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On the evening of December 8, 2016, at the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw, CEE Legal Matters hosted the 2016 Expert Summit – our annual gathering of experts from across the region to discuss the state of affairs in CEE Legal Markets. 

Despite a still-shaky business environment in the Adriatic region we have again experienced another very exciting year, which once made our transaction teams busier than they were the year before.

2016 has been a rather challenging year when it comes to financial openness and economic growth, as many countries across the globe have seen their economies running out of steam and their national businesses feeling the squeeze, while the investor fear gauge is still rearing high.

The year of 2016 was marked by relatively low M&A activity in Ukraine. Although transactions were carried out in almost every industry, their total number turned out to be quite moderate.

Looking at it honestly, 2016 has been another year of recession for Russia, with a GDP expected at negative 0.6%. That’s not a surprise, of course. The oil crisis, currency crisis, and a hostile international context materialized by EU and US sanctions have severely impacted the economy.

Few would contest that 2016 was, on balance, a disappointing year. Indeed, by now descriptions of the year just concluded as unfortunate, or terrible, or an annus horribilis are so common as to approach cliché. Still, the year is unlikely to be remembered fondly, in CEE or anywhere else.

"I think that there are several developments that will affect the Polish legal market in the near future,” says Aleksander Stawicki, Senior Partner at WKB Wiercinski, Kwiecinski, Baehr in Warsaw.

“Austria has not had any significant legal developments for the last 12 months, beyond the general implementation of EU measures and legislation that affect all member states and some Austrian legislative initiatives, for example in the area of supporting start-ups,” says Christoph Moser of Austria’s Weber & Co. Rechtsanwaelte. “But what the legal profession is really talking about is whether the profession is about to change in the future in terms of digitalization and artificial intelligence.”

"There are certain developments influencing our day-to-day business,” says Adela Rizvic, Partner at Advokatski Ured Tkalcic-Dulic, Prebanic, Rizvic i Jusufbasic-Goloman in Sarajevo.

We can look at the current situation from the bright side in Slovenia,” laughs Grega Peljhan of Slovenia’s Rojs, Peljhan, Prelesnik & partnerji law firm. "We have Melania Trump and the world’s best cook, Ana Ros!"

“You know, Montenegro is a very small economy, and easily affected by international developments,” says Dragan Prelevic, the Managing Partner of the Prelevic Law Firm in Montenegro.

Luka Tadic-Colic, the Managing Partner of Wolf Theiss in Croatia, says progress is definitely being made in the right direction.

CEE Legal Matters is a media partner of the “International Arbitration: Emerging Changes” conference to be held on March 17 in Kyiv. With a look ahead to the event, we have asked Oleg Alyoshin, Partner and Head of International Arbitration at Vasil Kisil & Partners, about recent trends and the future of international arbitration in Ukraine, as well as about bringing world-known international arbitration practitioners to Kyiv for a conference. 

Dan Cocker is a Partner in Allen & Overy’s Global Projects, Energy, and Infrastructure Group. He covers the Central and Eastern Europe region and has been based in Warsaw since 2011, after previous stints in the firm’s London, Frankfurt, and New York offices. 

The Deal:

In November 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that Kochanski Zieba & Partners had advised Echo Polska Properties N.V. on its EUR 265 million acquisition of seven office buildings in Krakow, Gdansk, Katowice, and Lodz from Echo Investment S.A. The sellers were advised by Weil Gotshal & Manges. 

CEE Legal Matters reported in November that a team of 11 lawyers from Polish firm DJBW will join Noerr’s Warsaw office effective January 1, 2017. Of the five Partners in DJBW, four – Witold Danilowicz, Witold Jurcewicz, Radoslaw Biedecki, and Ludomir Biedecki – will move to Noerr. CEE Legal Matters reached out to both Joerg Menzer, Regional Managing Partner of Noerr’s CEE offices in Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw, and Radoslaw Biedecki, who will become the new Office Head of Noerr in Warsaw, to learn more about the move and what led to it. 

Thomas Hruby was born in Montreal, Canada, where he attended McGill University, from which he received his B.A., B.C.L., and LL.B. degrees. He was admitted to the Bar of the Province of Quebec in 1983 and practiced law in Montreal. He obtained a Master’s degree in law from Charles University in Prague in 1991 and was admitted as a fully-qualified Czech advocate by the Czech Bar Association in 1992. In 1993, he opened the Prague office of the Montreal law firm Mitchell, Gattuso and he subsequently joined the Prague office of Linklaters & Alliance. In 2001 he started his own practice in Prague, and he was joined by Jiri Buchvaldek in 2006 to form Hruby & Buchvaldek. 

The Deal:

In October 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that Baker & McKenzie had advised European payment and transactional services provider Worldline on its agreement with Komercni Banka, a subsidiary of the Societe Generale Group, to develop products and services for Czech and Slovakian merchants. CMS advised Komercni Banka on the deal. We reached out to Baker & McKenzie Partner Libor Basl and Associate David Reiterman, both in the firm’s Prague office, for more information.

On the evening of December 8, 2016, at the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw, CEE Legal Matters hosted the 2016 Expert Summit – our annual gathering of experts from across the region to discuss the state of affairs in CEE Legal Markets. 

On Thursday, November 4, a select cross-section of Managing and other Senior Partners at a number of leading law firms in the Czech Republic together with one General Counsel gathered at PRK Partners’ offices in Prague for a Round Table conversation on the state of the Czech market. 

On October 5, 2016, representatives from the Ukrainian and Turkish business communities, from the Ukrainian Consulate-General in Istanbul, and from the co-hosting Gun + Partners and Vasil Kisil & Partners law firms met at the Gun + Partners office in Istanbul for a round table discussion, moderated by CEE Legal Matters, on the opportunities in Ukraine for Turkish investors.

On July 26, 2016, a cross-section of eminent lawyers from leading law firms in Ukraine gathered at DLA Piper’s Kyiv office for a wide ranging Round Table conversation about the state of the Ukrainian economy and legal market and their expectations for both going forward.  

On Tuesday, July 11, 2016, ten senior Romanian lawyers gathered at the Bucharest office of Wolf Theiss for a CEE Legal Matters Round Table to discuss the state of the Romanian economy, the Romanian legal market, and their expectations for the future.

The Serbian Market

There was some disagreement about the state of the Serbian economy, perhaps based on the report by Tijana Kojovic, Managing Partner of BDK Advokati, that, in Serbia, “it is risky to make economic projections” since the market is not always fully transparent and, as a result, it is not always easy to see trends developing.

For the last couple of years the issue of attracting foreign investments into Ukraine has loomed large. However, attracting such investment is hardly possible without creating the proper investment climate and implementing necessary reforms. One necessary step is transforming Ukrainian corporate law.