These are unprecedented – and incredibly uncertain – times. The coronavirus, or Covid-19, has rapidly become impossible to ignore.
The news keeps coming thick and fast as governments announce forced social distancing measures, the closure of non-essential businesses, event and flight cancellations and, in an increasing number of cases across Europe, complete societal lockdowns.
Despite positive, proactive moves from central banks including the US Federal Reserve, circuit breakers have been hit multiple times over the past week as stock markets spiral downwards. Short-selling restrictions have come into place across Europe as the continent quickly emerges as the epicentre of the pandemic: regulators in the UK, Italy, Spain and France have all introduced temporary limits on the practice for the second time this week as equity markets suffer major losses. You can read IFLR's (open access) explainer on circuit breakers and how they work here.
The implications for businesses, working practices, financial markets and society have already been severe – and the situation is constantly developing.
First things first – working practices have already changed significantly, with the growing belief that things may never quite go back to how they were before. With this in mind the IFLR team is offering its best tips and tricks for working remotely, whether it's your first time or you're a seasoned pro. The article is free to read here.Our coverage
With reporters in London, New York and Hong Kong SAR, IFLR and our sister publication Practice Insight have been covering coronavirus developments for some weeks now.
In Practice Insight, we can reveal that the International Capital Market Association and the International Securities Lending Association have written to the European Securities and Markets Authority requesting a delay to implementation of the Securities Financing Transactions Regulation (SFTR). Read the full piece here – and if you don’t have a subscription to Practice Insight, take a free trial or get in touch with us to arrange access.
We also looked at the way the coronavirus seems to have already revealed flaws in post-crisis regulatory reforms – from quantitative easing-linked asset bubbles to inadequate liquidity safeguards – this unprecedented pandemic has uncovered a range of cracks in the new normal.Where it began
Our coverage started with Asia reporter Karry Lai’s piece in mid-February on how force majeure certificates – of which approximately 5,600 worth around $72.5 billion have now been issued – were aiding Chinese businesses suffering from the immediate impact of manufacturing delays and store closures. Lawyers warned that these clauses, which are in normal times largely expected to go unused, had not been properly negotiated into contracts. Read the full piece here.
EMEA reporter Jimmie Franklin considered the coronavirus through the lens of China’s new foreign investment law, reporting in mid-February that various deals, including Japanese restaurant chain Daikiya’s planned Hong Kong SAR IPO, had already been pulled. Read more here.
Looking back on those pieces it’s clear that the vast majority underestimated the impact globalisation would have on what seemed like a relatively easily containable epidemic. As sources said just weeks ago, “SARS knocked an estimated one percent off of China’s growth rate, with a much more limited impact globally”.
We then looked at the range of Chinese companies issuing anti-epidemic bonds after the government offered quick approval processes to aid fundraising to help contain the virus. Asset managers were sceptical that the funds would definitely be used for Covid-19 emergency efforts given the lack of scrutiny. Read the full story here.Covid-19 goes global
On the capital markets side, Baker McKenzie lawyers from across the globe outlined the moves companies and exchanges have already made to mitigate the economic impact. From contractual implications for securities offerings to the immediate practical impact – such as virtual AGMs – it’s all here.
Americas editor John Crabb reports on the latest moves from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (Cfius), which has introduced an e-filing system in a direct response to the ongoing health crisis.Focus on Europe
The European M&A market has already stalled, with fears that transactions close to the finishing line will also be affected. Bob Bartell, global head of corporate finance at Duff & Phelps, tells us that 99.9% of M&A practitioners are waiting for further certainty before proceeding with deals.
Meanwhile Italian advisor Antonio Lanotte digs deep into the government's maxi anti-coronavirus decree: a €25 billion package announced on March 16 to help protect businesses and families from the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the full analysis here.What it means for fin reg
We will continue to keep this page updated with further developments as and when they come.
All of our coronavirus-related content is here – and will be continually updated:
No-deal Brexit fears resurface amid Covid-19 crisis (Practice Insight)
Coronavirus: markets show resilience in turbulent times (Practice Insight)