The winners of the 2017 CEE Deal of the Year Awards were announced at the first ever CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Awards Banquet last night in Prague. The biggest smiles in the joyous and music-filled celebration of CEE lawyering, perhaps, were on the faces of Partners from Avellum and Sayenko Kharenko, which, along with White & Case and Latham & Watkins, won the award both for Ukrainian Deal of the Year and CEE Deal of the Year for their work on the 2017 Ukraine Eurobond Issue (a story initially reported by CEE Legal Matters on October 2, 2017).
White & Case led the pack overall with five awards, for its work on Deals of the Year in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine, as well as the overall CEE Deal of the Year, while Shearman & Sterling (for its work on the Deals of the Year in Greece, Hungary, and Serbia) and CMS (for its work on Deals of the Year in Poland, Slovenia, and Bulgaria) each won three.
Submissions for the awards were accepted until January 4, 2018, and in a unique process involving systematic and time-consuming review, two separate groups of prominent lawyers from across Central and Eastern Europe produced first a shortlist of finalists, then the eventual winners, all announced at the June 6 banquet in Prague which concluded that day's first-ever Dealer's Choice conference. Both events — the Dealer's Choice conference and the Awards Banquet — were organized and hosted by CEE Legal Matters.
"To a real extent, the ability to make these important deals happen reflects the skill and passion the best lawyers in the region bring to their work every day," said CEE Legal Matters Executive Editor David Stuckey, who hosted the event with CEELM Managing Editor Radu Cotarcea. "We were honored to have so many of these amazing professionals join us for this unique celebration in Prague — all the finalists, including both those fortunate enough to win and those who went home disappointed — and a pleasure to acknowledge the real value they bring both to their clients and to the countries of CEE as a whole. We only hope they enjoyed the evening as much as we did."
"We were delighted to receive the Czech Deal of the Year award," said Kocian Solc Balastik Partner Christian Blatchford, remarking on his firm's win in the Czech Republic for its work on the unique-in-the-market transfer of 100% of shares in Agrofert, a.s. and SynBiol, a.s. to two private trusts to secure Agrofert’s compliance with the Czech Conflicts of Interest Act binding on public officials in the country. "The fact that respected peers made the selection on the merit of our work gives the award weight for us."
The complete list of winners, including the firms that worked on them, is as follows:
- Austria: Merger of Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG with Raiffeisen Bank International AG (Schoenherr and bpv Huegel)
- Bulgaria: Hugo Pfohe Sale of Moto-Pfohe Group to Sumitomo Corporattion: (CMS and Wolf Theiss)
- Croatia: Arriva Acquisition of Majority Stake in the Autotrans Group (Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic; BDK Advokati; Mamic Peric Reberski Rimac)
- Czech Republic: Transfer of Shares in Agrofert and SynBiol to Two Private Trusts (Kocian Solc Balastik)
- Estonia: Providence Equity Partners' Acquisition of Baltic Subsidiaries of Modern Times Group (Cobalt; Fort Legal; Hamilton; Skopina & Azanda; Sorainen; Mannheimer Swartling)
- Greece: Attica Bank NPL Securitization (Zepos & Yannopoulos; Shearman & Sterling)
- Hungary: Waberer's IPO (Lakatos Koves & Partners, White & Case; Kinstellar; and Shearman & Sterling)
- Latvia: AS Augstsprieguma Tikls Acquisition of Stake in Conexus Baltic Grid from Uniper (TGS Baltic and Ellex Klavins)
- Lithuania: UAB Euroapotheca Acquisition of Apoteksgruppen from Sweden (TGS Baltic; Hammarskiold & Co.; Lindahl; Cederquist)
- Poland: Mid-Europa Sale of Zabka Polska to CVC Capital (CMS; White & Case; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Greenberg Traurig)
- Romania: A&D Pharma Acquisition by Dr. Max/Penta Investments (RTPR Allen & Overy; Musat & Asociatii; Baker McKenzie; Havel, Holasek & Partners; Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski; Clerides, Anastassiou, Neophytou; Jan Evan Law Office)
- Russia: FESCO Restructuring (Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Ogier; Loyens & Loeff; Chrysses Demetriades & Co; Herbert Smith Freehills; Dechert)
- Serbia: EBRD and IFC Financing of Vetroelektrarne Balkana — Cibuk 1 Windfarm (Karanovic & Nikolic; Norton Rose Fulbright; Maric i Mujezinovic Law Office in cooperation with Kinstellar; Shearman & Sterling)
- Slovakia: EPH Group Acquisition of Slovenske Elektrarne from Enel (Allen & Overy; White & Case)
- Slovenia: Sale of Adria Mobile to Trigano in the Course of Ownership Restructuring by Shareholders of Protej d.o.o. (CMS; Kavcic, Bracun in partnerji)
- Turkey: Vitol Acquisition of Petrol Ofisi from OMV (Kolcuoglu Demirkan Kocakli; Hengeler Mueller; CSHS; Balcioglu Selcuk Akman Keki Attorney Partnership)
- Ukraine: 2017 Ukraine Eurobond Issue (Avellum, Sayenko Kharenko; White & Case; Latham & Watkins)
- CEE Deal of the Year: 2017 Ukraine Eurobond Issue (Avellum; Sayenko Kharenko; White & Case; Latham & Watkins)
A full summary of the evening, with dozens of photographs and valuable comments from the participants, will appear in a special July 2018 issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine along with information about the 2019 Awards Banquet, tentatively scheduled for March 28, 2019 in Budapest.