Welcome back to our Weekly Roundup where we share headlines and brief summaries of notable news stories from around the world, along with a link for those seeking further information.

These articles provide a quick and easy way for readers to stay up to date with current legal and business affairs.

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TikTok expands in Ireland, and Microsoft may acquire its U.S. operations

Fast growing social media platform TikTok made many headlines last week.

One of the reasons for those headlines was the company’s announcement that it would be investing €420 million to build a data centre in Ireland, and would create “hundreds of jobs” for the country.

The other reason it was in the news was that Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders last week effectively banning it in the U.S. unless it is acquired by a “very American” company by 15 September. That company looks most likely to be U.S. tech giant Microsoft.

In a post last week, we explored the history of what has lead to the recent moves, and what impact in might have for Ireland in further detail.

Click here to read our report: Clock strikes twelve for TikTok.

EU Commission launches investigation into Google’s acquisition of Fitbit

The European Commission will carry out a full-scale probe into Google’s proposed takeover of Fitbit, it announced last Tuesday.

The EU Commission said that it “is concerned that the proposed transaction would further entrench Google’s market position in the online advertising markets by increasing the already vast amount of data that Google could use for personalisation of the ads it serves and displays.”

The announcement follows a preliminary review by the EU Commission, and threatens to derail Google’s purchase of the fitness-tracking firm.

It comes despite Google’s offer last month to not use Fitbit’s health data for ad targeting.

Google’s parent company Alphabet agreed a $2.1bn (£1.6bn) takeover of the wearable tech firm last year. However, the deal has yet to be completed.

You can read the full statement from the EU Commission here, or the report from BBC News here.

Mergers and Acquisitions? There’s an app for that

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs announced last week that it was building an app that can help its clients to identify potential targets for mergers and/or acquisitions.

As reported by Bloomberg last week, “the technology is called Gemini and is already being used by Goldman’s bankers. The firm plans to offer it to clients and hopes they will be able to use it to identify under-performing parts of their businesses that make them vulnerable to attacks by activist investors or those that score poorly on environmental, social and government issues.”

David Dubner, Goldman’s global head of M&A structuring, said he expects clients to use the product to identify sale or spin-off opportunities and possible takeover targets in the form of unloved or poorly performing company divisions.

You can read the full report from Bloomberg here.

America’s health insurers rub their hands at pandemic driven profits

America’s biggest health insurers are reporting mammoth profits, the New York Times reported last week.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Americans to postpone elective surgeries, and the population at large is avoiding visits to the GP or to hospital, meaning the amounts health insurers are paying out has fallen drastically.

This has filtered straight to the bottom line and hugely inflated their profits.

Theoretically insurance profits are capped under the Affordable Care Act, with the requirement that consumers should benefit from such excesses in the form of rebates, though it has been widely reported that no one should expect much of a windfall.

The bloating profits of these health insurers are likely to bring healthcare back to the fore of political discussion in the U.S.

You can read the full report from the New York Times here.

William Fry releases mid-year M&A Review 2020

Irish law firm William Fry released it’s mid-year report on the Irish M&A market last week, noting that the fall in Irish deal activity was less than the global decline in M&A.

Key findings from the report included:

  • Deal volume fell from 75 to 65 deals in H1 2020
  • Deal value decreased to €2bn from €2.5bn
  • 89% of deals were mid-market (€5m-€250m)
  • Inbound M&A value totalled €1.9bn or 95% of the total sum invested.
  • 27 PE transactions, the highest half-yearly volume of the past seven years.
  • Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) accounted for 54% of value and 34% of volume.  

William Fry’s findings are inline with other recent reports on Irish M&A activity.

You can read William Fry’s full report here.

If you would like to read further on the subject, we also published an article a couple of weeks ago exploring the topic and addressing what the figures might mean for corporate law firms (and for graduate recruitment). You can read our report here: What’s going on with M&A activity in 2020?

Opportunities for Law Graduates: Legal Researchers in the Civil Service

Vacancies exist for Legal Researchers in the Office of the Attorney General, Workplace Relations Commission and Department of Justice and Equality.

Applicants must hold a 2:1 honours degree in Law and have experience in conducting legal research and analysis.

Legal Researchers are responsible for carrying out comprehensive research into legal and policy issues. Those appointed will have practical experience in conducting in-depth legal research, strong analytical skills with excellent attention to detail along with an ability to prioritise and manage tasks while working to tight deadlines. The successful candidates will also have the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

The closing date for applications is 3pm on Thursday, 27th August 2020. More information is available by clicking here.

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