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Jeffrey McGehee is an American lawyer living and practicing as a Partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Prague. He received his law degree from Baylor University in Texas in 1989 and moved to Central Europe in 1996. 

The Deal:  On February 16, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that Glatzova & Co. had advised Denemo Media s.r.o. on its acquisition of a 50% shareholding in FTV Prima, with Allen & Overy advising Modern Times Group, the seller. Denemo Media is a Czech joint venture between Alphaduct, a.s. (with 75% ownership) and GES Media Asset, a.s. (with 25% ownership). Alphaduct, a.s. is owned by Czech businessman Vladimir Komar. GES Media Asset a.s. is part of the GES Group, which already owned 50% of FTV Prima Holding.

Czech lawyers, not known for ebullience, are nonetheless finding it hard to keep the smiles off their faces. After a decade of disappointment and struggle, if the Managing Partners at Czech firms are to be believed, the last remnants of the global financial crisis have dissipated and business is booming. As spring rolls through Central Europe, the sunshine is both meteorological and metaphoric. Prague is basking in the warmth.

A friend of mine, who’s a partner in a Hungarian law firm, told me this week that those of us living in the Czech Republic are “lucky to have a domestic economy.” In making this comment, he was contrasting the Czech situation with Hungary’s relatively high dependence on foreign direct investment (FDI) and to a degree of stagnation affecting his country at the moment. 

As consumers conduct an ever-increasing amount of their shopping and banking on-line, the digitalization revolution is having a significant effect on both industries, and payment service providers – companies offering online services allowing merchants to accept electronic payments by, among other forms, credit cards or bank-based payments such as direct debit, bank transfer, and real-time bank transfer based on online banking – are working with both merchants and banks to facilitate their operations. 

Ranking services form a critical part of the law firm landscape in CEE as around the world, and law firm marketing and business development functions in the region spend many weeks or months each year preparing their submissions for those ranking services they believe are most widely read and influential. Still, not everybody is convinced the ranking services are as effective or valuable as they could be. Thus, for this issue, we asked the law firm marketing and BD experts around CEE: “What one change would you most like to see made to the law firm rankings to make them more useful/effective?” 

Avellum Partner Glib Bondar describes more of a quiet “hum” at the moment in Kyiv than an active Buzz.

“There’s a lot going on at the moment in Slovakia,” according to Michaela Stessl, the Managing Partner of DLA Piper in Bratislava, who begins her summary by describing "a boom with regard to suppliers for the automotive sector who are coming with the Jaguar/Land Rover investors.” According to Stessl, "this has a huge impact on several levels and several fields of providing law,” not only to Jaguar/Land Rover itself, “but also to all the suppliers who are doing business with them.”

The Buzz in Poland, according to Michal Karwacki, Partner at Squire Patton Boggs, is that while most of the big cap transactions planned for 2017 have already been tasked (with the exception of the potential exit of Warburg Pincus from Inea), the mid-cap transactional market in the country remains highly active. Indeed, says Karwacki, "the mid cap market is quite speedy, and I believe that we will hear about many such transactions just after the summer, with the most interesting targets being in the automotive, logistics, and consumer goods sectors.”

Biljana Joanidis, the Managing Partner of the Law Firm Joanidis in Macedonia, is hesitantly encouraged by recent developments in her country — many of which, in her opinion, can be tracked back to the election at the end of May, by slim majority in Parliament, of a government led by Zoran Zaev of the center-left Social Democrats.

"Compliance work is pretty in at the moment,” says Felix Hoerlsberger, Partner at Dorda in Vienna, “especially involving the GDPR.” The regulation famously becomes applicable on May 25 of next year, but Hoerlsberger notes that in order to be compliant companies are already under pressure, as they "have to have full documentation of what processes they're performing, complete privacy impact assessments (PIAs), and potentially consult with local regulators where there are any difficulties or high-risk processing ongoing.”

“The Buzz in Hungary,” according to Wolf Theiss Budapest Partner Janos Toth, “is two things: The recent activity in the solar energy sector in the country and work resulting from new legislation within the EU for data protection and anti-money laundering.”  

Jeffrey McGehee is an American lawyer living and practicing as a Partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Prague. He received his law degree from Baylor University in Texas in 1989 and moved to Central Europe in 1996. 

The Deal:  On February 16, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that Glatzova & Co. had advised Denemo Media s.r.o. on its acquisition of a 50% shareholding in FTV Prima, with Allen & Overy advising Modern Times Group, the seller. Denemo Media is a Czech joint venture between Alphaduct, a.s. (with 75% ownership) and GES Media Asset, a.s. (with 25% ownership). Alphaduct, a.s. is owned by Czech businessman Vladimir Komar. GES Media Asset a.s. is part of the GES Group, which already owned 50% of FTV Prima Holding.

As consumers conduct an ever-increasing amount of their shopping and banking on-line, the digitalization revolution is having a significant effect on both industries, and payment service providers – companies offering online services allowing merchants to accept electronic payments by, among other forms, credit cards or bank-based payments such as direct debit, bank transfer, and real-time bank transfer based on online banking – are working with both merchants and banks to facilitate their operations. 

The Deal:  On December 8, 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that Wolf Theiss had advised the EBRD on its issuance of RSD 2.5 trillion Floating Rate Bonds due December 2019. AP Legal advised Raiffeisen Banka A.D., Beograd, acting as underwriter for the issuance, and Harrisons advised marketing agent Citigroup Global Markets Limited. 

Anthony O’Connor came to Europe from his native Australia in 2006. As a Partner at Kinstellar in Budapest, he is both head of Kinstellar’s Hungarian Corporate/M&A practice and Co-Head of its firm-wide Private Equity practice. 

The Deal: In July of 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that Oppenheim had advised the Messer Group GmbH, a German supplier of industrial gases, on its acquisition of the Hungarian subsidiary of France’s Air Liquide. CHSH Dezso es Tarsai advised Air Liquide on the deal.

On January 30, 2017, eight members of the In-House Advisory Panel for the 2017 GC Summit gathered at the offices of Squire Patton Boggs in Budapest for a Round Table conversation on the challenges they face and strategies they employ in dealing with external counsel. The event was moderated by Akos Mester, Partner at Squire Patton Boggs.

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.

Until 2009 legal marketing was overregulated in Hungary. Since then lawyer ads are basically allowed, but they have to comply with the Hungarian Bar Association’s guidelines. 

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.