III, Gail E. Farb, Jennifer Fowler-Hermes, Rose-Anne Frano, Ric Gregoria, John M. Hament, J. Michael Hartenstine, Elizabeth C. Marshall, Mark A. Schwartz, William M. Seider, Jeffrey T. Troiano, Kimberly P. Walker and Michael J. Wilson. 2018 Rising Stars are Douglas J. Elmore, James-Allen McPheeters and Elizabeth M. Stamoulis.

Brexit PHOTO

Breaking News: A quarter of managing partners voted for Brexit

An overwhelming 82 per cent of UK-based lawyers voted to remain in the EU in the referendum, new data collected by Advisory Excellence shows.

However, a new survey of our readers also shows that over a quarter (26 per cent) of managing and senior partners voted for Brexit. This is a higher percentage than the average leave vote in the legal market of 18 per cent.

These results show how the vote in the legal market differed strongly from the general public’s attitude towards Brexit.

Within the professional services market, lawyers are the least likely to see the primacy of UK courts as important regardless of their vote in the EU referendum. Instead, they claim that the highest objective for Brexit negotiations should be free trade with the EU.

But that was not the only difference. Only 30 per cent of legal readers agreed that “we just need to get on with Brexit”, compared to a majority of 54 per cent of the general public. Some 56 per cent of readers disagreed with the statement compared to 14 per cent of the general public.

Two out of three of those surveyed by Advisory Excellence claim to want a second referendum to determine whether Brexit should go ahead. Of these, 19 per cent have already said that they would vote to leave should that referendum occur.

Advisory Excellence’s survey has also revealed that one in four readers voted for the Lib Dems in the last election. Lib Dem leader Vince Cable is the politician with the most popular views on Brexit within the legal sector, contrasting with the least popular views from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Jean Claude Juncker.

The survey was conducted at the end of 2017, collating opinions from almost 3,000 respondents. Of these, 22.4 per cent worked in-house, 70.5 per cent worked in private practice and 5.6 per cent worked at the Bar.

Next month Advisory Excellence will release an exclusive report in collaboration with Thomson Reuters that explores how Brexit will impact firms in the UK and across Europe.

The in-depth analysis includes insight from over 300 senior lawyers in private practice, detailing how their clients and their own businesses will be impacted and their strategy to respond to Brexit.

General Electric slashes quarterly dividend ahead of restructuring

General Electric will radically shrink to focus on aviation, power and healthcare, betting on sectors it thinks it can make profits in, as the most famous US conglomerate tries to revive its share price after a decade and a half of stagnation.

The 125-year-old company cut its dividend and profit outlook in half as it begins the transition, in a widely expected plan unveiled on Monday by new chief executive John Flannery in New York.

GE shares fell 6 per cent to $19.22, its lowest in more than five years, valuing the entire company at about $168bn, as investors worried how the slimmed-down company would generate cash to justify its stock valuation.

“By the numbers, we see a core operating performance that is below plan, and, currently, a consensus expectations curve that we think remains too high,” said JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa.

GE is the worst-performing Dow component this year, down 35 per cent by Friday’s close. GE stock has effectively been dead money since September 2001, when recently retired chief executive Jeff Immelt took over, posting a negative total return even after reinvesting its juicy dividends.

Mr Flannery, who took over as CEO on 1 August, said he was “looking for the soul of the company again” and would focus on “restoring the oxygen of cash and earnings to the company.”

The transition likely means the sale of $20bn of assets. GE will jettison businesses with “a very dispassionate eye,” Flannery said, keeping only units that offer growth, a leading market position and a large installed base.

That could mean exiting businesses like lighting, transportation and oil and gas, closing factories around the globe, analysts said.

GE also plans to cut 25 per cent of corporate staff at its Boston headquarters. It has already started shedding jobs at its software business.

The dividend cut, only the third in the company’s 125-year history and the first not in a broader financial crisis, is expected to save about $4bn in cash annually.

“This dividend cut will be a major disappointment to GE’s (roughly 40 per cent) retail shareholder base,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Deane Dray.

The cut will save GE $4.16bn in payouts, the eighth biggest dividend cut in history among S&P 500 companies, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst of S&P Dow Jones Indices. GE also had the biggest cut when it slashed its dividend by $8.87bn in 2009, Silverblatt said.

GE forecast adjusted 2018 industrial free cash flow of $6bn to $7bn, up from an estimated $3bn in 2017.

The move to make GE smaller and nimbler is a turnaround from the previous multi-business approach taken by former chief executives Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt.

Flannery’s changes repudiate much of Immelt’s vision of a “digital industrial” company that builds software to manage and optimize GE’s jet engines, power plants, locomotives and other products.

Conglomerates have long been out of favor on Wall Street, where investors prefer to bet on specific industries rather than a mixed portfolio.

GE forecast 2018 adjusted earnings per share of $1 to $1.07 per share, compared with its earlier estimate of $2 per share. Wall Street was expecting $1.16, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company on Monday cut its quarterly dividend to 12 cents per share, from 24 cents, starting in December.

GE’s dividend cut – a bid to save cash when the company’s cash flow is deteriorating – is the third in its history. The other two cuts came during the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2007-2009.

Flannery’s strategy is a turning point for the company, which over several decades built itself into a sprawling conglomerate with interests across media, energy, banking, aviation, railroads, marine engines and chemicals.

GE executives have said that analysts have undervalued the company’s digital business. They argue the digital units should be valued more like Amazon, Google and other fast-growing tech companies.

GE will also cut its board to 12 from 18 members.