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Editorial

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Leading individuals

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Activity in the Albanian economy remains relatively slow, with the country’s fortunes closely tied to dormant neighbouring markets such as Greece. For many of the leading law firms, the bulk of the work comes in the form of major infrastructure projects, such as the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project. Non-performing loans remain a source of instructions, as loans are restructured and the recovery of bad debts is pursued through the courts. For the most part, the work is largely in the hands of four firms: Boga & Associates, Hoxha, Memi & Hoxha, Kalo & Associates and Wolf Theiss, most of which offer strong full-service support, and field bilingual lawyers qualified in Europe and the US.

Boga & Associates is ‘one of the best’ law firms in Albania, and the team provides ‘accurate and appropriate’ responses, which are ‘always on time’. Highly rated managing partner Genc Boga heads the six-partner firm, which includes the ‘extremely punctualJonida Skendaj and litigator Gerhard Velaj. The firm provides ‘excellent support’ on corporate finance, disputes, projects, real estate, employment and IP. It also stands out for its extremely experienced tax practice, which includes partner Alketa Uruçi and two senior associates. Highlights included advising on the development of the Albanian section of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, a 3,500km long natural gas pipeline. Other clients include Raiffeisen Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Nokia Solutions and Networks.

Hoxha, Memi & Hoxha has ‘excellent experience’ acting for international clients and law firms. The three-partner firm includes the ‘exceptionalShpati Hoxha, who ‘demonstrates great attention to detail and extensive knowledge of EU and Albanian competition law’, and highly experienced partners Andi Memi and Eris Hoxha. Recent highlights include advising British American Tobacco on the Albanian aspects of its takeovers of Bulgartabac and Reynolds American. The firm also assisted with several significant restructurings, advising Credit Europe Bank on the bankruptcy of the Turkish steel group Kürüm, and acting for Tirana Bank in a dispute with a non-performing debtor, Citypark.

Kalo & Associates is ‘one of the strongest players in the legal services market’ in Albania. The firm has ‘extensive experience in advising international clients on transactions in a diverse range of sectors, including energy litigation and financing’. Managing partner Përparim Kalo leads a seven-partner team that covers all corners of the market. Senior partner Ardjana Shehi is ‘very knowledgeable, not just about legal points but the commercial side as well’. Other key names include ‘exceptional labour law specialistShirli Gorenca and the ‘highly efficient, responsive and availableEni Kalo, who stands out for her ‘expertise in data privacy and IP’. Recent highlights include assisting with several major infrastructure projects, and advising on the Albanian aspects of AB InBev’s merger with SABMiller.

Sokol Nako leads the well-regarded team at Wolf Theiss, which works closely with the firm’s network of offices throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The firm covers a wide range of sectors, including banking, telecoms, power, oil and gas, and real estate. It recently advised Balfin Group on the €96m sale of its shareholding in Skopje City Mall. Other highlights include advising a group of Netherlands-based investment vehicles on their €1.8m acquisition of a shareholding in the domestic mining company Alb Magnesium. On the infrastructure front, the team assisted Albanian Highway Concession with the reconstruction and operation of the Milot-Morine Highway, Albania’s first toll-operated highway. Associate Denis Selimi provides ‘precise and commercial-oriented’ advice.

The Tirana outpost of Greece-headquartered Drakopoulos Law Firm has been in operation since 2008, and works closely with the firm’s Athens office. Besnik Duraj, the lead Albania partner, has a strong track record handling corporate advisory matters. The firm acts for domestic and international clients, including Hygeia Hospital Tirana, Chipita and the Greek construction company Intrakat.

Haxhia & Hajdari Attorneys at Law benefits from its strong connections to the Albanian government, with Artan Hajdari formerly serving as president of the Court of Appeal and Vice-Minister for Justice, and current chair of the Albanian Bar Association Maksim Haxhia’s previous experience as the country’s General Prosecutor. The firm is recommended for regulatory, contentious and corporate advice. Eris Hysi is also noted.

Optima Legal & Financial has a strong focus on the energy sector, regularly advising on local projects for a wide range of clients, including power producers, public sector bodies and financial institutions. Managing partner Ilir Daci is very active in this area.

With offices in Kosovo as well as Albania, Tashko Pustina - attorneys has established a good reputation in the market. The firm has a strong litigation and international arbitration practice, and advises international companies on cross-border transactions. Name partners Flonia Tashko and Floran Pustina are well regarded, while Florian Hasko was recently promoted to partner.

The Albanian outpost of Italian firm Tonucci & Partners is highly regarded in the market. The firm regularly handles joint ventures and M&A, and has a strong track record handling contentious and non-contentious matters in the telecoms and financial services sectors. Artur Asllani and Neritan Kallfa are key names for corporate advice, while Enkelejda Muçaj is noted for her IP expertise.

Bozo & Associates’ strong full-service practice is led by managing partner Artan Bozo. Other key lawyers include Enida Zeneli for environmental law, and Ketrin Topçiu for oil and gas work.

CMS has a strong reputation among peers. The firm is regularly involved in major international deals and acts for a considerable number of Italian clients. Mirko Daidone is the local office partner.

Frost & Fire Consulting is a relatively new entry into the market, but it has already made a strong impression. Founding partners Rezart Spahia and Alfred Rushaj are well regarded; Spahia is noted for his strong following in the US business community, having previously been a corporate lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.

Gjika & Associates has a solid reputation in the market, particularly for TMT and natural resources advice. Name partner Gjergji Gjika is the key contact.

IKRP Rokas & Partners Albania is the Tirana office of Greek firm Rokas Law Firm and largely focuses on joint ventures, real estate and energy matters. Managing partner Oljon Kaso is the main contact.

Loloçi & Associates is best known for its expertise in IP but also handles tax, finance, employment, litigation and privatisation issues. Krenar Loloçi heads the practice.

ShukeLaw covers a broad range of areas including contentious and non-contentious corporate, real estate, and banking law. Enyal Shuke has a good name in the market.

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