The Legal 500

Georgia

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Editorial

Leading individuals

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The four-partner team at BGI Legal provides a ‘responsive, proactive and solution-oriented’ service to a wide range of international corporates both directly and on a referral basis from major international law firms; it has built a strong reputation acting for investors and lenders on many of the country’s largest projects. The ‘excellent’ Lasha Gogiberidze has led the team’s work in several major energy mandates, including advising an Asian investor on a hydropower project. Gogiberidze is also regularly involved in financing work, including inter-bank lending, regulatory lending (to comply with capital adequacy requirements) and capital markets work, where Unana Gogokhia is also establishing a strong reputation. Gogokhia recently advised the IFC on the financing of a housing project implemented by a local developer. Zaza Bibilashvili is ‘able to suggest winning strategies’ and is active across a range of contentious and non-contentious work, including real estate and intellectual property matters. Clients include Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

The ‘excellentBLC Law Office provides a ‘very responsive service’ and is ‘prepared to go the extra mile’ for an impressive roster of clients that includes BNP Paribas, Bauer, Credit Suisse, IBM and Microsoft. The firm, which has ‘superb business knowledge’ and ‘excellent contacts’, is particularly accomplished at handling banking and finance, energy, corporate, tax and IP work. Alexander Bolkvadze is regularly engaged in financing transactions, often relating to projects and energy, and recently advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on the $12m financing of Aversi Pharma. The firm has handled a number of mandates for Georgian Co-Investment Fund, recently including the ‘superb’ Ketti Kvartskhava acting for the client on the acquisition of Mowat Georgia with assistance from ‘pragmatic and responsive’ senior associate Tamta Ivanishvili. Kvartskhava also regularly handles litigation and is acting alongside other key figures Alexander Bolkvadze and Giorgi Batlidze to represent Sun Petroleum Georgia in a dispute before the newly created Competition Agency. Senior associate Lasha Uplisashvili is well regarded in the market for energy work.

Established in the country since 2005, DLA Piper Georgia LP has developed significant traction in the market and is a ‘leading player’ on behalf of inbound foreign investors as well as domestic clients seeking to expand into international markets, where the firm can leverage its international network. Managing partner Otar Kipshidze handles a mix of litigation and transactional work and continues to act for BP in numerous matters relating to its three oil and gas pipeline projects transiting the country. The firm has secured a number of notable victories for BP including successfully defending it at first instance against an $18m patent infringement claim. Avto Svanidze has a growing reputation in the market for handling corporate and finance transactions; among other matters, he is representing CBD Development in the construction of a large shopping mall, and acting for its affiliate BD Property regarding a high-rise residential complex development in Tbilisi. ‘Excellent’ US-qualified of counsel Ted Jonas, who was formerly managing partner of the office, is regularly involved in high-profile mandates, including his recent work as local counsel on TBC Bank’s IPO and listing of GDRs on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Other clients include the EBRD, General Electric and Pfizer.

Spearheaded by David Khrikadze and David Gelashvili, BDO Legal provides a ‘very strong’ multidisciplinary service spanning transactions and dispute resolution work for clients from a broad range of industry sectors. M&A is the cornerstone of the practice, and this was underscored by the firm’s recent work for Latvian company Caucasus Pharma on the acquisition of Georgian pharmaceuticals company GPC, a matter which was handled by Khrikadze and senior associate Giorgi Maisuradze. The pair also recently handled work for Georgian Financial Credit on its acquisition of microfinance company Credex. The firm has been active in the renewable energy space and recently undertook a due diligence report of Georgian Green Power in order for it to secure financing of its construction and operation of a hydropower plant on the River Tsablari.

Guided by ‘excellent’ managing partner Kakha Sharabidze, the ‘well respectedBLB (Business Legal Bureau) has a strong record of acting on international business transactions. Sharabidze recently advised G Star on the $15m acquisition of one of the largest Georgian companies involved in real estate development and trade. The firm also continues to handle work for World Business Capital in relation to its provision of financing to Georgian businesses and recently acted for the client in making a direct loan to a leasing company. Recent contentious work includes representing clients before the domestic courts and handling ongoing work for Microsoft and trade organisation, The Software Alliance, in their efforts to secure enhanced copyright protection in Georgia through legislative reform.

Dechert Georgia LLC opened an office in Tbilisi in 2012, and has made significant inroads into the market by picking up a range of work from a mix of private and public sector clients. Recent highlights include advising Betsson on the $85m acquisition of a Georgian gaming company. The firm is also regularly involved in energy projects and is advising the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia on selecting investors for the Anaklia Deep Water Black Sea Port Project. Other clients include Georgian Co-Investment Fund and Hyatt International. The ‘commercially astute’ Nicola Mariani and the ‘responsive, attentive and professional’ Archil Giorgadze are the two partners on the ground in Tbilisi, who are often supported – particularly in cross-border deals – by practitioners from the firm’s international network of offices, notably including Moscow, London and Dubai.

Gvinadze & Partners LLC provides ‘responsive and intelligent’ advice with ‘a commercial perspective’ to an impressive roster of clients including Acer, BP Georgia, British Airways and Georgian Pipeline Company. Managing partner Nick Gvinadze is ‘calm and has a strong knowledge of both the legal and commercial landscape in Georgia’. ‘Exceptionally bright’ senior associate Sophie Panjikidze can ‘quickly grasp complex commercial situations’. Senior associate Zakaria Shvelidze specialises in labour law and has ‘excellent negotiating skills’.

The ‘experienced and commercialMgaloblishvili, Kipiani, Dzidziguri Law Firm has a good reputation in the market for handling a range of corporate and banking transactions. The firm has a good record in capital markets, including advising Bank of New York Mellon in connection with TBC Bank’s IPO in 2014. The matter was led by the ‘excellent’ Victor Kipiani, who recently worked alongside associate Natalia Babakishvili on the EBRD and Asian Development Bank’s respective bond issuances in local currency (Georgia lari). Irakli Mgaloblishvili has substantial litigation and international arbitration experience. David Dzidziguri is the managing partner.

Nodia, Urumashvili & Partners’ growing practice provides ‘a deep and broad level of expertise’ across a range of contentious and non-contentious business law matters. The firm has a longstanding strength in the banking and finance sector, where it serves as external counsel for one of the country’s leading banks, Bank Republic, and is also regularly instructed by other commercial banks and insurance companies on regulatory issues and transactions, among them Liberty Bank, Bank of Georgia and Unison Insurance Company. Other areas of expertise include real estate and construction law, tax planning and controversies. ‘Superb’ managing partner Lasha Nodia heads the five-partner team, which also includes the ‘service-oriented and sophisticated’ Alexander Sukhishvili and Efrem Urumashvili, who leads the tax practice.

Begiashvili & Co. Limited is a ‘well-respected’ firm with a particular strength in project finance mandates, but which also handles a range of other transactional and litigious mandates. Jaba Mamulashvili advises on investments, corporate and commercial law matters, while Giorgi Begiashvili focuses on litigation and alternative dispute resolution, as well as matters involving insurance law.

Aided by its international network and complementary accountancy, tax and consulting services, Ernst & Young LLC provides a multidisciplinary service to domestic and international clients doing business in Georgia.

Law Firm Kordzakhia Jgenti GP has a strong reputation in the market across a range of matters including corporate, banking, real estate, tax and litigation. The four-partner team includes Irakli Kordzakhia, who handles litigation as well as tax and corporate mandates, and tax specialist Sofia Roinishvili.

Archil Mchedlidze’s Law Practice LLC provides ‘partner-led service’ and ‘business-sensitive advice’ at a ‘very competitive price point’ to clients from a broad range of industry sectors. It advises on corporate law as well as some civil and administrative dispute resolution. The two partners, Archil Mchedlidze and Valeri Bendianishvili, are ‘creative and have the ability to think of reasonable solutions when problems and unique situations arise’.

J&T Consulting LLC has ‘an excellent understanding of international business and its specificity’. The firm is ‘always able to provide practical solutions’ and has ‘a deep understanding of the Georgian court system and practice’. Managing partner Giorgi Tsertsvadze is ‘one of the best litigators in Georgia and displays impressive performances before the courts’. Associate Simon Takashvili has ‘incredible research and analytical skills’.

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