Stuck in the middle – CEE advisers buffeted from pressures from east and west

Stuck in the middle – CEE advisers buffeted from pressures from east and west

On a Sunday night in mid-November last year, people gathered on the streets of Bucharest in their thousands to celebrate the choice of Klaus Iohannis as Romania’s next president; a liberal thinker and the first person from the country’s ethnic German Protestant minority to be elected. With a voting turnout of 62%, the highest in 14 years, Iohannis’s appointment was considered a surprise for this conservative, majority-Eastern Orthodox country.

While in essence a protest vote against the incumbent government and its socialist prime minister Victor Ponta, who ran a staunchly nationalist campaign, Iohannis’ election may well prove to be an asset for the nation. The centre-right leader’s plans to modernise Romania include establishing an anti-corruption regime – the country is widely regarded as among the most corrupt in Europe – focusing on the rule of law, safeguarding the independence of the judiciary and, equally important, winning western investment (well before the election, Romania regained its investment credit rating for the first time in six years from Standard & Poor’s). Most importantly, Iohannis’ election signals the increasingly progressive mood of the Romanian public, which is good news for the domestic and international law firms operating there.

Continue reading “Stuck in the middle – CEE advisers buffeted from pressures from east and west”

Breaking new ground – advisers hope shale revolution can restart CEE market

Breaking new ground – advisers hope shale revolution can restart CEE market

While most of central and eastern Europe (CEE) predictably remains in recovery mode from the global financial crisis, the buoyant energy sector has led to a steady stream of foreign investment and some prized mandates for law firms active in the region.

Anything that can galvanize the region’s economy is to be welcomed. While the CEE’s major countries have generally avoided the kind of economic contraction seen in western Europe since the 2008 banking crisis, the rise of more potent rival emerging economies has drained away much of the foreign investment that would have once gone to the region. The mood has been further darkened by persistent concerns over cronyism and the quality of political governance in some states – a factor not helped by an increasingly difficult balancing act between the competing influences of the European Union (EU) and Russia. Continue reading “Breaking new ground – advisers hope shale revolution can restart CEE market”

Central and eastern Europe: CEE the light

Central and eastern Europe: CEE the light

The most recent global deal statistics have shown that the outlook remains pretty dark for the world’s emerging markets. According to figures published by mergermarket, the value of emerging markets deals plummeted by 24.1% in the first three quarters of a2012, down from $386.8bn in 2011 to $293.5bn. Significantly, it’s not simply a result of a drop in worldwide deals. Instead, it seems that investors are specifically turning away from these jurisdictions; emerging markets accounted for 23.5% of deals in 2011, but in the first three quarters of 2012 that fell to 15.8%.

However, this drop has not been reflected in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In fact, the CEE (excluding Russia) is currently the most active M&A region in Europe, with mergermarket counting 789 deals in the first three quarters of 2012. To put those figures into perspective, the Germanic region was second with 691 deals and the UK and Ireland were third with 640. Continue reading “Central and eastern Europe: CEE the light”

CEE – Generating Growth

CEE – Generating Growth

Oil and gas? Renewables? Nuclear? Whichever energy source you’re selling, there’s no doubt that the appetite for power in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) seems almost insatiable. That demand, coupled with the urgent need for infrastructure, is ensuring that even those CEE economies facing the imminent threat of recession are viewing the fulfilment of their relevant construction programmes as a number one priority.

‘National authorities are seeking to improve capacities in conventional energy sources, increasing energy independence and phasing out or upgrading older polluting generation capacities,’ says Bryan Jardine, partner in the Bucharest office of Austrian-headquartered Wolf Theiss. ‘The CEE is a region that has tremendous need. Growing energy demands, coupled with ageing, inadequate and inefficient energy supply infrastructure (a legacy inherited from 45 years of Soviet-era planning and investment) is driving the need for this increased sector work and investment in the CEE.’ Continue reading “CEE – Generating Growth”

The Balkans – Holding up

The Balkans – Holding up

The signs had been positive for the Balkan states until very recently. Not only have countries in the region shown great commitment in pushing through reforms to bring domestic legislation in line with the rest of Europe, but many have also shown exemplary discipline in complying with International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity measures. All this contributed to the IMF’s forecast last year that growth in the Balkans by 2013 would be three times that of western Europe.

However, the knock-on effect from the rest of the continent has been severe. With the eurozone crisis showing no signs of abating, forecasts for growth in the region have suffered amid fears that, as western Europe further tightens its belt and its major banks shrink outside of their home markets to help beef up capital levels, already low levels of liquidity within the region will drop even further. Continue reading “The Balkans – Holding up”

Eastern Rivals

Eastern Rivals

The financial crisis has done more than stall investment in Central and Eastern Europe. It has caused a remarkable sea change in the respective legal markets, where the international elite have their work cut out

The crystal balls of Romania’s gypsies would be a valuable tool for many a law firm partner operating in Central and Eastern Europe. Almost precisely to the day of Lehman Brothers’ collapse, the investment appeal of these emerging markets all but extinguished. Continue reading “Eastern Rivals”