24 July 2013

Corporate counsel stress over growth versus risk

Expanding across borders can create a never ending stream of business risk, according to new research today.

By Charlotte Mullen

Highest risks facing overseas expansion revealed in CC survey Ivelin Radkov

The four main risk areas include cross-border joint ventures and alliances in high-growth markets, anti-bribery and anti-corruption, antitrust and competition and data privacy and protection, the survey of corporate counsel carried out by law firm Winston & Strawn LLP maintains.

Data protection

Customer data privacy, security and protection is one of the major concerns, with two-thirds of companies saying it is now their most important data privacy challenges and the number one priority for 66 per cent of respondents.  According to respondents, the potential damage caused to a company’s reputation by data breaches are more of a concern to most companies than facing regulators.


There were also major concerns over corruption with 47 per cent of respondents citing a low comfort level with corruption and bribery policies, controls and oversight of third party relationships.  According to 37 per cent of corporate counsel surveyed, sales were the highest-risk area.

Vertical agreements

Competition law breaches were of great concern to respondents with 30 per cent of companies saying that vertical agreements with suppliers and customers are the greatest threat whilst 52 per cent cited arrangements with customers as most susceptible to competition inquiries. ‘Incorporating an audit step into every important antitrust compliance procedure is key to catching potential problems sooner rather than later,’ said W&S Brussels managing partner and London partner Peter Crowther.

Joint ventures

When launching joint ventures and entering into strategic alliances, respondents believe that the cultural, legal and religious difference of their venture partners can expose them to most risk. Involving in-house lawyers early in the process are the favoured methods of corporate counsel to minimise these risks. W&S London partner Zoë Ashcroft says: ‘Neutral jurisdictions which do not give real or perceived home team geographic advantages can be helpful here, but confidentiality concerns may favour arbitration or mediation as the preferred dispute-resolution.’

Commenting on the research, W&S Managing Partner Michael Madden said:  ‘Balancing growth and compliance is the dual challenge of all successful multinational corporations.’

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