This is the first of a new series Casterrian Weekly Roundup articles which aim to capture news relevant to growing businesses.
We will share headlines and brief summaries of notable news stories from around the world, along with a link for those seeking further information.
The article will be published weekly every Monday and will begin with brief note on currency and market moves from the previous week, before moving on to headlines from around the business world.
Currency and market commentary
Sterling has taken a turn lower in early week trading, with markets reacting to both dovish talk form the Bank of England and to a report from the UK’s Institute for Government finding that it will be impossible to deliver the computer systems for the special arrangements for Northern Ireland’s border by the end of the year.
Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee, meanwhile, said in the FT over the weekend that he is ready to cut rates if data doesn’t improve, similar to the view expressed by BoE governor Mark Carney last week.
In the U.S. markets are factoring in just over a 55% chance for the Fed to cut by 0.25% or more by year end, up from about the 50% odds being given ahead of the jobs report. The European Central Bank, meanwhile, is embedded in a wait-and-see policy stance.
The U.S. Dollar turned modestly lower overall in N.Y. on Monday, though remains near the top of its January trading range. There was no data to drive direction, though a generally risk-on backdrop saw some USD safe-haven outflows. Wall Street moved to fresh record highs, while Treasury yields moved higher as well.
In Japan, the yen remained on generally weak footing as Asia’s MSCI Asia-Pacific index hit a new 19-month high with investors anticipating Wednesday’s signing of the U.S.-China phase-1 trade deal.
On Friday in commodities:
- Oil closed at $59.04
- Gold closed at $1,562.34
- Copper closed at $6,155
Fundamental shifts are disrupting the legal market
The 2020 Report on the State of the Legal Market from Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute has concluded that “a fundamental shift is now well underway”.
The report notes that, while the previous law firm-centric model where firms decide how services are priced and delivered has been “remarkably resilient” and moderately successful in recent years, clients have now taken “decisive control” of the market and are demanding improved efficiency, predictability and cost-effectiveness.
The report also notes “widespread disaggregation of services as clients have increasingly opted to create virtual teams” comprising outside counsel, legal staffing firms, accountants and third-party project managers to handle particular projects. The rapid growth of alternative legal service providers (ALSPs), such as the Big Four consulting firms and other non-law firm service providers, is also becoming a major disruptor of the traditional law firm model.
The full 2020 Report on the State of the Legal Market can be downloaded here.
Netherlands seeks to become global hub for corporate restructuring
The Dutch Parliament looks set to approve new legislation which seeks to position the Netherlands as a major international hub for corporate restructuring.
In December, the Dutch legislator published a bill for a new pre-insolvency tool, which aims to combine the best of the UK scheme of arrangement and the US Chapter 11 procedure.
The new legislation will be formally called ‘The Act regarding the binding approval of debt restructuring agreements’. Among restructuring professionals it is already widely referred to as the WHOA (Wet homologatie onderhands akkoord) or simply as the “Dutch Scheme”.
Currently, the WHOA is pending final approval by the Dutch parliament and is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2020.
Ireland winning the battle for foreign domestic investment
Last Wednesday, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys and IDA Ireland, the Irish Government agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland, announced that employment levels in its client companies have now reached 245,096 – the highest ever number employed in the multinational sector.
Minister Heather Humphreys TD said: “2019 was another very positive year for foreign direct investment in this country. The record level of employment represents a strong vote of confidence in our economy by international investors. It demonstrates too that Ireland’s economic strengths – particularly our first-class workforce and pro-enterprise policy environment – remain highly attractive to multinational companies.”
Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland said: “Foreign Direct Investment continues to be a substantive driver of the economy.”
Capital expenditure increased by 8% in the year to €5.9bn with the majority of that spend in Life Sciences and Technology.
Read Irish National Broadcaster RTÉ’s report here.
Deloitte launches Deloitte Legal Ventures
In the UK, Deloitte Legal launched Deloitte Legal Ventures in early December.
The move constitutes a large-scale tech engagement programme that will see 14 businesses (mostly startups) inducted into the rapidly growing Big Four firm’s legal business.
The first cohort of tech companies in Deloitte Legal Ventures will include, but is not limited to:
- Autologyx – a workflow automation platform.
- Avvoka – contracting platform, has been part of the Allen & Overy FUSE tech group.
- CourtQuant – litigation prediction specialists.
- Define – a drafting tool.
- Genie AI – AI-assisted drafting system.
- Juralio – legal matter and workflow visualisation tool.
- Kormoon.ai – compliance support system.
- PING – time-recording platform, previously part of MDR LAB, Mishcon is an investor also.
- Reynen Court – the now famous ‘legal App Store’ that handles matters such as security so you can jump on and use SaaS software more easily. Has several major law firms as backers.
- Tabled.io – matter management system.
Deloitte is also bringing in US-based legal tech consultants Sente Advisors, as well in-house education site Crafty Counsel. The programme will see Deloitte Legal become a user of the products and services offered by the chosen startups.
The world’s largest law firm Dentons to open an Irish office
Last week the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, announced it would open an Irish office in Dublin.
Irish lawyers Eavan Saunders and Peter O’Brien will be founders at the Dublin office, and Eavan will become managing partner.
Dentons say the office will be fully operational in Dublin by Q2 of this year, and that it intends to grow the office quickly.
Dentons’ Dublin office will initially focus on transactional work for clients, particularly in the financial services, real-estate, energy, infrastructure, and technology sectors.
The report from the Irish Law Society can be read here.
Disclaimer: The Casterrian Weekly Roundup is a marketing communication and should not be used for any investment research. This document is a general communication being provided for informational purposes only. This material does not contain sufficient information to support an investment decision and it should not be relied upon by you in evaluating the merits of investing in any securities or products.
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