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51 New Articles

Earlier this year the Estonian parliament enacted long-awaited dedicated covered bond legislation, finally allowing local banks to enter both regional and European-wide covered bond markets and to gain access to a reasonably priced and stable source of long-term funding for their key banking businesses (most importantly for funding the issuance of mortgage loans). Additionally, under the new legislation, local covered bond issuers able to meet prudential requirements under the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) will be able to benefit from certain forms of preferential treatment afforded to covered bonds. For the local banking sector that, at the moment, remains dominated by Scandinavian banking groups, the new legislation also creates a viable alternative to the parent funding.

Amazingly, the Lithuanian FinTech ecosystem report of 2018 revealed that there were 170 FinTech companies based in Lithuania – reflecting 45 percent growth over the previous year – with some 2,600 employees working in FinTech companies, more than 700 of which were newly-employed in 2018. The numbers are still growing this year.

Cobalt has advised the shareholders of Danpower Baltic on the sale of 50% of their shares to French renewable energy group Idex — a subsidiary of  Antin Infrastructure Partners. Idex bought another 40% of Danpower Baltic shares from UAB GECO Investicijos, which retains its 10% stake in the company. Triniti advised Idex on the deal.

Sorainen's Estonian and Lithuanian offices have advised Nordea Bank and DNB on financing they provided to the Luminor Group to develop Luminor’s lending activities and group liquidity buffers and to refinance existing debt. Cobalt advised Luminor on the deal.

This April, the new EU foreign investment screening regulation entered into force, with terms scheduled to become applicable on October 11, 2020. The regulation was conceived and designed to provide member states with a valuable tool to employ in defending their strategic interests. We spoke to several experts in the region to learn more.

In late 2018, the Competition Council of the Republic of Latvia published the final report on its most recent in-depth sector inquiry on the distribution practices of reimbursed medicines on the wholesale market and potential competition restrictions therein. The sector inquiry had lasted for almost two years, during which the Competition Council gathered information from both the public and the private sectors, approaching seven producers, twelve wholesalers, and several public institutions, such as the State Agency of Medicines and the Health Inspectorate, among others. Although the Competition Council proclaimed that the main goal of the sector inquiry was to analyze potential competition restrictions on the wholesale market, which could be apparent because of the vertical integration of wholesalers and leading pharmacy chains and the exclusivity status of the wholesalers, no infringements proceedings were initiated as a result. Notwithstanding the lack of subsequent infringement proceedings, however, some crucial conclusions were drawn.

With the June 7, 2019 initiation of the draft Patient Insurance Act, the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs has achieved an important milestone in the development of the Estonian health care system. This draft act marks a principal change towards the creation of a patient-centric health care system, which will have a major effect on patients, health care service providers, health care professionals, insurance companies, and society at large.

Dentons and Cobalt have advised Latvia's airBaltic airline on its July 23, 2019 placement of 200 million euro issue 6.75 percent 5-year bonds — the largest corporate bond issuance ever originating from Latvia. Linklaters advised J.P. Morgan as global coordinator and it andSEB as joint bookrunners.

Cobalt at a Glance

COBALT is closely integrated alliance of top-tier law offices in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus, making us one of the largest law firms in the Baltic market. 

COBALT is a trusted partner for daily matters and complex large-scale transactions and disputes. The firm’s broad spectrum of expertise and established position as the market leader give a comprehensive basis for providing advice on special areas of business law.

We advise top international and regional businesses, financial institutions, state and local governments, and the region’s most promising start-ups. We offer leading-edge solutions in key industry sectors: Consumer Products, Trade & Distribution, Real Estate & Construction, Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare, Energy & Utilities, Communications, Media & Technologies, Financial Services, Transport & Logistics.

COBALT has been named Baltic Law Firm of the Year 6 times. We were recognized as the Most Innovative Law Firm of the Year 2019 in the Baltics at the IFLR European Awards in London. COBALT also won CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Award for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as the overall Baltic Deal of the Year, at the 2019 CEE Legal Matters Awards. We have received multiple awards from the Chambers Europe, IFLR, The Lawyer and Mergermarket and we are regularly listed amongst the top performing M&A legal advisors in the Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Mergermarket deal tables

More information on Cobalt can be found at www.cobalt.legal.