Specialising in Corporate Law takes a certain skill in these constantly changing economic and political climates; the prominent movements involving the new President will mark history in the US and will also impact their corporate sector and international footprint. We discuss with Mark Hobson about the various factors the corporate sector should look out for, alongside the issues the sector faces and how Mark’s expertise helps his clients to overcome these challenges.
What would you say are the key business disputes to arise in Florida?
Business activity is expected to increase in 2017 which will in turn cause the number of disputes to increase. A poorly drafted contract (or lack of one) is one of the main reasons I see causing litigation. I generally try to help my clients avoid litigation, which I believe a well drafted agreement can do.
As a specialist in the full spectrum of corporate law, what would you say have been the trends in the Corporate M&A sector in Florida in the past twelve months?
Business activity during the first 3 quarters of 2016 was tepid. Contributing factors included the civil unrest in Venezuela, the ‘Panama Papers’ exposé – which seemed to cast an unfavorable light on legitimate cross-border business transactions as well as nefarious ones – and the US Presidential election. Since the election in November, business activity has spiked upward significantly.
What are the unique challenges of assisting your clients with planning and implementing their business strategy, given the ever-changing landscape of industries, customers and competitors?
Numerous deals involving many of my clients—from startups looking for investors, to private equity funds—involve federal and state securities laws, which seem to have become more and more complicated during my career. Prior to 2010, smaller issuers largely conducted their exempt offerings under Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, and advisers to private equity funds generally relied on the former federal de minimis exemption to avoid federal and state registration. Starting in 2010, the old system was significantly revamped with the adoption of Dodd-Frank Act and again in 2012 with the adoption of the JOBS Act. Helping my clients understand and comply with these complex laws and their recent changes is always a fun challenge.
What are the critical factors that need to be looked at during the due diligence process?
Every M&A deal requires similar due diligence. Depending on the particular industry and target’s business, one deal may require additional, or a deeper level of, due diligence not needed in most deals. My objective is to help clients identify potential risks, so that it can decide whether or not to assume those risks.
What tactics do you implement when assisting with high-value and high-risk corporate issues with a complex commercial history? Can you detail any recent case that has challenged your expertise?
Early in any case I assess each party’s leverage so I can better advise my client on how best to proceed in order to accomplish the intended goal. Last year, for example, I had a client involved in a dispute with the controlling owner of the parent company. My client had control of two affiliated entities and a minority stake in the parent. The companies are involved in the food industry, and my client was a main cook and not subject to any non-compete agreement. This awareness allowed me to negotiate a corporate reorganisation for my client, which included terms more favourable to my client than she initially desired; a reorganisation that ultimately was good for both sides.
In your opinion, what does 2017 hold for the corporate sector in Florida?
Business activity in the first quarter of 2017 has been robust and I expect that high-level of activity to continue. The Trump administration is pro-business, which markets have acknowledged. Absent a catastrophic geopolitical event, I expect the next three years or more to bode well for businesses, private equity firms and their advisors.
What were the goals that you arrived with when opening Hobson Firm in 2014?
When I started Hobson Firm in July 2014, I began catering solely to entrepreneurs and privately held companies. I have been fortunate to garner the confidence and receive referrals from my existing clients and from other lawyers (including former employers) and tax advisers throughout the community, which has allowed me to develop a great group of clients, most of whom are very sophisticated business people with whom I enjoy working. Helping my clients has always been my goal, which I hope and believe I have achieved.