18 Dec 2013

The Sharp End - Winter 2013

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* Getting in the zone
In what China views as the most ground breaking economic experiment since the introduction of special economic zones in the early 1980's, China is testing an opening up of its financial system. A pilot free trade zone in Shanghai has been officially launched, where restrictions on foreign investment will be eased and its currency fully convertible. CF Lui, a corporate partner in our Shanghai office, discusses the plans for this ambitious project and what foreign investors need to do to get in the zone.

*Viewpoint
As 2013 draws to a close, in this issue's Viewpoint we ask Tom Nicholls a partner in our capital markets group, for his views on market activity on AIM this year. We discuss what effect the government's tax policy changes will have on the market and whether there has been any impact from the widening of the application of the Takeover Code. We also ask him whether the revamped ISDX Growth Market is trying to be the new AIM.

* Africa's changing landscape
With robust economic growth continuing in the African "lion economies", the African investment landscape has changed dramatically in the last two decades, offering unprecedented opportunities. Yet these opportunities are not without their challenges. Jeremy Sheldon, a corporate energy partner in our London office, gives some practical tips on how to overcome some of the challenges faced when embarking on an investment transaction or project in Africa.

* Time to check your relationship status
New measures intended to be implemented next year by the FCA, will have a significant impact on companies with controlling shareholders who are premium listed or looking to join the premium segment. Joanne Wallace and Ben Mercer discuss the return of the relationship agreement, along with other requirements that the FCA hopes will be enough to protect minority shareholders without risking damage to London's attractiveness as a listing venue.

* Out with the old in with the new....fair deal
The government recently published its revised "Fair Deal" policy, which applies where a public service is outsourced to an independent provider. Transferring employees are now able to stay in their public sector pension scheme, replacing the need to establish a broadly comparable scheme under the old policy. Fraser Sparks, a pensions partner in our London office, considers what impact this has had and is likely to have on M&A transactions involving businesses providing services to the public sector.

Stephenson Harwood news
Since the last issue of The Sharp End, we have advised on a significant number of transactions including six IPOs in the past 12 months. Other high profile deals we have advised on include the acquisition of Balfour Beatty WorkPlace by GDF Suez for £190 million and the first agreement to exploit the hydrocarbons sector in Somalia. Our rail team won Rail Finance Law Firm of the Year at the Global Transport Finance awards 2013 and we continue to expand our teams in Greater China, London and Paris.

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Andrew McLean

Andrew McLean
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T:  +44 20 7809 2085 M:  +44 7557 972 946 Email Andrew | Vcard Office:  London

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