Index of tables
Legal market overview
Baker & McKenzie – CIS, Limited’s ‘very good’ practice has been re-tooled over the past eighteen months, following managing partner Dan Matthews’ relocation to Istanbul and Aykhan Asadov’s departure to BM Morrison Partners LLC. Highly regarded managing partner Gunduz Karimov has been joined by ‘good replacements’ in of counsel Altay Mustafayev, formerly at Omni Law Firm, and subsurface industries expert Kamil Veliyev, who joined from State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). These key figures are supported by five other lawyers and the team as a whole has ‘extensive experience in commercial law’ and provides ‘prompt and useful advice’. The firm’s comprehensive legal practice spans financing, transactions, day-to-day support and litigation. It has a strong imprint on the oil and gas industry as well as experience in representing FMCG or construction companies. The team recently advised SOCAR on the drafting and negotiations of a €600m EPC contract with a Korean contractor. The firm has also handled a number of significant disputes, particularly anti-monopoly cases. Other clients include various SOCAR affiliates, Holcim and new clients such as AzEnerji JSC and Bakcell.
Through its Salans heritage, Dentons has ‘decades of experience in Azerbaijan and is well aware of Azerbaijani laws’. It has ‘a very pragmatic approach’ and provides ‘excellent advice’. The nine-lawyer team runs a full-service practice with substantial experience in everything from high-level strategic advice or transactions to general legal support to retailers, distributors and banks. It continues to advise the State Committee for Property Issues of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the privatisation of 50.2% of International Bank of Azerbaijan, and has been assisting International Bank of Azerbaijan with the establishment of an Islamic banking unit. Other clients include BP, Coca-Cola, Hyatt Hotels Baku, Procter & Gamble, Société Générale, and new client Schneider Electric. Local managing partner James Hogan is ‘excellent’, and Kamal Mammadzada is ‘the best corporate lawyer in Azerbaijan: he is particularly helpful in guiding clients through complex legal situations, has a calm attitude and his encyclopaedic legal knowledge is truly impressive’. Of counsel Ophelia Abdullayeva is also recommended.
‘Very good, very easy to work with’, MGB Law Offices Limited has a ‘very stable, very reliable’ and roundly well-regarded team of seven lawyers, which advises banks on commercial loans and other matters, as well as providing general legal support to oil services companies, retailers, catering and hotel businesses. It advised Hess Corporation on the sale of its stake in the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli fields in the Caspian Sea to ONGC Videsh. Other instructions came from Asian Development Bank, VTB Bank and new client, State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ). Tax expert Elchin Mammadov and managing director Ismail Askerov, who is an expert in projects, are recommended.
Omni Law Firm is ‘technically very good’ and widely regarded as one of the leading local firms – with one client calling it ‘unmatched in Azerbaijan’. Its team has good expertise and experience in high-end financings, projects and corporate deals. Its strong links to government were reflected in its appointment to act as local counsel on SOCAR’s Eurobond issuance in 2012, as well as former partner Jeyhun Bayramov leaving the firm to work for the state. The team continues to represent SOCAR in various matters and has also advised the Ministry of Finance, and notably advised the organisers of the 2012 Eurovision contest. Other recent clients include Azerbaijan Airlines, China Development Bank, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, EBRD, GDF Suez, and Trump Organization. Roman Alloyarov is recommended.
BHM Baku Law Centre’s four-partner practice ‘provides strong legal back-up’. Recent instructions include contractual and other legal support to various prestigious projects and events. Managing partner Anar Baghirov is ‘a talented lawyer, consummate professional and zealous advocate for his clients’. Mehman Sultanov is also recommended and senior associate Tural Hajigurbanli recently joined from SOCAR. The firm has an alliance with Lansky, Ganzger + Partner (LGP) of Austria.
BM Morrison Partners LLC reinforced its team by recruiting new managing partner Aykhan Asadov from Baker & McKenzie – CIS, Limited in January 2013. He succeeded Farhad Mirzayev, who remains as senior partner. The firm has experience in local and foreign investment, financing, privatisation, tax and corporate advice. Clients include Société Générale, certain other international banks and several major oil companies.
Ekvita has a ‘very well-organised’ team whose ‘lead lawyers have a very good understanding of the business climate in Azerbaijan’, and which is valued by clients for its competitive fees. Core areas of practice are corporate, tax and employment law, and advice is ‘good to excellent’. Key industry sectors are construction as well as oil and gas services. Managing partner Ilgar Mehti is ‘very experienced in HR issues’; he and Anar Karimov are ‘standout performers and complement each other with their in-depth knowledge of assisting foreign companies’.
Grata Law Firm acted as local counsel to Simmons & Simmons on ONGC Videsh’s acquisition of Hess Corporation’s Caspian Sea oilfield stake. Other work includes loan agreements, anti-monopoly disputes and corporate law, and other clients include Doosan Babcock, GDF Suez, and Korean National Oil Corporation. Samir Hadjiyev is the key partner.
Deloitte’s seven-lawyer team recently advised an Asian multinational corporation on a substantial construction contract and assisted another client with a software licensing agreement. Senior legal manager Vugar Mammadov is the main contact.
IJS Law Firm has experience in corporate, commercial, financing, projects work and general legal support. Clients include telecoms companies, municipal project companies and construction companies. Eldar Majidov is the managing partner.
Michael Wilson & Partners’ three-lawyer team recently advised Falck Group on the acquisition and management of an offshore training business as well as a health clinic. It also advised GlobalSharePlan.com and Sanofi on employee share plans, the latter in conjunction with Shearman & Sterling LLP. Aygun Abbasova is the main contact.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal is most notable for its advice to foreign clients, representing lenders on financings and advising companies on commercial agreements, investments and tax law. Farhad Hajizade leads the team.