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Legal market overview
The ongoing changes to the Russian civil code, aimed at promoting the use of Russian law as a basis for transactions, remain a hot topic in the market, with Russian law firms having worked together in an attempt to influence the outcome of the debate in the hope of boosting the attractiveness of Russian law to businesses. English law is currently widely used as it is viewed as a reliable basis for the enforcement of parties’ rights. The most prominent Russian firms have enhanced their English law expertise through associations with international law firms, and have also been able to recruit high-profile English-qualified practitioners.
The corporate and M&A market was dominated by a few headline-grabbing deals, including Russia’s largest-ever transaction as Rosneft acquired the stakes of BP and Alfa-Access-Renova in TNK-BP for a combined $56bn. The size and complexity of the deal as well as the number of parties involved kept a number of corporate practices busy in an otherwise quiet year for M&A generally; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Linklaters CIS, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, White & Case LLC and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP were all involved.
The capital markets were once again dominated by debt offerings, with only a few high-profile equity offerings made. The banking, energy and real estate sectors were the main drivers of business activity in the country, and state-owned oil giant Rosneft was particularly acquisitive as it consolidated its market position and expanded out of Russia. 2013 also saw the rise of the Russian banks as major players in the market, with Sberbank and VTB Bank particularly active, making competition between law firms for places on their legal panels all the more intense.
The dispute resolution arena, in which Russian law firms compete on an equal footing with much larger UK and US counterparts, saw a number of significant developments including the relocation to St Petersburg and subsequent merger of Russia’s Supreme Court and Supreme Commercial Court.