The Legal 500

Israel

Editorial

Legal market overview

The Israeli legal market is highly competitive and dynamic: it is a jurisdiction with a very high number of lawyers per capita, and below its upper echelon of robust full-service firms, there is a bustling market of smaller firms and boutiques to which clients tend to be loyal. However, in recent years there have been signs that the market might be ready for change and in 2012 it was opened up to competition from foreign law firms. Although the number of foreign firms is small thus far, some are operating already: Greenberg Traurig P.A handles large corporate work on behalf of Israeli clients such as Teva and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP also has a representative office in the jurisdiction. Chinese firm Yingke Law Firm’s recent merger with boutique offering Eyal Khayat Zolty, Neiger & Co. to create Yingke Israel – Eyal Khayat, Zolty, Neiger & Co., Law Offices might provide a possible template for foreign firms going forward.

2013 was also notable for two significant mergers among domestic law firms: in April, Shibolet & Co subsumed J. Zaltzman, Gilat, Knoller, Graus, Salomon Law Firm; and, in May, Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer merged with Baratz & Co to form Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz. Another notable development was highly regarded tax specialist Eldar Ben-Ruby and hi-tech specialist Alon Sahar both moving from Herzog Fox & Neeman to Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal Law offices.

In terms of industry sectors, the country’s powerhouse hi-tech industry remains a key driver; the demand for real estate has kept lawyers busy in that sector; and the energy market is booming as participants prepare to exploit oil and gas reserves such as the Tamar gas field. While capital markets activity has been relatively subdued in recent times, there are signs of revival. On the corporate front, 2013 witnessed some large transactions, perhaps most notably Google’s $1.15bn acquisition of Waze.

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    In January 2014 - July 2014 Zavadetskyi Advocates advised and represented a Canadian citizen who had been imprisoned in Ukraine for serious crime and criminal investigation against whom raised many questions as to its integrity and impartiality. Along with their client, Zavadetskyi Advocates also advised a US charitable institution that provides social services internationally to people in crisis situations. The client has been released from the sentence several years before time and was able to leave Ukraine.    
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    Azmi & Associates recently advised Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (‘FGVH') in a corporate transaction via its subsidiary, Felda Global Ventures Downstream Sdn. Bhd. (‘FGVD') in a joint venture agreement involving two other parties namely M2 Capital Sdn Bhd. (‘M2 Capital') and Benefuel International Holdings S.A.R.L. (‘Benefuel') which is a subsidiary of Benefuel US, through which an SPV will be incorporated to acquire a biodiesel plant. The JV company has agreed to acquire a biodiesel plant ("Plant") located at Gebeng, in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia from Mission Biofuels Sdn. Bhd. (‘MBSB') for a USD twenty two million and five hundred thousand (USD 22,500,000.00) (‘Plant Acquisition') under a Plant Purchase Agreement. The shareholding of FGVD, M2 Capital and Benefuel in the JV Company shall be 60% for FGVD, 20% for M2 Capital and 20% for Benefuel. The estimated project cost for the proposed joint venture including the Plant Acquisition, licensing costs, purchase of catalyst, refurbishment and retrofit shall be USD forty seven million and five hundred thousand (USD 47,500,000.00). The nature of business of the JV Company shall be manufacturing and producing biodiesel using the retrofitted Plant and other ancillary activities.