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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Coronavirus

What are the legal implications?

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus – Covid-19 – is having a deep impact on businesses across all sectors.

While the primary focus of any business will be on ensuring the health and wellbeing of staff, businesses are facing an increasing number of challenges that need to be addressed and mitigated. The legal implications are wide-ranging and complex. Below we identify some of the risks and the practical considerations.

Find out more about how Clifford Chance is addressing the risks of coronavirus in its own organisation.

CONTRACTS AND SUPPLY CHAINS

Coronavirus: Electronic signatures: when can these be used? A global perspective

The precautions being put in place globally to address the spread of Coronavirus (COVID 19) include recommending or requiring many people to work from home. This has raised the question of how to execute documents in these circumstances and whether it is possible to legally execute documents by electronic signature. The appropriate method of execution will depend on the applicable fact pattern. Relevant factors include the governing law of the document, the type of document that is to be signed, the form of electronic signature used and any cross-border implications to be considered. This briefing provides a summary table of how certain jurisdictions view three different types of execution - email execution, jpeg signatures and e-signature platforms. Read more about Coronavirus and Electronic Signatures - when can these be used? A global perspective.

Coronavirus, contracts, supply chains and the threat of disputes

There is huge uncertainty as to the course that Coronavirus will take, but uncertainty is not a justification for companies and their directors to ignore the threat posed by the virus. Planning must include how to handle existing transactions that may be at risk from the virus, as well as the protections required in transactions being negotiated now. In this briefing, we look at issues in English law. Read more about coronavirus, contracts, supply chains and the threat of disputes.

Coronavirus: Can electronic signatures help?

The precautions being put in place globally to address the spread of Coronavirus (Covid 19) include recommending or requiring many to work from home. This has raised the question of whether it is possible to legally execute documents by electronic signature. The answer is it depends. Relevant factors include the governing law of the document, the type of document that is to be signed, the form of electronic signature used and whether there are cross-border implications to be considered. This briefing considers the position of electronic signatures under English law and looks briefly at electronic signing (or e-signing) platforms. Read more about Coronavirus - can electronic signaures help?

Coronavirus: Force Majeure clauses

We have started seeing a steady flow of force majeure claims across our network, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019 and the consequential surveillance and controls introduced by the Chinese and other governments. In this briefing, we look at issues under English law. Read more on Coronavirus and Force Majeure.

ISSUES FOR BUSINESS

Coronavirus: Government financial aid to business - an international guide

As well as a public-health crisis, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is creating an unprecedented shock to the global economy. This guide provides a review of the main actions taken by governments and central banks in 21 countries around the world to provide financial support to business in order to mitigate the economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Read more about Coronavirus and Government financial aid to business - an international guide.

Coronavirus: Impact on Merger Review Timeframes - a Global Overview

The coronavirus outbreak is causing merger control clearances to be delayed. Numerous competition authorities are requesting merging parties to refrain from making filings, or are otherwise experiencing difficulties in providing timely clearances due to staff working remotely or being absent.  Some authorities have closed completely. This briefing summarises announced measures for various jurisdictions. This overview will be updated on a daily basis, with the most up-to-date version always available here. Read more about Coronavirus and the impact on Merger Review Timeframes - a Global Overview.

Coronavirus: Competitor coordination of coronavirus responses - how to mitigate antitrust risks

Various forms of cooperation among competitors may be beneficial to improve their ability to provide needed products and services in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Antitrust laws need not inhibit collaboration that is reasonably necessary to enhance how competitors serve their customers. But businesses must take certain steps to mitigate antitrust and other legal risks. Read more about competitor coordination of coronavirus responses and how to mitigate antitrust risks.

Coronavirus: Challenges for employers

As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak continues to spread, businesses face a range of issues. What are the key risks and legal considerations for employers? Read more about Coronavirus (Covid-19) and challenges for employers.

Coronavirus: Checklist for financial services firms

As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak continues to spread, there has been increased focus from financial services regulators around the world on the contingency plans of regulated financial firms. Regulators will expect firms to take all reasonable steps to continue meeting their regulatory obligations and to assess their operational risks, their ability to continue operating and the steps they need to take to serve and support their customers. Read more about the checklists for financial services firms.

Coronavirus: The Data Protection challenges

As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, companies are implementing an increasing number of measures to prevent contamination of their premises and amongst their staff. These measures sometimes require them to collect, analyse and share information about individuals, to comply with Health and Safety regulations, but it does raise data protection challenges. What types of personal data can be collected, and how? Can it be shared with group companies, and with entities outside the group such as service providers and authorities? Read more about Coronavirus and the Data Protection challenges.

Coronavirus: Events cancellation - issues to consider

The outbreak of Coronavirus has led to the cancellation of significant trade, arts and sporting events and governments banning large gatherings. The impact of such cancellations and bans is wide ranging and may result in significant losses for many businesses, including organisers, hosts, participants, sponsors, media firms and numerous other businesses that would otherwise stand to benefit from the event related tourism. Many businesses now face a critical decision as to whether to continue with events as planned, or whether to consider postponement or cancellation. In this briefing, we set out eight key questions to consider when faced with the potential cancellation of an event. Read more about coronavirus - events cancellation and the issues to consider.

Coronavirus: Financial impact on businesses

The financial impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on businesses which operate, or are reliant upon suppliers or customers, in affected areas has been widely reported. Whilst certain sectors including airlines, manufacturing, retail and tourism appear to be worst affected, others will undoubtedly be impacted if the Coronavirus cannot be contained in the timeframe originally forecasted. Read more on the financial difficulties triggered by the impact of Coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Five steps to building a financial institution's resilience

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is, by any measure, a disruption like to no other. In the financial services sector, particularly in the UK, regulated firms such as banks, asset managers and insurers must ensure that their Coronavirus contingency planning meets not just the complex challenges raised by this event but also increasingly stringent regulatory standards. Read more about the five steps to building a financial institution's resilience.

Coronavirus: Implications for AGMs

The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the potential risks of aiding the spread of the virus by holding an AGM where a large number of people gather, coupled with the potential for either travel restrictions or the closure of any pre-booked AGM venue should the current situation deteriorate, mean that this AGM season may see some disruption. Time spent planning ahead now in order to minimise any potential disruption will be well spent. In this briefing, we look at the position for UK companies. Read more about Coronavirus and the implications for AGMs.

Coronavirus: Insurance issues

The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the resulting disruption to travel and supply chains, as well as to operations, risks exposure to significant losses for many businesses. Those losses may well be covered under insurance. We consider the steps that businesses with policies governed by English law need to take to determine whether relevant cover is available, and to maximise the prospects of the insurance responding where it is. Read more about Coronavirus (Covid-19) and insurance issues.

Coronavirus: Making deals in a volatile market

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is likely to lead to a period of volatility and uncertainty in global and domestic markets, making settling valuation and pricing, and achieving deal certainty in M&A transactions, more challenging. Sellers are likely to have a valuation outlook that assumes a short period of uncertainty; Buyers may worry about an extended or deep period of uncertainty. In this briefing, we look at some of the techniques within an M&A process that are relevant to the London market and may be used by both sides to bridge a valuation gap or by a Buyer to retain some flexibility to walk away if the target business is more badly affected than expected. Read more about Coronavirus - making deals in a volatile market.

FINANCING AND CAPITAL MARKETS

Coronavirus: Leveraged Finance - Key considerations in respect of debt buybacks and other liability management transactions

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to significantly impact global markets, resulting in price reductions for high yield bonds such that many of those instruments are now trading below par, some significantly so. As mentioned in our "Coronavirus: Leveraged Finance – Immediate Financing Considerations for Financial Sponsors, Underwriters and Debt Investors" briefing, debt buybacks and other liability management options are on the minds of a number of financial sponsors, issuers and investment banks. Read more about Leveraged Finance - Key considerations in respect of debt buybacks and other liability management transactions.

Coronavirus: Debt Capital Markets facilities to support UK and EEA companies

Governments, regulators and banks across the world are taking steps to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this briefing, we set out the eligibility criteria for the following schemes that have been implemented, or recently expanded, by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank (ECB) to help companies in need of liquidity: 

1. the Bank of England's Covid-19 Corporate Finance Facility (CCFF) for the purchase of commercial paper;

2. the ECB's pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP); and

3. the Bank of England's £200 billion expansion of its asset purchase scheme for corporate bonds.

Read more about Coronavirus and Debt Capital Markets facilities to support UK and EEA companies.

Coronavirus: Impact on European Residential Mortgage Securitisation Markets

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had immediate wide-ranging effects on the capital markets. Debt and equity capital markets have been impacted by falling prices, high volatility and a lack of certainty. COVID-19 presents a particular set of risks to investors in residential mortgage-backed transactions and – in the light of recent central bank measures – some unique and compelling opportunities as a source of alternative funding. Read more about Coronavirus and the impact on European Residential Mortgage Securitisation Markets.

Coronavirus: Investment Grade Lending: Immediate financing considerations for Borrowers, Underwriters and Lenders

The global escalation of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is likely to lead to an increased demand for working capital, even amongst investment grade corporate borrowers. Whilst the prevailing hope and expectation is that the current dislocation is temporary, interim liquidity needs may pre-empt new credit lines or utilisation of undrawn lines. In addition the current climate may create potential disruption to routine reporting by borrowers and lead to enhanced information requests from lenders. Borrowers will want to carefully consider the impact of potential rating changes and the timing of any refinancings in terms of pricing more generally. Finally borrowers will want to carefully consider the impact of potential breaches and events of default, so as to approach their relationship lenders for any required consent or amendment well in advance of difficulty arising. Read more about Coronavirus and  Investment Grade Lending.

Coronavirus: Leveraged Finance - Immediate financing considerations for financial sponsors, underwriters and debt investors

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has coincided with a critical time in the financial reporting cycle for many financial sponsor-owned businesses. For those with a 31 December financial year-end, their annual audited financial statements will be due within the next few weeks, but may already be regarded as out of date as events have escalated. In this briefing, we consider financings in the European markets. Read more about Coronavirus and Leveraged Finance.

Coronavirus: Infrastructure finance - Immediate financing considerations for infrastructure investors and funders

The global escalation of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has come at a critical time in the financial reporting cycle for many infrastructure investor-owned businesses. In this briefing, we consider some of the key financing issues, looking at liquidity, yield and capital management tools, such as debt buy-backs, as well as touching on issues for businesses further down the stress/distress curve. In this briefing we consider financings in the European markets. Read more about Coronavirus and Infrastructure finance.

Coronavirus issues relating to capital markets in APAC

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is causing disruption to businesses across sectors and jurisdictions. In this briefing we highlight capital markets related issues arising from the outbreak and offer some practical considerations when executing capital markets transactions during this time. Read more about coronavirus issues relating to capital markets in APAC.

Coronavirus: Close-outs - where are we now?

Coronavirus has caused disruption and volatility to the financial markets leading to margin calls and settlement disruptions with the result that defaults may become more widespread. This note sets out some reminders for institutions dealing with failures to pay or deliver to bear in mind, looking at close outs and terminations in general terms. In this briefing, we look at issues under English law (as a common choice under industry documentation). Read more about Coronavirus close-outs - where are we now?

Coronavirus: Issues for loan financings in APAC

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is causing disruption to businesses across sectors and jurisdictions. In this briefing we offer some practical tips for lenders and borrowers in loan financings to consider. Read more on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) issues relating to loan financings in APAC

SECTOR FOCUS

Coronavirus: Issues for the Infrastructure Sector

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a significant impact on the infrastructure sector. Read more about Coronavirus and the issues for the Infrastructure Sector.

Coronavirus: Insurance regulators respond to Coronavirus pandemic

Over the last few days we have seen a number of insurance regulators announcing measures and guidance for firms trying to respond to the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. Read more about Insurance regulators respond to Coronavirus pandemic. 

Coronavirus: Helping healthcare companies navigate Coronavirus - Covid-19

With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) companies in the Healthcare and Life Sciences sector are now facing a multitude of supply chain and regulatory challenges. With the very rapid spread of the disease progressing, a multi-jurisdictional wave of new sector rules and (national) regulations is under way. Read more about helping healthcare companies navigate Coronavirus - Covid-19.

Coronavirus: Aircraft Operating Leases

The aviation sector has been one of the industries most severely and immediately affected by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The decline in commercial passenger travel has put pressure on airlines, particularly those operating in the Greater China and Asia‑Pacific region, a number of whom were already competing in a challenging market. Further, the disruption to supply chains, services and human resources for manufacturers, maintenance providers and other industry participants has been significant and is likely to continue in the short to medium term. In this briefing, we focus on the discrete considerations for aircraft operating leases. Read more about coronavirus and aircraft operting leases.

Coronavirus: Issues for the construction industry

The primary focus of any business responding to Covid-19 will be on ensuring the health and wellbeing of all staff and their families and mitigating the risk of spreading illness. Businesses are now facing an increasing number of challenges that need to be addressed and mitigated and the Construction industry is no exception. In this briefing we touch on the areas where we have been receiving requests for assistance and guidance. Read more about Coronavirus and issues for the construction industry.

Coronavirus: Issues for the maritime industry

The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) is having a significant impact on the maritime industry as demand for the transportation of goods in and out of China falls, ships and their crews are stuck at sea, ports may be closed and vessels delayed by being quarantined. This is having a knock-on effect in many other areas, including for example the construction industry. In this briefing we look at some of the areas for consideration. Read more about coronavirus and the legal issues for the maritime industry.

Coronavirus: Issues for the rail sector

Coronavirus is beginning to have a material impact on the supply chains of many businesses; and the rail industry is no exception. Rail equipment procurement is international, with extensive subcontract chains. In this briefing we look at some of the areas for consideration, including those where we have received requests for assistance and guidance. Read more about coronavirus and the issues for the rail sector.

COUNTRY SPOTLIGHT

Australia: The impact of Coronavirus: Measures taken by the Government

Recent measures have been implemented by the Australian government to help companies in Australia to continue their business whilst the markets may deteriorate and uncertainties continue. Read more about Coronavirus and the measures taken by the Australian Government.

Belgium: The implications for Belgian law governed agreements – What remedies to invoke or not to invoke?

As companies and entire countries are grappling with the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak, questions start to arise on whether the parties can be compelled to continue to execute their contracts, and what remedies may be available to either (i) avoid performance or (ii) force a company to comply with its contractual obligations. The present briefing examines what remedies parties could possibly invoke under Belgian law governed agreements. Obviously, there is no “one size fits all” and the availability and usefulness of such remedies will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, such remedies might be impacted by any governmental or regulatory measures taken to alleviate the economic difficulties experienced as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, such as emergency financial assistance to distressed companies, suspension of certain contractual obligations or restrictions on enforcement measures. Read more about Coronavirus and the implications for Belgian law governed agreements – What remedies to invoke or not to invoke?

Belgium: State aid measures to help companies in need

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 is a major economic shock to the global economy. Against this background, the European Commission announced to facilitate the granting of state aid by the EU member states. In Belgium, the federal and regional governments announced several aid packages. Parts of the packages will likely need to be approved by the Commission under its new framework before they can be implemented. Read more about Coronavirus and Belgian state aid measures to help companies in need.

Brazil: Cross Border Considerations Related to Brazil

The financial impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on Brazil has been growing over the past few weeks. While the spread of the virus throughout Brazil has been gradual, the impact in the coming months will almost certainly be significant, as the global markets continue to experience a period of great volatility. In this bulletin, we provide a brief overview of the impact of Coronavirus on Brazil and describe some practical considerations and challenges for business transactions. We are dealing with and analyzing the issues touched upon in this summary and we are available to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have. Read more about Coronavirus and Cross Border Considerations Related to Brazil.

Czech Republic: Currency risk hedging and the impacts on liquidity

Current fluctuations on currency markets can adversely affect the liquidity of companies that have entered into derivative transactions with banks and other financial institutions in order to hedge themselves against the risk of foreign exchange movements. These derivative transactions are usually governed by any of the master agreements prepared by professional associations, such as ISDA or the Czech Banking Association. As a standard practice in entering into master agreements, financial institutions insist on that the master agreements also contain a provision requiring the client (i.e., the company wishing to be hedged against risks) to provide the particular financial institution with collateral if the financial institution's exposure against the client under the derivative transactions entered into with the client exceeds an agreed threshold. The financial institution's exposure against the client then depends, very simply put, on the loss or profit generated by the financial institution should the transaction be terminated on the calculation date of the exposure. Market conditions on the calculation date can differ quite substantially from those prevailing on the date when the derivative transaction was entered into. Read more about Coronavirus and currency risk hedging and the impacts on liquidity in the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic: Impact of Coronavirus related measures on employers in the Czech Republic

Employers are facing many challenges due to the coronavirus spread. Unlike other European countries that have endeavoured to relax their legislation on redundancies, the Czech Republic is among those countries whose government has been calling on the employers to maintain jobs and has been taking measures to support the economy (e.g., no-interest loans to businesses, tax suspension, compensation provided to employers for compensatory wages paid by them, etc.). Read more about the impact of Coronavirus related measures on employers in the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic: The Czech Coronavirus lock-down: the immediate impact on businesses

The Czech Republic's government has been one of the more radical movers in invoking extraordinary measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Initially, a number of those measures mainly restricted private life, including instruction in schools, social gatherings, cultural and sports events, and personal travel. However, the second wave of measures in force from 16 March do have a direct impact on business activities as well. Read more about the Czech Coronavirus lock-down: the immediate impact on businesses.

Europe: The European Commission's Coronavirus State Aid Framework

The European Commission has published a framework document setting the conditions that it will apply temporarily when clearing EU governments' packages of State aid measures to support businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Read more about the European Commission's Coronavirus State Aid Framework.

France: Force Majeure and hardship under French contract law

As companies around the world assess and try to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on their contractual relationships, this summary looks at some specific questions regarding force majeure and hardship related issues under French law. Read more about Coronavirus and Force Majeure and hardship under French contract law.

France: Guaranteeing bank loans in response to Covid-19 pandemic (update)

As SARS-CoV-2 virus (Covid-19 pandemic) spreads, France has announced several measures aimed at countering the economic repercussions of the epidemic. Among such measures, a guarantee to be granted by the French state for new bank loans for a total amount of EUR 300 billion (see previous Client Briefing).  Such measures are state aid cleared under the EU Commission's revised framework (see linked article) Read more about France to guarantee bank loans in response to Covid-19 pandemic (update).

France: Guaranteeing bank loans further to the Coronavirus

As Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, France has announced several measures aimed at countering the economic repercussions of the epidemic. Among such measures, a guarantee to be granted by the French state for new bank loans for a total amount of EUR 300 billion. Such measures are state aid cleared under the EU Commission's revised framework. Read more about France to guarantee bank loans further to the Coronavirus crisis.

France: Recent Developments Regarding Virtual Shareholder and Board Meetings in France

French Government publishes a draft bill adapting the decision-making process for companies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more about Coronavirus and recent developments regarding virtual shareholder and board meetings in France.

Germany: Government support measures to help German companies in need

In Germany, the Federal and state governments have announced a multi-billion package of measures to support businesses affected by the Coronavirus outbreak following the release by the European Commission of details of a new State aid framework allowing such support measures. Read more about Coronavirus and Government support measures to help German companies in need.

Germany: Managing Risk in Commercial Contracts – the German Law Perspective

The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting people and businesses on a global scale. Despite significant governmental actions around the globe, the virus continues to spread, affecting business models and disrupting supply chains. Companies and their directors have to manage the threat posed by the virus not only with a view to current commercial relationships that may be at risk from the virus, but also regarding protections required in transactions that are being negotiated now and in the future. In this briefing, we look at German law issues arising from the current events. Read more about Coronavirus and Managing Risk in Commercial Contracts – the German Law Perspective.

Greece: State aid measures to help Greek companies in need

The recent outbreak of Coronavirus is a major economic shock to the global economy. Against this background, the European Commission decided to facilitate the granting of state aid by the EU Member States. In Greece, the Government has announced a EUR 3.8 billion package of aid measures. Read more about Coronavirus and state aid measures to help Greek companies in need.

Italy: Coronavirus outbreak and its effects on contract performance: a practical guide under Italian law

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Italy and other countries and the consequential measures introduced by national governments may trigger one or more issues in the contractual relationships between national and international parties. Read more about the Coronavirus outbreak and its effects on contract performance: a practical guide under Italian law.

Italy: Emergency in Italy (simplified remote working regime approved)

To help contain and manage the Coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency in Italy, a new, currently evolving, provision of law promotes remote working. Read more about the simplified remote working regime approved in Italy. To read the briefing in Italian, click here.

Italy: Impact on loans in Italy and the securitization and covered bond markets

Through the so called "Decreto Cura Italia" (the "Covid Decree") the Italian Government has recently enacted a set of measures to address the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the Italian economy. These measures became effective on publication of the Covid Decree in the Italian Official Gazette on 17 March 2020 and need to be enshrined into law by the Parliament within 60 days. The measures included in the Covid Decree aim at providing temporary aid to families, companies and enterpreneurs dealing with the isolation and disruption caused by the spreading of the pandemic. Core measures to mitigate the consequences of the turmoil include payment holidays under loan agreements. Read more about Coronavirus and the impact on loans in Italy and the securitization and covered bond markets.

Italy: State aid, the EU framework and the Italian decree

The Coronavirus outbreak raises questions on the application of the EU state aid rules to financial supports offered by Member States to mitigate heavy economic repercussions. Among others, Italy has recently intervened to relieve affected Italian companies. Against this backdrop, the European Commission has showed willingness to relax the EU state aid rules and has moved fast to adopted new rules to assist the economy of its Member States. Read more about state aid, the EU framework and the Italian decree.

Italy: Tax measures to incentivise disposals of NPEs

New Italian measures in the coronavirus package to foster disposals of NPEs through conversion of DTAs into tax credits. Read more about tax measures to incentivise disposals of NPEs. 

Netherlands: State aid measures to help Dutch companies in need

The European Commission has released some details of a new State aid framework that will allow EU governments to put in place support measures to help businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. In the Netherlands, the Government has announced a multi-billion euros package of such measures, parts of which will need to be approved by the Commission under its new framework before it can be implemented by the Government. Read more about Coronavirus and State aid measures to help Dutch companies in need.

Netherlands: Update on economic measures by the Dutch government for companies facing financial difficulties

On 12 March 2020 the Dutch government, alongside other governments throughout the EU, has announced a number of economic measures to enhance the prospects of Dutch companies surviving the financial consequences of the Coronavirus. In our earlier client briefing we have explained these measures further. On 17 March 2020 an unprecedented additional set of measures was announced. In this client briefing we provide an update on these measures relevant for midsized and large Dutch companies. Unless indicated otherwise, these measures are in addition to the measures announced on 12 March 2020. Read more about the impact of Coronavirus and the economic measures by the Dutch government for companies facing financial difficulties.

Poland: Banks offer assistance

On 16 March 2020 the Polish Bank Association (ZBP) published a bulletin on the measures agreed on by Polish banks to assist borrowers affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, which are to be promptly taken. The measures can be divided into four groups. The first group concerns granting customers payment holidays comprising a grace period for the repayment of facilities, leasing instalments and amounts payable under factoring agreements. The second group concerns the renewal of existing financing. The third group of measures is to make short-term liquidity facilities available. The fourth group relates to increasing the possibility of concluding cashless transactions. We set out below the issues we believe to be key concerning the first and second groups of assistance measures announced by the ZBP, i.e. those concerning payment holidays and renewal of financing. Short-term liquidity facilities will be key, too, but their scale and format will depend on the government programme that is yet to be announced. Read more about Coronavirus - Polish banks offer assistance.

Poland: Impact of the Coronavirus on debt financing transactions

The COVID-19 epidemic may pose a challenge for existing relationships between parties to transactions for financing in the form of facilities and bonds. In Poland, as at the date of this briefing (16 March 2020) there are no known cases of notice to terminate or modify facility agreements or present bonds for immediate redemption because of the threat of the epidemic. However, in the current situation there are reasonable concerns about maintaining the liquidity and creditworthiness of borrowers/issuers in certain sectors, which is a result of the general situation and the legal measures the government is taking in connection with the threat. Consequently, both banks and state institutions have made announcements of support for borrowers affected by the consequences of the epidemic. In this briefing, we look at selected issues concerning debt financing granted to entrepreneurs in Poland in the form of facilities and bonds and the legal risks the parties to the transactions (debtors and creditors) should take into account when analysing the currently situation. Read more about the impact of the Coronavirus on debt financing transaction on the Polish market.

Romania: Support measures for Romanian companies facing financial difficulties

The Romanian government has adopted a number of place support measures to help businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including State-guaranteed loans, subsidised interest rates, several tax reliefs and the State covering part of the costs of technical unemployment. Read more about Coronavirus and the support measures for Romanian companies facing financial difficulties.

Spain: New barriers to Foreign Direct Investment

Spanish Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, of 17 March, on urgent extraordinary measures to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19 (the "RDL") has suspended, effective as of 18 March 2020, the regime on the deregulation of foreign direct investment in Spain, indefinitely, until the Spanish Government decides otherwise. It has added a new Article 7 bis for this purpose and has established new rules on sanctions in Articles 8 and 12 of Act 19/2003, of 4 July, on the legal regime governing the movement of capital and financial transactions with foreign countries. The RDL is based in this regard on Regulation (EU) 2019/452 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union ("Regulation 2019/452"), and reproduces some of its provisions practically word for word. Read more about Coronavirus and the new barriers to Foreign Direct Investment in Spain.

Spain: Moratorium on mortgage payments

Spanish Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, of 17 March, on urgent extraordinary measures to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19 ("RDL 8/2020") was published in the Official State Gazette on 18 March 2020. The measures include the application of a moratorium on the payment of mortgage loans for those debtors considered "economically vulnerable". Read more about Coronavirus and moratorium on mortgage payments

UK: Financial Distress – Tip Sheet for Boards of Directors

We live in uncertain times, where many companies face challenges brought about by the sudden and wide-ranging economic impact of COVID-19. Whilst the UK government are implementing measures to alleviate some of the financial consequences including the provision of emergency finance, government backed guarantees, and the deferment of tax, it is inevitable that many boards face unprecedented situations and challenges ahead. Your company's financial distress may be a challenging time in which critical, yet prudent decisions must be made. This tip sheet may focus your mind on best practice in these difficult circumstances. Read more about Coronavirus and financial distress - a tip sheet for Boards of Directors.

UK: Financial distress triggered by the impact of the Coronavirus - Tip sheet for Shareholder Directors

Many boards face unprecedented situations and challenges ahead. Directors representing shareholders (such as private equity investors), need to act with all directors to consider the economic challenges brought about by the sudden and wide-ranging economic impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, such representative directors must be acutely sensitive to managing conflicts and tensions relating to their appointing shareholder to ensure they fulfil their primary duty as a director, and take care not to expose their appointing shareholder and investment teams to liability. Read more about Coronavirus and financial distress triggered by the impact of the Coronavirus - Tip sheet for Shareholder Directors in the UK.

UK: Government announces aid for business

The UK Government has announced a £350 billion package of measures to support businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The package includes subsidised loans, support for the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and grants for small businesses. Before it is implemented, the aid package will need to be cleared by the European Commission. Clearance is expected to be swift, but could result in changes. Read more about Coronavirus and the UK Government announces aid for business.

UK: Impacts on the UK Planning System

Over the past two weeks, all areas of Government, business and daily life have experienced unprecedented disruption in response to the Coronavirus outbreak (Covid-19). At both central and local government level, the planning system is faced with significant challenges and is coming under great pressure to identify solutions in order to keep democratic processes going and to ensure key planning services continue to be delivered to business, local communities and applicants. This briefing looks at the ways in which local authorities and applicants have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and the solutions that are being put in place to reduce business interruption in the interim. This briefing will be updated on a regular basis to keep abreast of the changing circumstances. Read more about Coronavirus and the impacts on the UK planning system.

UK: The impact of Coronavirus on commercial leases

The UK Government has announced that "all non-essential businesses and premises must now close". Landlords and tenants must comply with emergency laws enacted by the UK Government. These laws are likely to override any conflicting obligation in their occupational lease (for example, a tenant's "keep open" covenant or a landlord's obligation to provide services). This briefing considers the key issues arising from this for both landlords and tenants under commercial occupational leases. Read more about Coronavirus and the impact of Coronavirus on commercial leases in the UK.

United States: Expedited Antitrust Procedure Now Available for Business Collaborations that Combat the Coronavirus

On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, issued a joint statement providing antitrust guidance to businesses collaborating to combat the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. As part of this guidance, the Agencies announced that they would expedite their antitrust review of prospective competitor collaborations by parties seeking to respond to COVID-19, an effort the Agencies recognized will require "unprecedented cooperation" between enforcement agencies and private industry. The Agencies warned, however, that they would vigilantly pursue antitrust violations by companies that use the present market turbulence to collude or exclude competitors in violation of the antitrust laws. The Agencies' guidance affects any business whose activities impact U.S. commerce. Read more about Expedited Antitrust Procedure Now Available for Business Collaborations that Combat the Coronavirus.

United States: SEC staff guidance and conditional regulatory relief for affected U.S. public companies

On March 13, 2020, the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) provided guidance to U.S. public companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic (“COVID-19”) regarding changing the time, date or location of annual shareholder meetings (the “Staff Guidance”, available here). In addition, on March 4, 2020, the SEC issued an order (the “Exemptive Order”, available here) providing conditional regulatory relief to extend certain filing deadlines for companies unable to make timely filings due COVID-19 during March and April 2020. This briefing provides an overview of the regulatory relief provided by the Staff Guidance and Exemptive Order. Read more about Coronavirus and SEC staff guidance and conditional regulatory relief for affected U.S. public companies.

United States: U.S. Federal Reserve Establishes New Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility

On March 23, 2020, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System launched six new programs in response to the distressed economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a new Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to facilitate the issuance of asset-backed securities. Under the TALF, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will establish and fund a special purpose vehicle to buy eligible ABS issued on or after March 23, 2020. Read more about Coronavirus and the U.S. Federal Reserve Establishes New Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility.

United States: US Federal Reserve Widens Availability of Asset-based Funding

On March 17, 2020, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System launched the Primary Dealer Credit Facility to expand liquidity and available credit in response to the distressed economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The PDCF will function as a secured loan facility for primary dealers, similar to the Federal Reserve’s discount window for depository institutions. The PDCF will permit primary dealers to pledge a much broader range of collateral under repo transactions with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York than the government-backed debt required for open-market operations. Read more about Coronavirus and US Federal Reserve Widens Availability of Asset-based Funding.

Crisis management

We work with the world’s leading businesses to protect them against reputational exposure and guide them confidently through crises as they unfold, and as they restore their businesses.

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