The Southern European market has been largely dictated by the recent inflow of foreign investment to the region, as the real estate, renewable energy, and corporate spheres profited extensively throughout 2023. The Euro Elite’s Southern Europe contingent comprises firms from the highly competitive Israeli and Greek markets. While Israel is technically not in Europe, it has been included in the Euro Elite analysis for some years. However, the country’s war against Hamas has sent shockwaves through its $431bn economy, affecting many thousands of businesses and plunging many industries into crisis – making any assessment of the legal market inappropriate at present.
At the close of 2023, Greece’s economic growth continued to outstrip that of other European nations, with the country experiencing a sector boom in the real estate and construction industries. George Bersis, managing partner of POTAMITISVEKRIS, partly attributes the progress down to ‘the reforms of the current pro-business government kicking in’ alongside ‘foreign direct investment’. Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe is championing this investment drive, as evidenced by its purchase of five high-end hotel resorts for €178m. Continue reading “Euro Elite 2024: Southern Europe – Treading carefully”
Last year, our annual Euro Elite survey of 100 leading independent firms across more than 40 jurisdictions found partners in a positive mindset but nervous about the potentially bleak outlook for 2023. Those fears had some foundation.
Key market players – both new and old – said that the continent’s law firms would be remiss to forget that geopolitical conflict, the energy market crisis, the tightening of monetary policy and economic contraction loomed around the corner. The subsequent belt-tightening and inertia in the European deals market over the past 12 months has shown this has come to pass. Firms generally are quieter in terms of major corporate mandates and have a larger headcount than the boom year of 2021. This has inevitably taken its toll. Continue reading “Resistance is agile – Euro Elite firms adapt to survive amid global turbulence”
Spanish leader Garrigues has continued its pacesetting reputation among the Euro Elite firms by becoming the first in the group to break the €450m turnover barrier.
The results, announced on Tuesday (20 February) continue a decade-long purple patch for the firm, with a 2.5% revenue increase on last year to €454.3m marking a banner year. Continue reading “Breaking barriers: Garrigues tops €450m revenue in milestone for Euro Elite firms”
Greece remains buoyant, despite the global pressures affecting jurisdictions worldwide. Major transnational corporations and huge global players are beginning to adjust their investment strategies and are viewing Greece as a major opportunity for inbound investment. Panagiotis Drakopoulos, managing partner of Drakopoulos Law, remarks: ‘It has been somewhat surprising that a lot of foreign investors (particularly non-EU) see Greece as a gateway not only to just the region, but to Europe itself.’
The country is strategically located geographically, economically, and politically, and is highly attractive to growing numbers of investors that view Greece as a potential hub for their operations. Drakopoulos attributes the shift in part to political factors, noting that ‘the current political climate is very friendly to foreign investment; Greece is in a growth mode.’ Elected in 2019, the Mitsotakis government is self-proclaimed to be avowedly pro-investment and has passed key investment legislation. Continue reading “Greece focus: Lap of the gods”
Our annual Euro Elite survey finds the 100 leading firms across more than 40 jurisdictions still in a strong position, despite a potentially bleak outlook for 2023.
According to the European Central Bank, economic growth slowed considerably in the third quarter of 2022, as strong effects from the post-pandemic reopening and easing supply chain disruptions were tempered by lower consumer confidence and high inflation. This high inflation, uncertainty and weak consumer and business confidence is predicted to slow economic growth from 3.4% in 2022 to 0.5% in 2023. But, as energy markets rebalance, supply bottlenecks resolve and foreign demand strengthens, growth is expected to recover to 1.9% in 2024 and 1.8% in 2025. Continue reading “Overview – Elite Level: annual Euro Elite report finds the continent’s leading independents still in a bullish mood”
‘The future is Pan-Baltic!’ says Vilius Bernatonis, managing partner of TGS Baltic’s Lithuania branch. He is referring to the integration goals of Baltic states’ major firms, which aim to ensure that legal expertise from a firm’s office in one Baltic nation will be readily available to its client in another. But his words have a broader resonance. Though distinct, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania co-operate at nearly every economic level, investing in the infrastructure, energy and technology of one another to foster shared growth and development. They do so because in numbers there is strength. In numbers, there is safety.
Looking at the structure of the Baltic legal market in general terms, at the top is the pan-Baltic bracket comprising Ellex, TGS Baltic, Cobalt and Sorainen, all of which offer full-service, cross-border practices covering all areas of law in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. According to Liga Merwin, managing partner at Ellex [Latvia], ‘the pan-Baltic firms remain largely unchallenged’. Continue reading “Euro Elite 2023: Baltics – Covering all bases”
In last year’s overview, we predicted full steam ahead for the Benelux market – a reflection of the buoyant sentiments swirling in the region as Europe emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic. But the road turned out to be rockier than expected as the outbreak of the largest land war in Europe combined with the after-effects of the pandemic to send inflation soaring and rupture supply chains.
Nonetheless, there were times throughout 2022 when dealmaking thrived across the Benelux region. Hans Witteveen, managing partner in Stibbe’s Amsterdam office, observed ‘a remarkable level of activity, certainly involving large-cap deals’. However, this didn’t last. As the year progressed, the foreboding economic climate dashed hopes of a continued M&A surge. This tapered growth was felt strongly in capital market hotspots, including the Netherlands, as financings struggled to gain a foothold in the face of increasing inflation and reactive interest rate hikes. Continue reading “Euro Elite 2023: Benelux – Hitting the buffers”
Across the CEE region, uncertainty was the watchword throughout 2022, and the pattern looks set to continue. Although independent firms remain well placed to make the most of booming practice areas, the ongoing conflict in the region, coupled with the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, has resulted in a volatile market.
In the Czech Republic, exorbitant oil and gas prices have hit businesses hard, and, although this did not cause an immediate drop in regular financing transactions, state and EU intervention is anticipated in 2023. Despite the strong start to 2022 and hopes of post-pandemic recovery across the board, the macro-economic challenges in the second half of the year have left a much emptier pipeline for law firms, with many major stakeholders waiting to see what unfolds. The domestic real estate market, meanwhile, is seeing stagnation following the overheating of real estate prices in the last few years, while current inflation means there are cumbersome restrictions on mortgages. Continue reading “Euro Elite 2023: CEE – Looking ahead”
The German legal market has again proven its ability to thrive in the face of challenge, as law firms continued their trajectory of growth in 2022. With the largest firms reporting a 7% increase in profit after a tumultuous year, German independents are demonstrating renewed confidence in their own resilience.
After the uncertainty of Covid-19 brought major moves to a halt, the legal market is finding itself back in motion, with spin-offs and mergers becoming a more regular occurrence, though major consolidations have failed to materialise in 2022. However, many firms report difficulties in finding junior lawyers to join their ranks across practice areas. Paired with shifting client expectations that demand a more holistic approach and, as Gleiss Lutz co-managing partners Michael Arnold and Alexander Schwarz put it, ‘a demand for more integrated services rendered by law firms to clients’, firms face an increased need to demonstrate adaptability. ‘This need will also change the search profile for law firm staff in the future. In addition to traditional lawyers, the need for new professional fields is growing strongly. Summarised in one expression: “the future-ready lawyer”,’ says Elisabeth Lepique, one of the managing partners at Luther. Continue reading “Euro Elite 2023: Germany – The centre holds”