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‘I believe in our victory’: Defiant Radchenko named CMS Kyiv managing partner

CMS has named Vitaliy Radchenko the new managing partner of its Kyiv office, as the practice continues to contend with the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A 15-year veteran of the firm, Radchenko specialises in M&A and regulatory issues in the energy and power sectors, with a body of work that spans oil and gas, renewable power and mining and minerals.

CEE managing director Dóra Petrányi explained to Legal Business that the appointment was a long time coming: ‘We started the discussions quite a while ago, but then we put all discussions on hold when the war started. Now at this phase of the war we’ve decided that it is the right time to resume the discussions and actually to go ahead with the changes. We always knew that Vitaliy had the full support of all the Kyiv partners.’

The office Radchenko inherits is one forced to take drastic measures in response to the war. Having evacuated the city, staff now finds itself split between Western Ukraine and Budapest for the foreseeable future, though the team remains fully operational.

Speaking candidly with Legal Business, Radchenko acknowledged that the war has posed problems for the legal community in the country. ‘We have seen firms close offices. They even send partners away because they are not able to provide work to them. Some of the local firms almost completely disintegrated, which is a shame, but also understandable, given the circumstances.

‘Our M&A team is not only doing Ukrainian law-governed deals, but rather English law-governed deals in the region. Some other practices, real estate for example, have seen a significant drop off for obvious reasons. We are trying to restructure people’s involvement and find them work within the CMS network. We have also been successful in seconding people to some of the clients.’

Nevertheless, he maintained an optimistic outlook: ‘I believe in our victory, and you can see the change of the mood in Europe as well. Nobody thought we were able to withstand this aggression. I have no doubts that the business in Ukraine will only thrive in a couple of months’ time and we’ll go forward.’

Radchenko has replaced outgoing managing partner Graham Conlon, who hands over the reins after five years to take up a ‘revised CMS role’. An M&A specialist, Conlon is to continue in his role as head of international private equity for the CEE/CIS regions.

‘He’s not going anywhere,’ clarified Petrányi. ‘He is expanding his remit to the Middle East as a corporate and M&A transactional partner’.