KNOWING MATTERS

MEDIA ALERT

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 18, 2018 – Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm, and the exclusive thought leadership sponsor of the 2018 World Gas Conference, announced today that nine of its Energy, Corporate and Litigation partners will be appearing as masterclass leaders, moderators and speakers at the upcoming World Gas Conference in Washington, D.C. from June 25th to June 29th.

“Baker Botts is a recognized leader in the global energy sector, and we are delighted to be the exclusive thought leadership sponsor for the World Gas Conference, one of the most important global energy conferences,” said Steven Miles, a Washington, D.C. based partner and Chair of the firm’s Energy Sector Committee.

“The depth, breadth and sheer number of Baker Botts energy sector partners, from multiple practice areas, who are participating on panels, speaking at the event and have submitted papers and briefs, really speaks to our leadership, experience and expertise in the global energy arena,” said Jason Bennett, a Houston based partner and Chair of the firm’s Global Projects practice.

Partners from Baker Botts' Energy, Corporate and Litigation practices who will be leading masterclasses, speaking and appearing on panels include:
  • Houston based Energy partner and Chair of the firm’s Global Projects Practice, Jason Bennett and Washington based Energy partner, Tom Holmberg will lead an industry Master Class Course on “LNG Projects – Structuring and Contracting Strategies in Today’s Market” on Monday, June 25th at 9:00 am

  • London based Energy partner Hamish McArdle will be discussing “The Shifting Sands of Shale Gas Abundance and Global Markets“ on Wednesday, June 27th at 10:20 am

  • Washington based partner and Chair of the firm’s Energy Sector Committee, Steven Miles will be moderating a panel titled “The Global LNG Market: Key Drivers, Challenges and Opportunities” on Wednesday, June 27th at 10:20 am

  • Houston based Corporate partner Kelly Rose will be moderating a panel titled “Inclusion Drives Innovation: Promoting Women & Diversity” on Wednesday, June 27th at 10:20 am

  • Austin based Litigation partner Aileen Hooks will be discussing “Transmission Pipelines: Trends and Challenges” on Wednesday, June 27th at 11:40 am

  • Houston based Energy partner David Jetter will be speaking on a panel titled “Changes in Emerging Gas Markets – Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America” on Thursday, June 28th at 11:40 am

  • Washington, D.C, based Energy partner Mark Spivak will be participating on a panel which will review “Financing Natural Gas Projects in A Lower Carbon Energy Future” on Friday, June 29th at 10:20 am

  • New York based Corporate partner Martin Toulouse will be speaking about “Gas to Power” on Friday, June 29th at 11:40 am


Baker Botts lawyers will be available for comment and interviews during the conference.

To schedule an interview, please contact Brecke BoydSheena Cochran or Louisa Williams.
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Baker Botts Partners Examine the Rise of Digital Currency

HOUSTON, June 12, 2018 - As digital currency grows in popularity, many have been questioning what should be considered when it comes to regulatory requirements, tax treatments, and litigation issues.

Baker Botts Litigation, Securities, Corporate, Intellectual Property and Tax partners provide commentary on certain points that many companies and individuals should focus on concerning digital currency.

SEC Activity
  • Beyond whether cryptocurrencies themselves should be registered as securities, the SEC is starting to discuss what the legal requirements are for the platforms on which they are traded, and, in particular, whether those platforms should be registered as national securities exchanges under the ’34 Act.

  • To the extent that cryptocurrencies are subject to regulation as securities and subject to anti-fraud rules, the SEC is starting to consider whether it will draw bright line rules as to whether, and to what extent, non-accredited investors may acquire, hold and use these tokenized securities without requiring that they be registered under the ’33 Act.


Civil Litigation and Criminal Law Issues
  • There are a number of class actions pending around the country in which plaintiffs’ lawyers are arguing that initial coin offerings (ICOs) were illegal unregistered securities offerings, thus subject to rescission under the ’33 Act.

  • Although some cryptocurrencies have more built-in anonymity than others and several new ones on the horizon that are claiming that they will provide full anonymity, Bitcoin transactions are not inherently anonymous. In many instances, cryptocurrency transactions may raise anti-money laundering issues, know-your-customer issues, and sanctions list issues.


Regulators
  • A major question is what cryptocurrencies are. Are they securities, commodities, or some other sort of property? The answers are clearer with respect to options and futures based on cryptocurrencies, but the SEC, CFTC, and CFPB are jockeying for regulatory positions that may overlap with respect to cryptocurrencies themselves.

  • In the U.S., state regulators are not ignoring cryptocracies or exchanges and have been involved with the issue much longer than federal regulators.

  • Regulations vary throughout the international arena. In the United Arab Emirates, as an example, there are multiple regulatory authorities including the ‘onshore’ Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and at least two "offshore" financial regulators being DFSA in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and FSRA in the Abu Dhabi General Market (ADGM). Each regulator has taken a different position on digital currencies and ICOs ranging from issuing guidance on how ICOs might be viewed (making the distinction between utility tokens and securities offerings) and therefore how they might be regulated (ADGM) to an outright refusal to “recognize, regulate or supervise any ICO presently and that ICO investments are not offered legal or regulatory protection” (SCA).

  • Distributed ledger technologies use decentralized tokens to execute transactions between counterparties and do so without the need for intermediaries, such as market-places, stock exchanges, and clearing banks. Blockchain technology was designed to be de-centralized. Its de-centralized nature enables users to trade on a peer-to-peer basis. This has disrupted banking and financial services already, as peer-to-peer file-sharing disrupted the media industry at the turn of the century. So, the question was asked at the Global Corporate Venturing "Symposium" in London last month: "Is this the end of intermediaries?" Contrary to some expectations at the start, the group concluded that -- actually -- trusted intermediaries are even more important to de-centralized networks, not less. And that regulators are likely to rely on regulated intermediaries that the peer-to-peer technology otherwise renders unnecessary."


Tax
  • Under guidance dating back to 2014, the Internal Revenue Service has made clear that cryptocurrency is “property” for tax purposes, and that transactions in cryptocurrency can give rise to taxable gain or loss that must be reported by taxpayers. Based on the recent volatility in the prices for cryptocurrency the Internal Revenue Service may be increasing its enforcement activities regarding the reporting (or non-reporting) by taxpayers of their cryptocurrency transactions.

  • With the recent changes to the “like-kind exchange” provisions of section 1031 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, the Internal Revenue Service must now bring attention to how they should interpret the tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions in the U.S. and internationally.


Intellectual Property
  • Digital currency is based on an open and unpatented blockchain or distributed-ledger technology. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency in terms of recognition and value, is unpatented. Supporters have argued that its lack of protection have allowed others to seemingly copy the code and invent hundreds of cryptocurrencies with slight modifications. However, patents and other forms of IP protection are available for the software and technology aspects of cryptocurrency and applications of the technology.

  • The proliferation of cryptocurrencies raises significant questions about intellectual property law’s role. Companies that utilize blockchain technologies should be careful to seek protection if a particular implementation of the technology presents a novel solution. Patent applications in this space have ranged from payment processing and improvements, authentication, including trust and trustless systems, electronic settlement, and a host of applications. Patents will be subject to the same traditional principles that the invention is a new and useful process or machine as other software patents. If a business has built new and useful technology, or made a process more efficient by leveraging existing technology, it should consider whether the technology merits patent protection.


To schedule an interview regarding a certain topic listed above, please contact Brecke Boyd (Brecke.Boyd@bakerbotts.com) or Sheena Cochran (Sheena.Cochran@bakerbotts.com).
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Corporate Department Chair Mike Bengtson Moves to Baker Botts’ New York Office

NEW YORK, June 13, 2018 – Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm, announced that Mike Bengtson, corporate partner and chair of the firm’s corporate practice, has moved to Baker Botts’ New York City office, leading the corporate practice.

Mr. Bengtson, who has been with the firm since 2004, previously was located in Baker Botts’ Austin office. His practice focuses on representing business clients in a variety of transactional and other corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures and capital formation transactions.

Baker Botts’ robust corporate practice is recognized for its depth of experience, handling a full range of corporate, securities and financing matters, including mergers and acquisitions (M&A), public and private securities offerings and institutional and other specialized financings.

The firm represents companies of all sizes, and has been especially active in the energy, energy services, energy transportation, telecommunications and computer (hardware and software) service industries in recent years. In addition to energy transactions in regions throughout the world, the firm represents numerous technology and media clients in some of the industry's most important and transformative transactions.

“The corporate group also has extensive experience in private equity and venture capital fund transactions and specialized financings in both domestic and international contexts,” said Baker Botts’ Mike Bengtson. “In addition, Baker Botts’ corporate lawyers work on complex business restructurings, both in and outside of court-supervised bankruptcy proceedings and further profile the groups work in key target markets.” Mr. Bengtson noted.

Baker Botts' NYC office was established in 1992 and has an accomplished and continually growing practice that services entities from individuals to Fortune 500 companies involved in the energy, technology, media, financial services, life sciences and many other sectors of our economy.

To schedule an interview with Mr. Bengtson on his move to New York City, please contact Sheena Cochran at Sheena.Cochran@bakerbotts.com or 713.229.1964.
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Baker Botts Draws Top Capital Markets Partner in Houston

HOUSTON, June 18, 2018 – Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm, announced today that Capital Markets Partner, Justin Hoffman has joined the firm’s Houston office. He was previously a partner with Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

“Justin’s experience in the capital markets arena, and energy sector, will be a great addition to our already robust corporate team,” said Andrew M. Baker, Managing Partner of Baker Botts. “His strategic focus and outstanding track record advising clients through initial public offerings, debt and public equity offerings will add significant value for our clients,” Mr. Baker noted.

Mr. Hoffman's practice focuses on debt and equity capital markets transactions, corporate governance and compliance. He regularly represents both issuers and investment banks in Rule 144A high yield debt and public equity offerings, as well as liability management transactions. He has extensive experience in advising energy companies in securities offerings and acquisition financings, particularly in the upstream, midstream and oilfield services sectors, as well as coal mining and renewables.

“Justin is a highly regarded capital markets lawyer and is well known in the Texas business community,” said Mike Bengtson, Chair of Baker Botts’ Corporate Practice. “His decision to join Baker Botts boosts our team of lawyers in the capital markets area and adds to our industry leading group of M&A, corporate finance and private equity lawyers,” Mr. Bengtson stated.

Mr. Hoffman obtained his B.A., magna cum laude in Political Science from Hunter College in 2001, and he received his J.D. from the New York University School of Law in 2004.

Since January of 2017, Baker Botts has added 13 new partners focused on M&A, capital markets, finance, restructuring and private equity to its offices in New York, San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C.
Next Story / MEDIA ALERT

Baker Botts Partners to Speak at World Gas Conference