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Know Your Lawyer: Armen Khachaturyan of Asters

Know Your Lawyer: Armen Khachaturyan of Asters

Issue 10.12
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An in-depth look at Armen Khachaturyan of Asters covering his career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about him as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.

Career:

  • Asters (Shevchenko Didkovskiy & Partners untill 2008); Partner, Senior Partner; 2002-Present

  • Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (Kyiv, Ukraine); Associate; 1999-2001

  • Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (Columbus, Ohio, USA); Associate; 1995-1998

  • Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (New York, USA); Associate; 1993-1994

  • Sills, Cummins, Zuckerman, Radin, Tischman, Epstein & Gross (Newark, New Jersey, USA); Intern; 1991-1992

Education:

  • Yale Law School, USA; LL.M; 1993

  • International Law Institute, USA; Course in U.S. Legal System; 1991

  • Kyiv National University; Ph.D. in Private International Law; 1990

  • Kyiv National University; Master of Law; 1983

Favorites:

  • Out of Office Activity: Travelling and having fun with my family, collecting art

  • Quote: “There is justice but it must be fought for.”

  • Book:  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • Movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn

Top 5 Projects:

  • Advising Aval Bank on its over USD 1 billion equity sale to Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG – the first and largest banking M&A transaction with a foreign purchaser in Ukraine.

  • Advising the National Bank of Ukraine on the nationalization of Privatbank (the largest Ukrainian commercial bank) – the first nationalization via a bail-in procedure in Ukraine, as well as subsequent representation of nationalized Privatbank in complex restructuring and legal proceedings related to nationalization.

  • Advising Swedbank in connection with its USD 735 million acquisition of TAS-Kommerzbank and TAS Investbank and establishing the first Ukrainian bank holding group Swedbank Finance.

  • Advising Ukrainian state company Nadra-Uzivska LLC on entering with Shell into a first shale gas product sharing agreement with the Ukrainian government.

  • Advising Ukrainian Railways (the largest Ukrainian company) on restructurings of its loan participation notes in the total amount of USD 895 million and the USD 500 million new Eurobonds offering.

CEELM: What would you say was the most challenging project you ever worked on and why?

Khachaturyan: The nationalization of the insolvent largest Ukrainian private commercial bank – Privatbank in 2016. The procedure was based on then practically unexplored bail-in mechanism involving a wide group of regulators and state agencies coordinating and streamlining their efforts within a very short period of time. The preparatory work also required the amendment of many regulations to comply with the underlying statutory requirements. Last but not least, the procedure inevitably envisioned strong resistance and opposition from the bank’s UBOs and their related parties who were subjected to bail-in leading to the loss of significant assets. The working group meetings at the headquarters resembled a war zone where everybody forgot that humans generally needed to sleep for some time, at least once in a few days. The tension was at a peak within three days of converting the legal mechanism into reality but lasted for over seven years, during which the nationalization had to be defended in numerous judicial proceedings in multiple jurisdictions – all challenged by extremely hostile opposition.   

CEELM: And what was your main takeaway from it?

Khachaturyan: During real challenges, teamwork seems to be the only solution. It is so rewarding to be a part of a mighty team; you keep these relations for years to come. You should never give up where the circumstances are against you and you shouldn’t lose your self-confidence even if everybody around attempts to undermine it. 

CEELM: What is one thing clients likely don’t know about you?

Khachaturyan: My credo has always been to practice law as an art. Art inspires. I like to talk with artists, visit galleries, and buy artwork. I am proud of having a large home collection of porcelain figurines. It is a privilege to lead a project designated to exhibit Ukrainian visual art within Asters’ Kyiv office. The project named ArtAsters exhibited dozens of renowned and unknown Ukrainian artists over the last 15 years and undoubtedly inspired many of Asters’ clients and employees.

CEELM: Name one mentor who played a big role in your career and how they impacted you.

Khachaturyan: Vladimir Lechtman, a Jones Day Partner (now Of Counsel). Vladimir was mentoring my kick-off as a law practitioner in the US law firm in 1993, following my academic career as a law professor and researcher in Ukraine. That substantive practical training with his careful supervision and insights into the profession laid such a solid foundation on which I built my future in law, that it worked brilliantly both for me and for many of my younger colleagues to whom I kept passing the legal magic and skills well learned from Vladimir. He was an exceptional mentor with great charisma and a very big heart. He had exemplary vision, BD skills, a talent for converting an opportunity into reality, and attention to legal detail, logic, and style. I am happy that he remains active in the Washington office of Jones Day, sharing his extraordinary experience with the younger generation of lawyers who are truly lucky to still have such a great mentor.

CEELM: Name one mentee you are particularly proud of.

Khachaturyan: I am proud that my professional path crossed with that of Evhen Kravtsov, whom I met as a young Associate who joined Asters in 2008 and got under my mentorship. His professional talents were noticeable immediately when we started working together and I tried to support his career all-around sharing with him my “secrets” on lawyership. I am happy that it was my recommendation that promoted him to partnership in 2014 (at the age of 28) and secondment to the largest Ukrainian company Ukrainian Railways in 2015 as an advisor to the Ukrainian Railways’ CEO, assisting in the state company’s corporatization. His efficiency and managerial skills were appreciated there, leading to his appointment as the head of a department, board member, and acting CEO within less than a year. That was followed by the appointment as the first deputy minister of infrastructure of Ukraine, the chairman of the board of Ukrainian Railways, and then the company’s formal CEO (all within another three years).

CEELM: What is the main advice you’d give yourself fresh out of law school?

Khachaturyan: Never say never. Be curious. Diversify your knowledge and skills. Work hard to enhance your personal brand – you will not be disappointed when the brand starts working for you. Work with people as well as you work with papers. Be prepared to sacrifice a lot, but do not sacrifice yourself.

This article was originally published in Issue 10.12 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.