The Legal 500

Slovenia

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Editorial

Leading individuals

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Slovenia’s efforts to stabilise its banking sector and boost finances via the sale of state assets is pumping life into the country’s small legal market. Debt restructuring, particularly the transfer by banks of non-performing loans (NPLs), and the government’s 2014 decision to privatise 15 state-owned companies, currently dominate legal work in a market where just a handful of firms have the resources to undertake large-scale due diligence.

At the time of writing, four state-owned companies – Helios Group, laser manufacturer Fotona, Aerodrom Ljubljana and automotive parts manufacturer Letrika – have been sold successfully and the largest of the privatisation processes, that of Telekom Slovenija, is at the bidding stage. Arguably, however, 2014’s headline deal was the €1bn debt restructuring and subsequent €324m sale of Slovenia’s largest retailer, Mercator, to Croatian group, Agrokor, which remains the country’s largest transaction. Another landmark matter was Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ (KKR) acquisition of the region’s largest pay-TV/broadband provider, SBB/Telemach, which was one of very few investments by a US fund in the Balkans and has awakened hopes that more will follow.

CMS is the only global firm present, but others lead on top-drawer transactions from their offices in cities such as Prague or Warsaw, assisted by local counsel. Austria-based regional firms have successfully penetrated the jurisdiction, typically advising international investors that view the Balkan countries as one market.

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