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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: Nordics Teams
The Legal 500 by country
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- British Virgin Islands
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
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For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Nordics Teams, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house teams working in the Nordic region....read more
Our commitment to the in-house market is expanding, not only through the publication of the GC Powerlist Series, but also with our wide range of events, seminars, roundtables and legal updates. We have also launched GC Magazine, a quarterly title (free of charge to in-house counsel) that looks at the business of being an in-house lawyer, from a strategic, commercial and theoretical standpoint. We understand that the biggest issues facing in-house counsel today are, in fact, rarely legal issues. Our editor-in-chief, Catherine McGregor is now based in the United States and is travelling the length and breadth of the country to meet, interview, analyse and finally share the very best that the in-house market has to offer.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Nordics Teams, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in the Nordic region or global), please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: NORDICS TEAMS
(listed in alphabetical order; click on a team to view an expanded biography)
A.P. Moller – Maersk Group
Aberdeen Asset Management Denmark
Amec Foster Wheeler Energia
Bankernes Edb Central (BEC)
Coor Service Management
Danish Agriculture & Food Council
Dansk Supermarked Group
Danske Bank (Norge)
DHL Express Sweden
Electromagnetic Geoservices (EMGS)
Ferrostaal Topsoe Projects
H & M Hennes & Mauritz
Keskinäinen Eläkevakuutusyhtiö Ilmarinen
KK Wind Solutions
Modern Times Group (MTG)
Nordea Bank Merchant Banking - Finland
Nordea Merchant Banking - Sweden
Solör Bioenergi Holding
Total E&P Norge
Volvo Car Corporation
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics
Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding
A.P. Moller – Maersk (also known as Maersk), is a Danish conglomerate operating in a number of sectors, but primarily shipping, transport and energy. The company, which is the world’s largest container ship and supply vessel operator, is at the forefront of the water transport industry in the Nordic region. To reach this point, Maersk has required a highly able and experienced legal division to support key business processes and strategic developments that are part of its $40bn turnover. The legal department play an active role in the handling of various investments and M&A activities; this part of the team, led by chief legal counsel, group legal, head of M&A section Martin Allan Christensen, has ensured the steady progression and gradual transformation of the company through acquisitions and divestitures. Line Vedel Perlman, chief legal counsel, head of governance, data privacy and legal risk management, leads a team that has drawn praise for its important input into the continued smooth running of the company in the face of increasing data privacy and cyber security challenges. The overall Maersk legal team is considered to be an essential partner to the business, and has worldwide recognition for their excellence.
Described as being ‘key in creating robust systems and procedures’ for real estate transactions leading to a decrease in reliance on external legal counsel, senior lawyer Jacob Kruse Rasmussen heads the legal support at Aberdeen Asset Management Denmark, an asset management business which focuses on real estate as an asset class from their office in Copenhagen. Deeply involved in the direction of company strategy, legal is represented on the management team and is part of a work group with focus on the future plans of the business. Despite external factors, including the market seeing a shift in client demands and a disparity between resources and the scope of work, innovations within the team allow Rasmussen to support the business in a more efficient manner than in the past. The legal due diligence process applied in connection with the purchase of real estate has been streamlined and follows new procedures. These procedures involve a clear division of responsibilities between all stakeholders – internal and external – and have created a tangible impact to the company’s coffers.
Ahlstrom, a producer of fiber-based materials, employs an enthusiastic legal department which is led by executive vice president and general counsel Ulla Bono. The team is renowned for their ability to operate on a variety of tasks simultaneously and consistently produce an extremely high standard of work. The in-house team has demonstrated a proactive role in recent developments of the organisation and ensured swift pragmatic advice is always at hand. The team maintain a close relationship with the establishment’s senior management structure and have additionally provided key insights in regards to strategic development at Ahlstrom. Internal and external personnel have cited Bono as the lynchpin of the legal function, this can be attributed to the fact that she is perceived as a dedicated individual who is always ‘concentrated on the essentials’. One nominator also stated that the legal team ‘go the extra mile’ for the company, ‘always giving what they can’ for the success of the company.
Aibel, a global turnkey oil, gas and renewable energy company, has an impressive legal team that has helped the company achieve its corporate goals. The energy market has been through considerable change in recent years, with fall in global commodity prices having an impact on most companies. This time of change necessitated innovation and new working methods from the whole company, not just the legal team. Sources have praised the Aibel legal team for their ability to maximise revenue from contracts during this period, adding additional benefit to the business. It was also noted by one nominator that the team has made an effort to reduce the external legal spend of the company by negotiating better fees and by internalising work, even during a time of pressure for the energy market. Overall the legal team is known to be one of commercially-minded, legal experts that seek to produce the best results for the company.
Akastor, an oil service investment company that also specialise in industrial holdings and real estate, was formed in 2014 following the demerger from Aker Solutions. Headquartered in Norway, Akastor’s lean organisation includes a highly respected legal and compliance department, led by Charlotte Håkonsen. The legal department were, and still remain, a fundamental figure in the establishment of Akastor as an investment company following the restructure. In the recent past, the legal team has endured various challenges from the difficult market conditions in the oil and gas industry, which has translated into an increase in workload. The team is at the forefront of the establishment’s key strategic and transactional projects in addition to having provided a substantial contribution to the development and structuring of governance model and documents.
Thomas Heinonen, general counsel, heads an innovative and diligent legal department at Altia Corporation, a Nordic frontrunner in the wine and spirits sector. Heinonen has overseen rapid developments in the legal department in a short period of time, adapting and realigning their values in order to acclimatise to the expectations of a modern in-house legal team; demonstrated by the successful implementation of new governance requirements. The team is widely known throughout the alcoholic beverage industry for their ability to seamlessly complete a variation of tasks in short time frames; their speed and accuracy gives Altia an advantage in a market that is known for its competitiveness. The legal department provides essential advice to Altia, as a result of this there is a real sense of trust in the team which is further reinforced by their outstanding knowledge of the market.
Amec Foster Wheeler Energia is the Finnish arm of British multinational company Amec Foster Wheeler, operating in the design, manufacture and installation of steam boilers and other equipment for the use of power stations and industry worldwide. As general counsel, Julia Ormio leads a team responsible for legal affairs, compliance, records management and communications for the group. The team is active in Espoo and Varkaus, Finland, and through subsidiaries in Sweden and Germany; where they work closely with the business to negotiate large circulating fluidised bed (CFB) boiler contracts. Owing to the fact Amec Foster Wheeler Energia’s parent company is listed on both the New York and London Stock Exchange, the legal team regularly face compliance challenges from both authorities. America’s Sarbannes-Oxley Act is known to be a challenge for many companies, but the team has better streamlined processes to effectively comply with it in future. Similarly, Ormio has introduced processes and tools to ensure tighter compliance with company policies and Nordic regulations, which are helping the legal team to be more proactive. Her direct reporting to the group CEO and membership of the company’s management team has also added a commercial dimension to the team’s arsenal. A recent demonstration of the legal team’s effectiveness can be seen in the company’s €20m sale of biofuel boiler dust to Seinäjoki Energy Amec, including its accessories related to the use and installation. The legal team worked tirelessly to achieve a favourable outcome for not only Amec, but the purchasing company too.
Artic Securities’ legal department supports the growth and expansion of a diverse business; being relevant in all aspects of the company’s significant endeavours and providing practical legal advice to the entire organisation. The in-house legal team has made a significant investment into risk minimisation, whilst ensuring a high quality of service is maintained across the board. Much like various other financial companies, regulatory alterations within the European Union have had major impacts on Artic. The Norwegian company is required to adhere to a wide array of changes, a process that has been made considerably easier due to the substantial contribution provided by the legal department. A period of success has led to expansion into new territories in the last two years. The legal team has overseen the opening of offices in New York, Singapore and Stockholm, increasing the international footprint that the team has to support. In addition to new business ventures in Oslo diversifying the company’s product range, the legal department also supports Artic subsidiaries.
The Arla Foods’ legal function has become a valued partner to the business as it has made a significant reduction in spend on external advisors. The department has been at the forefront of several of the company’s key strategic mergers over the last few years, as it continues to expand. These advances facilitated the organisation’s rapid geographical growth and ventures into significant regions such as Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany; making Arla Foods the largest diary producer in Scandinavia. A recent fall in commodity prices resulted in the company shifting their focus from acquisitions to joint venture (JV) cooperation’s, and this affected the expertise that the legal team needed. Following mergers or JV agreements the team guarantee that the overall quality of Arla Foods remains at a high standard via the establishment of a “Post-Merger Integration” (PMI) community, designed to align strategic needs and familiarise partners with an array of daily requirements. This process is led by head of legal M&A Andreas Ilum who has additionally overseen the department’s role in the the co-creation of a joint venture guide outlining the most effective practices of the Arla Foods group and tips on how to successfully establish joint ventures.
Atlas Copco is one of the largest companies in Sweden, and a specialist in the manufacturing of industrial tools and equipment. Atlas Copco has a well-experienced and versatile legal department, which operates in an exceedingly efficient and technical manner. The team is proficient in a wide array of alternative fields and has assisted the business on several large scale projects, developments and plans for expansion. Atlas Copco is a leader in its field, and has won awards for technical innovation, product design and sustainable business approaches. The support of the legal team has been essential to enabling this, providing guidance on unique ideas and approaches. Indeed, the legal department is viewed in high esteem throughout the industry, and it continues to support the organisation in all significant endeavours in addition to providing up-to-date and innovative solutions.
Alice Grünfeld, head of legal at Bankernes Edb Central (BEC), describes her team as ‘a trusted advisor involved in all aspects of the company's activities’. The legal department at BEC, a Danish conglomerate which specialises in the development and operation of IT for financial companies, has established itself as a core part of the business. The legal team consists of three highly-qualified lawyers, two non-lawyers, one head of contract and negotiation and one contract manager. The department is credited for the reorganisation of the company’s procurement processes, a feat that has enabled BEC to handle an increase in digitalisation as well as ventures into new markets. The group respectively restructured the company’s code of conduct in addition to their handling of material internal policies. This required close liaison with various departments across the entire organisation. The legal team members ensure that they are informed of any activities going on within the company as soon as is possible; Grünfeld explains that ‘it is imperative that the in-house legal team understands and is close to the business’.
Bestseller’s legal department is regarded by peers and clients as a ‘competent, progressive and innovative unit’. The group of 20, headed by Malene Gulstad Heslop, has operated tirelessly in order to ensure that the stereotypical assessment of the legal function slowing down processes and complicating procedures is disproven. The function is considered as a fundamental feature of the organisation and often works closely with the company CEO and CFO. As a privately held family-owned clothing company with 11 brands to protect, the legal team has to be vigilant in the defence of Bestseller’s intellectual property (IP) and trademarks. The team successfully countered the growing challenge of both IP infringement and regulatory change through the implementation of innovative policies, e-learning programs and a general enhancement in company standards. Bestseller demonstrates the value that the legal department adds via benchmarks, communication of results, risks mitigated and costs reductions.
The legal department at BillerudKorsnäs, a Swedish pulp and paper manufacturer, is widely regarded as a young, dynamic and versatile organisation. The team is praised by sources for being a key ‘speaking partner’ to the business and this is reflected via general counsel Andreas Mattsson’s close working relationship with the CFO and CEO. Since its establishment in 2013, the legal team at BillerudKorsnäs has ensured that support of the strategic direction of the organisation is a primary focus. On its creation, the team successfully increased overall legal awareness throughout the entire company in addition to enhancing general productivity. The constant demands from an ever changing regulatory environment resulted in the legal department being required to implement an advanced policy program within anti-bribery, competition law, and compliance. The program successfully improved company processes and reduced risk, and the team has gone on to align company processes to that of recently introduced legislation. The legal function has provided essential support to the company during a period of rapid growth; a period that encouraged the legal function to interact more closely with all departments, and act as a focal point for information.
Bisnode is a Swedish corporation specialising in the provision of digital business, marketing and credit information. Led by group general counsel Peter Bergson, the Bisnode legal department currently consists of 10 lawyers. The legal function has been at the forefront of the company’s strategic decision-making, which include a proactive role in supporting the board of directors, M&A processes and risk mitigation. Bergson indicates that the legal department has provided a substantial contribution in supporting the company to operate in a virtual manner across several regions. As Bisnode continues to go through a transitional period, the legal department is increasingly relied upon to support the organisation and adapt their working methods in order to produce a single entity across Europe; a stark contrast to the previous model which consisted of several hundreds of independent companies.
The legal department at Bladt Industries, a global steel contractor, is widely acclaimed for being a highly qualified and specialised in-house team. In under two years, Bladt Industries advanced from previously relying on external assistance to adding a fully integrated in-house legal department. The legal team has ensured that the remaining external law firms have an in-depth understanding of business processes and an alignment to them, a necessity in order to maximise the value-creation of involving external counsel for certain projects. The department has also been successful in its efforts to raise awareness regarding the importance of good contracting. In addition to strengthening contractual awareness in the bid and negotiation phase, the legal team also introduced contract managers who act in close cooperation with project managers in order to ensure maximum efficiency. The legal function at Bladt Industries is now well established as a trusted advisor to the business units and management.
BNP Paribas continues to be a prominent figure in the European banking market, as revenues increase across all operating divisions despite increased regulatory scrutiny. As additional requirements continue to be introduced, it has become increasingly difficult to operate in the same manner, particularly in the cross-border market. Increased regulation and growing activities resulted in the legal department being forced to operate innovatively in order to support business processes and enhance group level development. Benefitting from the parallels in the laws of the Nordic region, the offices in Scandinavia are able to assist each other on large projects as well as delegate responsibility for relevant cross-border tasks. The group of four, consisting of a single individual in both Denmark and Norway and two in Sweden, have a shared vision. Led from the Stockholm office by Caroline Rifall, head of legal, the team is described by internal personnel as a ‘young yet highly experienced’ unit. The BNP Paribas Nordic legal team recently introduced a legal training program, which catered to the organisations business teams and back office. This has ensured that employees are better equipped to identify potential legal issues and recognise where in the process to involve the legal department. The team ensure that the business understand the importance of involving their legal peers in transactions from a very early stage rather than viewing the legal department as a blocking point. This closer interaction has resulted in the reduction of legal risks, provided lawyers with a better commercial understanding of the bank’s core business and shortened the route to business decisions approved by BNP Paribas.
Boliden Group, a Swedish mining and smelting company focusing on production of copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver, is supported by a legal department of five. Led by Eva Rydén, general counsel, the team recently provided a substantial contribution to the creation of a new in-house nickel business at one of Boliden’s Finnish subsidiaries. As with various other organisations in Europe Boliden has been subjected to an increase in regulatory requirements with regard to the protection of the environment. The legal department took a leading role in managing the environmental applications that allowed the significant expansion of Bolidens’s Aitik copper mine. Going beyond simply adapting to the new environmental requirements, Rydén believes that the team also ‘act as a sounding board for proposed new legislation in the environmental field’. As Boliden continues on its expansion strategy, the legal function played an integral part in the acquisition of First Quantum Minerals’ shares in the Kevista mine in Finland. The team was responsible for the process, coordinating the usual legal issues such as due diligence, negotiations and document drafting in addition to various other areas such as acquisition financing and operational matters. In order to successfully complete the deal, in-depth knowledge of the company’s financials, targets and operational activities were required, especially considering that the acquisition resulted in the refinancing of Boliden’s revolving credit facilities.
Cargotec, a leader in the production of cargo and load handling solutions, has a legal team that is well integrated into the operations of the wider business. The legal team, led by senior vice president and general counsel Outi Aaltonen, is praised by nominators for the support that it provides to other departments across the 100 countries Cargotec operates in. In 2015, Cargotec, which is listed on the Helsinki stock exchange, had sales totalling €3.7bn and approximately 11,000 employees worldwide. When the company demerged from Kone in 2005, Aaltonen had an opportunity to build a best-in-class legal team to support the ambitious plans of Cargotec. As Aaltonen is part of the senior management group, the legal team is constantly in touch with the strategic decisions and future plans of the company, ensuring that they are able to adapt and react quickly to any issues. Recently, the legal team has provided substantial contribution to various developments at Cargotec, including an active role in digitalisation ventures required for company progression.
Carlsberg Breweries, the world’s fourth largest brewery group, is supported by an in-house legal team that is described by nominators as ‘progressive and competent’. The team is led by Ulrik Andersen, group general counsel and head of legal, who has rapidly reduced the company’s external legal spend. The group is highly proficient in a wide array of topics and possess extensive expertise in a variety of fields including M&A, dispute resolution, international contracts and corporate law. At the start of 2016, the department provided a significant contribution to the sale of Danish Malting Group to Viking Malt, a deal which is expected to be completed later this year. In Denmark, Carlsberg manufactures and markets some of the largest brands of beer and soft drinks such as Tuborg, Carlsberg and Coca-Cola. The legal team is known internationally as a prime example of how to interanlise not just routine work but also complicated niche matters such as arbitration and competition law.
CASA Enterprise is major Danish construction and property development group, with a reported turnover of DKK 1bn in the last fiscal year. Recent corporate growth has been supported by the CASA’s highly able and knowledgeable legal function. The small team at CASA, led by Michael Storgaard, is widely experienced and possesses an in-depth knowledge of the construction and property market. The legal department play an instrumental role in project development, public-private partnerships and urban development. Although these tasks are many-faceted and complex, the legal department is able to comfortably handle them in a timely fashion.
‘The most important thing is to produce solutions, support the business and not create a barrier or bottleneck. You have to be able to use your tools and make it valuable for the business’, says group general counsel Rikke Alsted Houlberg who together with Kristin Assaad forms the heart of the legal department at Cembrit Holding. The organisation is a prominent figure within the European manufacturing market; they specialise in the production and sale of multi-capability fibre-cement building products. The legal department is valued as a key partner to the company and has drawn praise from peers and clients alike for its ability to swiftly handle a wide array of issues in a clear and concise manner. The team has developed a structured approach which substantially improves the establishment’s legal level, particularly in regards to intellectual property (IP) and global compliance. In addition to IP strategy and a proactive compliance approach, the legal department at Cembrit is also implementing an effective contract management system. The updated system ensures the simplification of various processes, from a risk assessment perspective. Furthermore the team has also provided a substantial contribution in order to ensure the use of uniform agreements and clauses by the organisation, as well as management approval of key contracts. The legal team has played an integral role in the protection of personal data, managing competition law and the introduction of a reformed code of conduct.
The five-strong legal team at ConocoPhillips Norge, the Norwegian wing of the multinational energy corporation, is led by senior counsel Elin Roedder Gundersen who has over 15 years of experience at the company. An important facet to the team’s work is to provide support on major transactions as well as to navigate complex Norwegian employment law as effectively as possible for the business. An important example of the latter is the implementation of ConocoPhillips’ global substance abuse testing program, a project that was extremely complex due to Norwegian law initially challenging its validity, but resolved via the team’s work to create a thorough and innovative solution in compliance with both global company policy and Norwegian legislation. Difficult market conditions related to price and cost challenges in the oil and gas industry have necessitated the team work more efficiently, having to do more with fewer resources to continue to provide a high standard of legal support, reduce legal costs, utilise technology and collaborate with clients as effectively as possible. There are several ways Gundersen and team have achieved this. As well as developing internal contract templates the team has proactively participated in efforts to design and agree industry-wide model contracts in conjunction with external parties. Further displaying their awareness and involvement of matters in the industry sector, the team are active in industry bodies such as the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association. Truly a business partner, more than a traditional external legal advisor, and with intimate knowledge of company business and strategies, the ConocoPhillips Norge team and its members are proven contributors via their cross-functional and collaborative approach dedicated to best practice and commercial results.
Coor Service Management is a market leading organisation of integrated facilities management and industrial services in the Nordic region. The company specialises in facility management services that enable organisations and public bodies to operate efficiently. The Coor Service Management legal department consists of four highly skilled lawyers, who are considered to be valued partners to the organisation. Daily communication between the legal team, the CEO and executive management teams ensures that information is freely shared and the best results can be achieved. The in-house team has been praised by peers and clients alike for the successful creation and implementation of a comprehensive risk management framework; the adoption of which has led to an increase in general awareness throughout the entire organisation. It has also improved the quality of services delivered by Coor Service Management and thereby resulted in a decrease in the number of disputes that the company face. Coor Service Management has experienced an increase in regulatory framework as a direct result of the company being listed in the previous fiscal year. The legal team was consequently faced with the challenge of developing new techniques and routines in order to accommodate and align with business needs.
The legal department at COWI, an international consulting firm which specialises in engineering technology, environmental science and economics, is praised by peers for displaying an advanced degree of professionalism and competence in all endeavours, in addition to possessing an extensive legal expertise. The team, led by group general counsel and senior vice president Julie Ramhøj Meisner, maintains a key role in various significant decisions made by the organisation, a feature which has been essential in driving COWI forward securely. In early 2016, the legal function assisted the company in the acquisition of one of Denmark’s largest professional advisers, Bascon. The acquisition led to the expansion of COWI within the construction sector and allowed them to offer advice to new clients. The legal team continues to demonstrate high-level value to COWI, making them an indispensable asset to the company.
Established as recently as 2015, the legal department at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council has already proven their worth to the business via their ability to convert complex legal assessments into business action plans. Led by head of legal Charlotte Bigum Lynaes, the team’s value has been described as ‘priceless’ to their business peers thanks to their wide-ranging counsel on areas including EU regulation, environmental law, competition law, intellectual property law, administrative law and general business. Reporting directly to the CEO, the bulk of the day to day work for the team is through its position as a central team providing legal advice on upcoming regulation, business-as-usual matters and on the principle court cases facing the Council. The Council operates in the interests of the food producing companies and farmers whilst also providing innovation for future production opportunities and impacts on the domestic agenda. Perhaps just as important as their in-depth legal knowledge is the team’s ability to get stakeholders aware of and onside with their work. Strong considerations must be given to external media, which had to be deftly managed during a case that saw farmers banned from using certain pesticide products; the team was able to take the discussion away from emotion and feelings into facts and legal requirements for expropriation as such a ban constitutes. Maintaining an open, dynamic and experienced working environment, the legal function requires close working relationships amongst the lawyers and other business partners which encompasses around 300 people. Despite its recent inception, the team has already established a strong reputation across the organisation and amongst members for providing useful input rather than blocking an initiative by focusing on legal risks.
Dansk Supermarked Group is the largest retail group in Denmark, holding 1,400 stores across four brands: Føtex, Bilka, Netto and Salling. The retail giant has long recognised the value of integrating the legal function into relevant work streams and decision points. General Counsel Jakob Røddik reports directly to the CEO and the entire legal department has adopted an active role in a number of strategic projects. Dansk Supermarked’s in-house team can be regarded as ‘an agile and commercially-integrated centre of legal excellence’. The team demonstrates its skill and experience through its administration of the company’s real estate, which is one of the largest portfolios in Denmark. Legal has additionally been heavily involved in acquisitions and divestments for the organisation, working closely and collaboratively with commercial peers in other functions. The legal department has substantially contributed to the creation of branding campaigns and sales strategies, further evidencing their commercial nous and knowledge of the business operations. Røddik describes the legal department as a ‘fully integrated part of the commercial machinery contributing to the success of the company’.
Described by a nominator as a team of ‘highly competent cooperation partners, who consistently exercise a high-degree of professionalism’, the Danske Bank legal department, comprised of 160 employees, is led by Flemming Pristed as group general counsel. Among many of the team’s achievements Pristed singles out the work during the ‘digitalisation of the bank's products and services, which is at the heart of the group's strategy’. The legal function recently faced the difficulty of interpreting and implementing regulations, which were created during a pre-digital era. As part of this challenge the legal team has been required to liaise closely with various other departments throughout the organisation. As a crucial support function to the business, the team recently outlined a clear and concise five year strategy that incorporates a learning and development program. Designed to match the company’s strategic challenges, the training includes project management, business partnering and global collaboration. Throughout the global financial downturn, the team has been tasked with ensuring costs levels remain flat by introducing constant efficiency improvements, namely via the establishment of a legal competence centre in Vilnius, Lithuania. Another lasting impact created by Pristed’s team is the development of an executive board approved legal risk policy, which ‘sets out the bank's risk appetite in terms of legal risks’.
Recently undergoing a restructuring effort, the Danske Bank (Norge) legal team was previously managed via two separate entities; one of which reported directly to the group legal counsel in Denmark, whilst the other had a reporting line to the head of legal in Norway. Realising the need for a more collaborative approach, the legal staff at the bank have come together after a merger of these two teams. Head of legal for the Norwegian arm of Danske Bank is Thomas Stølen, who assumed his position in February 2016 following the reorganisation. The Danish bank has operations throughout the region, and it needs an expert legal team in each country to support its continued growth.
Danske Commodities, an international trader of energy-related commodities, has an experienced and robust legal department. The team comprises of 13 members who are divided into three sub-teams covering compliance, legal and market access. The integration of the market access team into group legal ensured closer cooperation and a new and more efficient way of distributing tasks between the sub-teams. The recent growth in the department has stimulated a significant decrease in the reliance on external lawyers and an overall decrease in all legal costs. Internalising expertise has allowed the legal department to have a major impact on the company’s processes and renovate contract management. The team introduced the digital signing of contracts, which led to an improvement in overall efficiency and the reduction of physical documents. This is a particularly useful feature for Danske Commodities due to the fact the organisation requires contracts with counterparts to be in place prior to trading, the renovation has vastly improved these processing times. The biggest challenge that the team has encountered in the last few years is the variable energy markets, which can often be difficult to predict. From a legal perspective, an intensification of regulatory requirements has required a high degree of industry knowledge in order to keep up with the growing demands of the organisation. The increase in regulatory requirements led to the legal function closely advising the senior management group on any advances in the market. Jesper Pape Larsen, director and head of group legal, states that ‘as a proactive market participant, Danske Commodities has made efforts to adapt to the new regulations in the best possible way, and group legal has had a major role in these processes’.
With a global network in 220 countries and regions worldwide, DHL is a perfect example of an international company. Consequently, the legal team has a breadth of responsibility of which it must stay abreast, and this is no exception for the legal team at DHL Express Sweden. Spearheaded by Per Westerberg, vice president and head of legal Nordic and Baltic region, the legal team in Sweden regularly find themselves in contention with a range of commercial agreements and issues faced by the business which include intellectual property challenges, claims and litigation and regulation. The Swedish team is anchoring DHL’s global drive for stronger corporate responsibility into the Swedish branch of the company, with a view to make corporate responsibility an even more central aspect of the corporate strategy. With “Living Responsibility” as their motto, there is a concerted focus on environmental protection (GoGreen), disaster management (GoHelp), education (GoTeach) and support employee volunteerism (Global Volunteer Day, Living Responsibility Fund). The legal team has proven itself instrumental in the implementation and communication of these initiatives.
Norway’s largest financial services group is supported by prudent legal counsel from a team led by group general counsel Audun Moen. DNB is a long standing institution that provides innovative products with a focus on new technology and efficient banking, which the legal team support via its 60-strong function that has a multitude of experience across various practice areas. Despite the requirement to be somewhat of a ‘catch-all’ department there are three specific areas in which DNB rely on their legal team during the rollout of ambitious products for their customers. Firstly, finance transactions are a huge part of the team’s daily work; numerous facets to these transactions include structuring, drafting documentation, negotiation and advising on policy issues whilst monitoring market and regulatory developments. DNB’s emphasis on digital banking also necessitates the input of the legal team, especially with regards to new digital payment services including extensive strategic and legal advice on a payment application “Vipps”, which has been downloaded approximately two million times. The team also dispense extensive regulatory advice on European Union (EU) legislation, often complex and subject to implementation from EU law into Norwegian law, and the challenges that accompany those circumstances. Coupled with managing the budget for large amounts of external legal services, it is clear that the team’s standards are high and that they go the extra mile to obtain the competence and skill necessary to satisfy their internal clients. Despite in-depth knowledge of the law, the legal team’s expertise extends well into the commercial for DNB too, forging strong relationships with the business side of the company, including senior management. This is what one source calls a ‘win-win in-house legal environment – it ensures accurate, professional and efficient legal advice to the organisation, and it motivates and engages the lawyers’.
A complex merger between Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and Germanischer Lloyd (GL) in 2013-14 saw the in-house legal team of DNV GL win huge amounts of praise from colleagues and external parties for their ability, professionalism and dedication. The team supporting the international certification body and classification society, with expertise in technical assessment, advisory and risk management, is structured in a way that sees approximately 30 lawyers spread out amongst offices in Høvik (headquarters), Hamburg, Singapore, Dubai and Houston, providing multi-regional support to the group’s 100 worldwide locations. Also charged with the integration project following the merger, one source claims the team’s ongoing work has been undertaken ‘in an impressive manner, with transactions in nearly 100 jurisdictions in addition to the management of complex issues’. Such issues are connected with several intricate legal practice areas spanning M&A, intellectual property rights, tax, insurance, maritime law and others. The team’s impressive standards are well-known within the market as working efficiently, communicating well and being described as ‘always positive and a pleasure to work with’.
DSV is a Danish transport and logistic company that provides air, sea, road and rail solutions to customers across several jurisdictions worldwide. Legal support to the company is headed by Peter Ring, who oversees a legal function with 13 lawyers and six non-lawyers, with further additions in the pipeline. Important work from the team is spread across several different transactions and decisions; perhaps most notable is the creation of a “Compliance Review Team” that provides a global centre of excellence regarding a myriad of business issues encompassing export control, vendor review, training, compliance audit and communication of compliances issues around the business. Group legal at DSV has faced noticeable recent growth, which has meant adding specialist lawyers to the team in Denmark and Poland to fill gaps in specific business unit’s knowledge areas, such as real estate. The team also experienced changes thanks to DSV’s 2016 acquisition of UTi in a $1.3bn US public transaction. In addition to the great many legal, regulatory and compliance related challenges posed, UTi’s lawyers have become an integral part of the DSV group legal team even in the face of a huge integration task (with approximately 150 legal entities spread across more than 58 countries). Ring highlights two other specific market developments that have challenged the team; new standards of freight forwarding conditions in the Nordic countries and new regulation on Market Abuse, which necessitated the team’s input with their commercial partners even more. Showing their organisation and pre-emptive way of working Ring claims that ‘DSV is well prepared for the changes and have all things in place for the implementation date’. Receiving the ‘buy-in’ of management on the aforementioned tasks, the team is trusted and held in confidence from the commercial arm of the business, a testament to what Ring calls the legal team’s ‘ability to meaningfully engage with, understand and support the business operations. And first and foremost it tells something about group legal’s added value. It has to be noted that the freight forwarding business is a low margin business, which requires DSV to be very conscious about costs’.
ECCO is a Danish retailer with a long tradition of footwear and leather manufacturing, with a global presence and 2015 turnover that exceeded €1.2bn. Their in-house legal team has been responsible for a number of key changes over the past year and has enacted innovative processes improvements aimed at increasing the company’s internal support functions. To this end, they have entered established a “business partner” concept, whereby legal staff are attached to specific areas of the business, allowing a specialist knowledge base to develop. This synergy between legal and business matters has been further cemented by increasing interaction between the legal department and the management board; the legal team has presented to management how they will underpin and support the strategic direction of the company into the future. Further innovations by the legal team have been in the area of IT support functions; they have introduced a new e-learning tool and contract management system. ECCO’s legal team has also developed a comprehensive system that assists them in the important part they have to play in the company’s risk management initiatives, which they regularly update the board about. Peter Schøtt Knudsen, vice president, general counsel and head of legal at ECCO, advises that they are now a ‘more compliance driven team’, which has risen to company challenges by presenting a ‘solid commercial mitigation plan, which is well anchored legally’.
Ekokem, one of the leading circular economy companies in the Nordics, provides environmental management and material efficiency services. Hilppa Rautpalo supervises the legal department of Ekokem in the Nordic region, covering various M&A and corporate governance processes in addition to the implementation of the group’s legal and compliance policies. As Rautpalo is a member of the group management board, her team is actively involved in Ekokem’s key developments and assists the organisation in several large-scale decisions. In January 2015, Ekokem acquired the Danish environmental management company NORD, in an effort to increase its coverage in the country. The legal team was again called upon at the start of 2016 to assist the company during its takeover by Fortum, a Finnish energy company, for approximately €700m. Finalised in August 2016, the takeover will mean a considerable amount of integration to align the Ekokem and Fortum businesses. Many key figures within the industry have cited the Ekokem legal department as a highly competent and focussed group, and the team continues to impress peers with their ability to operate at a consistently high standard.
The legal department at Electrolux, one of the largest international home appliance manufacturers, is deemed to be an integral part of the organisation. For a number of years, the department has been at the helm of a number of key business developments and the strategic advances. At the guidance of a highly competent and experienced legal division, Electrolux continues to remain an established and well respected player across the Nordic region and on the international scene. The company’s key aim of profitable growth is aligned with the strategy of the legal division, the legal department provide the business with innovative solutions in addition to clear and concise advice. The team works closely with senior officials within the organisation and can be viewed as a valuable and trusted partner to the business.
Norway’s Electromagnetic Geoservices (EMGS) is a company at the cutting edge of the oil and gas exploration and research market, and provides invaluable geophysical services that allow oil companies to locate and exploit oil reserves. The EMGS legal team is compact and flexible, allowing it to deal with a variety of issues across the full spectrum of the group’s activities, and has been particularly active in executing patent litigation and infringement claims. A corporate social responsibility initiative, along with training and reports, has been organised by the legal team, which has also implemented a committee project between senior management, human resources and notable employees throughout the company aimed at increasing business alignment. To demonstrate the value that the legal team adds to the business, chief legal counsel Annette Mellbye compares the costs of the in-house team with that of external counsel; comprehensive savings have been made when contrasting the two.
Elekta is a Swedish company that provides radiation therapy, radiosurgery, related equipment and clinical management for the treatment of cancer and brain disorders. As legal facilitators of such a groundbreaking company, much responsibility falls on the shoulders of Jonas Bolander and the legal team he leads. A large part of the legal team’s function is securing and protecting Elekta’s intellectual property rights so the company can execute its pioneering innovations and clinical solutions for human care in an unimpeded manner. Another important function of the Elekta team is to ensure the legality of products in all of the company’s countries of operation. This can be an exhaustive exercise, considering that each product may attract the attention of different regulations before it can achieve approval or market clearance by relevant bodies. In addition, each country has specific laws, regulations and medical practices governing the communication of information about medical products on the Internet; offering an intricate challenge for the promotion of products and services. In the space of a year, Bolander’s team is likely to interact with many of the world’s major regulations, including: ISO, EN, and CE Markings; United States Food and Drug Administration Pre-Market Notification information; European Community CE Marking (MDD) information; Canada Health Canada information; and Australia Therapeutic Goods Administration information. By themselves centralising the company’s ethos of long-term relationships, trust and responsibility, resourcefulness, responsiveness and creativity, the legal team has been able to create a unique synergy with the business it represents.
The legal department of Elenia, the Finnish utility company, is widely regarded as a well-run and proactive function. General counsel Teemu Hovi describes the role and responsibilities of the legal team as having ‘developed immensely’ during the last two years. The team grew from one to three members in a short period of time, in an expansion that saw Hovi promoted to the senior management team. The team has provided a substantial contribution to post-acquisition development projects and corporate reorganisations, in addition to the refurbishment of the organisation’s financing program by way of a whole business securitisation in 2013, the first of its kind to be applied to a non-UK European utility. Many within the organisation deem this to be an impressive feat as it resulted in positive implications for Elenia’s investment program, provided a platform for access to long-term capital markets and additionally aided company development projects and M&A activity. The team considers their most tangible impact to be the recent developments of risk management in the various fields of compliance; this has been a particularly challenging act due to highly sophisticated requirements under the current corporate and finance structure as well as a difficult regulatory environment. The industry-specific legislation and regulation was reformed significantly as the new Electricity Market Act came into force in 2013. The legal team successfully ensured that regulatory guidelines applicable to electricity distribution businesses were aligned with company processes.
Since 2013 Hallgeir Østrem, executive vice president legal and commercial, has led the legal team at Entra Eiendom, one of Norway's leading real estate companies. In a drive to reduce cost and achieve value for money, the team has introduced a new model for the procurement of legal services. One source states that it effectively ‘secures Entra the access to legal competencies which it does not possess internally, but on favourable commercial terms’. In addition to this model, Entra has also seen an entirely new legal and commercial model for the letting out of its flexible and environmentally friendly, high-quality office buildings to public institutions. This unique model has been described as working ‘very well both from a private and a public law perspective, and sets a new standard for such lettings for the whole real estate sector’. The legal support behind this move has allowed the company to leverage its existing assets in another way, effectively providing new revenue streams.
The legal department at eQ, a Finnish conglomerate that specialises in asset management and corporate finance operations, currently consists of three lawyers. The team is widely acclaimed for being a robust, dynamic and talented function and is credited for the successful navigation of several changes throughout eQ. As well as supporting the company, the legal department also take a proactive role in the wider finance industry. Spurred on by the difficult regulative environment, which has had a negative effect on both the financial industry and publicly listed companies, the legal team effectively implemented a revolutionary structure for the Finnish financial market. Using market knowledge, legal expertise and collaboration with peers, the team was able to create the first ever closed-end mutual fund structure used for private equity in Finland; gaining interest from the rest of the market for their ability to raise funds in such as a short period of time. The team was also at the helm of the successful acquisition and integration of ICECAPITAL Asset Management. In summary of their achievements, group general counsel Juha Surve explains: ‘It is fair to say that the legal team has played an instrumental role in eQ’s emergence as a top notch asset manager in Finland’.
Ericsson is a global frontrunner in the communications technology field, and one of the largest companies in the Nordic region. The proficient and highly qualified legal department consists of 160 lawyers, 65 of which are based at the headquarters in Sweden. The team is distinguished for providing exceptional value to the organisation via their ability to quickly and effectively relay information. The team constantly seeks to develop competence in a systematic fashion and have increased cross-border cooperation dramatically over last few years. The legal team additionally undertakes a proactive role in the development of company strategy, maximising efficiency and innovating on a daily basis. Increased regulation, new data protection rules, sanctions, increased protectionism and cyber security issues are typically the most challenging features that the legal department at Ericsson has been exposed to in the recent past. Senior vice president and chief legal officer Nina Macpherson indicates that the team overcame these factors by ensuring that they always remain ‘one step ahead’, a strategy which enabled them to plan in advance and adequately prepare for changes that occur in the environment.
The legal department at Europris, Norway’s largest discount variety retailer by sales, is considered to be a highly flexible and talented function. The team has recently structured and completed the acquisition of over 80 franchise stores, and provide in-depth expertise in a wide variation of fields. Legal counsel Petter Chr Wilskow states that ‘it is very important to have as few legal issues or litigation as possible, in order to ensure that management can be able to concentrate on ongoing business’. The legal department provided a significant contribution during the transformation of Europris from a smaller privately-owned organisation to a listed company with a 2015 turnover exceeding NOK 5bn, a change which was completed in June last year. The team additionally played an important role during the establishment of a Europris sourcing office in Shanghai, China. This joint venture with Finnish company Tokmanni required a comprehensive understanding of foreign markets; an attribute the group has received vast recognition for.
EWOS Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of feed and nutrition for farmed fish, has seen numerous transactions in recent years that have required a huge amount of counsel and strategic advice from its legal function. Richard Treu, legal director of EWOS Group, acts as the head legal advisor while also serving as secretary to the board of directors. During several recent changes in ownership, the most recent being the sale of EWOS from Altor and Bain Capital to Cargill in 2015, the legal team has been instrumental in the continued running of the company. The integration of EWOS Group into Cargill Aqua Nutrition (CQN), Cargill's own business unit, was also supported by the team. EWOS is continuing to expand internationally, bringing new challenges for both the company; indeed the team has been crucial to the establishment of EWOS Vietnam, where Treu himself has served as a board member to ensure legal opinion is heard at the highest level.
World leading global information services company Experian provide data and analytical tools to clients around the world. Employing approximately 17,000 people across 37 countries, and with a 2015 revenue of $4.8bn, the company help businesses manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. The Danish arm of Experian employs around 120 people, and the legal team has been cited as one of Denmark’s most influential and high-quality in-house functions. Several aspects of the Danish team’s work is connected with their position as a team supporting part of an international corporate giant; they oversee all Danish legal affairs for the group, the regulatory compliance of the company’s large technical and sales staff (which comes in an environment that receives regular media attention), and in a business sector that has potential to be completely transformed due to new and strict EU-based data privacy laws. A cross-collaborative function serving an important link between business units, Experian’s legal team is responsible for liaising with the company’s European and global legal and compliance team. Against the backdrop of a global corporate group their performance in this aspect of their role has been praised by external sources for its intensive ‘legal skills, language skills and business flair; it also requires immense social skills and cross-cultural understanding’.
The 14 lawyers that serve the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) are tasked with providing a solid legal foundation for the civil authority whose mission is to deliver defence logistics to the Swedish Armed Forces. The legal team is led by general counsel Anders Sjöborg, who has overseen the team as it grew more proactive in service delivery and has boosted the ranks by employing five new lawyers over the last two years, in line with FMV’s overall employee growth from 1,500 to 3,400. According to Sjöborg, the team’s involvement in the early stages of projects has been a significant shift; particularly with public procurement, as no changes are allowed to be made to tender documents once the procurement process has started. The team has also played an important role during extremely complex new submarine contracts and several major procurements, such as heavy trucks and armoured vehicles. Another external factor which has had a great impact on the legal team is the implementation and execution of the Defence and Security Directive (2009/81/EG). The new Swedish legislation, based on the directive, entered into force in November 2011, creating new rules for the conducting of defence and security procurements. FMV, as the dominating actor in defence and security procurement in Sweden, has had a major role in interpreting the new law, much of which has needed the involvement of the legal team. During the actual implementation period, the FMV legal team was represented in expert groups held by the Swedish Government. FMV has also been involved in court rulings regarding the interpretation of the new legislation (around 30 per year) and has in fact been a major part in creating the legal practice for defence and security procurements. One team member states that the FMV legal team ‘handles the court cases itself and we win over 90% of them. It is very hard to put a figure on the value of our services’, but this is a good indication of the value the team delivers. The more proactive way of working with legal issues at the early stages in a project will definitely result in better decision making and better risk assessment. That will, in turn, lead to better and more cost effective procurements and contracts. In the end, Swedish tax payers will get more value for their taxes.
Femern is a Denmark-based planning company that is responsible for overseeing an ambitious project that will create a tunnel to connect Denmark and Germany across the Fehmarnbelt. Involved in this unique and ground-breaking work Femern’s legal team is comprised of three lawyers, ensuring all matters related to public administrative law safety issues, legal environmental issues and all major contracts and procurements are covered to the highest standard. This wide breadth of issues aren’t the only thing the team deal with, a significant delay in the project occurred due to a dispute that saw a case filed with the Danish Complaint Board for Public Procurement about how project contracts were awarded. Thanks to the excellent contribution of the legal team, the extension of the programme and the condition precedent was upheld by the complaint board in a preliminary ruling. Utilising a three-pronged approach providing legal analysis, drafting and project leadership the team has been instrumental in achieving targets marked as high priority for the business. Most importantly, the team worked on matters related to the Construction Act which framed company activities and provided many innovative legal approaches to difficult legal questions. The team also received praise for its contribution towards the legal aspects of procurement of four major civil works contracts worth more than €2.5bn, which also included a revamp of the entire procurement process involving scrutiny from political parties backing the project.
Ferrostaal Topsoe Projects (FTP) is a joint venture providing holistic solutions for industrial projects in the petrochemicals, refinery and environmental technology sectors worldwide. The legal team at FTP is headed by general counsel Mette Waltorp. Prior to her employment at FTP, Waltorp was corporate legal counsel at Haldor Topsoe, one of the joint venture partners. In the words of a nominator, ‘she has a unique and in-depth understanding of business processes and the working relationship between Ferrostaal Topsoe Projects, Ferrostaal and Haldor Topsoe’. The legal team is known for being skilled, progressive and thinking out-of-the-box, despite its relatively small size. The team handles a substantial part of FTP’s legal work internally with great results, and deals with external advisors globally in more specialised or local legal matters. Among the most frequent tasks are everything from concluding supply contracts of natural gas and factories to financing, contact with authorities and environmental approvals. Since the creation of the joint venture in 2015, the cooperation of Ferrostaal and Haldor Topsoe has proved a perfect blend of skills for the legal team, who have been able to quickly adapt to the working processes, combining distinctive know-how in project development and facilitation of investments with world-leading process technologies. In addition, the legal team has undertaken creative measures designed to ensure that FTP is guaranteed experience, reliability and a consistently high quality of products and services. One nominator said that ‘the team has a broad insight into all legal aspects relevant to the company while still being able to specify and delve deeply into the topic at hand’.
Finnlines’ legal department is the largest in-house legal team in Finland’s shipping sector. The Finnish conglomerate specialises in “roll-on/roll-off” and passenger services across the North and Baltic Sea. The legal team is headed by general counsel Tapani Voionmaa, who during his tenure has established the department as a trusted advisor to the organisation. Finnlines has recently been subjected to an enhanced number of legal challenges due to the difficult market conditions, but the advanced experience of the team and ability to prioritise tasks efficiently ensures that challenges are handled in a swift and proficient fashion. The team plays an active role in a wide array of topics, including regulatory matters in relation to publicly listed companies, competition law, corporate law, banking and finance, ship finance, maritime and insurance law. The versatility of the Finnlines legal department is deemed by the establishment as a performance-enhancing asset.
Flügger is an international conglomerate headquartered in Denmark with 12 subsidiaries located throughout Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia. The company specialises in designing, producing and marketing decorative painting, wood protection, spackling paste, wallpaper and tools. In April 2014, the Flügger legal department underwent a substantial adaptation with the recruitment of group general counsel Torben Schwaner Dehlholm. This addition resulted in a fundamental change to how the Flügger legal team was managed and perceived by the organisation. In a short period of time, the team has been transformed from being a passive and retroactive department to a modern and proactive service provider offering sharp, professional and positive contributions. In addition to the professional enhancement, Flügger Legal has implemented a new code of conduct and revised various policies such as stock exchange regulation, anti-bribery, competition law, data protection and whistle-blowing. Within the last year, the legal department has revised and negotiated the extensive agreements regulating the Flügger franchise retail chains in Denmark, Sweden and Norway; this was successfully achieved via close collaboration with various other departments within the organisation. The group was able to secure a new and up to date agreement which ensured better and more compliant cooperation in the three geographically defined chains as well as the facilitation of optimised marketing and business conduct. One nominator explains that ‘Flügger’s legal team is known for being progressive and highly skilled in spite of its size’.
‘In Gasum Group, the legal team play a very strategic role’, describes vice president, legal affairs and human resources Kristiina Vuori, who together with Tiia Pellinen forms the Finnish integrated gas company’s legal department. As of 2014 the team has been supported by a Norwegian lawyer in the Gasum subsidiary Skangas. The support was required due to the significant growth of the corporation, which saw major reformations in regards to business and corporate structures. Following recent acquisitions, the company expanded its gas business into liquefied natural gas (LNG); this resulted in an increase in the organisation’s geographical coverage, which widened from Finland to Norway and Sweden. New business activities led to an increased workload for the legal department in addition to a heightened need for new expertise. The team is required to exhibit an advanced understanding of the LNG market due to a recent intensification in regulatory requirements. The legal division adds value to Gasum by acting as an ‘early business partner’ when dealing with contract negotiations; a key aim of the legal department is to ensure that business units achieve their strategic goals while minimising the legal risks. Vuori states that the team ‘operates in a cost efficient manner both in-house and when working with external law firms’, easing the cost burden for the company, as well as providing timely and expert advice.
Get is a cable TV operator and internet service provider, which has the second largest customer base in Norway. In 2014, Get was acquired by Danish company TDC in a deal estimated at $2.2bn, rendering it a key part of the Nordic region’s largest digital and broadband company. Although Get’s advanced position in the mark has been achieved by the excellence of a number of divisions within the company, nominators cited the legal function, led by general counsel Laila Myksvoll, as integral to the success. The legal department exhibited a high degree of dedication during the divestment and post-divestment of the organisation, helping the transaction run smoothly and in line with the expected timeframes. The team was in charge of the allocation of internal and external legal resources and oversaw the entire development of the project. The legal function are additionally praised by nominators for their excellent litigation skills, an expertise which has seen them win large cases and ultimately reduce costs for the company. As Get begins to expand into new product lines and markets such as smart homes and security, the legal team will be required to advise on matters that have little legislative and regulatory precedent; for the company to succeed the Myksvoll and team will be crucial.
The Grundfos Holding legal department has undergone drastic alterations in the past two years. The team implemented a strategy designed to make its service more customer-centric and its advice focussed on simple, straightforward solutions. The team demonstrates an in-depth understanding of all business processes, a quality which has been fundamental in order to deal with the constant changes that the business experiences. The in-house legal team has developed into a flexible and agile unit with the ability to give internal advice on the range of legal issues that Grundfos, a Danish pump manufacturer, may face across the sectors that it services. The team continues to experience an intensification of demands, due to globalisation, regulation and external factors which are influencing companies on an international scale. The legal department controlled these challenges via close communication with the organisation and ensuring that innovative and swift advice is easily accessible.
Via close cooperation with various other departments within the organisation, the legal function at H & M Hennes & Mauritz (known internationally as H&M), a Swedish clothing retail company, provides extensive support in relation to the establishment’s global expansion strategies and corporate goals. The versatile team ensure that H&M is facilitated with innovative and up-to-date solutions, a feature which is evident in the recent implementation of technical and organisational measures designed to protect customers from unauthorised access, data loss and manipulation. The legal team has additionally provided a significant contribution to the reformation of various company policies such as the code of ethics, animal welfare policy and chemical restrictions; all of which ensure that H&M operate at the highest legal standards. The company’s legal function are viewed in high acclaim throughout the industry, the team are cited by serval sources as a commercially-orientated unit with an enhanced focus on the facilitation of company growth and development. The H&M team has played a part in the continued international success of the brand; now operating in 62 countries with over 4,000 stores.
The Husqvarna Group is a global frontrunner in the production of outdoor power products for forest, park and garden care. Husqvarna is also the European leader in the garden watering industry and a prominent figure in cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. The Husqvarna Group legal team comprises 25 employees, with seven of those covering the EMEA region. Reflecting the market changes, the EMEA team recently hired a lawyer with IT expertise in order to meet the increased demand for advice on IT-law related matters such as cloud based services and solutions, in addition to the development of software solutions for their own products and data privacy. ‘As an in-house counsel, you will inevitably have more queries than what you may handle when you work in a law firm, which is why we work hard on how to prioritise in order to add the best possible value to the business’, says vice president and corporate counsel Linda Glimberg. The legal department revolutionised the way legal services are provided by constantly challenging the way that they support their internal clients. This was a ‘gradual process’, which consisted of constant small scale improvements rather than one big change. The legal department is also in the process of launching a “legal helpline” which will operate for a few hours a week in order to provide them with a more efficient way handle small, quick queries that otherwise tend to be rather time consuming. In order to secure continuity, the legal department has recently introduced a paralegal to the team while they reimagine their trainee system.
Founded in 1901 in Copenhagen, the ISS Group has grown to become a world leading facility services company offering a wide range of services including facility management, cleaning services, support services, property services, catering services and security. Bjørn Raasteen is the most senior lawyer in the ‘impressive’ team and has, in the words of one source, ‘helped develop the business model of ISS’, illustrating the esteem legal staff are held in by their business colleagues. The team is a cosmopolitan and international group of lawyers who have handled some of the largest international outsourcing deals with respect to the integrated facility services ISS provides. In addition, the team has been a constant source of support regarding ISS’ capital market transactions including the largest Danish initial public offering in many years, as well as being entrusted to competently handle a substantial amount of other global transactions.
Keskinäinen Eläkevakuutusyhtiö Ilmarinen, a Finnish statutory pension company, has in-house lawyers that are considered by internal and external sources to be ‘business partners who act as trusted advisers on a business unit level’. The team is known for its willingness to embrace technology to improve internal processes and procedures; for example, creating electronic platforms in order to enhance communication within the business. This interactive via electronic platforms has benefited both lawyers and business counterparts as it has led to the introduction of an online discussion channel and quick “Q&A” facilitation. Additionally, the online platform guaranteed the swift accessibility to relevant information to all those who require it. The legal department provided a substantial contribution to the development and standardisation of contractual processes, which incorporated the creation of a tailor-made software system. The team was also crucial in the adaptation of Keskinäinen Eläkevakuutusyhtiö Ilmarinen’s corporate governance practices, and helped identify and implement European Union regulations affecting the organisation’s investment operations. The legal division’s involvement in the implementation of European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) framework into the company’s derivatives businesses is widely regarded as one of the most impressive pieces of work by the team to date. The reformation resulted in a change to contract structures as well as a further revision of internal and external processes.
Described by one source as having a ‘busines- minded approach with a value-adding mind-set’, the legal team at Kesko Corporation assists the Finnish retailing conglomerate by providing hands-on legal solutions throughout all of the company’s major strategic projects. The team of 14, led by general counsel Anne Leppälä-Nilsson, has seen several changes in recent years. In contrast to the previous structure where lawyers would concentrate on specific business units, each lawyer now has their own group wide responsibility area, allowing specialisation and a wider understanding of commercial aspects of their roles. Receiving positive feedback from their business partners, who constantly ask for participation in projects, is a validation of the team’s work against the backdrop of a difficult market setting. Constant changes in relevant legislation including stock exchange regulation, competition law and data privacy regulation impact upon on the team, further validating the approach of employing highly skilled individuals specialised in different legal fields.
Allan Gabriel Zandberg is group general counsel for KK Wind Solutions, who employ a compact team of two lawyers to assist the company’s business operations in numerous ways via a proactive, commercially-minded approach that is complemented by a deep technical understanding of the group of companies. Eschewing the notion of being ‘just a legal provider’, Zandberg explains how the team, also containing lawyer Christina Bjerskov Vedsted, is crucial to driving the business forward in a commercial sense as well as giving solid legal counsel. The team work ‘very closely’ with the CEO and other executive management figures on strategically important matters, which recently included a restructuring to better fit strategic objectives and the initiation of cooperations with new customers. These matters cover a lot of ground and illustrate the broad scope of the relatively small team’s remit, for example the team led the divestment of Elogic and its group companies, as well as supported the exit from a joint venture in China through the sale of shares and handling negotiations with customers regarding frame agreements. Legal has gained a reputation for being true business enablers by their colleagues, which Zandberg explains is always with the aim to ‘take strategic, commercial and technical aspects into consideration’. Results in the recent past, including a top line growth of approximately 100-150% and the expectation of substantial annual turnover, indicate the increased support and excellent work of the legal team alongside their business counterparts.
Britt Engdal Hansen is the head of division at the legal department of Københavns Kommune (the City of Copenhagen), which is the largest of the municipalities constituting the conurbation of Copenhagen. The legal team is responsible for all contracts and procurement within the construction area in the municipality of Copenhagen, and working with senior management on a case-by-case basis, the team has seen changes in public procurement rules and the directives impact its work in recent times. In response, the team, which consists of 10 lawyers and one non-lawyer, saw fit to implement new paradigms and contract management systems to deal with their substantial contract workload, which sees them manage approximately 220 contracts each year. This development has resulted in fewer lawsuits, disputes and arbitration lowering transaction costs for the municipality significantly. Legal has also been one of the main contributors to changing the strategic direction of the company by facilitating and drafting long lasting strategic framework agreements with the market. Central to implementing risk management processes and thereby increasing the number of settlements and decreasing arbitration, the team has significantly changed its culture to a more commercial approach.
The KONE legal team is viewed within the industry as a top class department. Juhani Ristaniemi, senior vice president, general counsel EMEA and Asia Pacific, leads one of the largest in-house legal teams in Finland, who support the international engineering and service company employing some 43,000 personnel worldwide. Sources deem the Kone legal team to be a ‘highly innovative function that adds value to the organisation through their intensive work rate and ability to complete a number of tasks concurrently’. The team is considered to be a key factor and internal driving force in regards to several recent developments at KONE; for example, playing an an active role in recent reformations to the company’s supplier code of conduct, which highlights the ethical business practice standards Kone require from their suppliers. The supplier code of conduct encompasses a range of topics including legal compliance, anti-bribery, health and safety, business conduct, labour and human rights and environmental regulations. Kone’s legal function has additionally been responsible for the structuring of company’s own code of conduct, also handling all matters relating to reports, concerns and violations. A meticulous approach and effective protocols implemented by the legal department have ensured that the organisation is well prepared for the difficult economic climate and various regulatory reformations.
Christian Karde leads the legal department at Kongsberg Gruppen, a global leader in the provision of high-end technology systems and solutions to clients in the oil and gas, merchant marine, defence and aerospace sectors. The company’s legal department is cited by peers as a high quality and efficient group that possess in-depth market expertise and a highly impressive ability to simultaneously complete a number of large, complex and multi-jurisdictional projects in a wide range of alternative industries, such as maritime, oil and gas and defence. The team is renowned for demonstrating an enhanced understanding of corporate governance, an attribute which has been highly beneficial to various recent developments at Kongsberg Gruppen.
The legal department at Oslo-headquartered engineering and construction company Kvaerner is staffed with five lawyers and one compliance offer, and is led by senior vice president legal and general counsel Henrik Inadomi. Having been handed down two specific mandates from Kvaerner’s president and CEO, the team has undertaken a guardianship role and strengthened oversight in terms of monitoring all facets of business risk, whilst also being responsible for contract management processes to identify contractual risks at an early stage and help define strategic responses to optimise the company’s position. Proving themselves as trusted business partners, the legal team is charged with dealing with issues high on senior management’s agenda across several legal and commercial facets. These include important compliance work to ensure acquiescence with applicable rules and regulations, including in jurisdictions with active trade restrictions enacted in the US, EU and Norway. Also asked to deliver on a wide-ranging internal mandate the team has a responsibility for a legacy case backlog, necessitating the use of the internal team and external counsel in an appropriate way.
The legal department at Lantmännen, a Swedish agricultural cooperative, comprises of nine lawyers. The team is widely known for its dedication to various M&A transactions, the effective use of an international panel of law firms, the development of the company’s current compliance function as well as the implementation of an effective business compliance program. The legal department at Lantmännen is additionally credited with the successful establishment of the new legal function at Unibake, headed by Simon Kissling Husted. The team is considered a valuable partner to the organisation as it deploys the tools necessary to facilitate legal corporate decision governance and overall decision making. General counsel Tove Cederborg is part of the Lantmännen group management structure and has led the experienced legal team for the last five years. The in-house department has made a tangible impact to the way that the company conducts its business via pre-acquisition planning and the successful integration of Vaasan Group following the acquisition from Lion Capital in 2014. Additionally, it has recently spearheaded various other large scale projects such as the divestment of the Kronfågel Group and the subsequent joint floating of the combined ScandiStandard business.
Metsä Group is a leader in bioeconomy, utilising renewable wood from sustainably managed northern forests; the Finnish organisation reported sales equating to €5bn in the last fiscal year. Group general counsel Miika Arola has over 13 years of experience at Metsä Group and has been at the helm of the legal team at Metsä for the past 4 years. Arola has been credited by key figures in the industry for his ability to build an efficient and talented legal department. The team, which now consists of six lawyers, a compliance officer and three assistants has implemented an innovative approach to communication within the organisation. Through training and the distribution of information, the team has proactively improved the approach to preventive legal risk management; examples of this include a new and updated legal web channel and legal newspapers. The legal department has had a tangible impact on Metsä’s corporate transactions and business restructurings, including a €1.3bn investment in the Äänekoski bio product plant, the largest industrial investment in Finland. The dedication of the legal team has been fundamental to the development of Metsä as it has transformed into one of the most lucrative forestry groups in the Nordic region. Arola believes that as the company has grown and diversified it has ‘created a possibility for us to grow as a team and develop further expertise and know-how in different areas of law. Recent changes in the team have seen new initiatives, new thoughts and enhanced practices’.
‘Today we are considered as business partners as much as lawyers’, describes head of legal Rikke Sonne. The legal department at Modern Times Group (MTG), a Swedish digital entertainment company, operate tirelessly to ensure that they are more visible and accessible to the organisation. Already renowned for providing swift, pragmatic commercial advice, the team has enhanced company employees’ knowledge regarding relevant legislations. This is achieved via workshops that encourage innovative thinking, brainstorms and an increased insight into the legal challenges the business faces. MTG considers this to be a useful tool as it has heightened efficiency throughout the company. In addition to providing daily assistance in optimising parts of the business, the legal department plays a leading role in disputes, contract negotiations and various text drafting. This has been achieved concurrently within an ever evolving media industry, and the constant introduction of new products, services and content result in stricter requirements for the legal department to be continuously up-to-date on any potential changes. The team has combined the adherence with new regulations with the identification of new opportunities, which it works closely with the business to capitalise on.
MT Højgaard is one of the leading construction and civil engineering companies in the Nordic region with a portfolio ranging from smaller projects to extremely large and complex construction works, infrastructure projects and installation of offshore wind turbine foundations. Leading the legal team at MT Højgaard is general counsel Tove Dyre Palnum, whose team is responsible for most aspects of legal work whilst delegating niche and more complicated work to external law firm partners. The team has been praised by an external source for being ‘progressive and competent’ and having a high level of skill in ‘all areas of law ranging from construction law and dispute resolution to corporate law and international contracts’. Using excellent delegation skills the team is happy to utilise external counsel for work such as special court and arbitration proceedings, or in connection with audit of work performed by the team seen from a risk perspective. The team has also been in charge of many elements of the company’s recent strategic efforts, namely with regards to the promotion of new cooperation models in the building and construction sector. MT Højgaard is leading efforts to create a model whereby contractors are included in the process as early possible – in public as well as in private projects – in order to strengthen the projects by keeping to budgets, guaranteeing quality and meeting deadlines in partner relationships.
The legal team at Neste, a Finnish oil refining and marketing company, provides a combination of legal and local support across several jurisdictions, as well as assigning lawyers to undertake specific business knowledge areas on a global basis. In the face of volatile oil prices the team, led by general counsel Matti Hautakangas, has worked with their business partners seamlessly in efforts to refine operations, open new markets, create products, and develop new business models. The multi-talented team, with particular excellence on sustainability issues, has enhanced operations related to trade sanctions, compliance and finance and sharpened their focus on financial regulatory matters. Allowing peers to achieve the strategic goals of Neste, the team has played a key role in developments and new ventures for the company and now assume a trustworthy position with senior business figures, acting as direct contacts for advice on any relevant issues on the global side.
Nexans Norway is an international leader in cables and cabling systems. The company reported improved operating margins in 2015, and continues to expand across the country. The organisation boasts a legal department of exceedingly devoted and qualified legal specialists. Known to be industry experts, the team operate closely with senior officials at the company and support the organisation by offering key insights and comprehensive assessments of advances in the market. The Nexans Norway legal function are considered to be a key contributor to strategic developments of the organisation, they have provided a significant contribution to ensure that the organisation is in line with regulatory reformations regarding conflict minerals. The team is cited by partners as being a ‘highly competent unit with vast levels of experience across the board’.
Nilfisk is a Danish company that supplies professional cleaning equipment in industrial, commercial and consumer markets. With 5,500 employees globally and with sales companies in 45 countries, Nilflisk requires several sources of legal support in its various regions and companies. Lena Ernlund Malmberg acts as Nilfisk’s head of intellectual property in a dedicated, Denmark based IP team that cover full and global intellectual property legal support for Nilfisk across their full line of products. The team’s support goes across all levels and covers the worldwide operations of the company, the only division within the Niflisk group to have such a broad responsibility. The team’s wide remit forced them to earn respect within the organisation quickly, as well as earn the same respect from external parties, achieved via a plethora of internal and external networking and talks on responsibility and co-alignment. Malmberg describes the team as ‘a part of the engine room, being out there and getting our hands dirty’. Malmberg goes on to explain how the team’s primary task is to fully accommodate the overall strategy of the Nilfisk business in both a ‘practical and tactical’ sense to help the group reach its goals. Legal tasks are effectively incorporated into the business setup to support overall strategy whilst also serving as a practical tool for handling issues and conflicts, the team’s commercial mind-set shown via their focus to ‘create value instead of strictly focusing on the law as such’. Truly valued as business partners thanks to this integration, which includes meetings with senior management on a near-daily basis, Malmerg explains the dedication with which the team follow business strategy; ‘the value increases when we develop, move and optimise – and if our team can support such a process, then we add value’.
‘The legal team is today considered a trusted business partner by the entire organisation, which the team considers as its most important trademark’, says Charlotte Bertelsen who leads the legal department at NME Pharmaplan, an international establishment specialising in pharma engineering. NME Pharmaplan assist various pharmaceutical companies in bringing products to the market by providing ‘flexible, compliant and future-proof solutions’. The legal team of four was established in 2007 as a global function with the task of servicing the entire group. In a short period of time, the department was able to identify a global requirement for an increased awareness in relation to confidentiality obligations that they provide to their customers. To meet this need the team successfully modernised procedures and guidelines in addition to implementing a compulsory e-learning program, which edifies employees on how to handle confidentiality in daily business. The in-house team is considered to be an integrated part of critical business processes within the company, and therefore has a high impact on business decisions and risk mitigation in addition to extensive global compliance activities such as business ethics, confidentiality and export control. External nominators have highlighted the legal department at NNE Pharmaplan as a ‘highly diligent and skilled set of legal experts’. Bertelsen believes that ‘being considered as a business partner to the organisation has been the clear strategy of the team from the early days and something that has influenced most of our daily work’.
Multinational communications and information technology company Nokia was founded in Finland over 150 years ago, and it remains headquartered in the city of Espoo. Legal support from Finland is led by Riikka Tieaho who operates as vice president, corporate legal, secretary to board of directors and member of the Nokia Group Leadership Team. This varied role encapsulates the broad remit and multifaceted role Nokia expects its internal lawyers to have. Helping the business to realise its strategic direction, the team will be crucial in what promises to be an exciting year for the company. Nokia are putting into action a plan to make a comeback into the lucrative smartphone business under their own brand name, a move that will require solid legal and business leadership due to the competitive nature of the market. Nokia signed a 2016 licensing agreement enabling HMD Global to create the new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets; the ongoing development of the deal will undoubtedly require a substantial amount of work from the legal team regarding branding and intellectual property issues.
The increasing level of legal complexity surrounding the business of Nomeco, a pharmaceutical products wholesaler based in Copenhagen, has necessitated the growth of the legal department from two employees to almost 10 in a short time period. Leading the team during this time of change is Trine Katborg Davidsen, head of legal, who has overseen efforts to solidify the function as one that is a stronger, more competent sounding board for the company through continued commercial understanding. Central to many company events, the team has been able to build up the relevant and necessary competence quickly. Keeping both internal and external customers in mind, Davidsen explains the way in which the team has made a notable impact on operations: implementing ‘anti-bribery and competition policies throughout the organisation, supporting any damage claims that may arise’, and advising on contract implementations are just a few. The value added by the legal team is calculated subjectively, and the performance of each employee is evaluated and scored yearly.
‘The role of the legal team is pivotal in shaping the future market environment in which Nord Pool is going to operate and expand in the years to come’, states Camilla Berg, head of market surveillance and general counsel at Nord Pool. Nord Pool provides trading, clearing, settlement and associated services in both day-ahead and intraday electricity markets across nine European countries. Ventures into new markets and the formation of new businesses across the Europe has required a team of highly qualified and experienced lawyers with local knowledge and expertise. The team of four has recently doubled in size due to various business expansion plans, and has consequently seen them play an integral role in the interpretation and implementation of the European Capacity Allocation and Congestion Management Regulation (CACM), both inside and outside of the company. The new regulation has prompted a complete restructuring of the organisation; the team now has a strong, ambitious focus on business development in markets where in which they are still relatively new, without losing the high standards of performance that Nord Pool has established in local markets. The legal function has additionally become much more international and able to handle and advise on various legal issues from a variety of European jurisdictions.
Populated with a number of highly renowned and high profile senior counsel, the legal department at Nordea Bank continuously strives to ensure the company is well protected and prepared for volatile economic markets. The legal division has guaranteed that the bank is aligned with an array of regulatory reformations being imposed on the financial sector throughout the region. Senior officials at Nordea Bank work exceedingly closely with one another in order to ensure clients and business partners both receive a high quality service. Recent actions have led to a potential merger between Nordea Bank and its subsidiary banks, Nordea Bank Denmark, Nordea Bank Finland and Nordea Bank Norge. The aim would be to subsume the Danish, Finnish and Norwegian banks branches into the Swedish parent company, an act which would simplify all of the organisations’ legal structures, maximise efficiency and strengthen governance.
Nordea’s Merchant Banking function in Finland is supported by a legal team made up of lawyers that allow the company to develop new financial services and products, even in the face of a constantly changing regulatory environment posed by the financial services industry. At a time when Nordea is experiencing ‘rapid changes’ according to lead lawyer Minna Kurru, the legal team has been central in providing legal services that are ‘to the point’ and have added value to Nordea’s business via the mitigation of business risk whilst facilitating the gaining of competitive advantage in a difficult marketplace. The financial industry is subject to huge volumes of extremely technically detailed regulation, Kurru states that the way sufficient resources aren’t always available to the team and the way these issues often appear at very short notice are to be the biggest challenges for the team. Recent additions to the team demonstrate the business’ confidence that Kurru’s function are trusted to alleviate risk and provide excellent legal support.
The Nordea Merchant Banking legal team in Sweden is headed by Maria Kronström, and supported by Michael Persson and Martin Wigforss who act as co-heads of a team of a number of highly skilled and experienced lawyers. The group recently implemented a Nordic functional reorganisation, which encompasses a total of 58 lawyers throughout the region. The legal department continue to play an instrumental role in the driving, structuring and progressive change of the merchant bank's core structure. The legal department’s most substantial contribution to the bank’s strategy is considered to be its involvement in the implementation of new projects and regulations. Similarly to various other legal departments in the financial sector, the biggest challenge that the Nordea Merchant Banking Sweden team has had to face is widespread regulatory overhaul and its impact on the bank as well as their products. These challenges require substantial legal involvement throughout; from the consultation process all the way through to full implementation the team ensure a meticulous approach is taken and regulatory requirements are fulfilled.
Norsk Hydro is one of the largest aluminium producers in the world, with operations in 80 countries around the world. The Oslo-based legal team includes 12 staff that report into assistant general counsel and head of the Oslo corporate legal department (CLD) Terrance Conley, in addition to the general counsel and head of the global CLD Anne-Lene Midseim. Enjoying a high standing within the business, the team has close interaction with top management, including direct reports from the general counsel to the CEO, whilst all lawyers participate in management teams across each business area. Internal reorganisation has meant the legal team has begun to work more closely with Norsk Hydro’s corporate compliance group, which is organised entirely separately. Increased cooperation involves sharing the same physical locale in Oslo and establishing some joint key performance indicators to measure output. Consistent with Norsk Hydro’s philosophy of “constant improvement”, the legal department aims to advance its methodical approach to new and existing challenges. In the face of a more complex regulatory and political landscape, processes have been standardised to increase efficiency. As well as working within the existing framework to secure Norsk Hydro’s legal compliance, the team was responsible for a huge success liaising with Norwegian law makers, successfully lobbying with other Hydro business areas to amend legislation to ensure continued access to equity power assets, ensuring the amendment is legally and politically robust as well as understood by relevant stakeholders and decision makers.
Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company at the leading edge of the sector, is one of the largest companies in the Nordic region. The highly trained and well organised legal function, has grown in line with business needs. The Novo Nordisk team is a proactive partner to the organisation, and often operate closely with senior officials to support advancements in research and development of new products. This close cooperation is essential for Novo Nordisk as it can give the company a competitive advantage in a sector that is highly scrutinised by regulators and legislators. The collaboration between departments has led to an overall improvement in efficiency, company processes and quality of work. The team also continue to provide an in-depth focus in relation to global data and global labour guidelines, it is their responsibility to ensure company employees follow protocol and adhere to necessary regulatory and legislative practices across its operations in 75 countries.
Leading Danish financial services company Nykredit are counselled by a legal team of 38 professionals – 24 lawyers and 14 non-lawyers. The team is led by three senior lawyers; head of legal Kenneth Hedegaard, head of legal department mortgage section Søren Hoffmann Christiansen and head of compliance Annelise Warrer. Operating in a centralised structure, there are four departments encompassing the different business units of Nykredit; mortgage law, banking law, group legal affairs and compliance. The benefits of the team’s organisation are described by an in-house source as encompassing ‘an increased efficiency, knowledge sharing and minimised overlap of functions and duplication of work’. The team is a part of all major developments and decisions in the company whether that is new products or strategic decisions, adding value to the business. Highlighting their impressive achievement of creating the first base prospectus in Denmark where different bonds, both covered and unsecured can be issued under the same prospectus and issuing documentation of covered bonds in Denmark, the team can cite innovation as one of their key strengths. Other examples of the team’s great work include the establishment of funding models with local and regional banks, which gives credence to their reputation for their business insight and transforming complex burdensome legislation into positive commercial outcomes. Nykredit faces a challenging but exciting future with an increasingly tough legislative environment and an upcoming initial public offering; legal has worked extensively to create a strong foundation for the offering by establishing consistent governance structures throughout the company.
The Onvest legal department remains a key and highly respected figure within the family-owned Finnish organisation, which specialises in building services, steel, real estate management and investment. The team, led by general counsel Hanna Ekdahl, is considered to be a focused and versatile function. The group has been described by one nominator as a ‘continuously evolving, business-orientated department’ due to their significant influence in the strategic development of the organisation. The legal function has heavily supported the expansion of Onvest via a substantial contribution to various real estate investments. Amidst the difficult economic environment, Onvest reported a turnover of €1.9bn, the dedication and in-depth expertise of the legal department can be viewed as an important factor in the continued success of the organisation.
Orkla is a vast consumer goods company, with 2015 turnover of over NOK 31bn ($3.76bn). It maintains a small but highly experienced legal team, all of whom have between 10 and 40 years of experience. This experience has been put to the test thoroughly in recent years, which saw the company realign itself from a diversified conglomerate to the focused consumer branded goods company that it is today. This has taken a large amount of extra work from the team, on top of its regular day-to-day activities, and has included ‘divesting companies and assets, purchasing companies and assets, [and] integrating and onboarding new businesses’, according to general counsel Karl Otto Tveter. Tveter retains a seat on the executive management team and is heavily involved in strategic decision-making, meaning that a legal perspective is available to inform business decisions. This has led to the legal team being ‘highly appreciated’ by the company for their ‘to the point advice’ and understanding of risk.
‘Our aim is always to be best within securities law in Norway’, states Øivind Amundsen, executive vice president - primary market and legal affairs at Oslo Børs, the Norwegian stock exchange. The legal department has taken a leading role in relation to outlining key company strategies, and they operate closely with management in order to ensure that the aims and objectives of the legal function align with that of the organisation. The team is credited for the introduction of “Merkur Market”, a marketplace catering for small and medium-sized enterprises. With the introduction of Merkur Market, legal took on additional responsibilities for rules, regulations, approvals from relevant authorities and agreements with market participants. Oslo Børs is one of the few stock exchanges in Europe to be in charge of listed companies’ disclosure obligations towards the market, adding another layer of complexity to the work that the team complete. Amundsen identifies one of the team’s biggest challenges to be that of simultaneously taking lead of, and remaining central in, large scale projects, conducting daily business in an irreproachable way, and remaining a frontrunner in the legal profession, all of which with limited resources. This however has not hindered the progress of the department who continue to excel and raise company standards.
With the largest fixed income team in the Nordic region dedicated to high-yield bonds, Pareto Securities holds an important place in the investment banking market. The legal team at Pareto is praised by a source as having developed ‘robust structures and frameworks [to] bring the business forward’, which has contributed to the company’s effective operation. Ole Wetlesen Borge, general counsel, leads the team at Pareto, and was described by one nominator as having ‘profound analytical and legal skills’. Since Borge joined Pareto in 2010, this skill has been passed on to a legal team that has grown and evolved with the company. Borge’s skills have been recognised, and a source notes how he has brought skills ‘into the executive management [of the business], far beyond legal aspects’. As Pareto moves forward in a competitive investment market, expert oversight and risk management by their legal team can help guide them to even greater prosperity.
Pöyry, an international consulting and engineering company, is supported by a legal team widely acclaimed by peers and clients as an extremely competent and versatile function. Referred to by key figures in the industry as a group of ‘seasoned and business-minded legal experts’, the team is considered to be a valued partner to the company, and provide enhanced insights into risk and solutions regarding legal matters. The legal division displays a dynamic cooperation with various other support functions within the organisation such as compliance, project management, finance, tax, and treasury departments; the team prides itself on its collaborative approach to supporting the company. General counsel of Pöyry Energy Business Group, Átila Ocanha, and the other Pöyry legal counsels continue to display an advanced degree of industry knowledge, an attribute that has proved to be essential when supporting Pöyry’s operations in the cross-border and increasingly competitive energy, infrastructure and environmental sectors. The engineering company has expanded rapidly in the last fiscal year as they reported a positive increase in net sales to approximately €575m.
2015 was a challenging year for Rockwool International, the world’s leading manufacturer of products and solutions based on rock wool with operations in more than 35 countries across the world. In line with these challenges the legal team, led by Per Palludan general counsel and vice president, has had to be adaptable to this change, and willing to accommodate to market requirements. Regardless of these international hurdles, one source praised the team for having a ‘high professional level, cooperative skills and commitment’. A keen understanding of the business and its departments mean Palludan and the team are important to the future success of Rockwool. The efficiency of the team is commended by an external source, who particularly highlights the ‘scoping of projects and has the ability to boil them down to essentials’. The team obviously shares the same company vision of a more profitable and sustainable future, streamlining the company to make it united against future challenges across the globe.
Best known as the creators of the Angry Birds franchise, global entertainment media company Rovio Entertainment is served by a dynamic and effective legal team headed by Minna Raitanen, general counsel and secretary of the board of directors. The team is made up of six lawyers and two non-lawyers, and is constantly striving to secure the best results for Rovio in an environment of creative people in a constantly changing digital environment with innovate media products and solutions. Heavily involved in the products and services Rovio provide from planning to creation, a keen awareness of regulation is needed, the most evident of which is data protection and privacy on a global scale. All support for this is internalised within the business, and this integration between legal and the company’s products manifests itself in various ways, such as organising a company-wide assessment to evaluate every business unit with respect to the effect of new privacy legalisation EU-USA data transfer revolution and COPPA in the USA. Additionally, the innovation of Rovio’s legal team can be displayed through their creation of a simplified, online e-learning tool using Angry Bird characters as illustrations, which Raitanen says worked ‘very well in comparison to the traditional legal trainings’; embracing the company’s own creativity allowed the lawyers to communicate with the wider business more effectively. To ensure that Angry Birds brand has been a success across gaming platforms, merchandise and film, the legal team at Rovio has had to be vigilant on intellectual property (IP) and trademark protection, now boasting some of the most impressive IP lawyers in Finland. In terms of external factors, the nature of the company’s work mean there is hardly any area of the law that doesn’t impact the business, however Raitanen cites the ‘fragmenting and changing nature’ of regulation worldwide being a particular challenge, as well as the disparity between resources and the ‘very complex product and services offerings we have in our business units’.
Patrick Plucnar, group general counsel, leads a team of eight at Royal Unibrew, a regional beverage producer with significant market share in large parts of Northern Europe and the second largest provider of beer and soft drinks in Denmark. The company markets and produces beverages with a core focus on branded beer, soft drinks, malt beverages, long drinks and cider. Cited by nominators as a group of ‘committed and highly professional individuals’, the legal department at Royal Unibrew is widely acclaimed for employing versatile and experienced personnel who specialise in a wide range of legal issues such as large-scale contracts, competition laws, IT laws, M&A and intellectual property rights. Having a legal team that can support that diversity of work means that the company can continue with is corporate goals safe in the knowledge that it is supported by experts in their fields. The in-house team has drawn particular praise for its role in supporting the integration of Royal Unibrew’s acquisition of Hartwall Brewery in Finland in 2013. This important transaction was expertly managed by the team, producing favourable results for the company. Additionally the legal department undertook a guiding role in the establishment of an intra-group setup for procurement. In the recent past, the legal team had faced challenges with the steadily rising growth in regulations for distribution and marketing of beverage products within the Nordic region. This however has not dissuaded Royal Unibrew’s legal department, which has been particularly pro-active in increasing cross-country operations whilst successfully reducing costs.
Swedish company Saab is an aerospace and defence company that is well known for serving the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions from military defence to civil security. Considering the sector that the company works within, there is a particular onus on Saab to comply with a variety of laws and regulations. To cope with this responsibility, Saab employs a large legal team headed by Annika Bäremo, senior vice president, head of group legal affairs, general counsel and secretary of the board of directors. Under Bäremo’s direction, the team implements responsible business practices. In order to stay in line with this, Saab also has a dedicated ethics and compliance department, headed by Petter Törnquist. This compliance department primarily works with market network management to identify and manage the potential for improvement in Saab’s anti-corruption work. As Saab, like others in the aerospace and defence sector, continue to create innovative products and services, such as unmanned systems, the legal team will be at the heart of the route to market.
Åsa Thunman is the executive vice president and general counsel of Sandvik Group, an engineering company based in Stockholm with a 2015 revenue figure of SEK 90.8bn ($10.6bn). Comprising around 120 staff, the group legal team has a mixture of qualified legal professionals working alongside patent engineers and attorneys, compliance professionals, sustainability experts and risk management personnel. In the face of a significant turnover of key stakeholders and organisational changes, along with market changes that Thunman calls ‘significant’, the Sandvik legal team still manage to provide support through its excellent work on key processes around governance and compliance. Experiencing upheaval in the team’s structure too – it moved from a centralised approach to a de-centralised model very recently – the team still successfully created key processes and priorities, all the while managing to upgrade the compliance and sustainability agenda as well as central governance principles. Guiding the company through pieces of work that include a new code of conduct and group sustainability strategy demonstrates the competency and effectiveness of the team’s work.
‘The most important value added is that the team know the business model in depth and can provide fast and commercially sensible advice’, explains executive vice president and general counsel Snorre Valdimarsson. Scatec Solar is an integrated independent solar power producer, which develops, finances, constructs, operates and owns solar power plants globally. The legal team consists of five lawyers, one paralegal, and three additional lawyers working with combined roles within business development. The legal department contains various specialists who are able to operate in multiple fields simultaneously, thus ensuring that no areas go un-serviced. To ensure the safe operations of the company, Scatec Solar’s legal division has enforced and complied with new applicable rules and regulations in addition to revising corporate government structures. The introduction of vice president legal Annette Andreassen as well as senior legal counsel Siobhan Minaar has resulted in a more in-depth and robust approach to project finance and M&A. The legal function additionally adopted a leading role in relation to the restructuring of the anti-corruption compliance program; all group compliance related work currently resides with the general counsel. The team recently adapted the legal structures and market standards in order to cater to the business needs of the organisation, they additionally applied these structures in several other jurisdictions as well as combining soft funds, development finance institution (DFI) funding, project finance, carbon credits and tax equity structures. Scatec Solar has recently undertaken various large projects and the legal department has been asked to support these in four continents concurrently. In addition to successfully challenging a large arbitration process, the in-house team recently completed the initial public offering of the company on the Oslo Stock Exchange; the team acclimatised and adjusted to the needs of a public entity in addition to raising funding on a corporate level by issuing a green senior unsecured three year bond.
Securitas is a global security services firm that provides a range of solutions to security challenges, including consulting, investigating and on-site security work. Boasting around 300,000 employees and with total sales of around SEK 81bn ($9.5bn), Securitas is one of the major players in the international security market. Company highlights over the past year include the acquisition of the North American operation of Diebold in a $350m deal, as well as an overall increase in operating income company-wide. Henrik Zetterberg is vice president and general counsel at Securitas, having joined in 2014 after a stellar career in private practice and senior in-house roles. Zetterberg and his legal team of over 100 individuals deal with compliance and risk management along with legal matters, as part of a combined operation that allows for greater knowledge to be amassed throughout the function.
Siemens, a global organisation that develops high-tech and innovative solutions for industry, energy, cities and healthcare, has a team of nine lawyers to support operations across Denmark and Norway. Since its formation in 2007, and now led by general counsel Matthias Geiger, the in-house legal department has vastly increased productivity in their legal work. The Siemens model for legal solutions is based on two sub-teams, which are assigned to either products or project business. The legal team additionally implemented smarter processes such as new training programs that are aligned with business strategies and have led to the reduction of non-conformance costs; this is measured periodically in order to assess the progress of the organisation. In order to maintain their service delivery, the in-house team often evaluate business partner feedback; they are applauded for delivering such a high quality service and for good management of external lawyers. The team stands for effective risk mitigation and market-leading efficiency, achieved via the application of “lean” principles. Due to their client focus and a proactive approach, the Siemens team has achieved an excellent internal and external reputation.
The legal department at Skanska, a global construction and development company headquartered in Sweden, comprises of knowledgeable individuals who are well-acquainted with the organisation’s key processes and significant developments. Senior vice president of legal affairs Ann-Marie Hedbeck has ensured that the legal function continue to display a high standard of professionalism and efficiency across all sectors the company covers. According to one source, the Skanska in-house team is known for offering the organisation ‘pragmatic and innovative solutions’, rather than just highlighting problems. Supporting an organisation as large as Skanska, the fifth largest construction company in the world with a revenue of SEK 153bn ($18bn), is understandably a very difficult and challenging task, but the legal team has grown to support the organisation in a commendable manner. The Skanska team has supported the company’s internationally known constructions such as the Øresund Bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark, as well as the Heron Tower in London.
SOK Corporation, a subsidiary of Finnish retail cooperative S Group, operates in the supermarket space in Finland, as well as the travel and hospitality industry in the Baltic countries and Russia. Virpi Ojanen acts as legal counsel for responsible for retail chain operations and management at SOK. The SOK legal department closely align its decisions to provisions of the Cooperatives Act, in addition to various regulatory requirements, adding another layer of intricacy to decisions. The team provides an innovative and creative approach to what can be considered as a traditional organisation, and is a key advisor on the development of new business models such as e-commerce. The team is known to standout externally as ‘providing excellent, pragmatic and focused day-to-day support to the management’, as well as for its ‘business understanding, legal expertise and communication skills being exceptional’.
The legal department of Solör Bioenergi Holding, a bio-energy provider, has made a significant mark on the company’s operation despite only recently being created. Formed along with the joining of chief legal officer Daniel Jilkén in mid-2015, Solör Bioenergi’s legal group has made major improvements to the company’s financial reporting to auditors and regulatory bodies, with new streamlined processes now in effect. The department has also decreased group-wide borrowing costs through a comprehensive restructuring of the legal security package available to lenders. Solör Bioenergi’s legal team has achieved major success in a dispute with the Norwegian Financial Supervisory Authority, after it ruled that the group’s bonds should be delisted from the national exchange. Solör Bioenergi’s legal team successfully appealed this decision and, in a case that was the first time that the Norwegian Ministry of Finance has overruled a Financial Supervisory Authority decision, the bonds continue to be traded. The benefit of the successful conclusion to this matter is potentially huge for the company, as is much of the legal team’s work. Indeed, it has been estimated that the team’s cost savings amount to at least SEK 200m over the past year. As Jilkén points out, while these cost savings are easily measured, the team’s ‘influence on value-building business decisions’ is less so, and it is perhaps here where they can have the greatest long-term positive effect. As the Nordic energy market moves away from conventional fossil-fuelled power production and a higher overall price for energy, legal team should have ample opportunity to provide the benefit of their expertise to business operations.
‘The focus is always on the business and finding business solutions to facilitate strategic directions’, says Åsa Ericson Hedström vice president legal and compliance at Sony Mobile, a mobile telecommunication company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. The regional team consisting of nine individuals that has continued to provide excellent, pragmatic and innovative advice, despite a reduction in available resources. To rise to the challenges that the company is facing, the legal team has created a number of innovative solutions that often embrace technology and aim to improve efficiency throughout the business. They implemented a new user data portal, which has further enhanced the sharing of user data between “silos” within Sony Mobile, as well as the formation of new payment and invoice schemes. The team has also played an integral role in creating processes and tools that have enabled a more agile work flow for incubation projects and start-ups. The wider Sony Corporation has had data privacy and cyber security challenges in recent years, and this has trickled down to affect the work of the Nordic legal team at Sony Mobile; Hedström describes this as a ‘necessity in order to bring most value to the company’. The legal department along with the entire organisation evolved in order to adapt to an ever changing environment. Indeed, Hedström states that ‘to change and adapt is a key attribute to a lawyer in the mobile industry’.
Svein Staalen leads the legal team at Spectrum, a well-established and growing company that provides the global oil and gas industry with seismic data from its various locations in Norway, the USA, UK and Australia amongst others. Despite a tricky market environment, which is at the mercy of global commodity prices that have declined in the recent past, Spectrum’s resilient legal function has been proven to produce results even under testing circumstances. Staalen cites the team’s impact as being connected with streamlining and improving processes, as they concern themselves with the smooth running of the company’s business operations. Supporting the company’s results in this way, Staalen claims that the huge improvement has been concurrent with the legal team going from zero lawyers in 2011 to the three it contains today. Focussing on processes connected with compliance and anti-corruption for working in what Staalen calls ‘challenging countries’, other challenges have presented themselves to the team in the form of the acquisition of the Fugro seismic data library and its subsequent integration with rest of the business. The team can cite tangible results contributing to business finances; they have previously assisted in a huge way by achieving around $1.5m in recoveries from a debt collection case. The team’s worth is also displayed via their results and internal business recognition; the legal department is represented on the executive management team and is involved in most business strategic discussions.
Headquartered in central Stockholm, SSAB is the hugely successful Swedish-Finnish materials and mining company formed in 1978, which specialises in processing raw material into steel. As a global business, SSAB regularly encounters laws and regulations designed to promote fair competition and encourage ethical and legal behaviour. Pia Tanskanen, general counsel, and her legal team are tasked with the safe operations of SSAB internationally, covering everything from legal risk to employee compliance. As a consequence of this outlook, the business ethics function is organised as a large part of the legal function, providing a needed focus on developing and coordinating SSAB´s anticorruption program across the company and promoting the principles of ethical business behaviour. The team has established a very detailed code of conduct, which succinctly outlines typical challenges that the company’s employees face complying with external legislation, and measures which can be taken to overcome those challenges. SSAB’s legal team also strives to ensure that the company maintains a global culture of respect, honesty and integrity. By providing a framework for business ethics and compliance, the legal team has been able to go further and implement a company-wide whistle-blower program for employees to seek guidance or report serious improprieties and violations of the company’s policies. SSAB’s legal team has undertaken many steps to guarantee the whistle-blower program allows employees to report anonymously about serious issues and violations of SSAB’s various policies. Lastly, the legal team proved instrumental in finalising the company’s 2014 acquisition of Finnish steel manufacturer Rautaruukki, in a deal worth roughly €1.1 bn.
Statkraft is Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, the largest producer of power in Norway and the third largest power producer in the Nordic region. The company has carved its market-share through specialisation in hydropower, wind power, district heating, gas-fired power and energy market operations. Statkraft boasts one of the most renowned legal departments in Europe, and they are known across the continent for their excellence. The team’s lawyers are heavily involved with all M&A ventures, construction contracts, energy regulatory issues, financing agreements, trading, customer contracts and various other operational matters that support the success of the energy company. The legal team comprises of 40 employees across 11 countries; the department has substantially increased in size as a result of acquisitions in South America and internal reorganisation. In order to maintain the concept of a single legal department throughout the Statkraft group, all lawyers, irrespective of their geographical locations and areas of expertise, act as a single integrated legal department, ultimately all reporting to chief legal officer Frode Rottingen . The rapid internationalisation of the Statkraft group has required the legal department to adapt in order to keep up with growing demands across a range of geographies. Demonstrating the team’s excellence, senior legal counsel Håkon Sandbekk, was ranked as number five in the “Top 100 wind lawyers” worldwide by “A Word About Wind”, beating many prominent partners of law firms and general counsel. An increased focus on compliance and corporate responsibility matters has led to the establishment of a compliance unit within the department, giving them an even wider remit. As the legal department is established in all key Statkraft locations, it is well placed to provide both legal advice to the business and to follow up the compliance program throughout the organisation, thereby identifying and contributing to mitigating legal and compliance risks.
Group general counsel Hans Henrik Klouman leads the legal and compliance department (LEG) at Statoil, a frontrunner in exploration and oil and gas production, and the leading operator on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The company is headquartered in Stavanger and the majority of its gas treatment, crude oil reception, refinement and methanol production are situated within onshore facilities in Norway. Statoil is home to one of the largest in-house legal departments in the Nordic region, comprising of approximately 120 employees, 80% of which are lawyers. LEG has a full agenda advising business lines on critical investment decisions, negotiating agreements, managing disputes, and safeguarding the company through best practice corporate governance systems and compliance programs. The LEG lawyers are experts in a number of core competence areas for the company, like petroleum law, anti-corruption compliance, transactions, tax and many others. The aim organisationally is to constantly improve, enabling deployment of leading experts to where they are needed most, regardless of organisational reporting lines. The legal team has been praised for its ability to organise efficiently and flexibly, while still delivering high quality advice to the company.
Stora Enso, a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wood and paper headquartered in Finland, is supported by a legal team of 40 employees, including 25 in-house corporate lawyers, nine patent engineers/attorneys, trademark experts and support staff. After a restructure in 2015, legal support is now divided into four key sub-functions: intellectual property, ethics and compliance, governance and legal services. Led by Per Lyrvall, general counsel, the new structure of the team allows each function to establish its own specialisms, annual actions, metrics and strategy all of which closely align with Stora Enso’s corporate targets. Christian Swartling, lead counsel for the legal services division, explains that ‘the legal team is an integrated part of the innovation processes of Stora Enso’; legal has been integral in various key strategic decisions for the organisation including divestitures and production plant closures in Northern Europe. The legal department provided a substantial contribution in the acquisition of US-based company Virdia, advised on investments in new productions facilities regarding renewable technology and additionally participated in the commercialisation of nano-applications of cellulose fibre. Swartling indicates that ‘as a department, the legal function seeks to continuously improve and innovate its processes and way of working’. The legal team will continue to be essential to Stora Enso’s expansion plans, such as the recent investment into a saw mill in Poland.
Swedbank is a full service bank headquartered in Stockholm that caters for companies and private individuals. The bank is known to have a strong legal team across the Nordic region, but nominators pointed specifically to the outstanding work of the Norwegian arm of the financial services provider. Thomas Rygg Hannestad leads the legal department of four that supports the operations of Swedbank Norge. The legal team is widely acclaimed for a heightened focus on routines, archives and systems, which have become increasingly important according to the expansion of the business. The team played an integral role in the development of manuals and check lists, which largely improved overall efficiency and productivity across a number of departments within the bank. The implementation of a manual for high yield issues is considered to be the most impressive innovation that the legal team has introduced in the recent past. The recent drop in oil prices has presented an array of challenges for the legal department, customers have experienced difficulties from the market and this has resulted in the entire organisation undertaking increased workloads and various forms of restructuring. Nonetheless, this has not impacted the quality of the work that the legal function continues to produce despite the increase in overall activities. The team’s close interaction with the CEO and senior management has ensured that the legal department remain at the forefront of all major decisions at Swedbank Norge, offering their support to the business as effectively as possible.
The legal function at SYBO Games, a mobile game developer company located in Copenhagen, provide business peers with clear, concise and valuable commercially-minded advice. General counsel Signe Toft believes that the legal department is an ‘effective professional partner that can speed up processes’, rather than act as an obstacle to business. An increasing demand to professionalise administrative and business processes caused the legal department to take a more influential role in the strategic direction of SYBO Games. The team has been responsible for foreseeing, overviewing and minimising risks in addition to ensuring that the business has the best possible agreements and the protection of the organisation’s creative intellectual property assets. Praised by sources as having an ‘impressive eye for detail’, the department strives to deliver advice that is aligned with the strategic direction of the company in addition to managing the rapid growth of the company. The legal function is proactively involved in all new business activities and ventures and maintain daily interaction with SYBO Games’ CEO.
Reporting to Takeda’s group general counsel in Japan, the emerging markets legal team of 30 professionals is led by Torbjörn Hallberg, vice president and general counsel emerging markets (EM). The team is represented across both regional and local management boards, and is seen as occupying a ‘unique position to connect dots within the organisation’, according to Hallberg. Organisational and cultural changes in the team have meant the recruitment of new senior leaders and counsel, whilst Takeda goes through a global transformation related to the pharmaceutical giant’s core values: integrity, fairness, perseverance and honesty. Operating in a matrix function, several initiatives in 2015 were handled including the rollout of comprehensive data privacy training and awareness, re-emphasis on anti-trust compliance programmes and a shaping of corporate governance models. The legal team has demonstrated its commercial nous in a number of ways, for example, leading Takeda’s acquisition of a selected portfolio from Neutec in Turkey, as well as supporting various corporate social responsibility initiatives. Embracing innovation through the implementation of new technology, various digital tools have been introduced to assist the team’s work, including a social networking service, contract management processes, and corporate governance systems. With technological advancement and continuing development, Hallberg believes the team is able to ‘prioritise correctly for the patient, build trust with society, reinforce Takeda’s reputation and then help the business develop’. They have been described as an ‘extraordinarily high performing legal team’ demonstrated by a high engagement level shown in a recent internal survey, but also through external award programs. Dealing with such a multi-jurisdictional remit poses challenges for the team according to the differences in the countries they cover; external factors are often mitigated by the team staying close to business partners in each region and having robust organisation so people on the ground can move quickly.
General counsel Mikko Laaksonen leads a highly proficient and knowledgeable legal department at Teboil, a Finnish organisation that specialise in the importing, marketing, sales and distribution of oil and energy commodities. Teboil reported a turnover of €1.9bn in the last fiscal year making it the second largest oil company in Finland. Trade restrictions imposed by Russia haveresulted in the legal department being required to produce innovative and creative solutions to allow the business to operate as smoothly as possible; the sanctions have been particularly notable as Teboil is a subsidiary of Russian oil company Lukoil. The legal team often play an instrumental role in major developments at Teboil, and Laaksonen has been at the forefront of internal discussions relating to new data protection regulation. The group continues to provide significant insights and expertise, which has proven to be essential in supporting the corporation.
Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor is a global frontrunner in mobile operation, communications and IT, and the largest company on the Oslo stock exchange. Executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer Wenche Agerup leads the organisation’s adept and proficient legal function. The team portrays an in-depth degree of expertise in both commercial and legal disciplines acting as both a support function and a trusted advisor to the organisation. The Telenor legal team is renowned throughout the Nordic region for its ability to successfully handle large litigations and M&A activities, and has continued to have an impact on company expenditure via the reduction of external legal expenses through innovative fee arrangements and the repackaging of legal work. In recent years Telenor has adopted an international expansion strategy and now has network coverage in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia; as the company enters new markets, there are increasing challenges for the legal team to manage.
Total E&P Norge, a specialist in the exploration and production of oil and gas, continues to be an increasingly prominent figure on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and runs one of the largest refineries in the Nordic region. The legal department at Total E&P Norge has been faced with a difficult environment for the oil and gas industry, a sharp reduction in commodity prices resulted in an increased workload for the legal team. The team has acclimatised and now operate in a more efficient manner in order to accommodate the associated recent decrease in company resources. They additionally combated this challenge via increasing overall communication with the company, constantly sharing information on new case files and developments in old case files. According to one source, the legal function at Total E&P Norge ‘is an efficient legal team that covers the entire value-chain of the company’. The team’s main contribution to the company has been to minimise legal disputes, and therefore reduce both expenditure and risk. Legal director Arild Kvanvik Jørgensen believes that ‘high internal demand of the legal department's services is evidence that we perform value added services’.
United Bankers’ ability to continuously thrive amidst a difficult economic climate can be in part attributed to their dynamic and versatile legal department. The legal team at the Finnish investment group is renowned for being an extensive network that comprises of some of the most highly esteemed professionals in the Nordic financial services industry. The team is led by the young yet experienced Sofia Stenius-Linna who is regarded as a rising star within the industry. Stenius-Linna has overseen the gradual progression of the legal function, which is now considered to be an indispensable part of the organisation providing extensive support to various key business processes. United Bankers’ legal department closely monitors changes in legislations and regulatory reformations in order to ensure that the organisation is updated and well prepared in the event of alterations.
‘In-house counsel must be hands on with daily business as well as have a clear vision about the company’s future’, says Tuula Rainto, general counsel at Vaasan Group, a Finnish bakery company. When Lantmännen acquired Vaasan in 2015, there was a period of change for the company. The legal department is now responsible for the implementation of various internal M&A transactions, drafting, negotiating of commercial contracts, corporate governance, group financing, insurance portfolio and real estate transactions. Demonstrating the importance that Vaasan places on legal knowledge, the team provided legal training for the organisation’s executives and managers, a process which has enhanced general knowledge in regards to essential legal matters. The integration of the organisation with Lantmännen ran smoothly thanks to a substantial contribution from the legal team, ensuring various procedures and processes remained in place. Similarly to several other companies in the market, Vaasan experienced difficulties in the declining market, which has sometimes led to challenging negotiations with customers. In order to overcome this challenge, the legal team was required to diligently negotiate commercial contracts with various key customers.
Valio has been a prominent figure in the Finnish dairy market for over 100-years, producing cheese, powdered ingredients, butter, yoghurt and 85% of Finland’s milk. Part of the company’s continued success can be attributed to the high standards of the in-house legal team, which prides itself on proactivity, collaboration and business understanding. The team has been at the spearhead of building relationships between public authorities and Valio’s executive management; these discussions have been crucial to the way in which Valio conducts domestic business. There has been an increase in international competitors in response to changes in the European Union’s approach to agricultural policy; an oversupply of raw milk caused increasing volumes of cheap imported products into the market. In turn, weak economic conditions in Finland resulted in consumers seeking low prices, adding to the competitive market for Valio. Teresa Laimio, general counsel, states that Valio ‘need to stay competitive and find legal ways to protect our position in the Finnish market’. In order to achieve this, the legal department recently recruited a competition lawyer, in an attempt to provide strength-in-depth as well as an enhanced understanding of the market. In addition, the Russian import embargo proved challenging for the Valio, and the business restructured its methods of operation and actively sought new consumer product markets in order to compensate for the loss of sales in Russia. The legal team deftly adapted to this change and was able to support the new direction of the company.
Valmet Corporation’s legal department currently consists of 24 employees, who have evolved from a support function to a key business partner working in a very proactive manner alongside management. Valmet, a Finnish developer and supplier of technologies, automation systems and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries, has been in operation for over 200 years. The legal team has been crucial to the company’s continued success in the face of various compliance and governance issues. To combat these challenges the in-house team has created a mandatory e-learning program and code of conduct for the business, raising awareness of the necessary requirements. The updated code of conduct resulted in greater efficiency from employees in addition to providing a more in-depth understanding of various other areas of the business, such as matters surrounding health and safety and sustainability. In 2015 Valmet’s legal department played an instrumental role in the acquisition of a process automation business from Metso Corporation, valued at approximately €340m. Support was provided by the legal department from the initial planning phase to the post-closing process, providing the company with immediate tangible strategic benefits.
One of Europe’s largest energy producers, Swedish-owned Vattenfall produce electricity, heat and gas with an enduring focus on efficiency and stability. Vattenfall’s legal department, led by Anne Gynnerstedt as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary to the board of directors, has received praise from an external source who describes the team as ‘motivated and committed to displaying outstanding results year after year’. Showing ‘great expertise and professionalism in all of its proceedings’ despite a heavy workload speaks to the temperament and organisation of the team, which now has numerous successful projects to its name. Perhaps the most impressive of these is the legal work involved in Vattenfall’s recent acquisitions and investments; the team assisted the company in its development into the largest Danish onshore wind turbine owner as well as a major player in offshore wind. Jens Kirk Jørgensen, legal counsel, gains particular praise for his ‘unparalleled’ organisational skills and acting as the ‘connecting link’ between various internal stakeholders and external legal relations. The internal coordination with the various groups at Vattenfall requires excellent communication and negotiation skills as each group has its own distinct opinion about each Vattenfall case. The way the team is structured allows it to ‘accommodate nearly all of the groups’ wishes while uniting them as one legal team. In all work performed, a professional and commercial angle is maintained which is of great value to a company like Vattenfall’. In addition to the aforementioned acquisitions, the team has worked on the divestiture of several Danish power plants including Amagerværket, Fynsværket and Nordjyllandsværket for a combination of approximately DKK 4bn. One private practice lawyer who frequently interacts with the team states he is always ‘very impressed with [their] level of competence and proficiency, distinctive work performance and their ability to maintain a team spirit under all circumstances’.
VKR Holding is a holding and investment public limited company whose object is to create value through financial investments and ownership of undertakings. The company employs a total number of 13,500 people in more than 40 countries. An important portion of the company’s workforce its dedicated legal team, which enables the company to realise its commercial ambition with as little legal ramification as possible. Under the guardianship of general counsel Henrik Rasmussen, VKR’s legal team has come to be known for working in a structured manner while always ensuring a keen eye for detail and quality. An example of Rasmussen’s work ethic is recounted by a nominator: ‘As GC, Henrik has handled everything from legal advice on small matters to large, heavy transactions – all with the same care and skill that he is known for’. The multi-purpose team currently holds specialists qualified in areas of competition law and M&A, and a number of lawyers who handle an increasing amount of legal tasks in-house. One of the team’s major legal accomplishments in recent years was the sale of the successful subsidiary WindowMaster to the businessman Erik Boyter. The team, among other things, contributed immensely to preparing the share transfer agreement and intellectual property rights assignments. The sale was part of VKR Holding’s strategy of greater focus on its core activities, predominantly roof window, skylights and flat-roof soluion companies. In addition, the legal department has superbly handled the company’s many legal and regulatory processes with impressive knowledge of the numerous legislative and regulatory requirements, with an innovative and forward-looking approach, and with deep insight into an understanding of the company’s complex business procedures. At the same time, the legal department understands the importance of close and integrated cooperation between the legal team and VKR’s different operational business units.
Volvo Car Corporation is one of the largest corporations in the Nordic region and a globally-known brand in the automotive sector. Maria Hemberg, general counsel and senior vice president, leads a widely-acclaimed legal department of 25 employees to support the operations of the Swedish multinational. The team is considered a valuable partner to the company, reflected in the regular interaction with the CEO and senior management; Hemberg is also partially responsible for corporate strategy which has increased the legal function’s overall influence in regards to strategic developments. To ensure its advice and service is of an expected standard, the department often measures its progress via surveys and regular feedback from business partners. Regulatory change has proven to be a challenge for the automotive industry as a whole: the relatively unknown, and therefore unregulated, topic of autonomous cars and changing data privacy rules have both needed attention from the legal team. In order to overcome these hurdles, the legal team took an active role in implementing various global contract guidelines, an act which ensured that global legal teams apply consistent standards when administrating legal advice. The process is considered to have been a huge success and resulted in an improvement in general efficiency and quality throughout Volvo. The in-house team has been at the heart of Volvo’s international expansion as well, providing a substantial contribution to the negotiation and documentation of all contracts related to the establishment in their new institution based in the United States, and contributing to the execution of all documents required to ensure the company’s Chinese joint ventures are a success.
Cited by internal sources as a team consisting of ‘lawyers with excellent legal expertise, communication skills and a business mind-set’, the VR Group legal department has been at the forefront of various key developments over the last few years. The Helsinki-based team provides the state-owned Finnish railway with an in depth coverage of compliance; with a recent focus on the increasingly important ethical compliance. To this end, the in-house team recently introduced group wide e-learning programs for code of conduct and anti-bribery guidelines. The team is responsible for the code of conduct training of roughly 10,000 employees across Finland, Sweden, Russia and the Baltics. The legal function additionally demonstrates a tangible impact VR Group’s strategic growth, adopting a proactive approach to the development of service descriptions and models in close cooperation with the business unit management. This advance proved to be highly valuable to VR Group as it has ensured that all service models align and comply with the new railway legislations in addition to the enhancement of efficiency in the everyday practice of the organisation. As the railways open up to new competitors, the competition and compliance parts of the team are becoming increasingly important for the company. One nominator summarises the qualities of the VR Group in-house legal team: ‘outstanding communication skills and understanding of business strategies and functioning of markets’.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics has a proficient legal department, which consists of seven lawyers and one jurist. The team operates on a virtual basis with four colleagues based across Europe, two in the USA and two in Japan; all members report directly to Marianne Schreuder, head of global legal and compliance. With the implementation of a safe guidelines scheme, the legal function has been able to adequately support the organisation’s opportunity growth in the most optimal way. The legal team is an integral member of the company’s long-term strategy, which enables the division to take a proactive role in strategic developments. The department acclimatised and adjusted to the growing requirement for a global legal division to provide compliance advice and continuously support the organisation, ensuring the establishment is compliant with various dynamic legislation and regulation. The Wallenius Wilhelmsen legal and compliance team achieved this via the implementation of a “Responsible Logistics” framework, which focuses on a long term view in customer relations, with regards to the environment, social responsibility and governance. This framework led to the development of an internal compliance program, introducing a code of conduct and various policies to the business. Schreuder explains that the senior management team of Wallenius Wilhelmsen ‘actively listens to, appreciates and implements the legal team’s advice’.
As a producer of high end equipment for the oil and gas industry, Welltec has felt the effects of low oil prices over the past year. This has forced it to realign a number of its business priorities, a process which extends to the renegotiation of customer contracts and the setting up of a large number of new tenders for oilfield services. Welltec’s legal team, led by their chief legal officer Martin Skovbjerg, has been heavily involved in these renegotiations, and has also been active in supporting M&A activity, which saw the company sell a partial stake to outside investors. Despite the company operating in a challenging sector, their legal department has continued to innovate which has allowed them an edge over their business rivals. They have assisted in the creation of a new business unit focused on product sales to support the existing service business, which has resulted in the construction of a new factory and has enjoyed ‘remarkable growth’ over the past year. Alongside all of this, the legal team has been a ‘key driver’ in fostering a major change in corporate governance at Welltec, further evidence of their versatility and ability to achieve multiple objectives simultaneously.
The recent past has seen personnel changes in the legal team of Norwegian global maritime industry group Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding, including the appointment of current chief legal officer Morten Aaserud. A relatively compact function consisting of five members of staff, the legal team at Wilh. Wilhelmsen work against the backdrop of a market in a state of upheaval. Dramatic changes in the maritime industry include shifts within the offshore aspect of the market, the introduction of the Personal Data Act, the digitalisation of the maritime industry and the emergence of the sharing economy, all of which provide challenges and opportunities for the team to prove their worth. Offering counsel to management and board with respect to the group’s various companies, there are many recent examples in which the team have contributed to Wilh. Wilhelmsen’s industry leading position. For instance, a huge facet of the team’s recent work is connected with an increased focus on compliance, which the team responded to by creating the innovative WW Group Business Standard Project, which updates and implements policies and routines and saw the recruitment of highly qualified compliance officer Morten Torkildsen. As well as developing these compliance business standards, the team has advised on a number of M&A transactions, a restructuring within the organisation and stock-listed a new entity in Treasure ASA, showing their versatility and strength. Working closely with the chief risk officer and the group management team on a daily basis, the team is not only lauded for the legal expertise of individual members but also the overall contribution to company finances too; producing such efficient work has seen a reduced need for external counsel and the costs associated with it.
Simon Evers Kalsmose-Hjemborg, Managing Partner at Bech-Bruun:
A big congratulations to all the legal teams selected for this year’s GC Powerlist Nordics Teams. Everyone on the list has in their own special way demonstrated an innovative approach to the legal function, which is decisive in a time where we experience a change in the role of the legal counsel.
At Bech-Bruun, we are pleased to be able for the second time to present the GC Powerlist Nordics Teams together with The Legal 500. We want to congratulate both the legal in-house teams which were nominated and the teams which made it onto the list.
Legal work is undergoing constant change. Not only in law firms, but also in companies’ legal departments. We hear this from our clients and we experience it ourselves to a very high degree in Bech-Bruun, where our clients, in addition to broad legal expertise, to a higher degree demand more in-depth insight into business strategies and financial understanding. This new focus builds new expectations for our skills as legal specialists. At the same time, it forces us in a positive way to turn our focus inwards and take a closer look at our current way of handling tasks and how, with new perspectives on our work, we can create the decisive value to match the needs of our clients.
If we turn our attention towards Danish businesses, we can also see considerable change. Not only do many in-house lawyers experience increasing demand for new skills such as business understanding and strategic insight1, we also see considerable changes in the capacities of legal departments. In the past ten years, the number of in-house lawyers has increased dramatically2 . In 2004, 400 lawyers were employed in Danish organisations. In 2015, this figure had increased to almost 1,500 lawyers. And there are many indications that the development is continuing – and justifiably so. A well-run internal legal department creates huge value for the business.
But when the legal department is undergoing changes, innovation will be the key factor in being able to continue to add value to the overall business. It may, however, in many cases be difficult to ensure the proper innovative thinking and to know how precisely this is to be ensured. Especially when this development makes demands for entirely new skills outside the traditional field of expertise. This may make it necessary to carefully consider whether and how the legal department may through innovation and development be able to strengthen the department’s contribution to the company. How does the legal department maintain its active role in the value creation? How does one ensure that the legal department has the right composition and is properly prepared to work with new fields of expertise?
At Bech-Bruun, we acknowledge that the current market is influenced by changed requirements for the legal services we provide. We know that value-creating consulting is no longer based solely on legal specialisation and a high level of expertise. In addition and to an equal degree, such consulting is based on an in-depth understanding of our clients’ businesses and markets. In order to respond to the development in the markets, we have launched a number of internal initiatives and change processes designed to contribute to strengthening our employees and the advice we provide in a number of important areas. This is ensured, among other things, through education designed to provide us with real and in-depth understanding of our clients’ businesses. And by creating a structure designed to ensure that we cooperate to a much higher degree across practice groups to obtain the best possible use of our resources to the benefit of our clients.
We also know that many in-house lawyers want to respond to this development by, among other things, becoming better at showing how they create value to the business. Consequently, we are really pleased to be able to offer new and exciting courses in our Academy Client programme again in 2017 focusing on the new skills demanded by many in-house lawyers as well as to once again offer our high-level General Counsel Programme focusing on how general counsel may become fully prepared for the new changes and challenges.
We are looking forward to working with the many new possibilities resulting from the changes – and not least to continue our good working relationship with the many in-house lawyers we work with on a daily basis and naturally also to meet the ones who we have not yet had the pleasure of working with.
And once again; a big congratulations to everyone on this year’s GC Powerlist Nordics Teams.
Pauliina Tenhunen, Managing Partner at Castren & Snellman:
When the The Legal 500 called and asked whether we would like to be involved in the GC Powerlist, it wasn’t hard to answer yes. Throughout my long career, I have served as the right hand to many general counsel, and I have a great respect for the work they do. It feels wonderful that now, through the GC Powerlist, we will be able to shed light on the great contribution general counsel make to the success of the companies they serve.
The world is changing rapidly. The companies that were on top at the start of my career looked very different to the ones on top today. New companies are being started every day, and they are growing and going global at an increasingly rapid pace. The tough challenges – and hot opportunities – in companies today include compliance, governance, privacy and data security.
It has been a long time since general counsel could be satisfied with just looking after their own back yard. Being a general counsel today calls for an wide understanding of the business of one’s own company as well as of the megatrends that will unavoidably alter the landscape companies operate in – whether they like it or not. Curiosity and enthusiasm for new things are more important traits for lawyers than ever, regardless of whether you are an attorney or an in-house counsel.
My experience is that the best ideas are created by innovating together, by joining forces to create a vision. Co-innovation has brought an entirely new twist to my own work. It is a great feeling to see the spark of enthusiasm in your client’s eye and to have helped feed their curiosity towards the future.
The opportunities of digitalisation – a megatrend that is affecting businesses across the board –is an area for development that is shared by both law firms and in-house teams. According to Radiant Law’s recent study, more than three-quarters (78%) of general counsel lack separate budgets for process and technology services, despite exactly the same percentage identifying a ‘compelling need’ for them. Nonetheless, two-thirds of GCs had invested in process or technology with an external supplier in the last two years.
The same trend can be seen in law firms. We are digitising our operations and have turned a keen ear to the thoughts general counsel have about how we can find entirely new ways of doing things in the future.
Finally, let me congratulate all of you who made it onto the GC Powerlist. You are rock-solid trailblazers in your field!
Atle H Carlsen, Managing Director at Selmer:
During my career with the Boston Consulting Group I have worked with executive management in a wide range of businesses and it is evident to me that there is an untapped potential for in-house legal teams, as well for law firms, to accompany legal expertise with commercial insight and business understanding. There are noticeable differences in how in-house legal teams are applied and perceived across corporate entities. In some organisations they are truly trusted strategic advisors to executive management, in others they play the role of a back-office function.
Lawyers are educated to become excellent legal practitioners, dismantling legal predicaments and identifying potential risks. However, being an in-house lawyer implies helping executive management find practical business oriented solutions. Creating value in such a corporate environment requires the ability to combine legal frameworks and commercial understanding. Unfortunately a considerable number of lawyers are not comfortable in this arena.
At Selmer we have a clear strategic ambition. Our lawyers must not only be outstanding legal practitioners, they must also be excellent commercial advisors. Of this reason we have invested in an internal Financial Analysis and Transaction Support Department that supports Selmer’s lawyers with valuable financial and industrial analysis, helping our teams to quickly get up to speed on the commercial context of each assignment and to develop insightful solutions optimizing value add for every client. We recruit from the industry, we focus on business skills in our talent development and we have a unique business committee that assists our teams.
This mind-set will continue to be one of my primary focus areas as a new Managing Director of Selmer. I am confident that our passion and emphasis on building additional commercial strength will enable our lawyers to add even more value when teaming up with general counsels in the future.
GC Powerlist is a trading name of The Legal 500 Series and Legalease Ltd, and operates in multiple legal jurisdictions world wide.