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Potamitis Vekris has advised the Hellenic Republic Asset Develoment Fund on the EUR 400 million sale of the Astir Palace hotel complex in Athens by it and the National Bank of Greece to Apollo Investment ΗoldCo, a subsidiary of Jermyn Street Real Estate Fund IV LP. The National Bank of Greece was advised by the Alexiou-Kosmopoulos Law Firm, while M&P Bernitsas advised Apollo Investment HoldCo.

Since the onset of the Greek sovereign debt crisis and in the midst of non-stop negotiations with the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF, Greece has been instructed to apply tight fiscal consolidation measures and implement a series of structural reforms to improve its competitiveness and boost its growth in return for desperately needed financial assistance and securitization of its bail out.

"Non-performing loans (NPLs) in Greece are of tremendous size," says Stathis Potamitis, the Managing Partner of Potamitis Vekris in Athens. "Perhaps up to 120 billion euros are tied up in NPLs — maybe as much as 50% of the total loan portfolio, with another 70 to 80 million euros due to the state." These assets are generating significant international interest, of course, and many funds are coming to Greece to explore the possibility of investing. As a result, the Greek government is working to create a manageable and attractive legislative and regulatory environment for their transfer.

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 “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.

The critical value of Intellectual Property Rights (“IPR”) to the global economy has been much discussed and analyzed in a series of published EU and national economic studies and reports, quantifying both the contribution of IPR-intensive industries to economic performance and trade and the significant economic impact of counterfeiting. Corporate and government budgets, allocation of human and other resources, integrity of public administration, investments, and criminal activities are all affected by the unauthorized use of IPR, which includes trademarks, patent, copyright, and designs.

Clifford Chance and its Turkish arm, the Yegin Cifti Attorney Partnership, have advised the QNB Group on its acquisition of the National Bank of Greece's 99.81% stake in Finansbank A.S. in Turkey. Freshfields and the Verdi law firm advised the sellers. QNB Group announced that it would launch a Mandatory Tender Offer in Turkey for the remaining 0.19%.

Drakopoulos and the React anti-counterfeiting network, working in cooperation with the Greek police, are reporting a seizure of 25,000 fake clothing items in a warehouse in an Athenian suburb on April 26, 2016, and describing it as "marking the symbolic character of the World Intellectual Property Day."

Women’s Day is behind us, but the subjects of gender equality and equal opportunity are of year-round concern. This, the first part of a special two-part CEE Legal Matters article on women in private practice in CEE, provides the numbers and percentages from leading law firms across CEE, as well as a more thorough snapshot of one representative market. Part II of the report, in the June issue, will pull back the curtain even more, providing feedback and perspectives from lawyers across the region.

English solicitor and Scottish national Marie Kelly is a Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright in Athens, where she heads the firm’s Greek Dispute Resolution Practice. She specializes in shipping litigation and shipping contracts including ship-building contracts, and also has a great deal of experience in arbitration and in commercial litigation in the high court. 

Kelly got her law degree from the University of Glasgow in 1982 and subsequently studied at the College of Europe in Bruges and the University of Edinburgh. She has been with Norton Rose Fulbright since 1998, when she moved with her husband to Athens.