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Legal market overview
With the BVI maintaining its popularity as a jurisdiction for offshore holding structures, its legal market continues to welcome new entrants. In 2012, international offshore law firms Mourant Ozannes and Bedell Cristin launched BVI offices, while at the start of 2013 Carey Olsen, looking to strengthen its Caribbean offering to clients, arrived through an association with Hempel and Boyd. In October 2013, Hempel and Boyd rebranded, taking the Carey Olsen name in the jurisdiction.
Local firms are also expanding at international level. BVI firm O'Neal Webster - Barristers & Solicitors has launched a London office under Christopher McKenzie, who previously headed Walkers’ BVI private client team.
The Legal Profession Bill, introduced by BVI premier Orlando Smith in June 2012, is anticipated to come into effect shortly. It is welcomed by the local industry as it will regulate and protect BVI law practice; designed to maintain the reputation of the legal profession and to promote the island as a globally competitive financial services centre, it will also introduce a code of ethics for the BVI’s legal profession.
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This client briefing examines a number of issues which arise on the redemption of shares by an investor in a BVI investment fund which may lead to disputes between the investor, the fund, and other investors.
By Kerry Anderson
Click here -> onealwebster.asianinvestor.dec12 to read Kerry Anderson's co-published chapter featured in Asian Investor (December 2012) entitled 'Fast and Simple in the BVI - The British Virgin Islands have responded to regulatory changes by making fund and manager domiciling painless and efficient.
The attempt by Fairfield Sentry's liquidators to recover monies paid out to investors by way of redemption proceeds has been blocked by both the BVI High Court and now the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, both Courts finding that the liquidators have no ability to do so. Read more ...
The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal has re-affirmed that a debt arising out of unpaid redemption proceeds does not confer standing on an investor to apply for the winding up of the company. Read more...
Fund investors and the fund industry globally should take note of the recent decision of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Appellate Division’s (the “Court of Appeal”) in Madoff related litigation. Essentially, the Court of Appeal found that monies could not be recovered from former investors by the liquidators of Fairfield Sentry Limited (“Fairfield”) a BVI investment fund and investor in Bernard L Madoff Investments Securities limited (“BLMIS”), where those investors had redeemed their shares for significant value before BLMIS collapsed.
The BVI Business Companies (Amendment) Act, 2012 (the Amendment Act) and the BVI Business Company Regulations, 2012 (the Regulations) came into force on 15 October 2012. The new legislation is designed to refine and upgrade the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 (the Act) to ensure the British Virgin Islands (BVI) maintains its position as one of the leading corporate domiciles.
The British Virgin Islands ("BVI") is the world's leading offshore corporate domicile and is known for continuously refining its laws to accord with, and improve upon international standards whilst promoting a business oriented framework.
WHERE IS THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS The British Virgin Islands (“BVI”) is a British overseas territory situated to the east of Puerto Rico between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. The country consists of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke and over fifty other smaller islands and cays clustered around the aquamarine waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
The much anticipated Trade Marks Bill (“the Bill”) was recently circulated to the industry for comments. The Bill, which when enacted will be known as the Trade Marks Act, 2012, promises to introduce much needed change to the trademark industry in the British Virgin Islands and place the jurisdiction in line with other modern jurisdictions.
The Exempted Limited Partnership Law, 2014 (the New ELP Law ) has replaced the Exempted Limited Partnership Law (2013 Revision) (the Previous Law ). The New Law includes significant changes to the Cayman Islands' statutory framework regulating exempted limited partnerships ( ELPs ) that will increase the attractiveness of ELPs and will be appreciated by managers, investors and creditors alike. Private equity sponsors in particular will notice substantial improvements that are indicative of Cayman's continuing commitment to balanced and commercially sensible legislation. Read more...
RESTRUCTURING - COURT PROCEDURES
On 23 May 2014, the States of Jersey passed the Companies (Amendment No. 11) (Jersey) Law 201- (the Amendment Law ). This will now be sent to the UK Privy Council for consideration, then laid before the States of Jersey for a final time before coming into force. The latest information we have is that the Privy Council will be approving the law on 19 July 2014 and it may come into effect as soon as 4 August 2014.
The Hague, 4 July 2014 - BarentsKrans has appointed Joost Fanoy as a partner in the Antitrust & Public Procurement department, effective as of July 1, 2014. Joost specializes in European law in general with a particular focus on European and Dutch competition, public procurement and state aid law and is the head of the Antitrust and Public Procurement Practice Group. Joost is also a member of the Cartel damages team of BarentsKrans.
PineBridge Investments Middle East, a global multi-asset class investment manager with regional headquarters in Bahrain, and nearly 60 years of experience in emerging and developed markets, has acquired a 50% equity stake in Romatem, the leading physical therapy and rehabilitation services chain in Turkey.
Isbank issued 750 million USD notes under its GMTN programme established in 2013. The notes are listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 5 % with a maturity date 2021. Mr. Omer Collak (partner) and Mr. Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have acted for the joint lead managers Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Halkbank issued five-year term fixed interest rate US currency notes, with a total amount of USD 500 million with an interest rate of 4.765 % and an annual coupon rate of 4.750 %. The notes offered the lowest borrowing rate in the first five-month period of 2014, and total demand rose nearly nine-fold due to high investor interest. The note issuance drew great interest from international investors settled in the Middle East and Asia, as well as those investors based in the US and Europe. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised the joint lead managers.
Turkiye Finans issued the first ringgit sukuk originating from Turkey. The bank initially raised MYR 1 billion with a five-year commodity sukuk on June 30, with an annual return of 6 %. The sukuk under the programme will have tenure of one to 20 years. Funds raised will go towards general corporate purposes. The sukuk will be issued through TF Varlik Kiralama A.S., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turkiye Finans. Malaysia's RAM Ratings has accorded the programme an indicative long-term rating of AA3. HSBC Amanah Malaysia and Standard Chartered Saadiq were the joint advisers. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised Turkiye Finans and the issuer TF Varlik Kiralama A.S.
Ziraat Bank, the largest state owned bank of Turkey, established GMTN programme on 21 May 2014, for the notes to be issued up to USD 2 billion listed on Irish Stock Exchange. The notes are unconditional, unsubordinated and unsecured obligations, and rank pari-passu with Ziraat Bank's other senior unsecured obligations.
Vakifbank issued EUR 500 million 5-year unsecured and unsubordinated notes under the first GMTN programme of Turkey established in 2013. The notes are listed on Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 3.5 % p.a. with a maturity date 17 June 2019. This is the very first EUR denominated RegS offering of a Turkish entity.