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The Baltic real estate and construction markets remain active, with a number of sizeable transactions completed during the first few months of 2019 and investment pouring into the development of infrastructure, commercial, and residential projects. For the past decade, the Estonian and Lithuanian real estate markets have been more active than the Latvian market. Now, however, with Estonian and Lithuanian markets becoming more and more saturated, Latvia is attracting an increased amount of interest from developers and investors.

“There were no major changes in the structure of the Latvian legal services market in 2019,” says Lauris Liepa, the Managing Partner of Cobalt in Latvia. “As before, three firms – Cobalt, Sorainen, and Ellex – have dominated both the transactions and the corporate advisory market. While some lawyers have changed firms, there have been no major moves regarding teams or senior lawyers. One of the reasons might be a relatively good situation in the legal services market, with growth in all practice areas.”

Cobalt has advised BaltCap portfolio company Coffee Address Holding, a vending and coffee service company in the Baltics operating under the Coffee Address brand, on its acquisition of SIA Kafe Serviss – a vending operator in Latvia. Solo practitioner Lauris Leja represented Kafe Serviss on the transaction, which remains subject to the approval of the the Latvian Competition Council.

Sorainen and Allen & Overy have advised Sage, a UK based company specializing in integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, on its acquisition of CakeHR, a Latvian startup that offers a native cloud solution that for HR tasks for small businesses.

Eversheds Sutherland Bitans has advised ExpressCredit Ltd on its issuance of new notes and on securing the interests of new and existing Investors. The interests of the investors, note holders, and SIA Mintos Finance were secured with a commercial pledge in the amount of EUR 40.5 million, held by Eversheds Sutherland Bitans as the collateral agent of the investors.

Finland's Castren & Snellman and Sorainen have advised the OP Corporate Bank on its provision of financing to Finland's Veho Group for Veho's acquisition of Silberauto. Finland's Dittmar Law Firm and Ellex's three offices in the Baltic advised Veho on the financing, as they had on the acquisition itself.

Sorainen Latvia and Herbert Smith Freehills have advised MM Capital Infrastructure Fund I, a Marubeni-backed fund, on the acquisition of a 29.06% interest in JSC Conexus Baltic Grid, a unified natural gas transmission and storage operator in Latvia, from Marguerite Gas I. Marguerite was advised by CMS London and Cobalt on the transaction, which remains subject to regulatory approval.

Ellex Klavins has successfully represented Deaflympics athlete Maris Grenins before the Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia, which on November 5th ruled that the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers had acted improperly in making an unusually low cash award to Grenins following his success in the 2013 Summer Deaflympic Games.

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