Latham elects London partner to succeed Bill Voge as chair

City capital markets partner Richard Trobman takes the reins at US legal giant













Latham & Watkins has announced that London-based capital markets partner Richard Trobman has won a partnership election to be the global legal giant’s next chair and managing partner.

US tech leader Wilson Sonsini to launch in London

Adviser to tech giants such as Google, Twitter and LinkedIn to open Old Street office













US west coast tech leader Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is opening an office in London as the firm sets its sights on a push into the UK technology and life sciences markets.


Deloitte secures long-awaited ABS licence ahead of UK expansion

Deloitte has received its alternative business structure (ABS) licence, becoming the last of the Big Four to set up a legal arm in the UK.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed that it has granted Deloitte the right to operate as a multi-disciplinary practice. The licence came into effect on the 15 June.

The new move will allow the big four accountancy firm to provide legal services as an ABS in the UK for rights of audience, conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities, probate activities and administration of oaths.

Deloitte applied for the licence in January.

All three of Deloitte’s rivals applied for ABS status in 2014; PwC Legal gained a licence from the SRA at the start of that year, while KPMG and EY followed suit later in 2014.

The UK was previously a notable absentee from Deloitte Legal’s network, until the branch announced an alliance with US immigration law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) at the beginning of the month.

Through the alliance, it will acquire BAL’s non US businesses in the UK, Australia, Brazil, China, Dubai, Mozambique, Singapore and South Africa, as well as a base in London.


Skadden, STB lead on $1.2 bln IPO of first-ever Japanese unicorn

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Nishimura & Asahi have advised Japanese flea market app operator Mercari on its $1.2 billion IPO, the nation’s biggest such share sale so far this year.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Mori Hamada & Matsumoto advised the lead managers as international and Japanese law counsel, respectively. Mercari, which offers a popular smartphone app that allows people to trade used items online, is the country’s third-largest tech listing in the past five years – behind the $3.2 billion raised by Japan Display in 2014 and the $1.3 billion by Line Corp in 2016 – according to Thomson Reuters data. Founded in 2013, Mercari was Japan’s first unicorn – a startup with a valuation above $1 billion – in a country that boasts numerous successful giant corporations but lacks a vibrant startup culture, said Reuters. It added that according to data provider CB Insights, Mercari and information technology startup Preferred Networks are the only two unicorns in Japan.

Cleary regulatory partner Bob Penn set to rejoin Allen & Overy

City of London

Hogan Lovells slashes 54 roles in London

Hogan Lovells has confirmed that 54 people have so far been affected by its London redundancy programme, as the consultation period nears its final stage.

The restructuring operation was announced in September 2017, with the firm announcing that 90 roles would be cut or moved to low cost centres. This was made up of 78 business services roles and 12 legal support positions.

In the most recent update, Hogan Lovells said 54 business services staff had left the London office. The Lawyer understands that a number of the business services roles have been relocated to low-cost offices in Johannesburg, Louisville and Birmingham.

A further 17 people are still awaiting their fate under consultation, which is expected to be completed by August at the latest. The departments that have been impacted include conflicts and compliance, finance, IT, knowledge and research, marketing/business development and office services.

Commenting on the UK restructuring, a firm spokesperson said: “This was a carefully considered step focused on improving our business performance and sustainability in a rapidly evolving and competitive legal market.

“In parallel with this project we have also made further significant investments in technology, legal project management and our use of artificial intelligence.”

Hogan Lovells opened its first low-cost office in Johannesburg in 2014. This was followed by an opening in Birmingham, as an extension of the London office, and then in Louisville in 2016.

Days after the firm announced cuts in London, Hogan Lovells said it had offered voluntary retirement to hundreds of US business support staff. The firm said that an estimated 400 employees, who have been with the firm for at least five years, were invited to take voluntary retirement. A small minority were expected to take up the offer of between 5 to 10 per cent of staff.


India Attracts Largest E-Commerce Deal

India’s potential for high growth in retail came to the forefront with the acquisition of its biggest homegrown online retail company. The high economic growth prospects were reaffirmed by the IMF. There will be a new system for monitoring of foreign investment in listed entities. The current policy for external commercial borrowings has been further liberalized.

Walmart Acquires Flipkart – Earlier this month, Walmart Inc. announced that it would pay $16 billion for an initial stake of approximately 77% in homegrown e-commerce company Flipkart. The deal valued Flipkart at about $20.8 billion. “India is one of the most attractive retail markets in the world, given its size and growth rate, and our investment is an opportunity to partner with the company that is leading the transformation of e-commerce in the market,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. This is Walmart’s biggest acquisition and the biggest e-commerce deal globally. The deal will need to be approved by India’s anti-trust regulator. The deal will redraw the retail landscape in India as Walmart takes its battle in the US with arch-rival Amazon to the world’s fastest growing major economy. It will also give a massive boost to entrepreneurship and the start-up ecosystem in India, which has struggled to provide exits.

International Monetary Fund – In a reaffirmation of India’s growth forecast made by International Monetary Fund (IMF) in last month’s World Economic Outlook, as reported by Asia Law Portal, the Regional Economic Outlook: Asia Pacific report published by same agency this month, states that in India, growth is expected to rebound to 7.4 percent, following temporary disruptions from the November 2016 currency exchange initiative and the July 2017 rollout of the new Goods and Services Tax (GST). The report further stated that growth rebounded strongly to 7.2 percent in the third quarter of FY2017/18, up from 6.1 percent in the first half of the fiscal year. India’s growth, projected at 6.7 percent in FY2017/18, should recover to 7.4 percent in FY2018/19, making India once again one of the region’s fastest-growing economies. The recovery is expected to be underpinned by a rebound from transitory shocks as well as robust private consumption. Medium-term headline CPI inflation is forecast to remain within but closer to the upper bound of the Reserve Bank of India’s inflation-targeting band (4 percent ±2 percent). Medium-term growth prospects remain positive, benefiting from key structural reforms, including the landmark national GST reform. The current account deficit in FY2017/18 is expected to widen somewhat but should remain modest, financed by robust foreign direct investment inflows.

Growth Estimates in previous quarterIndia’s economy may have expanded by 7.1-7.5% in the January-March quarter – driven by manufacturing and construction – compared with 7.2% in the third quarter. The Central Statistics Office will put out the growth estimates for the fourth quarter and for 2017-18 in the coming days. It pegged FY18 GDP growth at 6.6%, which would suggest growth of 7.1% in the last quarter. The economy expanded 7.1% in FY17. India’s industrial output expanded 4.3% in FY18, with manufacturing growing 4.5%, according to the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The IIP is a quantity-based measure while GDP is assessed on value added, which means that manufacturing GDP growth can be higher than that measured by IIP.

Monitoring of Foreign Investment in Listed Entities – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently mandated a new system for monitoring of foreign investment limit in Indian listed companies. In order to enable listed Indian companies to ensure compliance with the various foreign investment limits, RBI in consultation with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has decided to put in place a new system for monitoring foreign investment limits, for which the necessary infrastructure and systems for operationalizing the monitoring mechanism, shall be made available by the depositories. The same has been notified by SEBI. The RBI circular further stated that all listed Indian companies are required to provide the specified data/ information on foreign investment to the depositories. The requisite information was required to be provided before May 15, 2018. The listed Indian companies, in non-compliance with the above instructions will not be able to receive foreign investment and will be non-compliant with Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and regulations made thereunder.

Changes to External Commercial Borrowings Policy – The RBI has recently liberalized the External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) policy. ECBs are commercial loans raised by eligible resident entities from recognised non-resident entities and should conform to parameters such as minimum maturity, permitted and non-permitted end-uses, maximum all-in-cost ceiling, etc. A uniform all-in-cost ceiling of 450 basis points over the benchmark rate. The benchmark rate will be 6 month USD LIBOR (or applicable benchmark for respective currency) for Track I and Track II, while it will be prevailing yield of the Government of India securities of corresponding maturity for Track III (Rupee ECBs) and RDBs. The ECB Liability to Equity Ratio for ECB raised from direct foreign equity holder under the automatic route was increased from 4:1 to 7:1. This ratio will not be applicable if total of all ECBs raised by an entity is up to USD 5 million or equivalent. The eligible borrowers’ list for the purpose of ECB has been expanded. There will be only a negative end-use list for all tracks instead of positive end-use list for Track I and negative end-use list for Track II and III.


Stuart Brinkworth set to join Mayer Brown’s finance team

Fried Frank London finance head Stuart Brinkworth is set to leave the US firm’s City base for Mayer Brown, Leaders in Law can reveal.

Brinkworth joined Fried Frank as its first London finance head in 2015 from Hogan Lovells, where he was a partner in the firm’s City banking practice. He was previously a banking partner at legacy SJ Berwin.


handshake deal

Mourant Ozannes hires Farrer & Co’s former senior partner

Offshore firm Mourant Ozannes has hired Farrer & Co’s former senior partner Jim Edmondson as head of its international trusts and private client practice.

Edmondson will join Mourant Ozannes as a consultant in London on 1 May. He will take over as head of the trusts and private client team on 1 September when incumbent Douglas Close steps down after three years in the post.

jim edmondson
Jim Edmondson

Edmondson spent two years as joint senior partner for Farrers (3 May 2011) and also headed the firm’s private client team until he stepped down last May to become a consultant. He joined the firm in 2001 from Nabarro (25 June 2001).

Mourant Ozannes managing partner Jonathan Rigby said the private client team had exceeded its growth targets under Close’s leadership. “It’s testament to that success that we have been able to recruit someone of such international standing as Jim Edmondson,” he added.

Edmondson said in a statement that he was sorry to leave Farrers, but was looking forward to working with another firm which was not in competition with his former practice.

“I’m particularly grateful for the support and cooperation of my colleagues at Farrers in enabling me to take on this exciting new challenge,” he said.

Mourant Ozannes, formed through the 2010 merger between Jersey firm Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Guernsey’s Ozannes (3 February 2010) has a team of private client lawyers advising on British Virgin Island, Cayman, Guernsey and Jersey law.

Lisa Osofsky

Lisa Osofsky next director of the Serious Fraud Office

Lisa Osofsky (pictured) has been confirmed as the new director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Osofsky, who is currently EMEA head of investigations at regulatory compliance company Exiger and is a former deputy GC at the FBI, will take up her new post full-time in September.

Interim SFO director Mark Thompson will remain in the position until Osofsky joins, at which point he will return to his role as chief operating officer.

Osofsky, who has dual UK/US nationality, prosecuted more than 100 cases on behalf of the US Government before joining the private sector.

Commenting on her appointment, Osofsky said: “I look forward to building on the SFO’s successful record in the fight against economic crime and leading an emboldened SFO to even greater heights.”

Thompson added: “Lisa has had a distinguished international career focusing on financial crime in both law enforcement and private sector roles. I look forward to welcoming her and working with her when she takes over the leadership of the SFO.”

Legal Week first named Osofsky as the potential successor to David Green in April, when a number of city white-collar partners with links to the SFO suggested she was in line for the position.

Before joining Exiger in 2013, Osofsky was previously a regulatory adviser at global risk consultancy Control Risks and executive director of the business intelligence group at Goldman Sachs International.

She already has experience of working at the SFO, having previously been seconded to the UK watchdog while working as a special attorney in the fraud section of the criminal division of the US Department of Justice.

In 2017, she voiced her approval of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to integrate the SFO into the NCA, telling The Telegraph that the SFO has been on a “knife-edge for years”.

Commenting on her potential appointment, Corker Binning founding partner David Corker, who has acted for many clients being investigated or prosecuted by the SFO, told Legal Week: “I think the SFO remains in jeopardy, and I think this appointment would be an indication of its jeopardy.”

White & Case London white-collar head Jonathan Pickworth, who acts for companies being investigated by the SFO, added: “Lisa ticks a lot of boxes; she is extremely capable and has very broad experience, including time spent at the FBI and at a major financial institution.”

Attorney general Jeremy Wright QC said of her appointment: “The SFO will continue to undertake crucial work to investigate and prosecute serious and complex economic crime, as an independent body that works closely and collaboratively with other UK and international authorities to best protect the public.

“It is clear that economic crime is committed across national boundaries and Lisa’s experience of working at an international level will enhance the SFOs capabilities in this area.”

Previous SFO director, David Green, stepped down on 20 April after six years in the post.