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Schoenherr has an outstanding reputation for M&A while its banking and capital markets groups have been gaining recognition through the quality of work they produce. In banking especially the firm has developed to such an extent that for the second consecutive year it is promoted, this time joining the top tier. Good deals backed up by good feedback, particularly for banking and finance head Martin Ebner, is the reasoning behind the firm's promotion.
In addition to lending and finance advice, Ebner's team is responsible for capital markets, structured finance, securitisation and restructuring. One client describes him as "highly motivated," and another appreciates his "drafting skills". Others commend him on his technical expertise and product knowledge.
Ebner is not the sole stellar partner within the practice; peers also recommend Peter Feyl. "He should be mentioned as a no nonsense lawyer with a lot of experience in complicated deals," notes one. One client feels Walter Gapp has made his own is mark in the funds work. He has the "highest legal knowledge regarding investment fund law available on the Austrian market," says the client. For capital markets advice, younger partner Ursula Rath is establishing a name for herself.
In M&A the firm's reputation remains unblemished. As is often the case, it topped the Mergermarket's M&A deals tables in 2012 for Austria by volume, ranking sixth across CEE. It has a large team with quality throughout and its international reach is an attractive asset. "Our main reason for choosing Schoenherr as our principal law firm is their network in CEE, which covers the area we need expertise in. There are very few competitors that offer the same broad network," says one client. The key figures in the team are Christian Herbst and Sascha Hödl. They are known for being efficient and experienced.
Several cross border restructurings have occupied the banking team lately. In one matter Ebner was representing a group of 40 senior creditors, mostly Austrian and CEE financial institutions, in bauMax's debt restructuring and refinancing.
The firm's M&A mandates have predominantly been cross border deals. Hödl advised Heineken on selling Pago to Eckes-Granini, while Herbst took the lead advising EQT on its acquisition of UC4 Software Group from Carlyle for €220 million.
In capital markets the firm has had a good range of work, acting on high yield issues, securitisations and several corporate bonds. Equity capital markets deals have been virtually nonexistent in Austria but Feyl and Rath were involved in several transactions, the largest being UNIQA's €500 million rights offering where they represented the issuer.
Schoenherr (in cooperation with Andreev Stoyanov & Tsekova)
Schoenherr in cooperation with Croatian lawyers
Schoenherr is known for its corporate strength and Matthias Wahl is managing partner at the Zagreb office. It regularly acts for clients in the banking sector, media sector, oil & gas, food and security sector. The firm has a small presence in Croatia and tends to bring in practitioners from Vienna to support projects. "By receiving services from Schoenherr, we enjoyed the benefits of its very good and reliable network of lawyers in the region," one client says.
Nevertheless, the firm has been attracting some significant mandates and was recently engaged by the Republic of Croatia – alongside Confida in Austria and Zagreb as the financial advisors – in the prospective privatisation of Croatian Post Bank (HPB). The firm also advised OMV in its sale of OMV Hrvatska, a 100% owned subsidiary of Viva International Marketing and Handels, to Crodux.
Schoenherr opened up its Prague office in 2008. Its banking and finance group is led by Petra Konecná, and has acted as legal counsel for various banks, funds and real estate developers. It has worked for clients like Deutsche Bank, Hypothekenbank and Royal Bank of Scotland. In March 2013, the firm was dealt a blow when partner Veronika Odrobinová departed to join the newly merged Dvorák Hager & Partners.
The firm has a strong footprint in the region with 14 offices in Central and South Eastern Europe. It is also a strong choice as local counsel and has acted for firms like Herbert Smith Freehills and Berwin Leighton Paisner.
The M&A team is led by Martin Kubánek and acted for Fehrer Group recently on the sale of Nectec Automotiv, a headrest producer, to Grammer, a supplier of automotive interior components and seating systems. Schoenherr has been praised by clients as "highly responsive" and "deeply knowledgeable about the automotive industry".
Schoenherr has a small presence in Chisinau. Nevertheless, it is unique in the Moldovan legal landscape because it is one of the first big foreign law firms to have entered the market. The firm's clients have the advantage of tapping into its wide network of offices and desks throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Led by Markus Piuk, the firm is experienced in working with public authorities and also has expertise in narrower areas such as reinsurance and software development. "The office in Chisinau is not very big but it is enough to manage existing projects," one client says. "The experts that form part of Schoenherr's team in Chisinau are highly experienced experts with a wide range of expertise."
As a member of an international consortium of consultants, Bernd Rajal led the firm from Vienna in its role advising the Ministry of Economy in the Project Moldova Energy Sector Reform and Efficiency Improvements Project. Additionally, Piuk and other lawyers in Chisinau advised OMV Group and ICS Petrom-Moldova on a number of legal and corporate matters.
In Poland, the Austrian firm Schoenherr is focused on M&A, capital markets, banking and finance, real estate and energy. After a number of departures reported in IFLR1000's 2013 edition, the firm has had a settled year. Its Warsaw operation is small with only one partner on the ground, Pawel Halwa, acting on the finance side and one other, Katarzyna Terlecka, working in M&A. "Katarzyna was fantastic for us on the one transaction we have done together," one client says. "She's very organised and quick to understand the issues and guide us. We felt in very safe hands with her involved."
The firm is known for its corporate expertise and its banking and finance practice tends to act in restructurings or advise clients in the financing of mergers and acquisitions. It has been most active in M&A and advised Pearson, a British multinational publishing and education company, in its acquisition of iOKI a Polish e-learning provider.
The 46-lawyer-strong Schoenherr has been present in Bucharest since 1996. It is one of the most experienced international firms in Romania. The firm enjoys a particularly strong reputation in the capital markets and is regularly involved in some of the market's leading mandates. Leading lawyer Narcisa Oprea is well respected and was elected as a non-executive board member of the Bucharest Stock Exchange in 2012. Oprea led the team that advised Raiffeisen, Wood & Company and BT Securities in the €72 million secondary public offering (SPO) for the sale of 15% in Transgaz. The successful SPO was the largest public offering ever executed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. "It did a good job in a very complicated environment," one client says. "It had very good responsiveness and innovation capacities."
The firm's M&A practice is led by Madalina Neagu. In the context of the largest corporate restructuring in Romania's insurance sector, the firm helped BCR Asigurari merge with Omniasig. The new entity Omniasig Vienna Insurance Group is now the largest insurance company in Romania. Also the regional experience of Markus Piuk benefits the practice. "Schoenherr is good," one client says. "It has deep experience and knowledge of the renewable energy sector."
Moravcevic Vojnovic & Partners in cooperation with Schoenherr
Matija Vojnovicć leads the firm, which is one of the stronger ones in the second tier. The firm's cooperation with Schoenherr helps it get hold of strong mandates from Vienna and maintain a regional profile. In recent times, the firm has been more active in the Republic of Srpska and Montenegro acting for clients such as Telenor, Johnson Controls, Mercator and Magna International.
The firm acted as lead counsel to Telenor, the Norwegian telecommunications company, on the acquisition of 100% of the shares of KBC Banka, the Serbian subsidiary of the Belgian banking and insurance group. It was the first time in Europe that a telecoms operator acquired a bank. The firm also advised the Government of Montenegro in a €10 million privatisation and sale of shares in Novi Duvanski Kombinat, a state-owned tobacco processor. The acquirer is a group of companies made up of Primat, Partner Company and Jaz Express. "Slaven Moravcevicć is a very calm, collected and professional lawyer who quickly grasps the commercial needs in a transaction," one client says.
In Bratislava, regional heavyweight Schoenherr is led by Stanislav Kovár. The firm's Slovakia office is especially focused on corporate, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructurings. In the last three years the firm has been working hard to develop its banking and finance capabilities and is often engaged by clients in banking and insurance for financial regulatory advice.
Schoenherr advised the Slovak subsidiary of Walmark, a Central and Eastern European leader in dietary supplements, in a €42 million term and multicurrency revolving facilities agreement and inter-creditor agreement with Erste Bank, Ceská Sporitelna and other financial institutions.
Schoenherr is still a presence in Slovenia despite losing its local partners to CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz. The firm is important in Austria and has a strong Central and Eastern European (CEE) network. More importantly, Austria's proximity to Slovenia makes its presence expected given the strong economic cooperation between the countries and the firm is a strong option for German speaking clients. Partner Matthias Wahl, also managing partner at the firm's Croatian office, looks after Slovenia, and the firm has brought in lawyers from Vienna and other domestic firms to shore up its Slovenian operation.
In a tough market, the firm has gained experience, over the last few years, in consolidations in the banking sector, distressed M&As, reorganisations and debt restructurings.
The firm advised DZS, a publishing business, firstly in the implementation of its debt restructuring and then in some M&A work regarding the divestment of certain non-core assets. The firm was also involved in the intra-group merger of Duropack-Tespack Tovarna Embalaze Brestanica and cardboard manufacturer Valkarton into a newly established company Duropack. Duropack group is an important corrugated board packaging company in Central Eastern Europe.
Austrian firm Schoenherr, which is one of the leading corporate firms in its native jurisdiction, doesn't have quite the same reputation in Kiev as it does back home, but it manages to secure some good work. Denys Sytnyk leads the firm's banking and finance team and is the firm's most prominent lawyer.
Most of the Kiev offices work in the Ukraine is for Austrian clients, or on larger mandates that come through the network. One of its largest transactions in 2013 was advising Metro Group on the sale of Real in Romania and Ukraine where a multijurisdictional team comprising the Vienna, Bucharest and Kiev offices advised the German retailer.
A substantial capital markets transaction for the firm was work for the Vienna Stock Exchange-listed UNIQA on its €500 million rights offering, which launched in June 2012. Lawyers across the firm's CEE (Central & Eastern Europe) network and Kiev were involved.
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