On October 6, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its judgment on the Maximillian Schrems vs Data Commissioner case (the “CJEU Decision”). Within the week, dozens of client alerts circulated from law firms describing the impact of the decision on companies operating within EU member jurisdictions and beyond. What follows here is a review of pressing issues in various CEE jurisdictions, considering this decision and its ramifications.
Cobalt has announced that lawyers from the Borenius team in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus will join it from January 1, 2016, turning Cobalt into “the largest full-service business law firm operation in the region.” This follows Borenius’ announcement earlier this week that it is withdrawing from the Baltics, and Sorainen’s announcement that it had picked up former Borenius Lithuania Partners Daivis Svirinas and Zygimantas Pacevicius, along with another eleven lawyers (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 21, 2015).
On May 18 and 19, 2015, separate press releases came across the wire, announcing that the Lithuanian and Latvian offices of two of the top pan-Baltic alliances – Raidla, Lejins & Norcous (RLN) and Lawin – had, in essence, dissolved, traded Estonian offices, and reorganized. The former Lithuanian and Latvian members of RLN and the former Estonian member of Lawin re-formed as Cobalt, while the former Lithuanian and Latvian offices of Lawin and the former Estonian office of RLN re-formed as Ellex.
The Latvian and Lithuanian offices of Raidla Lejins & Norcous (RLN) and the Estonian office of Lawin have left their firms to join forces in what they describe as "a vibrant new pan-Baltic alliance.” The result — “Cobalt” — also includes an office in Belarus. As a result, Irmantas Norkus, the Managing Partner of Cobalt’s Lithuanian office said yesterday, “RLN is dissolved as of today.”
Raidla Lejins & Norcous has advised the shareholders of Cgates, the second largest Lithuanian provider of television rebroadcasting and internet access services, on the sale of their shareholding in the company to the Swedish investment company East Capital. The transaction was valued at more than EUR 56 million.
The teams associated with Magnusson in Latvia and Belarus before separating from the firm in controversial circumstances this past summer have announced that they are once again doing business as Vilgerts — the name they operated under before the 2012 tie-up with Magnusson. Simultaneously, Vilgerts announced that it has opened offices in Estonia and Lithuania "to ensure consistently high quality of our services to clients throughout the region.”
Lawin has advised the Israeli venture capital fund Entree Capital on a EUR 400,000 investment in the Lithuanian mobile payments company UAB WoraPay. The investment was made through Olerra Investments Limited, which is an affiliate company of Entree Capital and operates under the Entree Capital brand.