Magic circle trio Clifford Chance (CC), Linklaters, and Allen & Overy (A&O) have all been gifted places on the extensive legal panel of Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), alongside a host of other international firms including Hogan Lovells, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, White & Case, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF), and Baker & McKenzie.
Formerly a Soviet bank and also known as the Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs, VEB has implemented a general legal services panel that includes the Magic Circle firms, and multiple sub-panels for matters including banking and finance transactions, corporate M&A, international arbitration, litigation, IP, legal support of investment projects, and consulting services in the law of Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
A total of 18 law firms succeeded in winning spots on the corporate/M&A sub-panel including Hogan Lovells, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Debevoise & Plimpton, White & Case and Linklaters, while a sub-panel for international arbitration allocated spots to 17 firms including Baker & McKenzie, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Baker Botts, and Herbert Smith Freehills. PwC Legal also won spots on 3 sub-panels.
Oxana Balayan, managing partner in Moscow and head of Russia’s corporate practice at Hogan Lovells said: ‘VEB is one of the oldest banks in Russia, with over 80-years of experience on domestic and foreign financial markets. It is an important market player, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates including the USD 10bn Russian Direct Investment Fund, albeit currently affected by certain sanctions.’
Established in 1922, the Russian government uses VEB to support and develop the Russian economy and to manage state debts and pension funds. It is part of the government’s plan to diversify the Russian economy, and receives funds directly from the state budget. The legal panel appointments follow a turbulent time for the bank as the US Treasury department imposed sanctions in July that prohibit US persons from providing new financing to VEB as a result of the pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine.
It also follows a difficult year for international firms operating in the country, as US and EU sanctions in Russia take their toll. Especially affected were those firms with a capital markets practice, such as A&O’s Moscow office which offered redundancy packages at associate level, alongside Linklaters, White & Case and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Meanwhile, firms have faced a consistent stream of bank panels this year, including German banking goliath Deutsche Bank opening a review of its global legal panel which is set to conclude by the end of January 2015, and Metro Bank’s lending and securities panel which began in June and was finalised in early November, resulting in 14 firms including Eversheds and Hill Dickinson being named on the new roster.