Panel 1: Energy and Renewable Energy
Moderator: Adv. Amnon Epstein, Epstein Rosenblum Maoz (Israel)
- Todd Alexander, Chadbourne & Parke (USA)
- Mark Levy, Allen & Overy (UK)
- Dan Hacohen, Agmon & Co Rosenberg HaCohen & Co (Israel)
- Gal Oren, Barnea & Co (Israel)
- Lynn Alster, VP & Legal Advisor, Ormat
The Energy & Renewable Energy panel was moderated by Adv. Amnon Epstein from Epstein Rosenblum Maoz. The panel focused on the most relevant questions in the field of energy and renewable energy, a field that over the past few years has gained importance in Israel and the world. Adv. Epstein’s questions focused on various topics within the energy field, from the global changes and international litigation through Israel’s place in the field and until the cooperation throughout the Middle East in the field of energy and renewable energy.
Adv. Todd Alexander from Chadbourne & Parke discussed the significant changes that occurred recently in the American market. More specifically, Adv. Alexander spoke about San Adison, a company that is currently on the verge of bankruptcy, with over a $12 million debt. Adv. Alexander claims that the bankruptcy derived from the loss of the investor’s faith in the company’s investments in solar energy for private bodies and therefore deviated from the company’s initial commercial-industrial vision. Additionally, after San Adison proposed a generous buy-out of Vivint (an additional solar system company), there were many concerns by the investors regarding the increasing amounts of cash used by the company and consequently concerns regarding the disappearing of large sums of money from the public eye. Adv. Alexander continued and stated that regardless of the potential of the field and the astronomic profit that can be made by making the right investments, the investors have many foreseen difficulties coming their way.
Adv. Lynn Alster, Lynn Alster, VP & Legal Advisor at Ormat was asked how Israel can continue to uphold her status as one of the world leaders of the energy and renewable energy field. According to Adv. Alster, this is the “million dollar question”. Upholding a world-leading status in the market is one of the largest challenges of every country and company. Ormat tries to uphold Israel’s status by investing many resources in geothermal power stations in order to develop new and innovating technologies, in addition to the two-pronged services she provides her client – Ormat provides equipment to energy suppliers and creates energy and sells electricity to the end consumers. Additionally, Ormat researches and develops new techniques to extract energy and examines different ways to develop and combine diverse subjects within the energy and renewable energy world.
Adv. Dan HaCohen from Agmon & Co Rosenberg HaCohen & Co discussed the future of Israeli oil. In his opinion, since discovering the unprecedented oil deposits, Levyatan and Tamar, the legislator did everything in order to allow the regulators to produce oil as fast as possible. However, the legislator eventually understood that the only way to implement such complicated and expensive projects such as these, is to significantly cooperate with private entities that will utilize their advantages to succeed in these national projects. Adv. Cohen claimed, regarding the future of Israeli oil, that there are many negotiation processes and wide-spread legal coordination with various countries in the Middle East. In his eyes, there is no doubt that the long and tiring process to break down the barriers and bureaucratic obstacles took time, but they have allowed us to continue forward and do great things.
Adv. Mark Levy from Allen & Overy was asked about international litigation processes regarding energy and renewable energy. Adv. Levy took a significant part in numerous litigation cases being discussed in Europe (mainly Spain and Italy), that become greatly more complicated due to the many investors involved. The large amount of money is invested in the energy projects themselves as well as with the authorities of various countries. There is a natural risk in investing in energy projects in foreign countries that mainly derives from the capabilities of the local legislative authority to change legislation at any moment, and consequently harm the investors and private entities that without them, the oil would not have been found to being with. According to Adv. Levy, the safest way to invest in the field today is in countries that are part of international treaties that secure the rights of the foreign investors in the energy field.
Adv. Gal Oren from Barnea & Co discussed the various foreign investors in Israel and the steps being taken by the Israeli government in order to promote foreign investments in Israeli territory. According to Adv. Oren, the Israeli government is investing large efforts in recruiting foreign investors, and this can been seen since 2010, in which there have been wide-spread legislative changes that have made Israel more attractive to foreign investors. The governmental efforts joint the already occurring efforts by many Israeli banks that support these investments by provides large amounts of bank and non-bank financing. It can be seen that over the past few years there has been an increase in foreign investment in Israel, that are participating in the most prominent industrial and energy tenders in the Israeli market. Adv. Oren concluded and stated that at the end of the day, governmental stability and a pro-foreign investment policy are the keys to being successful in the energy sector.
Watch the Energy and Renewable Energy panel
Panel 2: Medical Devices
Moderator: Adv. Chaim Friedland, Gornitzky & Co (Israel)
- Daniel Kracov, Arnold & Porter (USA)
- Harry Rubin, Ropes & Gray (USA)
- Sharon Gazit, Goldfarb Selingman & Co (Israel)
- Osnat Sarusi Firstater, Lipa Meir & Co (Israel)
- Ido Warshavski, Vice President, General Counsel, Lumenis
Adv. Sarusi Firstater from Lipa Meir & Co recommended all those thinking of opening a company in the medical devices field to ask themselves – does the market already have the product? Is the market accessible? Do we have innovative technology? In the second phase, it is important to understand the geographical location of the company and its services and if it should be developed or operated from abroad? At this stage, it is important to take into account taxation considerations, human resources and their availabilities, regulation considerations and more.
Additionally, the question regarding the legal framework of the company arises – which fields should the company focus from, from the start? What are the necessary documentation and bureaucratic measures?
Adv. Sarusi Firstater believes that firstly, it is important to coordinate expectations. The best way to do so is to divide up the responsibility and tasks between the founders. It is important to determine ways future dispute resolution from the initial stages, in order to prevent potential dead-end situations. Additionally, it is important to divide up the intellectual property matters between the founders (if desired).
Adv. Sharon Gazit from Goldfarb Selingman & Co stated that there are numerous other considerations that medical device companies need to take into consideration – how do we educate the market? The market is unique in the sense that it is possible to educate doctors and operators of medical devices. Additionally, due to the fact that many experiments are the intellectual property of universities and hospitals, they is much influence on mergers and acquisitions activity in medical companies, because they usually hold the licensing to use the patents. Consequently, there are many restrictions on the output of information that was collected by scientists and researchers, and therefore one must take intellectual property and their rights into consideration.
Adv. Harry Rubin from the American firm Ropes & Gray stated that the most common problem is that medical device companies err in considering themselves companies for life sciences. They must understand that they are technology companies, and consequently prepare for the future challenges and surroundings relevant to those types of companies.
Adv. Ido Warshavski, Vice President and General Counsel of Lumenis thinks that it is important to choose and arrange a regulatory path in which the company will operate prior to its exit into the market.
The following question was “what are the most important steps that a company needs to do in order to protect its intellectual property?”
According to Adv. Harry Rubin, on one hand, it is important to think strategically how the company wants to position itself and protect its rights, but on the other hand to be firm about their violations. Adv. Rubin stated that the enforcement of intellectual property is a significant matter that people do not think about too often – there are not enough serious discussions within general management regarding patents, copyrights and cooperation with attorneys. The conclusion is for companies not to let attorneys make decisions regarding their intellectual property issues that the company should be making itself. If this happens, the company might find itself “out of business”.
Adv. Rubin suggested that defense agreements of an international company be written by attorneys specializing in international business law that know to take into consideration different regulatory restrictions of different countries around the world.
The last questions was directed at Adv. Ido Warshavski – “what are the challenges that in-house legal advisors of medical companies face regarding external attorneys and company’s managers as “gatekeepers”?”
Adv. Warshavski answered that the most significant factor is that at the end of the day, the company is paying the salaries and legal advisors do not always say what the managers want to hear. Sometimes, things cannot go the way that the manager would like, and this constitutes quite a challenge. In these types of situations, sometimes external attorneys can hold a great advantage, because they can provide an objective and independent legal opinion. It is important to coordinate between in-house and external attorneys because the opposite (lack of coordination) may cause a problematic situation for the in-house legal team if there are opposite legal recommendations by both sides.
Additionally, Adv. Warshavski stated a few central challenges in Israel – the supervision of in-house legal advisors is different, and sometimes more harsh, in comparison to external legal aid. The second challenges, mostly with public companies, is that sometimes there are contradictions between normative sources that are applied simultaneously – for example, a company that is interested in trading on NASDAQ, but its stock holders are Israeli companies in which only the Israeli law is applicable on their activities.
Sometimes, the emphasis on a quick entrance to a market and creating market segmentation for the company is just as important as defending its patents and intellectual property. A significant market might remain important for the company after the patent validity has expired, and there are additional variables that need to be taken into consideration.
Panel 3: International Taxation
Moderator: Adv. Benyamin Tovi, Shekel & Co (Israel)
- Zvi Hahn, Katten Muchin Rosenman (USA)
- Richard Kaufman, Fladgate (UK)
- Anat Shavit, Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co (Israel)
- Yair Benyamini, Yair Benyamini Law Offices (Israel)
- Sagi Loboda, Israeli Tax Authority
The panel mainly dealt with the legal questions araised as a result of technology developments and the accompanying challenges in the increasing use of digital platforms.
The panelists discussed the debatable success of DCEO’s SPEB project, which was intended to provide different governments solutions to making their tax laws more compatible to the modern age, in which many entrepreneurs and companies are taking advantage of the many loopholes established in the field that come from the current tax law’s lack of ability to conform to innovative technology.
The drastic increase in the importance and frequency of digital platforms brought a problematic situation in which there is a difficulty to locate the original country that a company comes from. Due to the fact that the company mostly operates on a digital space, it is constant evading tax burdens that would of have to have been paid if the authorities were able to trail the company within a specific jurisdiction. Today, most tax laws require a “permanent establishment” in order to create a tax duty for a company. The panelists stated that this is only relevant to those countries that have signed a treaty with Israel on the subject. In other words, in these countries, the Israeli Tax Authority must prove the company is of a “permanent establishment” in order to collect taxes from the company. In a case in which there is no established treaty, the common trend that the relevant law and regulations are interpreted more broadly, and therefore the problem we are facing is negated.
On the same topic, the moderator asked if the Israeli Tax Authority is permitted to apply broad interpretations on the aforementioned tax laws. The Israeli Tax Authority representative on the panel explained that in cases that Israel holds a signed treaty with another country, the Israeli Tax Authority is obliged to turn to international tax law. On the other hand, in casas that Israel does not hold a signed treaty with another country, the Israeli Tax Authority can turn to local tax law instead.
Additionally, the panel explained that in the United Kingdom, new legislation has not been introduced in order to deal with the topic at hand, rather, they are trying to find solutions within the current tax law. However, it was also explained that collecting VAT will be determined by the location of the consumption and not the place of purchase. Therefore, the British Tax Authority is trying to neutralize the problem of the “permanent establishment” requirement.
Watch Adv. Zohar Fisher’s, Robus Founder, opening words in the conference
Panel 4: Cyber
Moderator: Adv. Manny Gurman, Steinmetz Haring Gurman & Co (Israel)
- Alex Stolarsky, Dentons (Russia)
- Scott Thiel, DLA Piper (Hong Kong)
- James Koenig, Paul Hastings (USA)
- Yaron Sobol, Hamburger Evron & Co (Israel)
- Amir Iliescu, Shibolet & Co (Israel)
- Donna Rahav, Legal Counsel, CyberArk Software
The moderator of the panel, Adv. Manny Gurman from Steinmetz Haring Gurman & Co, opened the panel by reminding the audience that in today’s world, everything in our life is stored on computers. Accordingly, he emphasized, cyber-attacks are becoming more wide-spread and common. These attacks can destroy companies, and even entire countries, and over the last few years, large corporations like eBay and Apple have become victims to some of the hardest and most powerful cyber-attacks. The scope of the danger can be seen through the latest events of personal information leakage of hundreds of thousands of internet users.
On the other hand, Adv. Gurman stated, legislation and regulation tend to greatly be slower in proceeding and acclimating themselves to the danger. Bureaucratic difficulties create a reality in which legislation will always be a few steps behind technological advancement of cyber attackers. The main question, according to Adv. Gurman, is whether the legal system is sufficiently ready and property understands the dangers that accompany cyber-attacks, and whether the legal system can assist the market in dealing with these dangers.
Adv. Yaron Sobol from Hamburger Evron & Co, answered the aforementioned question and stated that in his opinion, Israel is severely behind in all that is related to legislation against computer crimes. Furthermore, he claims that it will take a lot of time and even a serious crisis in order to make up for the gap. The different regulations do not sufficiently follow the technological developments and their dangers and therefore, except making preliminary decisions (mainly the banking field), there is almost no regulation that requires entities to defend themselves and prepare for dealing with cyber threats. However, Adv. Sobol added that directorates and corporations themselves are going through a process of understanding cyber threats while taking important steps to stop them, in order to satisfy their security concerns.
Adv. Gurman directed another question at Adv. Sobol and asked whether, in his opinion, the fact that Israel adopted international treaties related to cyber, influences the field in any way. Adv. Sobol, in response, stated that being side to an international treaty is absolutely necessary in order to assimilate them into internal Israeli law through customary legislative processes. However, according to Adv. Sobol, this has not occurred yet in Israel.
Adv. Stolarsky from the Russian branch of Dentons, was asked how Russia is dealing with the cyber threats according to its legal system. Adv. Stolarsky provided a few pronged answer. Firstly, he explained that it is important to remember that Russia is a country with a long and complicated history but holds a short legal history. He continued that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia started building a suitable legal system. Over the last few years, Russia has experienced a problematic economic situation, mostly due to sanctions and low oil prices, and therefore is in significant need of independence and self-reliability on internal developments and industries. Regarding Russian companies, he explained, there is great awareness to cyber threats and various companies have taken significant actions in order to deal with them. The level of security within companies and services providers is generally high, according to Adv. Stolarsky, mainly due to the fact that the workers are vastly experienced and highly disciplined.
Adv. Scott Thiel, answered the question in a similar light regarding the struggle of China’s legal system against cyber-attacks. According to Adv. Thiel, there are many trends in China today. Firstly, there is a regulatory trend that is making it harder for companies to move their information and knowledge outside of the Chinese borders, mainly motivated from the government’s interest in controlling information and power, instead of attempting to prevent cyber-attacks. Additionally, there is a regulation trend on financial institutions. The Chinese government published guidelines on how to protect the company and their client’s information. However, the guidelines are not specific bur rather consist of unprofessional general descriptions like “one should take cautions steps” or “one should install proper defenses”. Moreover, Adv. Thiel explained that there is not significant enforcement, however this is a problem one can see in many countries, not just China.
Adv. Donna Rahav, Legal Counsel of CyberArk Software, provided a different and unique aspect on the aforementioned questions. Adv. Rahav claimed that laws, by definition, are outdated, especially when considering technology laws. According to Adv. Rahav, it is impossible to keep up with technological advancement. Even the newest of laws legislated in the United States, for example, reflect the past and represent what happened and the wars previously fought. In her opinion, the Israel has one of the best legal systems in the cyber field, mainly because the courts provide relatively broad interpretations of the laws, allowing it to rule according to specific and circumstantial events and therefore is less bound to outdated and archaic laws.
Adv. James Koenig from Paul Hastings, spoke about 5 main laws that, in his opinion, countries should adopt in order to deal with the cyber-attack problem: (1) a law against cyber fraud; (2) a law against computer crimes; (3) a law against breaching and stealing of personal information and identities; (4) a law against breaching into devices (gas pumps for example); (5) a law against sharing classified information and organized leaks (similar to Edward Snowden). Adv. Koenig claims that these are the five fields that need to be addressed in order to fight the cyber-attack phenomenon. He continued and stated that the United States is not perfect but has already legislated these types of laws, as well as numerous European countries. Additionally, he explained that the Israeli companies that are not subject to these laws need to adapt their products and services in order to uphold these laws – although the local legal system is important, the law that benefits the customer is more important.
At this stage of the panel, Adv. Alex Stolarsky was asked about the possibility of collaboration or acquisition of Russian companies. Adv. Stolarsky explained that regarding acquisitions, it depends on the type of company that one wants to purchase because for example, purchasing various strategic companies requires government approval. Regarding collaboration or participation in tenders, there is new legislation that prohibits a situation in which a foreign entity holds a majority of shares of a company that wants to participate in a tender. The rationale behind the legislation is that Russia is attempting to safeguard its products (and information) within the country, as opposed to releasing them. The question that arises is how to deal with these laws upon considering collaboration with a Russian company. According to Adv. Stolarsky, in spite of the difficulties today, he stated that it is a good time to enter the Russian market because the Russian Robel is weak, the economy is relatively stable and there are many possibilities available.
Adv. Amir Iliescu from Shibolet & Co was asked by the moderator whether an Israeli company is ready to deal with cyber-attacks and what needs to be done in order to raise awareness. Adv. Iliescu explained that it is key to adopt the “day zero” outlook. According to Adv. Iliescu, the more sophisticated entities in the market have already purchased insurance and have started streamlining processes against the threats. He continued and explained that the issue is raising awareness about the issue. There is a place to tell companies and individuals that they are entirely unprotected and therefore the general management must know their exposition and how to deal with the new threats. Regarding the situation in Russia, Adv. Iliescu explained that there is a type of “Technology Cold War” between Russia and the United States that can be seen through the Russian government’s request to check whether different businesses have American investors and if so, they are bound to long and tedious due diligence processes that distances them from their investors.
To conclude, Adv. Donna Rahav was asked, in her opinion, whether the mantra that determines whether the market responds quickly to threats is dependent on a large crises, is correct. She responded that she believes so and explained that when there is a prominent and well-known event, it raises awareness for the issue. When there is a massive breaching into a large corporation, and every fourth computer is hacked, other companies will start to wonder whether they are the next in line. Moreover, she explained, that she believes that attorneys are the largest population at risk, because the information they hold is equivalent to large sums of money for many people and therefore is worth the hacker’s money to try and steal their information. Every employer needs to be aware of the cautionary rules while sending most of the employees an experimental “fishing” or “malware” mail to see how they respond. If the organization, law firms in this case, do not hold onto the proper precautionary systems, there is a high possibility that they will be harmed at some point along the way. Therefore, the firms needs to create organized programs that will prepare the firm for the day that the attack will arrive, and especially prepare and teach the employees how to behave in such a situation.
Watch the Cyber panel
Panel 5: ADR and International Litigation
Moderator: Adv. Ram Jeanne, Amar Reiter Jeanne Shochatovitch & Co (Israel)
- Matthew Weiniger, Linklaters (UK)
- Shay Jackson, Pinsent Masons (UK)
- Claude Stern, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (USA)
- Alex Hertman, S. Horowitz & Co (Israel)
- Ruth Loven, Yigal Arnon & Co (Israel)
- Michael Galai, Chief Legal Officer, Telit
From the beginning of the panel, one could see the curiosity of the audience to hear the panelist’s inputs in the subject. The room was full and it was easy to understand that this was one of the more desired panels of the conference. Attorneys from around the world, mostly from the litigation field themselves, eagerly wanted to hear some of the biggest names in the business share their experience and knowledge on a subject that every attorney deals with, in Israel and abroad.
The moderator, Adv. Ram Jeanne, opened the panel with a short description of the challenges and difficulties that the Israeli litigators face, for example, the market’s vast competition, the difficulty in “dealing with” international clients and the decreasing fees. Most of the audience, especially the Israeli attorneys, nodded their heads in acceptance of Adv. Jeanne’s accurate description of the field.
Adv. Claude Stern spoke next and discussed the management of cases in various jurisdictions. Conducting operations with an international organization and managing proceedings relevant to international business transaction, Adv. Stern explained, contain the possibility to choose which jurisdiction the case will be heard. Adv. Stern emphasized that choosing the correct jurisdiction to hear a case can be crucial and can influence the entire process of managing the case, the satisfaction of the client from your services and even the results of the case. Adv. Stern shared different parameters one can use in order to choose the proper jurisdiction to submit a claim – from the detection level necessary in various jurisdictions that might contrast the interests of the client, and through the various type of case management and legal procedures customary in different countries. Moreover, Adv. Stern explained that the personality of the customer, the type of company the customer manages and his business goals are some of the main considerations that need to be taken into account upon submitting a claim. The client’s characterization, his needs and goals are what make the legal representation successful in Adv. Stern’s opinion.
Adv. Shay Jackson spoke about the “hottest” topic on the panel – fees. He explained that although the decrease in attorney fees in the United Kingdom is not as dramatic as what is occurring in Israel, the competition within the market has brought a significant decrease in fees. Adv. Jackson shared that many times the calculation of fees can be the deciding factor for many clients, more than “the bottom line” the total compensation. Moreover, in his opinion, if an attorney will openly elaborate and describe the billable hours for the case and the resources necessary for its administration – the client will more readily pay high attorney fees. The honesty, sincerity, openness and the feeling that they are working for the client – it more important than the high fees themselves.
Afterward, Adv. Alex Hertman and Adv. Matthew Weiniger spoke in detail about the alternative dispute resolution subject, in the framework of arbitration and mediation, as an alternative to managing a case in court – an exponentially increasing trend in today’s legal market in Israel and around the world. Adv. Hertman and Adv. Weiniger explained the motives for directing clients to alternative dispute resolution and the different characteristics of arbitration and mediation proceedings in Israel and the world that will benefit certain clients. Afterward, Adv. Ruth Loven and Adv. Michael Galai discussed the relationships between litigators that manage cases for a company and the in-house legal department of the company – a collaborative, but separated relationship, in order to uphold the client’s interest in the best way.
Following the conclusion of the panel, many audience member stayed in the room in order to speak with the panelists and ask for further details regarding the topics discussed. It seems that the greatly desired panel did not disappoint.
Panel 6: Latin America
Moderator: Adv. Meny Broid, Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz (Israel)
- Guillermo Burman, Marval O’Farell & Mairal (Argentina)
- Wylie Levone, Hogan Lovells (Brazil)
- Manuel Rajunov, Greenberg Traurig (Mexico)
- Eytan Epstein, Firon & Co (Israel)
- Ran Tal, Legal Advisor, Gilat
The moderator, Adv. Meny Broid, opened the panel with the fact that the conference’s decision to create a Latin America panel shows the increasing interest in Israeli investments in the Latin market, whether from the governmental assistance standpoint or as a result of finding new investments in Latin America.
Adv. Amnon Epstein started his remarks on Netafim – “I spoke on a panel in Dubai regarding the influence of the Arab Spring on the investments in Israel. I was immediately surrounded by body guards and I was told that we use Israeli technologies in order to desalinate water; all of the equipment here is created by the Israeli company Netafim”. Adv. Epstein continued that spoke about the political reality in Israel and provided a few reasons why investments in Israel seem illogical, but Israel seems to continue to be the choice for many foreign attorneys in the high-tech and entrepreneurial field, including large global corporations that come to Israel, and stay. Adv. Epstein explained that Israel exports 2.5 billion NIS to Latin America, excluding diamonds. The exports go mainly to Brazil, but nearly $1 billion are exported to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Adv. Manuel Rajunov, from the Mexican branch of Greenberg Traurig (whose office has a branch in Tel Aviv as well), shared that the local legislation in Mexico has changed, and they have started to invest in their relationship with Israel. Adv. Rajunov explained that this can be seen by the agreement signed recently with Israel, mainly in the field of cherry tomato growing, but also in other fields that Mexico can import many goods from Israel. Moreover, the President of Mexico will be arriving to Israel for a historical visit in order to discuss, inter alia, the import of technology and information.
Adv. Guillermo Burman from the Argentinian law firm Marval O’Farell & Pairal, spoke about the difficulties in dealing with the other partners in his firm in all related to international trade and the creation of an Israel desk that will provide legal services to Israelis in Buenos Aires. Afterward, he spoke about the situation in Argentina and explained that there is a current political and economic crises that is greatly harming the local economic entities.
Adv. Wylie Levone from the Brazilian branch of Hogan Lovells stated that Latin American countries should take advantage of the relatively small and restrictive Israeli consumer market and develop the trade relations with Israel. According to Adv. Levone, we do not see many Latin American countries active in Israel, but alternatively, there are many Israeli companies that are penetrating the Latin American markets.
Adv. Epstein added and stated that a lot of Latin American money is deposited in Israeli banks, which provide an “Israeli tax haven” that is not widely used.
Adv. Ran Tal, the legal advisor of Gilat spoke of the connection of locals to the Israeli mentality and the tendency to rush to invest without properly checking the legal status regarding export. The markets yearn to see technological experience and knowledge but one must also be careful with the legal advice given in order to build a company in the best way that suits the exact personal and business needs of the company.
Adv. Levone concluded and spoke about the current political situation in Brazil the different outlooks as a result of the drastic changes. He explained that the Brazilian economy is going through a rough patch, mainly due to the fall of product prices in the consumer market, political scandals and corruption. According to Adv. Levone, Brazil’s past is considered unexpected, but he is optimistic that the latest investments will “bear fruit”.