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Kosovo

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Editorial

Kosovo is a market with few headline deals, and transactional activity in 2016 was largely accounted for by lower-value commercial deals. The second privatisation attempt of Kosovo Telecom, for example, was unsuccessful (the subsequent dispute is now before the ICSID arbitration panel).

Increased activity among regulators and tax authorities resulted in a rise in disputes and, while foreign investments were relatively unsuccessful, new public procurement laws were introduced in early 2016 that attempted to level the playing field by providing for local and foreign investors to be treated equally in tenders. In terms of future growth, a total of €100m was loaned from the EU and the EBRD for the development of the country’s railway system, which will provide a range of work for local companies and law firms. Kosovo also has significant potential in terms of minable resources – although the area is yet to be properly exploited – and so the creation of a new coal-based power plant is being explored. Although current need for legal services is moderate and infrastructure development remains low, predicted economic growth combined with prospective projects makes for a positive outlook overall.

Pallaska & Associates continues to top the table, scooping the majority of what little international work is available through a solid local reputation and referrals from global firms. Boga & Associates and Kalo & Associates both have offices in neighbouring Albania and are highly regarded, and regional giant Wolf Theiss has a strong standing in the country through the guidance of its Vienna and Tirana lawyers.

The firm with ‘no equal in Kosovo’, Pallaska & Associates is led by ‘professional and reliable’ managing partners Gazmend Pallaska and Dastid Pallaska. Dastid ‘has a modern approach, high ethical standards and an impeccable reputation’. The team continued to be involved in the largest projects involving energy, mining, infrastructure and telecoms. It represented a foreign investor in the construction industry in a €1m royalties dispute before the Supreme Court concerning the exploitation of mines, and is defending the Kosovan branch of a Germany-headquartered bank against a copyright infringement claim. The firm also handles the EBRD’s work in the country, recently advising on energy efficient loans. Gazmend is prominent in the IP sector, and is supported by senior associates Adelina Sokoli and Milot Ahma.

Albania-headquartered Boga & Associates provides tax and accounting services alongside its multidisciplinary legal practice. Recent highlights include advising on two projects on behalf of a global food group, one dealing with risk assessment issues pertaining to consumer goods and the second dealing with employment and restructuring issues in Albania and Kosovo. Practice head Sokol Elmazaj has vast experience in large M&A and PPP projects, loan agreements and privatisations. Albania-based Renata Leka is also a key name.

Gazmend Nushi and Ahmet Hasolli lead the Pristina branch of Albanian firm Kalo & Associates, which is known for advising foreign investors on local business and commercial matters. The team acts for international companies such as Philip Morris, Vodafone, Alcatel-Lucent Italia and Morgan Stanley.

The Wolf Theiss Kosovo desk is led by members of the Tirana and Vienna offices. Vienna-based Christian Mikosch leads the practice and is closely supported by senior associate Katrin Stauber. Recent mandates include acting for a Slovenian bank in enforcement proceedings brought against two Kosovan entities deriving from three loan agreements. It also assisted Cineplexx with its plans to enter the market by opening a new cinema in Pristina. Head of the firm’s office in Albania Sokol Nako is another key member of the team, advising on corporate, M&A, real estate and construction matters.

Kujtim Kërveshi leads Judex Law Firm, which is well versed in banking and finance matters, regularly assisting leading Kosovan banks with commercial transactions, reorganisation processes and employment matters. The team also handles trade marks on behalf of global luxury brands and automotive companies, including Apple, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi and Toyota. Senior partner Adem Vokshi is a key team member.

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