• At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
  • Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
  • Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
  • Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
  • Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
  • In the fast-changing world of employment law our clients need practical, commercial and cost-effective advice. They get this from our team of employment law professionals.
  • Our team of leading IP advisors deliver cost-effective, strategic and commercial advice to ensure that your IP assets are protected and leveraged to add real value to your business.
  • Our litigation practice advises on all aspects of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on ownership, exploitation and infringement of intellectual property rights and commercial disputes in the technology sector.
  • We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
  • We work alongside companies, many with disruptive technologies, that seek funding, as well as with the venture capital firms, institutional investors and corporate ventures that want to invest in exciting business opportunities.
  • Our regulatory specialists work alongside Kemp Little’s corporate and commercial professionals to help meet their compliance obligations.
  • With a service that is commercial and responsive to our clients’ needs, you will find our tax advice easy to understand, cost-effective and geared towards maximising your tax benefits.
  • At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
  • We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
  • Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
  • We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
  • We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
  • For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
  • Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
  • The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
  • Whether ERP, Linux or Windows; software or infrastructure as a service in the cloud, in a virtualised environment, or as a mobile or service-oriented architecture, we have the experience to resolve legal issues across the spectrum of commercial computer platforms.
  • Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
  • We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
  • Our legal professionals work alongside social media providers and users in relation to the commercial, privacy, data, advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate issues that arise in this dynamic sector.
  • Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
  • Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
  • Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
  • Kemp Little is trusted by some of the world’s leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
  • HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
  • FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they don’t give away to get you started.

IPO Watch

Last month we promised more on Alibaba, and we certainly got more with a slew of additional filings throughout the month.  The two things we didn’t get: a firm price and a date.

All we know is that interest in acquiring stock has been huge: when the company – often described as mash-up between Amazon, eBay and PayPal for China – kicked off its worldwide roadshow last week, over 800 money managers queued up at the Walfdorf-Astoria in Manhattan to witness a lunchtime presentation hosted by Jack Ma, Alibaba’s enigmatic executive chairman and co-founder. The New York Times reported that some prospective investors were being turned away due to lack of space.

Indeed, Alibaba’s underwriters told their sales staff last Friday that they plan to close orders for the IPO by Wednesday afternoon and that the price range might increase beyond the already disclosed $60 to $66 a share, putting the total IPO value beyond $24 billion.

It is expected that the final decision will be made on Thursday, when underwriters are expected to confirm the price of the offering. Alibaba would then begin trading the next day on NYSE.

It’s no surprise that Alibaba is the hottest ticket in town: its most recent IPO prospectus revealed it has 279 million online customers who spend almost $300 billion a year on goods, and it delivers 6 billion packages to customers each year. Showing growth isn’t a problem either: As Fortune magazine wrote: “It’s not just a market leader, it’s practically the whole market—a powerhouse that handles an incredible 86% of the online retail sales in China.

However, in the US many commentators are focussing on both the minutiae of the ownership structure and the wider geo-political and economic differences between the US and China to make the point that whilst American financial and consumer markets remain widely open to China, the opposite isn’t true. 

There are 106 Chinese companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq but no US companies listed in China. China maintains capital controls and has a non-convertible currency, and so foreign companies rarely list on a Chinese stock exchange. For some commentators, though, that is the point:  no American company could have listed in China with as much ease and with as much goodwill as Alibaba has enjoyed so far on its listing in the US. 

Even the way the Alibaba IPO is structured has led some commentators to highlight that a day-one participator in the Alibaba listing will not find herself holding stock in the company itself.  As Chinese law restricts ownership of certain company assets to Chinese nationals, what investors will be acquiring as part of the Alibaba listing is a stake in a Cayman-registered holding company.  Not only that, but the licences which make Alibaba’s business possible are, according to the Financial Times, held in so-called “variable interest entities” owned by Jack Ma and his associates. Alibaba also only holds limited percentages of its key subsidiary companies which house its payment and logistics platforms. 

It is clear that equity holders will have no control.  Whilst this is not dissimilar from some of the larger US listed entities, the fact that Jack Ma has publically asserted that his priorities are “customers first, employees second, and shareholders third” has prompted some US commentators to question the wisdom of an investor being part of what is tipped to be the largest US IPO in history. 

Not that many individual investors will have the chance to be involved anyway. “It’s totally pathetic,” Michael Cohn, chief market strategist at Atlantis Asset Management told CNBC last week: “The public’s just not allowed to participate… The large fund people that manage money for, just say, the Fidelitys, the Vanguards of the world and the hedge funds, are the ones that [will] get the largest allocation.”    

For further information please contact Charles Claisse.