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Simmons & Simmons Opens Office in Shenzhen, China

Simmons & Simmons has opened an office in southeastern Chinese city Shenzhen.

The new office is Simmons’ third in the country, alongside its operations in Beijing and Shanghai.

The new office will focus on telecommunications, media and technology (TMT)—areas in which the firm already advises Shenzhen clients.

TMT partner Jingyuan Shi is moving from the firm’s Beijing office to lead the outpost. She will be the office’s sole partner but will work closely with the firm’s international TMT teams led by London-based partner Alexander Brown.

“Shenzhen is rapidly growing as a force in the technology industry and plays a pivotal role as a global innovation powerhouse,” Shi said in a statement.

Paul Li, who is the head of Asia for the firm, noted that China is currently the world’s second most important TMT market after the U.S. “This move enables us to build on our existing presence in the country,” he said. ”We are committed to continuing investment in this market, working under The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).”

Shenzhen officially became a city in 1979 and in 1980 was established as China’s first special economic zone, which has made it more attractive to foreign and domestic firms. The city, sometimes called China’s new Silicon Valley, is now home to some of the best-known Chinese technology companies, including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., ZTE Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Shenzhen is officially one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.

Other global law firms, especially those with a strong intellectual practice, have opened offices in Shenzhen. Chicago-based IP shop Brinks Gilson & Lione was the first, opening its Shenzhen office at the very end of 2017. Fish & Richardson and the hybrid virtual law firm Rimon Law each launched an office there earlier this year.

Earlier this month, Simmons also expanded its presence in France with the hire of two lawyers for its Paris office.

Simon Steel

LCF Law Firm Celebrates Domains 21st Anniversary

A leading Yorkshire law firm’s domain name is celebrating its 21st anniversary, making it one of the oldest legal domains in the region and reinforcing the importance of trade marking to protect company names, domains and brands.

LCF Law initially registered www.lcf.co.uk in the summer of 1998, which was two months before www.google.co.uk was registered and the search engine giant was born. It would also be another seven to 10 years before iconic domain names such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook arrived on the scene.
Simon Stell, Managing Partner at LCF Law, said: “In 1998 the internet was in its infancy, you needed a modem to connect to it and lots of patience! However as a forwarding thinking business, we could immediately see its potential and how it was going to be transformational for our industry. We started exploring how to capitalise on the online world and launched a website. We had to buy a domain name, so we went for www.lcf.co.uk because it was distinctive, straightforward and easy to remember.

“At the time, some people suggested that creating a website for a law firm was frivolous and insignificant. However, we were ahead of the curve, as very few regional or national legal firms took the initiative that early on. It quickly became one of our best ever investments and has attracted millions of visitors over the years, doing a great job to illustrate LCF Law’s foresight and innovative approach to exploring new technologies.”

Simon added: “Another thing that became apparent early on was how important it is to trade mark both company names and domain names, because it can be easy for unscrupulous operators to impersonate companies or brands using the internet. They can register a similar domain and create a genuine looking website to divert users away from the site they were aiming for and there are lots of examples of this happening.”

Abid Perwaze, Commercial & Intellectual Property Solicitor at LCF Law, added: “Having the right trade marks in place makes it much easier to stop anyone that tries to do this and also helps to protect company names and brands. There’s a common misconception that it costs thousands of pounds to create a trade mark, but in most cases it can be done for just a few hundred pounds.”

 

White & Case Advises on Polish MoF €2 Billion Green Bonds Issuance

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised the Polish Ministry of Finance on the €2 billion issuance of ten- and 30-year euro-denominated ‘Green Bonds’, maturing respectively on March 7, 2029 and March 8, 2049.

The €1.5 billion issuance of the ten-year Green Bond yields 1.057% with an annual coupon of 1%. The €500 million issuance of the 30-year Green Bond yields 2.071% with an annual coupon of 2%.

The bonds were issued under the Republic of Poland’s €60 billion Euro Medium Term Note Programme, and the proceeds will finance environmental projects according to the Green Bond Framework developed by the Ministry of Finance in line with the ICMA Green Bond Principles.

The buyers of the ten-year and 30-year Green Bonds were well diversified with, respectively, 47 percent and 43 percent of the allocations going to designated green accounts.

The White & case team which advised on the transaction was led by local partner Andrzej Sutkowski (Warsaw), with support from counsel Doron Loewinger (London) and associates Katarzyna Grodziewicz, Damian Lubocki (both Warsaw) and Luiza Salata (London).

Baker McKenzie Named Mainland Europe’s Strongest Law Brand

Leading Global law firm Baker McKenzie has been named Europe’s strongest law brand in the 2018 Acritas Mainland Europe Index.

The Firm received an overall score of 100 – nearly 30 points ahead of the firm that ranked second place – and ranked top for awareness, favourability, top level engagement, multi-jurisdictional deals, multi-jurisdictional litigation, high value usage and inbound usage. The Firm ranked number one in France and Russia, and placed high in Germany, Spain and Italy.

Constanze Ulmer-Eilfort, Baker McKenzie’s Chair of the EMEA region, said: “To be named the top legal brand in Europe is an outstanding endorsement of the work we do and is welcome validation from the European market of the progress we have made. We’ve built our business around investing in our client relationships and innovating to stay relevant to clients so we’re delighted that commitment has been recognised by senior legal buyers across Europe.”

Ranking is based on the responses of 448 senior legal buyers, based in Mainland Europe about their organization’s overall legal needs, and a further 311 senior legal buyers about their international needs in the key jurisdictions of France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia and Spain.

Esteban Raventós, a member of the Firm’s Global Executive Committee, said: “Brands are built upon trust, and in professional services trust is built through excellent service and expertise. We’re pleased to be recognised for the depth of our practice in mainland Europe and our unique ability to deliver global perspectives and local expertise simultaneously.”

The Firm’s European ranking follows Acritas naming Baker McKenzie the strongest global law firm brand in its Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index for the ninth year in a row. In the global survey, the Firm ranked at the top for each of the measures in the Acritas Index – awareness, favourability, consideration for multijurisdictional deals and for multijurisdictional litigation.

White & Case Advises on Conforama’s €316 Million Bond Issue

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Steinhoff group’s main creditors on the financial restructuring of its subsidiary Conforama, through a €316 million two-tranche bond issue.

Conforama, the leading European player in furniture retail in-store and online, finalized the bond issue on April 15, 2019 with around 30 equity and debt funds, all Steinhoff group creditors, in order to finance its activity.

Steinhoff executed an agreement in August 2018 with all of its creditors, which was approved by a Company Voluntary Arrangement in London in March 2019, enabling its global debt to be rescheduled and restructured and making it possible for its subsidiaries to be directly financed by its creditors. This approach was previously adopted with Steinhoff’s subsidiary, Mattress Firm, as part of a Chapter 11 procedure.

The White & Case team in Paris which advised on the transaction was led by partner Saam Golshani and included partners Denise Diallo, Colin Chang, Alexandre Ippolito, Brice Engel, Alexandre Jaurett, Bertrand Liard and Alexis Hojabr, counsel Jean Paszkudzki and associates Aurélien Loric, Léa Grédigui, Alexandre Giacobbi, Laure Elbaze, Jeremy Lucas Tong, Bettina de Catalogne, Thomas Chardenal, Anne Sauvebois-Brunel, Céline Martinez, Ginevra Marois and Alice Léonard. Partner Iacopo Canino and associate Bianca Caruso (both Milan) advised on Italian law aspects of the transaction.

Hogan Lovells reports rise for equity partners

Partners at transatlantic firm Hogan Lovells increased their profit share in the last calendar year, the firm’s latest results indicate. Profit per equity partner rose 4% to £1.035m in the year ending 31 December 2018, up from £996,000 in 2017.

The firm did not provide an overall pre-tax profit figure. Revenue rose from £1.581bn to £1.596bn – a 0.9% increase. Calculated in US dollars, profit per equity partner was $1.381m, up from $1.283m. Revenue was $2.11bn, up from $2.037bn.

Chief executive Steve Immelt said the firm expects an ’increasingly volatile global economy’ in the year ahead, with trade tensions and uncertainty caused by political instability such as Brexit creating a slow-down effect.

He added: ‘Having broken through the $2 billion revenue barrier in 2017 we have consolidated that position with further growth of just over 4% of revenue in 2018, as well as higher increases in revenue per lawyer and profits per equity partner.’

Byron Romain Joins White & Case as a Partner in Houston

Global law firm White & Case LLP continues to expand its Houston office with the addition of new partner Byron Romain. Romain will be part of the Firm’s Global Project Development and Finance Practice and will work closely with its Global Oil & Gas Industry Group.

“Byron is a highly skilled and experienced lawyer who has an impressive track record working on significant projects across the oil & gas industry,” said Philip Stopford, Co-Head of White & Case’s Global Oil & Gas Industry Group. “His arrival coincides with the first anniversary of the Firm opening our Houston office, which signals our commitment to expanding the leading capability of our oil & gas expertise within the region.”

Romain’s practice includes representing major and independent oil & gas companies, sovereigns, quasi-governmental agencies, private equity sponsors and portfolio companies in the acquisition, disposition and development of oil & gas projects in the upstream and midstream sectors. He also advises on asset and equity deals, joint venture/development arrangements, equity investments and financing/lending arrangements.

Romain joins White & Case from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he was previously the head of its North American oil & gas A&D practice.

“Expanding our industry expertise across the oil & gas industry is a pillar of our 2020 strategy,” said Jason Webber, Co-Head of the Firm’s Global Oil & Gas Industry Group. “Byron’s arrival reinforces this goal, and his sophisticated technical skills and extensive knowledge of the oil & gas sector will play an integral role in further enhancing our client offering in Houston, and across the wider Americas region.”

London City

Crowell & Moring plans London training contract after Squires hire

Crowell & Moring’s new London managing partner Robert Weekes has set out plans to launch a training contract in the City office, having joined the US firm today from Squire Patton Boggs.

Weekes’ move was revealed by Leaders in Law last November, months after it was revealed that Squires’ global head Stephen Mahon would be relocating from the US to lead operations in London.

As head of Crowell’s London office, Weekes will be filling a similar position as before, having been a former City managing partner of Squires.

Now in his new role, Weekes said he plans to bring in a training contract to the London office from September 2021. His plans for the London office also include a pledge to triple its headcount by the end of 2022; Crowell currently has nine partners in London and six fee-earners.

To grow, Weekes has highlighted expansion in litigation, followed by the corporate group and regulation practices. Banking, insurance and financial regulation will be part and parcel of this growth plan. Weekes himself is a litigator, specialising in the financial disputes and investigatory work.

Litigator Weekes will take over from partner Jim Regan, who shares his time between the London and Washington offices. Regan had served as the point of contact between the firm’s head quarters and the London office.

Founded in 1979 by a group of 53 breakaway lawyers from Jones Day, Crowell totals more than 500 lawyers around the world.

Weekes said: “The firm wouldn’t have hired me if it didn’t want to grow. I have a reputation for expansion. I see myself as a person who knows how to grow teams that work well together across practice groups to find innovative and commercial solutions for clients.”

Crowell currently counts Microsoft, BMW, Siemens and BlueCross BlueShield among its clients.