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Web issues stretch the law firms

Online offerings present new challenges to financial lawyers, not least issues of security, jurisdiction and accuracy.


With online debt and equity offerings growing in volume, bankers and lawyers are rapidly having to adjust their thinking to new sets of rules - official and unofficial.

Wall Street, Europe - and increasingly Asia - appear to have decided to embrace online offerings as the way forward and there has been aggressive online marketing of bond issues. Ford Credit's $1.2 billion debt issue in January was the first time a bulge-bracket underwriter, Lehman Brothers, had helped a major US corporation to raise debt via the web, and it was just one in a series of online landmarks claimed by underwriters. Some of these online offerings have been limited to institutional investors but the World Bank's $3 billion global in mid-January was a break-through deal - open to both retail and institutional investors. Goldman Sachs, the World Bank's sole bookrunner, reported that more than a third of the total issue was sold on the web, the highest proportion on any online offering to date.

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