EVOLVE OR PERISH: HOW FIRMS ADAPTED TO CHANGING MARKETS IN 2006

Author: | Published: 1 Nov 2006
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Law firms aren't traditionally the nimblest of organizations. Though innovative in how they solve problems, lawyers have always been rather reactive when it comes to market trends. Recently however, heads of capital markets are realizing the profit to be made by moving first. Whether the trend is Chinese companies listing in Hong Kong, synthetic CDOs in the US or hybrid debt in Europe, the past year has shown the benefits of spotting a trend early and adapting a firm's business model to take full advantage.

This is the IFLR Capital Markets Review 2006, annual analysis of the biggest financial and product trends of the past year and how they are affecting the business of running a law firm. Over the next 18 pages IFLR journalists look at what has been driving the equity capital markets, debt capital markets and structured finance in Europe, the Americas and Asia in 2006. It also ranks the elite of recommended firms in each practice area, in each jurisdiction.

European structured finance has been characterized by the need to avoid commoditization, while in the US the challenge for law firms is how to jump on the bandwagon of synthetic CDOs. Equity was more similar worldwide, with UK firms benefiting from the reaction to Sarbanes-Oxley by picking up mandates on new listings in Hong Kong and on London's Aim. In debt, the two hot topics were hybrids and high yield – but UK and US firms found different problems with capitalizing on them.

The Capital Markets Review also includes a breakdown and ranking of how firms have coped with capital markets fluctuations in the world's 24 biggest or most dynamic economies. The one consistent message is that equity markets worldwide have performed strongly, with new offerings doubling in Brazil, almost tripling in Italy and more than quadrupling in Germany compared to 2005. The question is, which firms have benefited from having a strong equity practice to begin with, and which have evolved to take advantage of the trend?

European debt: An integrated practice stream
Why blending bond and bank capacity is the best way to win debt work in a modern, fluid market
 
Securitization: Innovators needed
Firms need to find a way to cope with commoditization
 
Equity-linked debt: Reaping rewards
How Linklaters has gained from more innovative convertibles
 
Asian equity: All aboard
US stock exchanges' loss is UK law firms' gain in Hong Kong
 
US debt: Hybrid approach
Should firms have dedicated teams for US hybrid securities?
 
Structured finance: Thank you Isda
New templates have caused an explosion in synthetic CDOs
 
European equity: Stock picking
How firms are reacting to the stampede of equity to Europe
 
Country analysis
How capital markets trends have affected firms in 20 economies worldwide