Austria part 2 – competitive spirit

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Austria’s competition authority is one of the smallest enforcers in Europe, but recently it hasn’t shied away from taking on tough cases against major companies

What do beer, sugar, lifts, freight forwarders and plumbers all have in common? They were all industries subject to big cartel cases in Austria in the past few years. The once-sleepy Bundeswettbewerbsbehorde, or Austrian Federal Cartel Authority (FCA), has displayed new bite: it’s taken on several big new investigations against major companies and is keen to issue some hefty fines. It has caused consternation in the market with its tough new approach, knocking on the doors of major corporates in dawn raids, and has even started issuing press releases while cases are ongoing. All of this has meant an interesting, and very busy, few years for Austria’s select band of specialist cartel lawyers.

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Austria part 1 – staying out of trouble

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Austria has proven to be an economic safe haven in the past few years, but the troublesome CEE countries are still playing on lawyers’ minds.

A favourite topic of conversation around the dinner table for wealthy Viennese is the astronomical price of apartments in the centre of town. They bemoan how rich Russians are coming in and snapping up the grand, high-ceilinged apartments on the imposing avenue that circles the centre of town, the Ringstraße. The Russians, they say, like the climate and the genteel lifestyle that Vienna offers, and will pay almost anything to get these apartments.

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Offshore Part 3 – Jewels in the crown

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One case has put litigation funding on the map in Jersey, while the Crown Dependencies are each bringing in vital new legislation, meaning fresh streams of work for their legal markets. LB reviews the latest developments

Third-party litigation funders have operated in the UK for some time, but not in the Channel Islands, as the legality and enforceability of funding agreements in Jersey remained untested. This is set to change following a court judgment that could allow islanders access to external funding if they cannot afford to pursue a legal claim.

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Offshore Part 2 – The Bounty Hunt

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Madoff-related claims in the BVI and the Saad litigation in the Cayman Islands are keeping the Caribbean’s litigators busier than ever. LB analyses the key cases and speaks to the main players to find out what is likely to happen next

Following Bernie Madoff’s arrest on 11 December 2008, Fairfield Sentry, the fund said to have had the largest exposure to Madoff’s multibillion-dollar fraud, was placed into liquidation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in July 2009. Consequently Fairfield’s liquidators, KRyS Global, issued over 175 claims in the BVI against investors that had redeemed their investments out of Fairfield. Forbes Hare acted for KRyS Global, led by founding partner William Hare.

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Offshore Part 1 – Search for El Dorado

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Offshore firms are increasingly building Brazil, as well as other Latin American destinations, into their emerging markets portfolio. LB assesses the varying strategies in tackling the New World.

The opportunities in Brazil for offshore legal advisers are increasingly on the rise. In December 2010, Conyers Dill & Pearman’s São Paulo office managing partner Alan Dickson provided Bermuda law advice to Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual on its sale of a $1.6bn stake to a consortium of international investors, marking the biggest eversovereign wealth fund commitment in Brazil. Again led by Dickson, in July 2011 Conyers, alongside Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York and Arias, Fabrega & Fabrega in Panama, advised Queiroz Galvão Óleo e Gás (QGOG) – a Brazilian conglomerate involved in developing large-scale projects in various sectors – on a $700m bond issue to refinance the drilling rigs Atlantic Star and Alaskan Star.

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Spain: Up In The Air

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With Spain wrestling a mammoth budget deficit, the former government initially decided to sell off certain prize assets. But after ditching the eagerly awaited partial privatisation of the country’s national lottery, LB asks if Spain’s top law firms are in the mood for celebrating.

On 12 October, Spain commemorated its Fiesta Nacional – the annual national public holiday marking Christopher Columbus’s 1492 arrival in the Americas. But with Spain’s economy still struggling there seems to be little to celebrate. The country is currently grappling with a budget deficit equal to 9.2% of GDP, which led to its former government deciding to sell off certain prize assets with a view to reducing the colossal debt.

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Russia: Shades of grey

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Russian business and politics can rarely be described as boring. Each year throws up its share of dramas, and 2011 is no exception to the rule.

From prime minister Vladimir Putin’s recent, and not entirely unexpected, self-anointment as Russia’s next president, through to Rosneft’s doomed oil exploration joint venture with UK oil major BP and its subsequent rebound into ExxonMobil’s welcoming arms. These events, and more, have shown that Russia hasn’t lost its flare for political and economic intrigue and infighting. Nevertheless, compared to the problems faced by some of its neighbours in the CIS and Western Europe, Russia has come through the year with a veneer of respectability and stability. Any knocks it has taken have come from external sources. Continue reading “Russia: Shades of grey”

Russia: Space Invaders

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Global law firms have traditionally dominated the corporate market in Russia and the CIS. LB assesses the chances of those domestic firms taking on the internationals at their own game.

Dimitry Afanasiev, chairman of the Russian law firm Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev & Partners (EPA&P), is fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead. On 19 July, EPA&P announced that it was to take over the Ukrainian firm Magisters, creating a pan-CIS firm with over 300 lawyers and, as reported in the legal press, a combined turnover of €115m. In doing so, the firm has planted a serious flag in a market that has always been dominated by major internationals. Continue reading “Russia: Space Invaders”