Schoenherr Partner Alexander Popp in Austria and Attorney at Law Ivan Einwalter in Croatia talk about the CEE 2019 Deal of the Year in Croatia
CEELM: First, congratulations on winning the Deal of the Year Award in Croatia!!
Ivan: Thank you, we are happy and proud to have received the award. We see the award as recognition of a strong business year in 2019, with the Tele2/United Group as one of the headline M&A transactions we worked on. For our Croatian office it is our first CEELM Deal of the Year Award, so we are especially pleased for this recognition!
CEELM: Can you describe the deal for us, and Schoenherr’s role in making it happen?
Ivan: We assisted Swedish telecommunications group Tele2 - a major telephone operator in the Nordic and Baltic countries and an alternative provider in many others, with about 17 million customers in eight countries and revenues of EUR 2.5 billion in 2019, on the sale of its Croatian business to the United Group, a leading telecoms and media provider in South East Europe, for an enterprise value of EUR 220 million. The United Group has the broadest network coverage in the region with 3.82 million subscribers and offers both local and international content. The United Group has operations in six countries and employs around 4,400 employees. The acquisition of Tele2 Croatia is, for the United Group, an important step in further strengthening its market position in South East Europe. We assisted Tele2 on all aspects of this auction sale transaction, including the setting up of the data room, the structuring, preparation, and negotiation of the transaction agreements, and providing assistance in relation to the regulatory proceedings.
CEELM: The team working on the Tele2/United Group consisted of attorneys and partners from both the firm’s Austrian and Croatian offices. How did that affect your work on the deal?
Alexander: Being a regional law firm, Schoenherr possesses extensive local market knowledge with an operation model based on the principles of an international law firm. Advising on multi-jurisdictional mandates is therefore part of our daily business. Our strong CEE footprint allows us to combine knowledge about the local culture and habits with the high level legal expertise of an international law firm. The great results we achieve year after year show that this model is working! As for the Tele2/United Group deal, I truly believe that, with our mixed Croatian/Austrian team, we pulled all our strengths together, resulting in this success.
CEELM: Who were on those teams, exactly?
Alexander: The core Schoenherr team on this transaction consisted of me, Ivan, and Austrian attorneys Manuel Ritt-Huemer and Michael Marschall. I headed the team, and Michael and Manuel assisted in the first row on transaction structuring, drafting, and negotiating the contracts. Ivan handled all Croatian-law-related aspects (in particular corporate, regulatory, and commercial), in particular in the negotiations of the contracts, and organized the closing process. Vienna-based Partner Christoph Haid led the merger control working stream, and Vienna-based Partner Robert Bachner led the working stream for the transitional agreements.
CEELM: Schoenherr won four deals at this year’s CEELM DOTY Awards, following similar success last year. Where do you think this success comes from?
Alexander: To win an award obviously feels great – but the award always comes at the end of a process that involves many great minds and a lot of effort from everybody involved. Winning a total number of four awards in four different jurisdictions shows that our expertise across all offices is exceptional. Due to our ability to advise on transnational deals by working with Schoenherr teams from all over the region, we have traditionally been involved in a lot of international transactions. Over the past years, we were able to further strengthen this position, and I am positive that we will continue to do so in the future.