Latham.London

EU Prospectus Regulation: New Format and Content Requirements

Posted in Finance and Capital Markets

The full regulation will come into force in July, imposing new requirements for prospectuses

By James Inness and Connor Cahalane

The new EU Prospectus Regulation will take full effect on 21 July 2019. Issuers and other parties to capital markets transactions can expect changes in the following areas:

  • Prospectus summary: New content requirements and length restrictions will make the summary section more concise while allowing issuers the flexibility to include key information for investors.
  • Risk factors: With some material changes to the rules relating to risk factors and new ESMA guidelines, risk factors are likely to be a particular focus area for regulators.
  • Simplified prospectus: A new reduced disclosure regime will apply to secondary issues, such as rights issues.
  • Growth prospectus: Certain issuers, mainly SMEs, will be able to make public offers using an EU Growth Prospectus with lighter disclosure requirements and a standardised format.

Although the new rules will not take effect until July, competent authorities are already applying the new requirements to any prospectuses under review that are expected to be approved after 21 July 2019. In the coming weeks, Latham & Watkins will publish additional posts that take a more detailed look at the changes to the summary section, risk factors, and other areas that will impact transactions. Continue Reading

Italy Introduces Comprehensive Reform of Class Action Rules

Posted in Dispute Resolution, EU and Competition

New law aims to expand the currently limited application of class actions in Italy.

By Antonio Distefano and Isabella Porchia

The Italian Parliament recently introduced a comprehensive reform of the rules governing class actions with Law No. 31 of 12 April 2019 (the Reform). The Reform, which was published in the Official Gazette on 18 April 2019, will exclusively apply to unlawful conducts carried out after it goes into effect on 19 April 2020. In the meantime, the provisions currently in force shall continue to apply. Continue Reading

Market Participants Welcome Clarity on German Real Estate Transfer Tax Reform

Posted in Commercial, EU and Competition

Federal Ministry of Finance publishes draft tax bill outlining new measures effective 1 January 2020.

By Tobias Klass

The Federal Ministry of Finance has released its first draft tax bill on the contemplated real estate transfer tax (RETT) reform, setting out the general framework to which market participants must conform. German political debate has focused on strengthening German RETT laws for some time. The Conference of the German Ministers of Finance added weight to this political debate in June 2018, requesting that tax department heads of the federal and state ministries of finance transfer the resolution into a draft bill. Consequently, market participants have structured transactions to account for considerable uncertainties as regards RETT consequences.

The proposed draft measures are consistent with those outlined in June 2018, however, for the first time, market participants are gaining more clarity about when the new rules likely will apply. Generally speaking, the new rules will only apply to transactions as of 1 January 2020. Continue Reading

FCJ Decision Updates Shareholders’ Resolution Requirement for Sale of GmbH Assets

Posted in Commercial, EU and Competition

While a shareholders’ resolution is still required, the FCJ left open the question of whether notarization of the resolution is necessary.

By Christian Thiele and Otto von Gruben

The German Federal Court of Justice (FCJ) decided on 8 January 2019 that Section 179a (1) of the German Stock Corporation Act (AktG) does not apply mutatis mutandis to a German GmbH (II ZR 364/18). The decision contradicts the prevailing view in legal literature so far, pursuant to which a notarized shareholders’ resolution approving the sale and transfer of all or substantially all assets of a GmbH was required.

Background

Section 179a (1) AktG provides that an agreement, pursuant to which a German stock corporation undertakes to transfer all of its assets requires an approving shareholders’ resolution. If a respective agreement is executed without such resolution, it remains provisionally invalid until it is approved by way of a shareholders’ resolution in accordance with Section 179a (1) AktG. If the shareholders refuse to approve such agreement, it becomes permanently void. Continue Reading

Lessons for UK Companies From US DOJ Guidance on Corporate Compliance Programs

Posted in Employment and Benefits

The DOJ’s recently updated guidance poses helpful questions for UK corporates evaluating the effectiveness of their internal compliance programmes.

By Stuart Alford QC, Erin Brown Jones, and Nathan H. Seltzer

It is well known that a corporate’s failure to prevent offences can be answered with a defence of “adequate procedures” in a case of bribery or “reasonable procedures” in a case of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. However, with no case law to aid comprehension of what “adequate” or “reasonable” mean, UK corporates are forced to seek answers elsewhere.

The UK government has issued guidance alongside both the Bribery Act 2010 and the Criminal Finances 2017, and these documents remain the principal source for interpreting those acts. However, UK companies looking to understand the wider expectations of law enforcement — particularly companies that operate in multiple jurisdictions — may find useful the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) updated guidance “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” and recent comments from Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski introducing the updated guidance, which replaces similar DOJ guidance issued in 2017.

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Making Your Carve-Out a Clean Cut

Posted in M&A and Private Equity

Corporates should leverage growing carve-out and divestment activity across the European market with a strategic approach to deal making.

By Robbie McLaren, Emily Cridland, and Catherine Campbell

In the current deal market, corporates are taking an increasingly strategic and value-centred approach to planning carve-outs and divestments in order to maximise value. According to advisory firm EY, 84% of corporates questioned in late 2018 said they plan to divest an asset within the next two years, up from 20% in 2015. Streamlining operating models and managing a unit’s position in the market are most commonly cited as triggers for divestment. While financial distress can be a factor, EY’s findings demonstrate the analytical approach corporates are taking to divestments. This is echoed in recent deals we have advised on, including Telenor’s sale of its Central and Eastern Europe Business to PPF Group and Allergan’s sale of its global generic pharmaceuticals business to Teva.

In our view, corporates should approach each step of the carve-out process with two key factors in mind — what drives value in the carved-out business and how such value drivers will translate once the business is in the buyer’s hands.

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Fraud Unravels All – Even Post-Judgment

Posted in Dispute Resolution

English Supreme Court rules that there is no reasonable diligence requirement barring a fresh action to set aside a judgment obtained by fraud.

Oliver E. Browne and Alex Cox

Introduction

In Takhar v Gracefield Developments Limited and others [2019] UKSC 13, the English Supreme Court considered whether a party applying to set aside an earlier judgment on the basis of fraud is required to show that it could not have discovered the fraud by the exercise of reasonable diligence. The court unanimously ruled that there is no reasonable diligence requirement barring fresh actions based on fraud, and allowed the appeal.

Background

The appellant, Mrs. Takhar, acquired a number of properties in Coventry as part of a separation from her husband in 1999. She subsequently suffered personal and financial problems, largely as a result of the poor condition of the properties. In 2004, she became reacquainted with her cousin, Mrs. Krishan, whom she had not seen for many years. Mrs. Krishan and her husband, Dr. Krishan, agreed to provide financial help and practical assistance to Mrs. Takhar. Continue Reading

UK’s Proposed “Online Harms” Compliance and Enforcement Regime Will Target Platforms

Posted in Emerging Companies and Technology

UK publishes White Paper with hard-hitting regulatory proposals to tackle online harms.

By Alain Traill, Stuart Davis, Andrew Moyle, Deborah Kirk and Gail Crawford

On 8 April 2019, the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published an “Online Harms White Paper”, proposing a new compliance and enforcement regime intended to combat online harms. The regime is designed to force online platforms to move away from self-regulation and sets out a legal framework to tackle users’ illegal and socially harmful activity. Although the regime appears to target larger social media platforms, the proposals technically extend to all organisations that provide online platforms allowing user interaction or user-generated content (not limited to social media companies or even ‘service providers’ in the traditional sense) and set out a potentially onerous and punitive compliance and enforcement regime for a broad set of online providers. Continue Reading

Sections 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 Have Bite!

Posted in Dispute Resolution

A rare example of the English High Court varying an arbitral award.

By Oliver E. Browne and Eleanor M. Scogings

In Dakshu Patel v. Kesha Patel [2019] EWHC 298 (Ch), the English High Court upheld an appeal under section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the Act) against an arbitral award. The court concluded that the tribunal had erred in law in finding that there had been a variation of the profit-sharing provisions of two partnership agreements. The court also indicated that a related section 68 challenge would have succeeded (had it been necessary to decide the point). The court varied the award and held that the parties were entitled to share the profits and losses equally under the partnership agreements.

The case highlights the very high threshold for permission to appeal an award, and is a rare example of an appeal under section 69 succeeding in the English courts. On the facts, there was no conduct or agreement that could be interpreted as a variation. While courts do not usually interfere in the arbitration process, the tribunal had reached what the court described as a “very surprising conclusion” that warranted intervention. Continue Reading

English High Court: Public Interest Outweighed Confidentiality of Arbitration

Posted in Dispute Resolution

Non-parties are entitled to obtain documents related to an arbitration if the case falls within the “interests of justice” exception.

By Eleanor M. Scogings

In The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators v B, C and D,[1] the English High Court granted the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Institute) access to documents related to an arbitration for use in disciplinary proceedings. Applying CPR 5.4C(2), the court balanced the Institute’s legitimate interests in obtaining copies of the documents with the duty of confidentiality in arbitration proceedings. The court held that the general public interest “in maintaining the quality of and standards of arbitrators” outweighed the need to preserve confidentiality of the arbitration.

The case highlights the tension between the public interest in accessing documents related to an arbitration and the confidentiality of the proceedings. On the facts, the quality and standard of arbitrators was of public importance, and minimal harm, if any, would be caused by allowing the Institute access to the documents. Continue Reading

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