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Miljan Malovic is the Head of the Business Legal Advisory Office of Banca Intesa Belgrade. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade in 2001, and joined Banca Intesa in 2006.

Helena Kokot is the Director of the Legal Affairs Department at the Zagreb International Airport. She joined the ZIA in 2014 after 12 years in the telecommunications sector with Croatian Telecom and T-Mobile Croatia. She got her law degree from the Faculty of Law at the University of Zagreb in 1999.

Jovan Velkovski is the Head of Legal at JAT (Yugoslav Airlines) Tehnika, an Aircraft Maintenance Repair & Overhaul Center in Belgrade. Prior to joining the company, he worked as a Senior Legal Advisor at Privredna Banka Beograd, where he gained professional experience in bankruptcy cases.

Linda Szegvari is the Chief Legal Counsel of MET Hungary, an energy trading company that was established in 2007. The company is a subsidiary of the MET Group, which is present in 28 markets.

On January 2, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that Czech pharmacy chain Dr. Max acquired the entire A&D Pharma network in Romania, in a transaction that has been shortlisted for CEE Deal of the Year 2017 in the country. While the transaction awaits approval from authorities, we reached out to Ivo Senkyrik, Head of Group M&A at Dr. Max, to find out how his team made the deal happen.

Basak Gurbuz is Counsel with The Walt Disney Company in Turkey, a company she joined in August 2015. Before going in-house, she worked for eight years at Gun + Partners and another year and a half at Pekin & Bayar.

Andrzej Posniak started his career in law at CMS in 2003 as a corporate trainee and, step by step, become a qualified tax advisor, then a Partner and Head of the Tax Team in CMS Warsaw's Corporate Department. In addition, Andrzej also fulfills General Counsel and Risk Manager roles for the firm in Poland. CEE Legal Matters sat down with Andrzej to learn more about his unique role.

Hungarian lawyer Peter Paroczi is the Director Counsel at Harman International, the US-based consumer electronics company. He joined Harman in Budapest earlier this year, after spending four years in private practice and then another seven in-house, first with Samsung Electronics, then at E.On. He agreed to answer some of our questions about his career.

In the modern world, people are regularly faced with new challenges.

Who knows lawyers better than other lawyers? In this issue’s Face-to-Face feature, Maravela & Asociatii Partners Gelu Maravela and Alina Popescu interview Mihaela Popescu, the former Head of Legal at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

We are now only two days away from the Hungary General Counsel Summit. CEE Legal Matters spoke with Erika Papp, Partner and Head of Banking and International Finance, Hungary with CMS, one of the sponsors of the conference to hear her thoughts on the upcoming event. 

Who knows more about lawyers than other lawyers? In the Face-to-Face feature, we step back and allow private practitioners to sit down directly with in-house counsel to discuss their challenges, strategies, and solutions. 

ODI Law Firm Partner Matjaz Jan interviews Miha Ursic, the General Counsel of HIT d.d. in Slovenia for CEE Legal Matters’ Face-to-Face.

Even though we have not yet reached the speed of light, the future is almost here.

In a challenging economy, in-house lawyers face higher expectations from their clients. On one hand, legal costs are usually seen by businesses as a strong candidate for potential savings. With that in mind, in-house counsels must navigate budget limitations through different measures, including curbing external spend.

After the failed military coup in Turkey on July 15th, 2016, The Council of Ministers of Turkey declared a State of Emergency (SoE) in the country. This article focuses on the position of a GC when suddenly confronted with a SoE, needing to ensure the transformation of the company to ensure compliance with the SoE regime. 

Changes: Politics and Economy

Our world is changing in front of our eyes. The political situation seems to those of us living in developed countries as experiencing the most rapid changes since the fall of communism.

Regulating an effective budget for a legal department is a major strategic decision that must be considered by companies and their legal counsel.

Legal fees are a necessary business expense in every company. The eternal feud between the legal and the financial departments in regard to the “unnecessary” external legal expenses seems to be the daily bread of every general counsel. The fragile beauty of all legal issues is that they parade as “unimportant and deferable” at first sight and to the untrained eye; but the reality of all parties and state authorities involved may be completely different. 

Reflecting upon my career, I cannot remember a single employer who did not propose “let’s increase income and cut down expenses.” Yeah! And that always reminds me of the joke when the Bear complained to the Fox, a Consultant, about the problems caused by his size: He was difficult to feed, in need of a big house, and in constant danger as everyone wanted his fur. The Fox told him: “You should become a mouse. They eat little, can live in any hole, and have very few enemies.” The Bear was happy, but puzzled: “How do I become a Mouse?” And the Fox replied: “I am a Consultant. I can tell you what you need to do, not how to get there.” 

For those who are part of a legal department of 20 in-house lawyers or more, are regularly invited by their Managing Director/CEO for breakfast (to speak about the weather and soccer results), and for whom workload and cost pressure are foreign concepts, there is no need to read further. For all others, welcome to the In-house Club: A club of increased pressure and an increased workload with an increased scope of duties and scarce resources and budget. Welcome to the world of, as Richard Buckminster Fuller put it, “To do more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing.” 

In addition to hiring employees with appropriate education/work experience, finding employees with profiles indicating that they will be a good match for your legal team is a crucial factor in successful HR management and employee career development.  

Growing has never been easy. Think about your childhood, when during the night, you would feel pain in your legs without really understanding they were growing pains. The same thing happens when you start the journey of developing an in-house legal team. The key question is: How can we experience the growth together and start running towards to same goals as one unified team?

The First Two: The Setup

It’s not the equivalent of announcing the discovery of a distant land to say there are two basic approaches in setting up an in-house legal function. The first is a more generalist approach, which works perfectly in companies which do not require very deep professional expertise in a particular area of practice on regular basis. Instead they require broad legal expertise across various areas. 

On January 17, 2019, CEE Legal Matters reported that Finland's Caverion Emerging Markets Oy had sold its Czech subsidiary to KART spol., a member of the CEZ Group. We reached out to Ville Ojanen, Caverion's VP Strategy and M&A, for comment.

On October 31, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that the Erste Group had issued the first loan via blockchain platform in Europe. We reached out to Erste Group's Managing Director and Head of Group Transaction Documentation Kathrin Gfall-Gapp to enquire on the first paperless issuance experience.

On May 7, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that DTEK Renewables is developing the Nikopol solar power plant project in Ukraine, which will be the most powerful in the country. We reached out to Ivan Lyakh, General Counsel for DTEK Renewables, for comment.

On October 30, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that South African investment fund Coast2Coast had acquired Polish soup and pate manufacturer Profi — one of several recent CEE investments. Coast2Coast's Regional Counsel CEE Anna Wawrzynczak agreed to answer our questions about the recent acquisitions.

On February 28, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that NEPI Rockcastle PLC had taken over a commercial building in the city center of Sibiu, Romania, for shopping mall development. We reached out to Robert Ionita, Head of Legal at NEPI Rockcastle, to get his perspective on the deal.

On February 26, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that Timex Card had sold 51 % of its shares to UTA GmbH. Agnieszka Slowiak, Chief Legal Counsel at Timex Card, spoke with us about the deal.

On January 8, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that the X5 Retail Group had acquired a supermarket chain operating under the "O’Key" brand in Russia. Later we learned that the acquired supermarket chain was LLC Razvitiye Malykh Formatov. We invited Tatiana Sumarokova, Head of M&A Legal Support Division at X5 Retail Group, to share her thoughts on X5's cooperation with external counsel in the transaction.

On January 2, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that Czech pharmacy chain Dr. Max acquired the entire A&D Pharma network in Romania, in a transaction that has been shortlisted for CEE Deal of the Year 2017 in the country. While the transaction awaits approval from authorities, we reached out to Ivo Senkyrik, Head of Group M&A at Dr. Max, to find out how his team made the deal happen.

On January 26, 2018, CEELM reported on a joint investment by Banca Transilvania and the EBRD to acquire more than 66% of shares in Victoriabank, the third largest bank in the Republic of Moldova. Bogdan Plesuvescu, the Executive Director and Chief Legal Officer for Banca Transilvania agreed to provide some insight on the transaction, which remains contingent on approval by local authorities.

On December 22, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported on EUR 1.9 billion acquisition of UPC Austria from Liberty Global by T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s team was led by Vice President Legal, Regulatory & Interception Anja Tretbar-Bustorf, who spoke to us about the deal.

On November 3, 2017, CEELM reported that CEE Attorneys Romania had helped logistics company EshopWedrop Group — part of Xpediator Plc — establish a relationship with franchisees in Albania and Cyprus. We spoke with Mircea Bandean, Managing Director at EshopWedrop, for more information. 

On October 24, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that Mellanox Technologies, a software developer headquartered in Israel, would be opening an R&D center in Kyiv. We reached out to Gideon Rosenberg, Deputy General Counsel & Vice President of Legal Affairs at Mellanox, for more information.

On October 25, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that Cobalt had advised the Otravo Group — a subsidiary of Waterland Private Equity Investment — on its acquisition of 100% shares in Interneto Partneris, an online ticket seller in the Baltics. The transaction was led on the buyer side by Waterland's Senior Investment Manager William Ford, who spoke with us about the deal. 

On October 9, 2017, CEELM reported that the Globalworth real estate company had invested outside Romania for the first time by acquiring Griffin Premium Real Estate in Poland. Catalin Tirziu, Head of Legal at Globalworth, agreed to share his insight on the transaction. 

On October 4, 2017, CEELM reported that Everlegal had advised UDP Renewables, part of the UDP development group, on its development of the Dymerska Solar Power Plant in Ukraine. We reached out to UDP Renewables CFO Kiril Bondar, who manages the project. 

On August 8, 2017, CEELM reported that Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati had advised red-stars.com in connection with its acquisition of 25% of the shares of ecosio GmbH. We reached out to Red Star’s CEO, Thomas Streimelweger, for more information about the deal.

On June 20, 2017, CEELM reported that mBank sold its majority shares in housing project company mLocum to another housing company called Archicom S.A. in Poland. We reached out to Monika Powroznik, Deputy Director for mBank, to enquire about the cooperation with her external counsel on this specific sale.

On December 7th, 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that AmRest Holdings had acquired 15 KFC restaurants and the license to operate and develop the KFC brand in Germany. We invited Dawid Ksiazcziak, Chief Legal officer for AmRest Holdings, to reflect on the KFC acquisitions.

On June 2, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that regional used car dealership AAA Auto International had negotiated the refinancing of the acquisition of its entire group from CSOB. Jan Siroky, Senior Lawyer for AAA Auto International, agreed to comment on the deal.

On May 3, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that facility management company Mundus Services – a joint venture of EMPower Capital and KJK Capital – had acquired engineering solutions and services company VM Automation from VM Finance Group in Bulgaria. Stanislav Nikolaev, Operating Partner for EMPower Capital, agreed to answer our questions about the deal.

On November 18, 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that Eesti Energia AS had issued EUR 500 million bonds, which were listed on London Stock Exchange. We reached out to Ivar Kurvits, who acted as the General Counsel at Eesti Energia at the time of the transaction (he is currently General Counsel at AS Inbank), to comment on the deal.

On March 13, 2017, CEELM reported that Arcus Infrastructure Partners, an independent fund manager specializing in European infrastructure, had acquired an 85% stake in Gdansk Transport Company S.A., established to work on AmberOne A1 motorway concession in Poland. We invited Toby Smith, the General Counsel for Arcus Infrastructure Partners, to share his thoughts on the company’s first transaction in Poland.

On January 18, 2017, CEELM reported that CBRE Global Investors had sold its significant CEE retail portfolio to the CPI Property Group. On April 12th, we published an interview with the General Counsel at CPI, and now we present the perspective of Roland Bebcak, the Head of Divestments CEE at CBRE Global Investors.

On January 18, 2017, CEELM reported that CPI Property Group had acquired a high quality retail portfolio, including 11 shopping centers across CEE, from CBRE Global Investors. As soon as the transaction was closed on March 29, 2017, Martin Matula, the General Counsel at CPI Property Group, agreed to share his thoughts on the deal with us.*