CEELMDirect Profile Pick: A series of interviews with partners and firms with profiles on the new CEELMDirect online legal directory. Today’s interview: Pavel Hristov, Partner at Hristov & Partners in Bulgaria.
CEELMDirect: Bring us up to speed, Pavel. How is your firm doing, in these interesting times? Have there been any significant developments or changes in recent years?
Hristov: These are difficult times in every aspect, globally and locally, politically, economically, and humanly. In this challenging and rapidly changing environment, our firm's focus and specialization in corporate matters and M&A transactions has paid off and helped us ride the wave of record M&A activity. We too had a record year in terms of volume of work, number of international referrals, and cross-border deals.
CEELMDirect: What with Covid, global inflation, and a major military conflict not too far away, this has obviously been a challenging past few years in Bulgaria, as across CEE and the world. In your opinion, how has Bulgaria weathered those storms – and is there something you think the country could or should do better going forward?
Hristov: As during the Eurozone financial crisis in 2009-2010, Bulgaria has effectively managed the various (and mostly external) crises. Our country's economic fundamentals are strong, and supported by export-oriented industries and EU funds. The pending application to enter the Eurozone will likely be delayed until the most pressing common challenges in the EU – inflation, potential recession, energy diversification, armed conflicts, emigration, and common defense and security – have been solved or contained. Each of those challenges will negatively affect our governmental policies and local businesses' growth perspectives and financial results. The days of general growth and stability are behind us. Governments, businesses, and people will have to adapt quickly and become agile. I am not sure if the Bulgarian government and political class are mature enough to deal with and prevent the worst possible scenarios, but I am hopeful.
CEELMDirect: Several years ago, you participated in a CEELM Round Table conversation about the state of Bulgaria’s government – and the controversies surrounding it, which had brought the Bulgarian people to the streets in protest. Can you give us an update on the situation? What’s happening now?
Hristov: Those protests led to three early general elections (within a year) and ultimately to a change in government. A newly formed anti-corruption and reformist political formation, in coalition with other opposition parties, formed a new government, with a pro-EU, pro-Eurozone, and pro-NATO orientation. The government faced a huge number of external and internal crises (in the context of unfavorable media coverage) and, with no time and few resources, it has so far been unable to implement the most urgent reforms: judicial reform, e-government, effective use of the EU funds and the state budget, etc.
CEELMDirect: You have a Premium profile on the CEELMDirect platform. What potential do you think the platform has to help you and your colleagues?
Hristov: CEELM has always been more than a publication. We have viewed it as a community: A community and a network connecting the people and organizations active in the legal services industry in the CEE region and beyond. The CEELMDirect platform and the profiles will enable us, the members of this community, to find each other more easily, to know more, to remain up to date about each other's experience, expertise, and track record, and to communicate with each other. Thank you for having us and keep up the good work!
CEELMDirect: Thank you so much, Pavel. Have a wonderful summer!