Continental Breakfast: your daily update on what’s happening in Europe.
A major report on boardroom confidence has revealed that the U.K.’s largest public companies are overwhelmingly downbeat on the country’s economic outlook for 2017.
Three-quarters of FTSE350 companies surveyed by ICSA, a U.K.-based professional body for governance, said they expected economic conditions to deteriorate during the next 12 months. None of the companies expected a significant boost to the British economy in 2017, and only 8 percent predicted even a “slight” improvement, according to the report, which was produced in conjunction with the Financial Times.
ICSA policy and research director Peter Swabey says that the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union has seen “a return to caution” among boardrooms.
More than half of the companies said that Brexit would damage their business. Just under a third said it would have no impact, but only 9 percent said it would be positive.
Despite this, 54 percent of companies did not include Brexit among the principal risks they currently face, while just one of the companies said it was considering shifting business away from the U.K. as a result.
There are fears the Brexit vote could result in banks and other companies, including global law firms, transferring business from London to other European cities. Financial institutions are particularly concerned about a potential loss of access to the EU single market, which many rely on to run European trading operations out of London.
A leaked document produced by magic circle law firms Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters recently revealed that the U.K. finance industry wants the British government to allow it to remain subject to EU laws for up to five years after Brexit.
Geopolitical Shocks Hammer IPO Market
Brexit and other major geopolitical shocks have taken their toll on capital markets activity in 2016, with the total amount raised by U.K. IPOs down by around 60 percent on the previous year, according to research by accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Amazingly, just one U.K. IPO has raised more than 500 million pounds ($630 million) so far this year, according to PwC data: British medical products and technologies company Convatec raised 1.47 billion pounds ($1.85 billion) in an October listing that created roles for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters.
The widespread market uncertainty over the past 12 months has impacted exchanges across Europe, with total IPO proceeds for the region down by around a half on the previous year.
Despite saying that the forthcoming elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands will potentially continue to “unsettle” European IPOs, PwC capital markets head Mark Hughes expects listings activity to recover in 2017.
“The European IPO pipeline looks healthy,” he says. “Cross-border IPO activity is also beginning to build, with a number of international companies looking at listing in London.”
Oil Prices Soar As More Countries Agree To Cut Production
The recovery in global oil prices has been boosted by the decision of 11 oil-producing nations to join the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in cutting outputs next year.
OPEC, which includes Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, agreed in late November to slash oil production in an attempt to inflate prices. The organization was joined over the weekend by a number of other major oil producers, including Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Russia, in what is the first such deal for 15 years.
The commitment of the non-OPEC nations means that global oil production will now drop by more than 1.75 million barrels per day for the first six months of 2016.
Having already surged by around 15 percent this month, oil prices rose by a further 4 percent in early trading on Monday. Brent crude futures, a key benchmark for global oil prices, hit $57.89—a 17-month high.
The sustained depression in global oil prices has had a significant impact on law firm energy practices, with clients scaling back on key exploration and production activities. It hasn’t been entirely bad news for energy sector lawyers, however: many have been kept busy by an increase in other work, such as disputes and restructuring.