Centil economist ranked top young economist in Central Asia

A member of Centil Law Firm’s Central Asia Research Group (CARG) has been featured on the list of the world’s Top Young Economists by the Research Papers in Economics (REPEC) project. Ranked at number 32 in the overall global rankings, Raufhon Salahodjaev is ranked as the top young economist in the Central Asian region.

Raufhon is a Senior Analyst within Centil’s CARG department, as well as an Associate Lecturer in Advanced Macroeconomics at Westminster International University in Tashkent. A graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton, Raufhon is currently conducting research on the deep rooted origins of economic institutions.

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Eversheds Sutherland completes Singapore merger

Eversheds Sutherland has completed its merger with Singaporean firm Harry Elias Partnership, a year after the talks started.

It marks the first major international expansion for the newly combined global firm and allows it to offer Singaporean law advice through the local partnership.

The Singapore merger was initiated by legacy Eversheds, which started discussions with Singaporean firm Harry Elias in early 2016. The Asia deal was delayed due to Eversheds’ recent merger with US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, which took effect on 1 February 2017.

Eversheds Sutherland’s merger with Harry Elias follows the same structure as the deal between Morgan Lewis and Stamford Law in March 2015.

The structure, permitted by legislative changes in 2012 but largely untested, allows a global firm to retain its full status as a Singaporean firm staffed by Singaporean lawyers (without any practice restrictions), and while partners of the Singaporean firm continue to be partners of the local entity they can also be admitted to the global firm’s partnership.

It is a unique and legitimate way to achieve a full merger. But the firms still need to comply with certain requirements. The rules include: the managing partner of the Singapore office must be a Singapore qualified lawyer, the ratio of Singapore lawyers to foreign lawyers should be at least 2:1, and at least two thirds of the equity share of the Singaporean firm must be held by Singapore lawyers.

The 56-fee earner team from Harry Elias will greatly boost Eversheds’ offering in Singapore. Currently, Eversheds only has an eight-strong team in the country, which is led by regional managing partner Oommen Mathew.

Harry Elias specialises in construction, corporate and cross-border deals. Managing partner Philip Fong leads the firm while named partner Harry Elias works as a consultant.

Eversheds opened its doors in Singapore in 2009. The office opened with the hire of DLA Piper’s former Singapore managing director Desmond Ong and a total of six lawyers, and was designed to become the firm’s hub in South East Asia.

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Walker Morris acts on planning appeal for site near Leeds airport

Planning specialists at Walker Morris have acted for The Learmouth Property Investment Company in a successful planning appeal against a planning condition imposed by Leeds City Council.  The site involved is an existing car park within the boundaries of Leeds Bradford Airport Industrial Estate at Yeadon, West Yorkshire.

In November 2014, the Council granted permission to allow use of an existing area of staff car parking and creation of a new area of parking close to units within the Industrial Estate,.

Andrew Williamson, partner at Walker Morris, represented Learmouth at the public hearing.  Rob Moore, director, provided legal and specialist strategic advice, including working with the professional witnesses on evidence throughout.

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Walder Wyss helps gategroup on bond issue

Gategroup successfully raised CHF300m through the issuance of a fixed rate five-year senior bond with a final maturity on February 28, 2022. The bond with a coupon of 3% pa has been issued by gategroup Finance (Luxembourg) and is guaranteed by its parent company gategroup Holding AG. gategroup will apply for the listing of the new bond on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

Walder Wyss acts as Swiss legal counsel to gategroup on this transaction. The Walder Wyss team includes Markus Pfenninger(Banking Finance, Lead Partner), Maurus Winzap (Tax, Partner) and Ramona Wyss (Banking Finance, Managing Associate).

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Collas Crill associate named Jersey’s ‘Junior Lawyer of the Year’

Collas Crill associate Julie Harrigan has been named ‘Junior Lawyer of the Year’ by The Law Society of Jersey, chosen from a very strong list of candidates that showcased the bright future of Jersey’s legal industry.

Julie joined the firm nine years ago as a legal assistant and has day to day responsibility for the Jersey arm of the pan-island will and estates and private client services team. She specialises in all aspects of succession law and advises on, and drafts, wills for local and non-local clients as well as HNW individuals.

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First post-housing white paper planning appeal granted

Shoosmiths has advised IM Land on securing a successful planning appeal for a major residential and mixed-use scheme, the first to be approved since the publishing of the government’s housing white paper.

Plans to build 750 new homes at Curborough, near Lichfield, have been approved by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.

The first planning appeal to be approved since the government released its updated planning guidelines earlier this month, the plans utilise agricultural land that lies outside the Green Belt in line with the terms of the white paper.

Shoosmiths’ team was led by planning partner Tim Willis and senior associate Anna Cartledge with trainee solicitor Emma Cartledge assisting. The team advised on the complex legal aspects of the appeal including progressing the planning appeal while dealing with the inter-related issues of challenging the local plan process and the implications of HS2 on the site.

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Cooley London growth continues as firm nears $1bn

Cooley has posted a 7 per cent rise in total revenue for 2016, a drop on the previous year’s 14 per cent hike and also down on 2014’s 19 per cent increase.

Despite the slower rate of growth the West Coast US firm is nearing the $1bn revenue mark, posting a total turnover for 2016 of $974m.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) rose by 4 per cent to $1.96m while average revenue per lawyer was static at $1.14m. The firm added 23 lateral partners in 2016 including four in London, six in Palo Alto and nine in New York.

Deal highlights for the firm in 2016 included advising biopharmaceutical company Medivation on its $14bn sale to Pfizer, the largest transaction in Cooley history; on 193 venture funds with closings amounting to more than $19bn; and acting as UK counsel and US regulatory counsel to the Vistria Group and Apollo Global Management on the $1.1bn acquisition of Apollo Education Group.

In London Cooley is continuing to show rapid growth since launching two years ago with the hire of 55 lawyers from Morrison & Foerster and Edwards Wildman.

City turnover hit $47m last year, a rise powered by a number of laterals and client wins.

The firm added four lateral partners in 2016 including Sullivan & Cromwell white collar crime specialist Louise Delahunty, increasing partner headcount in the UK to 28 while total lawyer headcount reached 80, a growth of 45 per cent since January 2015 and more than 20 per cent since the start of 2016.

Last month two of the firm’s lawyers, Natasha Kaye and Sascha Grimm, were recognised in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2017.

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White & Case City revenue rises to $290m as global turnover jumps 7 per cent

White & Case’s London revenue has grown 3.5 per cent to $290m (£231m) amid a global turnover hike of nearly 7 per cent to $1.6bn.

Last year White & Case dislodged Latham & Watkins in The Lawyer’s annual International Top 30 ranking, having posted an 18 per cent rise in UK revenue from $240m to $283m. Latham & Watkins’ 2016 financials have not yet been released.

London executive partner Oliver Brettle singled out several highlights in the City last year, including the promotion of eight City lawyers to partner and the hire of 10 new laterals.

Macfarlanes competition head Marc Israel joined White & Case, as well as Clifford Chance corporate partner Patrick Sarch and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer banking partner Jeffrey Rubinoff. Ashurst partners Jonathan Parry and Mark Clarke also joined the capital markets and litigation teams respectively, with Hogan Lovells partner Guy Potel sitting in corporate.

“We’ve made a number of investments in London and globally that are consistent with our strategy,” Brettle said.

“The US did particularly well last year, but our London and European offices have also been growing working on deals across the wider network and domestically.”

Globally, White & Case’s turnover grew nearly 7 per cent over 2016 from $1.52bn to $1.63bn. The figures take into account new office launches in Boston and Cairo. The firm also hired partners from Herbert Smith Freehills to launch in Melbourne and Sydney. HSF has filed a lawsuit at the Sydney courts against eight Australian partners who exited the firm for White & Case last year.

Average profit per equity partner growth was slightly slower, nudging up 1.5 per cent from $2.02m to $2.05m.

Headcount rose across the board, with the number of equity partners increasing by 12 to 299. Lawyer numbers also rose from 1,914 to 1,957.

Over 2015 White & Case saw its revenue climb 1 per cent. The firm is now in the second year of its five-year strategy that prioritises growth in London and the US across a number of different practice areas.

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City law firms could witness ‘100% overnight increase’ in business rates

Some City law firms could see an overnight increase in their business rates bills of more than 100 per cent come April, thanks to a revaluation of the tax this week.

Businesses across the City will pay an extra £1.4bn – 33 per cent more than current rates – over the next five years in accordance with the new rates.

For the last three revaluations the rateable value remained capped at 12.5 per cent for the first year, which gave businesses breathing room to adjust to any large changes. However, the new “transitional relief” option chosen by the Government will result in law firms and other businesses facing an increase on the cap from 12.5 per cent to 42 per cent plus inflation in the first year alone.

Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) London and South East director Tim Beattie said the “real issue” was the change in “transitional relief”, and not just the increase in rates alone.

“The real issue is that the Government has decided not to continue with the transitional relief program that they’ve had with the previous revaluation,” said Beattie.

“In most cases City law firms will be facing overnight 100 per cent increases on what they were expecting to have to pay, rather than seeing the increase spread over multiple years.”

He continued: “Liabilities will be going up dramatically overnight with very little time to plan for it all adding to a mix of uncertainty that may lead to changes in firms’ decision about location.”

Keith Cooney, department head at Knight Frank’s business rates team commented: “The Government response today was that they would fund a valuation office to ensure this new procedure worked smoothly but it was announced a month ago that the valuation office was to have their budget cut by 25 per cent.”

The disclosure of the bill for the City will likely increase the pressure on Government to make changes to the business rates system in the budget next month.

There is also concern surrounding other issues with the revaluation process, including confusion among businesses about the rates appeals system, which could lead to “chaos”, Cooney said.

He explained: “It wasn’t correctly funded and they’re introducing a totally new complex procedure so lawyers could find themselves paying these high rates for quite some time.”

JLL head of corporate research for EMEA Tom Carroll agreed that the rates increase signals a mounting pressure for law firms.

“We expect all occupiers to review the impact on their portfolio and explore how they can mitigate some of the risks in certain high costs locations. We’ve seen a process of aggressive portfolio optimisation and that trend will continue.”

Past increase in business rates has led to a small number of firms abandoning the City, including, most notably, Norton Rose Fulbright, which relocated to More London in 2004, and Clifford Chance, which moved to Canary Wharf in 2003.

Whether the increase will lead to a second wave of firms leaving the City for alternative office locations remains to be seen, and property agents are sceptical the City business property market will be injured as a result of the rates increase.

However CBRE ratings senior director Tim Johnson said more firms could be looking at Canary Wharf as a favourable location to move to in the coming years as a result of the difference in rates.

“Rising will business rates will undoubtedly be a contributing factor for firms when looking at their options. One of the options will be Canary Wharf and the other will be cheaper business rates but I doubt the rates alone will be the primary driving force behind a move,” Johnson said.

JLL’s most recent real estate investment report shows that office space leases in the City accounted for 44 per cent of all transactions in 2016, while alternative locations accounted for 23 per cent.

But firms that made an early decision to move will undoubtedly continue to reap the costs benefits of their non-City offices. Business rates in Canary Wharf are predicted to rise by as little as 2 per cent in 2017/18.

Standing in stark comparison, City business rates have increased by nearly 30 per cent from April 2008 to 2015 with rates payable increasing by another 23 per cent in the next couple of years.

Freshfields recently confirmed that it will be moving into the city, taking out a lease on 100 Bishopsgate. The firm expects to pay £16.5m per annum for its new City headquarters.

Read more about UK 200 law firms’ rent bills and office spaces in The Lawyer’s UK 200 Workspace Trends 2016 report here.

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JLL looks to expand specialist business with GC hire

Jones Lang LaSalle is set to grow its specialist business Tétris Design and Build with the recruitment of a new head of legal.

Tétris specialises in office, hotel and retail fit-out projects with a turnover of around €500m and over 500 staff delivering projects in 15 countries.

A spokesperson on behalf of Tétris said: “The growth of Tétris combined with the fact that the industry we operate in is regulated means that a pan-EMEA legal resource is now justified.

“Legal services will continue to be provided by our existing country lawyers (and external advisers) but co-ordinated and facilitated by this new central expert resource.”

JLL acquired Tétris in 2007 and have since delivered more than 4,000 projects for corporate, investor, retail and hotel clients. In 2014 the turnover hit $236m.

RPC advised the design and build contractor on the integration of Bluu after its strategic acquisition by JLL in 2015. The firm now operates in 23 offices in 16 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and in Brazil.​

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