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It was a slow start for the M&A market in 2013, with global M&A down significantly in the first half of the year and Europe-targeted M&A particularly low. Q3 and Q4 saw a notable uptick in transactions, though the year’s total deal value for UK M&A activity was its lowest since 2001. The story for 2014 appears much more positive; deal flow is up, and the general feeling among law firms is one of cautious optimism. The booming IPO market is another indicator of increasing investor confidence. US-based acquirers accounted for a large percentage of inbound investment into the UK; 216 deals in 2013 involved US acquirers. Liberty Global’s acquisition of Virgin Media for £16bn accounted for a high proportion of the total deal value attributed to US inbound transactions, and reflected the continued strength of TMT-sector deals.

The capital markets saw a significant uptick in activity in 2013, particularly in the second half of the year. A number of IPOs made the headlines including Royal Mail’s high-profile privatisation, Merlin Entertainment’s £3.2bn float and Barclay’s £5.2bn secondary offering. The AIM market saw its fair share of work, including a £225m IPO by Tungsten Corporation and a £278m IPO by RM2 International. This recovery in the capital markets was broad-based with a wide range of companies taking advantage of the favourable market conditions.


Howard Kennedy

London law firm, Howard Kennedy provides a full range of corporate and personal services to an established client base, comprising of national and international organisations, SME and OME businesses, entrepreneurs, their funders and high-net-worth individuals.

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The continued public and political scrutiny of financial institutions’ and corporations’ tax affairs has impacted on the role played by corporate tax lawyers. Tax has become a boardroom issue with advice now encompassing the reputational consequences of tax structures. On the transactional side, the uptick in capital markets deals has helped balance a somewhat patchy M&A market.

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Legal Developments in London for Overview

Legal Developments in the UK

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    What has been achieved since the introduction of the Act that was intended to tackle bribery in business?

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  • Foreign Intercepts

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    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

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  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

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