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Positive messages from the Hungarian market included the full repayment of the country’s IMF loan in August 2013, but the weakening of the forint and sectoral taxation to the detriment of foreign investment mean the market outlook remains uncertain.
With certain taxation aimed at financial institutions and the lack of foreign investment contributing to the ongoing dearth of new-money financing, many law firms have shifted their focus from new projects to restructurings and refinancings of existing transactions. The real estate market remained quiet, as did the energy sector, which has been badly hit by the government’s push to lower energy prices.
The state has become an increasingly important player in the market, with recent transactions including its acquisition of stakes in two local banks, and state-owned energy group MVM’s acquisition of E.ON’s natural gas division; these and other examples ensured that law firms with connections to state entities remained busy through 2012-13. Firms with strong competition law practices also had an active year, with headline matters including the Hungarian Competition Office’s continuing cartel investigation into foreign exchange mortgage loans.
Among the prominent international law firms are Andrékó Kinstellar, CMS, Horváth & Partners DLA Piper, Kajtár Takács Hegymegi-Barakonyi Baker & McKenzie Ügyvédi Iroda and Réczicza White & Case LLP. Leading independent firms include Nagy és Trócsányi Ügyvédi Iroda, Oppenheim and Szecskay Attorneys at Law.