"These are interesting times,” says Natalia Drebezgina, Partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in Moscow, when asked for The Buzz in Russia.
“Everyone was hopeful for this year, and basically those hopes have come true. There’s increased activity in the market that started at the beginning of the year and is continuing.” Drebezgina reports that capital markets work is up significantly, as “the number of Eurobond issuances by Russian issuers is astonishing — and at really low rates.” She says following recent issuances by Detsky Mir, Europlan, TMK, and the recently announced Polyus deal, equity capital markets, which were slow since before 2014, "seem to be picking up a bit as well.”
Drebezgina reports that "M&A has picked up a great deal, primarily Russia to Russia deals and foreign investment from China.” She also notes an increase in interest from the investors from the Middle East. “We also see real estate M&A and some construction deals. Some of the projects that were put on hold are now moving ahead.” She smiles. "The market appears to be quite busy."
"That said,” Drebezgina concedes, "the market is still influenced by geopolitical and macroeconomic developments.” She notes that some optimism came from the resumption of slow economic growth and the hope for improvement of bilateral relations following last fall’s election of Donald Trump to President in the United States, "though the results have been more complicated than we expected.”
Drebezgina says there’s no major new legislation pending at the moment. “In terms of legislation, we are still digesting the recent reforms of the Civil Code, corporate law updates, changes to interested party and major transactions regime, the increased use of Russian law in deals and changes to the arbitration law and rules on arbitrability of disputes. So the last couple of years were full of new developments, which effect most transactions, and the market is still adapting to those.”
Finally, turning to the subject of the Russian legal market, Drebezgina refers to some fallout from Chadbourne’s global tie-up with Norton Rose, with the firm’s formal Managing Partner moving to Reed Smith in London. "But otherwise nothing major,” she says. Drebezgina says there haven’t been any major cuts at firms in recent months. "Difficult decisions were made in prior years,” she says. "And now everyone is in a waiting mode."