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For Erwin Hanslik, the Managing Partner of Taylor Wessing in Prague, one subject of conversation is always at the top of the list for lawyers in the Czech Republic: Fees. According to Hanslik, “the topic which is always interesting is the price — the hourly rates.” Hanslik explains that this is “a special topic in the Czech Republic due to the high amount of competition here,” which, he insists, “is not comparable to anywhere else in CEE. Absolutely.” 

Had one taken a look at the employment laws in, say, Germany or France in 1989 and compared them to the then Czechoslovak Labor Code, one would have been surprised: The law in formerly Socialist countries was so pro-employer that it looked like a capitalist law from the 1920s.

Schoenherr has advised Erste Group Immorent AG on the approximately CZK 3 billion (over EUR 100 million) sale of Immorent Jilska s.r.o., which owns the Enterprise office building, to Starship Enterprise a.s. — a joint venture of RSJ Investments and private investors Pavel Baudis and Eduard Kucera, the two co-founders of Avast Software B.V. Wilson & Partner advised the buyers on the deal, which closes on November 14, 2016.

CMS has advised German real estate fund Deka Immobilien on the acquisition of the prestigious building complex “The Park” in Prague from an affiliate of the Starwood Capital Group global private investment firm. Dentons advised the sellers on the deal, which was signed on September 29 and came to a successful close on November 14. According to CMS, it is the largest ever office transaction in the Czech Republic.

White & Case has advised P3 Logistic Parks (P3) and global investment company TPG Real Estate and developer Ivanhoe Cambridge on the sale of P3 to GIC, a sovereign wealth fund established by the government of Singapore. Kirkland & Ellis advised GIC on the EUR 2.4 billion deal, which White & Case describes as "the largest deal on the European real estate market this year, and the largest real estate deal in the Czech Republic ever."

PRK Partners has advised Veolia Energie CR (formerly Dalkia Ceska Republika, part of the Veolia Environment group) on its acquisition of Prazska Teplarenska LPZ a.s., a Prazska Teplarenska subsidiary operating, in particular, local heat supply networks on the left bank of the Vltava River in Prague. The sale price was reported to be EUR 71.3 million.

Allen & Overy has announced that it advised a consortium consisting of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Europe) Limited (MIRA) and other global investors on the acquisition of a 30% interest in EP Infrastructure from Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding, a.s. (EPH). The deal remains conditional on German and Austrian competition approvals, as well as a restructuring of EPH.

 
Poland Doing Better than Most

According to Ron Given, Partner at Wolf Theiss, “the Polish market is doing better than most of the world where M&A is down.”

Dentons has advised P3 Logistic Parks on Polish and Romanian aspects of a EUR 1.4 billion pan-European refinancing of its logistics portfolio, with White & Case advising P3 on Czech and Slovakian aspects and Freshfields advising P3 on separate facilities for Western Europe (including Poland). Financing in Poland and Western Europe was provided by Morgan Stanley with Pbb as agent (advised by Allen & Overy), in Romania by Raiffeisen Bank International (advised by CMS), and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia by CSOB, CSOB Slovakia, Komercni Banka, UniCredit Bank, and Ceska Sporitelna (all advised by Clifford Chance).

In The Corner Office, we invite Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about the strategies they employ to keep their teams motivated, effective, and focused. For this issue, we asked them to reveal what sorts of firm retreats and activities they host and/or organize for their lawyers.

In a groundbreaking judgment (Case C-494/15, Tommy Hilfiger Licensing LLC, et al. v Delta Center a.s.) involving a trademark dispute originating in the Czech Republic, the CJEU has recently clarified that the tenant of a market hall who sublets sales areas to market-traders selling counterfeit branded goods, is an intermediary within the meaning of Art 11 of the Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC). 

The CJEU also ruled that the liability criteria adopted for online marketplace operators such as eBay (See case C-324/09, L’Oreal et al. v eBay) shall be applicable to the same extent to “offline” marketplace operators.

In “The Buzz” we interview experts on the legal industry living and working in Central and Eastern Europe to find out what’s happening in the region and what legislative/professional/cultural trends and developments they’re following closely. Because the interviews are carried out and published on the CEE Legal Matters website on a rolling basis, we’ve marked the dates on which the interviews were originally published.

Over the last two decades the London-based legal press has grown into a sector which must have the combined revenue of a top 20 UK firm. It is a success that has proven difficult to replicate in continental Europe, particularly on a regional basis. 

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