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The Moscow and London offices of Debevoise & Plimpton have advised PJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel on in its USD 750 million Eurobond offering due 2024 with a coupon rate of 3.375% per annum, the lowest coupon ever achieved by Nornickel on a USD transaction.

Akin Gump has advised Russian Internet and IT company Mail.ru on the formation of a joint venture with the Alibaba Group, a global digital commerce company, PJSC MegaFon, a pan-Russian operator of digital opportunities, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. Cleary advised MegaFon on the deal, while Linklaters advised the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Debevoise advised Alibaba.

During the last decade, customary business processes have been disrupted by new financial technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, blockchain tokens, and smart contracts. The appropriate regulation is on its way in Russia, as Russian regulators have recently shifted their focus from imposing a ban on cryptocurrencies to looking for ways to regulate the new relationships. As a result of prolonged discussion about the legal nature of tokens and cryptocurrencies, the authorities have come up with two bills designed to set a cornerstone for Russian regulation of the digital economy.

In 2016, Russian law enforcement authorities had some success in investigating and combatting bribery. For the first time in several years, the majority of cases involved bribe-taking, rather than bribe-giving, and involved significant bribe amounts. The number of cases against bribe-takers increased by 19.7% from 2015, while the number of cases against bribe-givers increased by only 4.4%. This trend continued in the first half of 2017; the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and law enforcement authorities registered 3,362 cases of bribery, of which 2015 cases concerned bribe-taking and 1,347 cases concerned bribe-giving. 

The development of modern technologies and the growing role of electronic documents in commercial relations influence the employment sphere, among others. Companies increasingly use electronic employment agreements and electronic policies, which increases the efficiency of employment paperwork turnaround. However, the positions of Russian employment law and the courts on electronic employment documentation are not uniform. 

In recent years information security issues have become extremely important for companies in Russia and around the world. For example, in 2015, almost 300 million U.S. dollars were stolen from more than 100 banks and other financial institutions throughout the world. By the middle of 2016, FinCERT, the Russian system of monitoring of cybersecurity incidents in the financial sphere, had registered 21 targeted attacks aimed at thievery of approximately 2.87 billion rubles (approx. USD 48 million). In addition, during 2016, major Russian banks such as Sberbank, Otkritie, Alfa-Bank, VTB, and Rosbank suffered massive DDoS attacks.

On 1 June 2017, Federal Law No. 92-FZ dated 1 May 2017 (the “Federal Law”) came into force, which amends certain provisions of Federal Law No. 395-1 dated 2 December 1990 on Banks and Banking Activity and several other federal laws.

The Moscow, London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai offices of Debevoise & Plimpton have advised Polyus Gold International Limited in connection with its agreement to sell an up to a 15% stake in PJSC Polyus for a total consideration of up to approximately USD 1.4 billion to a consortium led by Fosun International Limited and including Hainan Mining Co., Ltd and Zhaojin Mining Industry Company Limited. Norton Rose Fulbright advised the buyers.

2016 was a notable year in Russia for the extension of control over, and further clarification of, data localization requirements; establishment of a strategy for the further development of personal data legislation and an increase in attention to cybersecurity issues.

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