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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Azerbaijan > Leading Firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Leading Firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Leading Firms clients in Azerbaijan using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Lawyers at BM Morrison Partners LLC¬†are commended for their 'good knowledge of the market and clients' needs'. Managing partner¬†Aykhan Asadov¬†advised¬†an international financier on the establishment of the first private credit bureau in Azerbaijan in April 2018. Extending the firm's relationship with a renowned Russian bank, Asadov was also involved in the¬†$450m financing of a petrochemicals plant.¬†Senior partner Farhad Mirzayev¬†is especially experienced in energy, project finance and real estate matters. He is involved in large-scale transactions in the energy sector, such as the ‚ā¨4.7bn acquisition of oil and gas assets by an energy client from Engie. The 'proactive'¬†Delara Israfilova¬†is recommended for her ability 'to provide tailored advice for the client'; examples of her work include advising another bank on the $190m cross-border facility provided to Azerbaijan Railways. The 'very professional' Ruslan Mukhtarov¬†and Natavan Baghirova¬†have 'excellent knowledge of local legislation and practice', and have advised government bodies on overhauling food safety protection laws in line with EU legislation.

The 'responsive and knowledgeable' Dentons¬†team in Baku is led by James Hogan, who specialises in banking and finance, energy, and construction, among other areas. Alongside fellow banking and finance expert Kamal Mammadzada, he acted¬†for Agence Fran√ßaise de D√©veloppement (AFD) on a ‚ā¨112.5m credit agreement between AFD and the Republic of Azerbaijan for the construction of railway-servicing workshops. The pair also acted together on a major $10m aircraft leasing deal, reviewing the lease agreement and issuing a legal opinion on the bank payment guarantee. New arrival Nargiz Kazimova¬†has also been involved in banking and finance matters; she and Mammadzada advised Pasha Bank, as arranger and lender, on a $15m loan facility, the first of its kind in Azerbaijan. Clients recommend counsel Ophelia Abdullayeva¬†as a 'trusted adviser' who is 'responsive and provides quick and practical advice'; she also assisted on the aforementioned AFD mandate. In addition, she advised an international oil and gas company on a $50m production-sharing agreement for the exploration, rehabilitation and development of an oil and gas field in the Caspian Sea. Also highly recommended is counsel¬†Ulvia Zeynalova-Bockin, who 'has very good knowledge of her area of expertise'; she covers all areas of finance, including Islamic finance, and recently advised a foreign company on the sale of shares in an Azerbaijani mobile operator.

MGB Law Offices provides legal advice across a number of practice areas, including corporate, banking and project finance, as well as representing clients in court. Ismail Askerov, who is praised for his 'excellent market knowledge and in-depth insights', leads the team, and is 'unquestionably a star performer in Azerbaijan'. He is an experienced corporate and M&A lawyer with a track record of success in the aviation sector; he acted for Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad, a holding company of Malaysian Airlines, on the subleasing of two freighter aircraft to Silk Way West Airlines. Also recommended are the 'prompt and practical' Anar Janmammadov and the 'excellent' Kamil Valiyev. Janmammadov represented the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in the local courts in relation to the enforcement of security granted by the IFC to local borrowers, while Valiyev advised a foreign energy client on a range of matters relating to an upcoming oil project. Associates Lala Hasanova, Kamal Huseynli and Meltem Novruzova are also recommended.

Omni Law Firm¬†principally advises on corporate transactions and capital markets;¬†Roman Alloyarov¬†is the key name in these areas, and advised South Gas Corridor on the issue of¬†$1bn-worth of notes guaranteed by the Republic of Azerbaijan. He was supported by restructuring specialist Afag Abdullayeva, who has worked with Alloyarov across a number of banking and finance mandates. Both partners advised Socar on its¬†‚ā¨500m loan¬†from the Export-Import Bank of Korea and other international lenders¬†to finance the construction of a fertiliser plant in Azerbaijan. Elsewhere, Alloyarov and head of projects Ismail Zargarli¬†assisted state-owned telecoms company AzInTelecom with¬†its acquisition of a majority stake in Azercell.

Altay Mustafayev Law & Tax was established in January 2018 by former Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited partner Altay Mustafayev and has a strong list of clients, including Siemens and AXA. Described by clients as 'professional' with 'patience and deep attention to detail', the team assisted AXA with a multimillion-euro share sale, as well as advising Zenith Energy on a proposed listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Opened in 2015, Capital Legal Services LLC has been increasingly active in the Azerbaijan legal market. Managing partner Vugar Mammadov is a tax specialist, having worked previously at PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal and Deloitte & Touche LLC, and advised on tax and compliance matters for both Holiday Inn and Qatar Airways. Senior associate Elnur Eyvazov advised a major international bank on a high-value secured lending transaction, and also supported Mammadov in advising a leading international investment company on capital markets and investment transactions. Senior associate Azar Aliyev and associates Tamara Makinskaya and Sabuhi Tagiyev are also names to note.

Ernst & Young Holdings (CIS) B.V., Branch Office in the Republic still has its main strength in tax work; however, a series of new hires has been matched by an increase in work outside the tax practice. Arzu Hajiyeva  is the key name across a variety of practice areas, and is often supported by associates Seymur Muradov and Shirin Ibrahimova. Recently, the firm was engaged by an international client to conduct due diligence on anti-bribery compliance relating to a loan, in addition to advising a foreign drilling and well services company on the possibility of establishing a joint venture in Azerbaijan.

Farid Isayev heads the law practice at KPMG Azerbaijan, which is praised for being 'really flexible regarding communication' with a 'professional approach to complicated legal matters'. The team was strengthened by the recent arrival of trade and commerce specialist Simuzar Feyzullayeva, who was instructed by a foreign manufacturer to provide legal advice on the establishment of a new company in Azerbaijan. Clients recommend him as a 'professional with a strong sense of responsibility'. Isayev was assisted by experienced banking lawyer Seymur Niftaliyev in advising a domestic company on a shares acquisition, as well as drafting partnership agreements and issuing legal advice on corporate issues. The pair, who 'always provide in-depth knowledge of legal issues', also conducted due diligence of a target company's fixed assets on behalf of a domestic bank. Senior legal consultants Narmin Seyidova and Abbasov Kamran are noteworthy names, while recent arrival Asim Hashimov, who previously worked in-house at a major Azerbaijani bank, joined as a legal consultant.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal has significantly boosted its practice in Azerbaijan with the hire of former Omni Law Firm partner Elchin Mammadov. He now holds the position of director of legal services, and has notable experience in project finance. The firm handles matters including company law, banking and finance, and construction.

There have been significant recent changes to BHM Law Firm LLC's team, with four new arrivals and the promotion of Mehman Sultanov to managing partner. Reinforcing the firm's strong reputation for litigation, Sultanov and senior associate Natig Mammadov recently represented an auditing company in court over an alleged breach of auditor independence rules. Gulnar Gurbanova and senior associate Gumru Mehdiyeva are key figures on the transactional side, with Gurbanova assisting an Azerbaijani hospital with purchasing facilities and obtaining the necessary licences.

Deloitte & Touche LLC has made three new promotions, in addition to senior legal consultant Shamkhal Hasanov joining from Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited. Legal practice head Sarvar Hummatov has worked on a range of matters, including advising a major pharmaceuticals corporation on GDPR compliance and a Caspian Sea company on the sale of shares. Hasanov played a supporting role in the latter case, and was also a key name when the firm advised an Azerbaijani company on a potential merger; the team conducted due diligence of the target and prepared a sale and purchase agreement. Legal manager Amina Bakhshiyeva advises on corporate reorganisation as well as cross-border business issues.

The Baku office of GRATA International has expanded remarkably, with Farid Bakhiyev's departure for an in-house role mitigated by four new arrivals and two promotions. Newly promoted associate Royal Ibrahimov supported director Ummi Jalilova in providing a legal opinion to an international consultancy client on tax administration and corporate issues. Fidan Salmanova Vahabova, recently promoted to associate, and Ibrahimov acted for a foreign government on the establishment of a consular office. New arrival Emil Bashirov advised 2GIS on cartographic licensing regulations.

'Experience, responsibility and a unique approach to relationships' makes BDO Azerbaijan LLC 'an excellent choice for any client'. Director Sabit Abdullayev has a 'polite and respectful attitude', and successfully represented a transportation client in litigation against the tax authority. The team was similarly successful in representing an international logistics company in a tax dispute, and has been engaged by a global oil and gas corporation to challenge the findings of a recent tax inspection.

EKVITA provides the full range of tax and legal services, and is predominantly active in the oil and gas sector. Managing partner Ilgar Mehti is the key name for such matters, while Anar Karimov leads the firm's banking and finance team.

Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

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