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White & Case Advises Naspers on US$1.16 Billion Acquisition

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Naspers, a global internet and entertainment group and one of the world’s largest technology investors, on its US$1.16 billion acquisition of an additional 29.1 percent shareholding in Avito, the leading Russian online classifieds site.

The transaction values Avito at an implied enterprise value of US$3.85 billion. Following the acquisition Naspers stake in Avito will increase from 70.4 percent to 99.6 percent (on a fully diluted basis). The remaining shares are held by existing management.

White & Case also advised Naspers on its minority investment in Avito in 2013 and on Naspers’ subsequent US$1.2 billion investment in 2015, when Naspers became the majority owner of Avito.

Avito was established in 2007 by Filip Engelbert and Jonas Nordlander together with founding investors Vostok New Ventures and Kinnevik. It achieved revenue of US$286.5 million and EBITDA of US$127.6 million for its last full financial year to March 2018 and Avito currently has 10.3million unique visitors per day.

The White & Case team which advised on the transaction was led by partners Eric Michailov (London / Moscow) and Johan Steen (Stockholm) with support from counsel Sophie Sahlin (London) and associates Hanna Wingren (London / Stockholm) and Ksenia Tyunik (Moscow).

 

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.’

INNOVATION

Eversheds takes innovation steps

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce the formation of a global innovation team dedicated to working with clients to address their most pressing priorities through creative and innovative solutions.

The Global Co-Heads of Innovation are UK-based Andrew McManus and US-based Anusia E. Gillespie. Mr. McManus brings to the role his deep experience in technology and years of experience at Eversheds Sutherland, while Ms. Gillespie offers her experience in the practice and business of law and a fresh and unique perspective from her recent work at Harvard Law School Executive Education.

Together, Mr. McManus and Ms. Gillespie will take a comprehensive, analytic and disciplined approach to innovation to better serve clients globally.

“We define innovation as focused and creative change in service to our clients,” said Eversheds Sutherland Co-CEO Mark D. Wasserman. “Our clients’ needs are ever-changing; the dedicated innovation team allows us to work together with our clients to focus on developing new ways to assist them in reaching their business goals.”

In the last year, Eversheds Sutherland has demonstrated its commitment to creating a robust innovation pipeline with the launch of Idea Drop, an internal crowdsourcing platform to curate innovative ideas; the global implementation of legal technology solutions including CaseReady, Client Portals and ESLocate; and the launch of Client Conversations, a custom app that provides key information about Eversheds Sutherland.

With their complementary backgrounds, Mr. McManus and Ms. Gillespie will lead the strategic planning for innovation and will coordinate on research and development, client partnerships, and best practices. They will engage with clients, lawyers and professionals from across the global legal practice to develop new resources and enhance existing processes, and will highlight areas for change and growth within Eversheds Sutherland.

“We have always seen innovation as central to our strategy to be a leading law firm by 2020,” said Eversheds Sutherland Co-CEO Lee Ranson, “Developing an innovation team was a natural next step to further our innovation goals. Andrew and Anusia are ideally placed to support our existing innovation projects. They will also propel the pace of our development more quickly into new areas that are ripe for change.”

Mr. McManus has been with Eversheds Sutherland for over four years. In his previous position he led the technology function as IT Director leading the development of the core platform. He is now solely focused on the technology and innovation needs of clients and in developing Eversheds Sutherland’s overall Digital Strategy and growing adoption of solutions to support lawyers and clients.

Mr. McManus said, “Our clients and our legal teams have the dual challenge of needing a stable and resilient platform on which to operate as well as needing to constantly innovate and change to keep up with the opportunities that disruptive technology provides. In order to truly adapt to the fast-growing needs of our clients, we need to ensure we are able to adopt new ways of working, whether this is based on new technologies or through the fostering of an innovative culture. We also need to provide our teams with the knowledge and the training to get the best from new ways of working themselves.”

Ms. Gillespie recently joined Eversheds Sutherland from Harvard Law School Executive Education, where she worked with industry leaders and Harvard faculty to research, design and launch business of law programs for practicing lawyers from around the world. Previously, she practiced law, founded and developed a business, and co-authored a book with Dr. Heidi K. Gardner, a Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession.

“Staying ahead of the curve is vital, and the firms that can figure out how to do so will rise above the rest,” said Ms. Gillespie. “While at Harvard, I had the opportunity to study the challenges facing the legal profession and identify strategies that were and were not working. Eversheds Sutherland is forward-thinking in creating these positions, and I know we will develop innovative and competitive solutions to the benefit of our clients.”

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.

Increase in share capital (football club – by extension)

The French Supreme Court related to private matters (Cour de cassation) ruled as a ratio decidendi on 28 November 2018 that the single vote on the resolution related to an increase in share capital reserved to employees is considered satisfactory to regularize an increase in share capital not subject to a vote on a preceding general meeting. This allows the possibility for a general meeting to ratify an increase in share capital reserved to employees (due to the relativity of the nullity – nullité relative). The legal concept that may be considered as underpinning the ratio decidendi is the French appearance theory: the ratification is being made possible by the subscribers (employees) having legitimately believed that the increase in share capital was regularly made.

This is in line with the spirit of company law to allow ratification as much as possible to ensure legal safety. In light of this, it is reasonable to think that this ratio decidendi can therefore be extended to other types of increase in share capital (not only reserved to employees). In particular, this ratio decidendi would be used (with an analogical reasoning) for an increase in share capital in the field of sports law (or IPOs), such as in football. In this respect, an increase in share capital of a football club would be subject to a ratification in the same manner.

Author: Ludovic Timbal Duclaux de Martin