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M&A activity had a healthy resurgence in 2016, as distressed companies were acquired by international investors targeting Slovenian assets. In May 2016, the state-controlled Slovenian Sovereign Holding announced its intention to privatise Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) by way of a public offering. NLB’s IPO has, however, been subject to some delay – partly due to the volatile market conditions – and as yet no date has been set, although it is expected to occur before the end of 2017. There has been a notable trend among banks to divest non-core businesses – evident in Apollo’s acquisitions of Nova KBM and Raiffeisen’s Slovenian subsidiary. In the real estate space, South Africa-based Greenbay Properties acquired Planet Tuš Koper, in what was the largest property deal in the Slovenian market in recent times. Non-performing loan (NPL) transactions, and insolvency and bankruptcy matters account for a significant proportion of banking and finance work. Due to the new insolvency regime – which has accelerated restructuring procedures and increased efficiency – the last two years has seen an increase in compulsory settlements and preventive restructuring proceedings. Plans to privatise companies in the aviation, telecoms and energy sectors remain ongoing.

In terms of the legal market, relative newcomer ODI Law Firm is challenging the traditional hegemony of Jadek & Pensa, Law firm Rojs, Peljhan, Prelesnik & Partners o.p., d.o.o. and Odvetniki Selih & partnerji. Law Firm Kavčič, Bračun & Partners, o.p, d.o.o. and Ulcar & Partnerji LLC are also attracting big-ticket mandates. Following its market entry in 2015, Local lawyers in cooperation with Karanovic & Nikolic has firmly established itself in the market.

Jadek & Pensa is ‘one of the best firms for corporate, competition and insolvency law’. Srečo Jadek routinely acts for distressed companies in negotiations with banks, while Pavle Pensa has longstanding experience in antitrust, state aid and arbitration cases. Andraž Jadek advised Baumax and its Slovenian subsidiary on the €330m distressed sale of its Slovenian assets to OBI and Supernova. Simon Gabrijelčič advises on corporate financing, Ožbej Merc is a specialist in restructuring and insolvency, and Eva Gostiša handles IP work.

The ‘renowned experts’ at Law Firm Kavčič, Bračun & Partners, o.p, d.o.o.provide timely advice and are dedicated to the client’s cause’. Simon Bračun handles restructurings, M&A in the telecoms sector, and euro and dollar denominated bond issuances. Matej Kavčič has notable expertise advising on privatisations and employment. Marko Rogl left the firm.

ODI Law Firm is ‘geared towards success’. ‘Highly competent’ practice head Uroš Ilić is experienced in privatisations matters; he advised Aluform on the €2.5m acquisition of Aha Emmi following a competitive tender. Matjaz Jan is a ‘logical thinker’. Senior associates Lea Peček, Katarina Škrbec, Lea Vatovec and Suzana Bončina Jamšek are also noted. The team handled Tuš’ €55m sale of shopping centre Planet Tuš Koper to South African real estate fund Greenbay Properties.

Law firm Rojs, Peljhan, Prelesnik & Partners o.p., d.o.o. has the largest team in the market and works alongside Magic Circle firms on big-ticket mandates. Highlights included representing a Slovenian investor in an investment dispute before ICSID, and advising on the first Slovenian privatisation structured as a combined capital increase and mandatory takeover offer. The team also handles antitrust, IP, employment and environment matters. Grega Peljhan and Matic Novak are the key names.

One of the top Slovenian firms’, Odvetniki Selih & partnerji has ‘excellent’ business acumen. Banking and finance head Nina Šelih handles transactions for financial institutions and major international retailers, and also handles corporate and IP matters. Tilen Terlep, who ‘has a professional approach’, assisted Siemens with the spin-off of its healthcare business in Slovenia, as part of the client’s global restructuring. ‘Professional and responsible’ Natasa Pipan Nahtigal is ‘a very good M&A lawyer’ and also handles competition matters. Mia Kalaš and Gregor Simoniti are also noted.

CMS is ‘a market leader in telecoms sector M&A’. Recent highlights include handling Telekom Austria’s €25m acquisition of Amis Slovenia, and assisting Polish private equity fund Innova Capital with a mandatory takeover procedure following the €50m acquisition of Slovenian construction company Trimo. Vienna-based Gregor Famira heads the team and handles CEE-wide real estate matters.

Local lawyers in cooperation with Karanovic & Nikolic provides ‘added value due to its presence throughout Southeastern Europe’. It handles complex financing transactions, privatisations, real estate and data protection matters. Marko Ketler is ‘a great leader and a pleasure to work with’. The firm recently advised Slovene Sovereign Holding and Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) on the €4.1m sale of Adria Airways’ shares.

Schoenherr Slovenia advises on privatisations, distressed M&A and financial derivatives litigation. Corporate head Marko Prušnik is ‘a real master of his work’, banking and finance specialist Maja Zgajnar’s ‘attention to detail and focus on potential risks is invaluable’, and Vid Kobe is noted for his financial restructuring expertise.

According to one client, Ulcar & Partnerji LLC is ‘above market standards’. Matjaz Ulcar is ‘simply brilliant’ and Maja Menard is a key name for private equity and arbitration. The firm recently assisted the Republic of Slovenia with the €250m privatisation of Nova KBM, the second largest Slovenian bank.

One client ‘couldn’t ask for better lawyers’ than those in Wolf Theiss’ team. Recent highlights include assisting OBI with the distressed acquisition of Baumax, advising on the buy and sell side of NPL transactions, and handling bond issuances. Markus Bruckmüller and Klara Miletič are highly regarded.

Fabiani, Petrovic, Jeraj, Rejc attorneys-at-law’s ‘response times are better than average’. ‘Highly experienced’ managing partner Jernej Jeraj heads the team, which typically acts for subsidiaries of international corporations and domestic companies. The team advised PSA Financial Holding on the divestment of its 50% stake in a Slovenian joint venture. Tomaž Petrovič has ‘a thorough understanding of takeovers and privatisation attempts’.

Law Firm Miro Senica and Attorneys, Ltd. advised ACH on a €74m debt restructuring via a credit facility extended by VTB Bank (Austria). Mojca Muha has ‘outstanding legal skills and is always prepared to advise in depth at short notice’. Nejc Novak left in August 2016 to establish Novak Rutar Law Firm.

At Law Firm Sibincic Križanec Medak, ‘responses are immediate and industry knowledge is profound’. Jan Sibinčič advises on M&A and corporate matters and ‘goal-oriented’ Uroš Križanec handles litigation and ‘provides creative but practical solutions’. The team is handling a €120m debt restructuring for telecoms company T-2 as well as associated bankruptcy proceedings brought by creditors BAMC and HETA.

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