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STROOCK NAMES TWO NEW CO-LEADERS OF ITS BROAD CORPORATE PRACTICE

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STROOCK NAMES TWO NEW CO-LEADERS OF ITS BROAD CORPORATE PRACTICE

Partners Christopher Doyle and Jeffrey Lowenthal to oversee firm’s cross-functional teams in M&A, private equity, securities and business transactions

Reflecting a recent surge in the volume and diversity in its transactional work growing out of the firm’s recently adopted strategic plan, Stroock has named two new co-heads of its firm wide Corporate Practice group.  The new leadership is supported by a cross-functional team of partners in a variety of related groups.

Taking over as co-chairs of the Corporate team are longtime partners Christopher Doyle and Jeffrey Lowenthal. Mr. Doyle has particular experience in mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, commodities financings and corporate governance. Mr. Lowenthal focuses on corporate finance, reorganizations and business combinations. Both lawyers boast extensive deal histories.

The elevation of new corporate group leadership complements a recent firm wide strategic review at Stroock. “Our transactional practice, with a powerful, integrated platform, is designed to help our clients across so many areas of corporate work – M&A, capital markets, financial restructurings, private equity and other investment funds, tax, and government regulatory counsel in support of their most critical deals,” said Stroock co-managing partner Jeffrey Keitelman.

“Chris Doyle and Jeff Lowenthal have an enormous breadth of combined transactional experience and first-rate client advisory skills, as well as the ability to motivate and connect with their colleagues, making them the ideal partners to oversee our multi-disciplinary deal teams and energetically grow our corporate services offerings,” Mr. Keitelman continued, noting that the previous co-heads of the group had recently moved to other firms.

Stroock’s corporate group has turned in a strong year in transactions, advising on large M&A deals in the software, financial services, cybersecurity, insurance, specialty chemicals and other sectors.  In addition to its M&A work, Stroock’s corporate practice encompasses a wide range of matters in the areas of capital markets, commodities focused on the energy sector, private equity, insurance, private funds and infrastructure, among others.

Thoroughly integrated with the firm’s transactional practices, Stroock’s financial restructuring lawyers have worked on the largest bankruptcy cases of the year, including Caesars, Avaya, Seadrill, Toys R Us and 21st Century Oncology, which total approximately $43 billion of restructured debt. And Stroock’s real estate group has been at the center of the biggest commercial property deals, including the $2.15 billion recapitalization of 10 Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

Not to be overlooked, the firm’s regulatory team in Washington has represented buyers and sellers undergoing sensitive CFIUS and related agency reviews in connection with more than $83 billion in inbound acquisitions into the U.S. by foreign purchasers.

“There are so many crosswinds impacting corporate transactions right now – a changing tax code, shifting regulatory environment, sky-high valuations, extreme consolidation in many industries. We think we have the right mix of expertise and experience, especially with Chris and Jeff at the helm, to help our clients make the best decisions regarding their own dealmaking,” said Stroock co-managing partner Alan Klinger.

Backgrounds on Messrs. Doyle and Lowenthal

Christopher Doyle advises on mergers, acquisition financing and securities offerings, Mr. Doyle counsels companies and boards on corporate governance and compliance matters. He represents issuers and underwriters in debt and equity offerings, including IPOs, PIPE, registered offerings and 144/A transactions. His clients have included leading names in energy/commodities, defense and aerospace, technology, software, manufacturing and retail.

According to his Chambers review, clients note of Mr. Doyle, “He is the one that is creative in terms of finding solutions to problems. He is absolutely all over the detail. He knows everything.”

Christopher Doyle was a member of the M&A and Corporate Finance groups at National Westminster Bank before joining Stroock in 1995.

Jeffrey Lowenthal joined Stroock in 1990 after practicing six years with Cravath, Swaine& Moore. His practice spans corporate financings and securities offerings, as well as acquisitions, reorganizations and general corporate matters. In addition to work on public offerings and private placements, he advises public companies on complex disclosure requirements under federal securities laws.

Mr. Lowenthal has represented parties on all sides of business combinations – mergers and asset sales as well as joint ventures. In the credit space, he often advises bondholder committees, lenders, insurers and other institutions and investors in large debt restructurings. He has handled deals in a wide range of industries, including apparel/retail, energy, technology, gaming, transportation and financial services.

Mr. Lowenthal has been a featured speaker on corporate matters for the Practicing Law Institute.

Stroock provides strategic transactional, regulatory and litigation advice to advance the business objectives of leading financial institutions, multinational corporations and entrepreneurial businesses in the U.S. and globally.  With a rich history dating back 140 years, the firm has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, DC. For more, visit www.stroock.com

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Sterling rises above $1.37 for first time since 2018; UK inflation rises

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Sterling rises above $1.37 for first time since 2018; UK inflation rises 1

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON (Reuters) – A combination of heightened risk appetite in global markets and UK-specific optimism lifted the pound on Wednesday, as it strengthened to its highest in nearly three years against the dollar and five-month highs against the euro.

The dollar weakened against major currencies for the third straight session, helped by U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen’s urging lawmakers to “act big” on spending and worry about debt later.

The pound rose above $1.37, hitting $1.3720 — its highest since May 2018 — at 1045 GMT. By 1136 GMT it had eased some gains and changed hands at $1.3687, up 0.4% on the day and up 0.2% so far this year.

Versus the euro, the pound hit a five-month high of 88.38 pence per euro, before easing to 88.51 at 1137 GMT, up around 0.5% on the day.

The pound’s recent strengthening can be attributed in part to relief among investors that the impact of Brexit has not caused the chaos some feared, as well as a lessening of negative rates expectations, said Neil Jones, head of FX sales at Mizuho.

“Going into early 2021, there was a bearish sentiment building into the pound on the Brexit deal, in terms of maybe it had a limited reach, and then secondly an expectation of negative rates and so to some extent the market has been cutting down on sterling shorts because neither of those things have been quite so apparent as they were,” he said.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said last week that there were “lots of issues” with cutting interest rates below zero – a comment which caused sterling to jump.

The UK’s progress in rolling out vaccines is also seen as a positive for investors, Jones said.

Currently, the United Kingdom has vaccinated 4.27 million people with a first dose of the vaccine, among the best in the world per head of population.

“Further progress in vaccinations (a pick-up in the daily rate) by the time the BoE MPC meeting takes place on 4th February may prove enough to hold off on any additional monetary easing,” wrote Derek Halpenny, head of research for global markets at MUFG.

Inflation data for December showed that prices in the UK picked up by more than expected in December, to a 0.6% annual rate.0.6

Inflation has been below the Bank of England’s 2% target since mid-2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it close to zero as the economy tanked.

(Graphic: CFTC: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/oakpeyayxpr/CFTC.png)

(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Larry King)

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Euro sinks amid broader risk rally against dollar

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Euro sinks amid broader risk rally against dollar 2

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) – The euro struggled to join a broader risk rally against the dollar on Wednesday as analysts said the risk of extended lockdowns in Europe to combat the spread of COVID-19 and the continent’s lag in a vaccine rollout were weighing on the currency.

Down 0.1% against the dollar at $1.2117 by 1130 GMT, Europe’s shared currency had only the safe-haven Swiss franc and Sweden’s crown for company in resisting a broad rally against the greenback by the G-10 group of currencies.

“We’re getting more headlines that the current lockdowns will be extended further, which could mean that the euro zone would be flirting with a double-dip recession before long,” said Valentin Marinov, head of G10 FX research at Credit Agricole, noting Europe’s lag in rolling out a coronavirus vaccine compared to the United States and Britain.

“So all of that plays into the story that tomorrow’s ECB meeting, while uneventful in terms of policy announcements, could convey a relatively dovish message to the market. On top of that, President Lagarde could once again jawbone the euro, so the euro is kind of lagging behind.”

Marinov also noted price action in the pound, which hit $1.3720 – a 2-1/2-year high – and 88.38 pence – its highest since May 2020 against the euro – as a contributing factor to euro weakness. [GBP/]

There was also focus on a story by Bloomberg News, which reported the European Central Bank was conducting its bond purchases with specific yield spreads in mind, a strategy that would be reminiscent of yield curve control.

Elsewhere, the risk-sensitive Australian dollar gained 0.4% to $0.7727. The New Zealand dollar, also a commodity currency like the Aussie, gained 0.25% to $0.7133.

DOLLAR WEAKNESS

While the world will be watching Joe Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president at noon in Washington (1700 GMT), traders were more focused on his policies than the ceremony.

U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen urged lawmakers at her confirmation hearing to “act big” on stimulus spending and said she believes in market-determined exchange rates, without expressing a view on the dollar’s direction.

The index that measures the dollar’s strength against a basket of peers was up almost 0.1% at 90.510. The euro forms nearly 60% of the dollar index by weight.

It also fell 0.1% against the Japanese yen to 103.81 yen per dollar.

While the dollar has perked up in recent weeks on the back of a rise in U.S. Treasury yields, investors still expect the currency to weaken.

“We remain bearish U.S. dollar, and expect the downtrend to resume as U.S. real yields top out,” said Ebrahim Rahbari, FX strategist at CitiFX.

“Continued Fed dovishness remains important for our view, in addition to global recovery, so we’ll watch upcoming Fed-speak closely.”

Positioning data shows investors are overwhelmingly short dollars as they figure that budget and current account deficits will weigh on the greenback.

(Graphic: Dollar positioning: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/oakveyombvr/Pasted%20image%201611132945366.png)

UBS Global Wealth Management’s chief investment officer Mark Haefele reiterated a bearish view on the dollar, saying that pro-cyclical currencies such as the euro, commodity-producer currencies, and the pound would benefit “from a broadening economic recovery supported by vaccine rollouts”.

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin fell 4%, trading at $34,468.

(Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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England soccer star Rashford nets younger buyers for Burberry

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England soccer star Rashford nets younger buyers for Burberry 3

By Sarah Young

LONDON (Reuters) – Burberry stuck to its full-year goals on Wednesday after a media campaign fronted by high-profile English soccer star and social justice advocate Marcus Rashford drew a younger clientele to the British luxury brand.

Higher full-price sales would boost annual margins and Asian demand remained strong, Burberry said, while warning that it could suffer more sales disruption from COVID-19 lockdowns.

Manchester United striker Rashford, 23, has won plaudits for his campaign to help ensure that poorer children do not go hungry with schools closed during the pandemic.

A first coronavirus wave last year cut Burberry’s sales by as much as 45% before a bounce back on strong demand in mainland China and South Korea, which continued in the last few months.

Shares in Burberry were up 5% to 1,825 pence at 0905 GMT, with Citi analysts saying that improved sales quality from fewer markdowns would drive full-year consensus upgrades.

Burberry’s 9% sales decline in its third quarter was worse than the 6% fall in the second, and the company said that 15% of stores were currently closed and 36% operating with restrictions as a result of measures to curb COVID-19’s spread.

“We expect trading will remain susceptible to regional disruptions as we close the financial year,” Burberry said, adding that it was confident of rebounding when the pandemic eases given the brand’s resonance with customers.

In the third quarter, comparable store sales in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa declined 37%, hit by shops shut in lockdowns and a lack of tourists visiting Europe, but in the same period, it posted sales growth of 11% in Asia Pacific.

Burberry said that Britain’s new relationship with the European Union would cause headwinds, warning of a modest increase in costs to comply with new rules and also the impact of an end to a scheme for VAT refunds for non-EU tourists.

This would make Britain a less attractive destination for luxury shopping when tourism returns after the pandemic, Burberry said, adding that it would try to mitigate the effect.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton, James Davey and Alexander Smith)

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