2021 in review and looking ahead to 2022….

Corporate News - 20 December 2021

2021 has been another busy year for the firm and our clients with a record number of initial public offerings and a significant number of M&A transactions, particularly in the second half of the year. We are expecting the market to remain strong in 2022 with IPOs, schemes and takeover activity all set to continue. Whilst the latest COVID-variant has thrown up some uncertainty, we also hope to see more cross-border transactions as the world opens up further in the new year. 
On the regulatory front, 2021 has seen the introduction of director identification numbers; the design and distribution obligations regime; job keeper reporting; foreign investment and disclosure reforms as well as several regulatory changes for financial services providers.

Having spent the last two years dealing with a raft of temporary relief measures to assist businesses in dealing with COVID-19, the introduction of permanent reforms for electronic meetings and execution in early 2022 will be a welcome modernisation of the Corporations Act 2021 (Cth) and allow companies the opportunity to utilise technology to meet their legal obligations.
Whilst the ASIC has indicated a slight move away from its ‘why not litigate’ stance in an effort to promote economic recovery, we expect ASIC (together with ASX) to maintain a close eye on ramping announcements and ‘pump and dump’ campaigns to ensure that market integrity is preserved. In addition, ASIC has already noted that it will continue to monitor the implementation of whistle-blower policies and other financial sector reforms borne out of the Hayne Royal Commission.
Companies should also expect to keep climate change and cybersecurity front of mind in 2022 both in terms of corporate governance and risk disclosure. Investors and regulators will not tolerate greenwashing and boards will need to be mindful to ensure that any disclosure accurately reflects their practices in these areas.

Finally, it will be interesting to see how the regulatory future of Australia’s digital economy plays out; whether SPACs become part of the Australian landscape and the development of the new collective investment vehicles for funds management. Much to look forward to.

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