Firms To Watch: Projects and energy

PHH Rechtsanwälte GmbH‘s energy practice, which was founded in 2020 by former PwC Legal Austria-oehner & partner lawyer Dominik Kurzmann, has a focus on assisting with the establishment and servicing of renewable energy communities.

Projects and energy in Austria

Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte)

Constituting a key player in the realm of projects and energy, Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte) is described by a client as an ‘extremely professional, capable outfit whose standards never drop below excellent.’ The firm’s strengths lie in EIA proceedings as well as the regulatory aspects of project development particularly in relation to the energy sector. Environmental law, infrastructure permitting, and construction law also feature in its workload. Projects and energy expert Bernd Rajal, planning and environment specialist Christian Schmelz and counsel Johannes Stalzer, who focuses on public procurement, are the key names.

Practice head(s):

Bernd Rajal; Christian Schmelz; Johannes Stalzer

Testimonials

‘They have tremendous experience both in public law generally as well as in planning, permitting and environmental law specifically and they are at the forefront of new legal developments and shaping the law.’

‘You get top notch advice in shortest time frames, sometimes literally immediately.’

‘They break down complex legal questions to simple answers. They have a deep understanding not only of the legal questions, but also of the technical aspects and – most importantly – for the needs of the client.’

‘Christian Schmelz: He perfectly combines his top scientific legal knowledge with his unique hands-on approach. You feel that he wants to have things done and that he understands your business and your needs. A huge advantage is that you get clear cut advice, not complex legal answers.’

‘Outstanding knowledge in the field of Austrian public law and related fields of law perfect communication with their customers always up to date with latest developments in the field of public law and related fields of law, broad network, their consultancy is well understood also by lay-persons.’

‘Mr. Christian Schmelz, outstanding senior expert, second to none in Austria, always thinks the cases through.’

‘They are an extremely professional, capable outfit whose standards never drop below excellent. Their in-depth knowledge of our business sector and how it functions makes matters so much easier.’

‘Bernd Rajal is both an exceptional lawyer and a much-valued client relationship partner. Always a pleasure to instruct him, and his advice is always timely, focused and pragmatic.’

Key clients

Vienna International Airport

European Commission – DG Energy

Alpiq

EXAA Energy Exchange

Internationale Rheinregulierung (Int’l Organisation for the flood regulation on the river Rhine)

ASFINAG

EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

OMV Petrom

TIWAG – Tiroler Wasserkraft AG

Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich)

Red Bull

Laakirchen Papier

Zellstoff Pöls

TINETZ-Tiroler Netze GmbH

OMV AG (E&P)

Österreichische Post AG

EVN AG

Federal Minister of Energy of Austria

Netz Niederösterreich (distribution company)

Vienna International Airport

European Commission – DG Energy

Alpiq

EXAA Energy Exchange

Internationale Rheinregulierung (Int’l Organisation for the flood regulation on the river Rhine)

ASFINAG

EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

OMV Petrom

TIWAG – Tiroler Wasserkraft AG

Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich)

Red Bull

Laakirchen Papier

Zellstoff Pöls

TINETZ-Tiroler Netze GmbH

OMV AG (E&P)

Österreichische Post AG

EVN AG

Federal Minister of Energy of Austria

Netz Niederösterreich

Work highlights

  • Advised Verbund on the acquisition of the majority stake in Gas Connect Austria, the Austrian gas transmission system operator.
  • Advised the EBRD and the Uzbek Government on the establishment of a new energy law in Uzbekistan.
  • Advised BASF on a major investment project at the Kundl/Schaftenau Campus in Tyrol, Austria.

Cerha Hempel

Energy, infrastructure, electronic tolling, oil and gas as well as real estate are among the areas covered by Cerha Hempel’s cross-departmental projects and energy practice. The firm counts airports, governmental institutions, and power companies among its clients, which it acts for on cross-border matters including transactions and project developments. Through the cooperation of several practice groups the team is able to seamlessly advise clients on the intersections with other areas of expertise including public law and M&A. Clemens Hasenauer, Johannes Aehrenthal, Hans Kristoferitsch and Peter Vcelouch are the practice heads.

Practice head(s):

Clemens Hasenauer; Johannes Aehrenthal; Hans Kristoferitsch; Peter Vcelouch

Testimonials

‘The team from CERHA HEMPEL is unique in their legal knowledge combining a hands on approach with academic excellence, in their responsiveness and their knowledge not only of our market, but also of the politically sensitive environment.’

‘They are always available and come up with out of the box solutions, built on their impressive legal capacities.’

‘The whole team was brilliant.’

‘As regards to billing, they always offer solutions that also benefit the client.’

‘Their seamless work with other specialists from their firm (if required) as well as with technical advisors has to be stressed.’

‘The project team from CERHA HEMPEL is being led by Hans Kristoferitsch, who has not only in depth legal knowledge but brilliantly manages authority contacts as well as requests from our company’s top management.’

Key clients

OMV

ASFINAG

Vienna International Airport

Republic of Austria

CEGH

Austrian Power Grid AG

EnBW Trust e.V.

via donau

Wiener Stadtwerke GmbH and all of its subsidiaries, including Wien Energie GmbH

Voith Group

STRABAG AG

Elin Motoren GmbH

TSR Recycling Holding GmbH and TSR Recycling GmbH & Co KG (part of Remondis Group)

Work highlights

  • Advised OMV AG on the sale of its German filling station business to the British EG Group.
  • Advice with regard to the conclusion of contracts to cover summer peaks of energy demand with energy producers (“network reserve”).
  • Advising the Austrian operator of all waterways, via donau, on the implementation of a pan-European communication and logistics system which is to be used for all vessels in the EU.

CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz Rechtsanwälte GmbH

Clients from the public sector, private investors, development companies, banks and financial institutions regularly instruct CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz Rechtsanwälte GmbH on questions of energy, climate change, infrastructure, and projects. The firm’s infrastructure and projects group and the energy and climate change group collaborate to jointly work on matters in this area. The practice advises on the full range of project development with a particular focus on social infrastructure, renewable energy as well as life sciences and healthcare, among others. Property and construction law specialist Nikolaus Weselik, energy and climate change expert Thomas Hamerl, and public procurement head Bernt Elsner are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Hamerl; Bernt Elsner; Nikolaus Weselik

Testimonials

‘High quality of partners and attorneys in all legal matters, interdisciplinary work, cooperation with litigation practice and others.’

‘Very cooperative and great team spirit and good working together.’

‘Very professional and excellent in-depth knowledge.’

Key clients

Swietelsky AG Bahnbau

GREEN SOURCE

UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

Glasfaser Bezirk Weiz

eFriends Energy GmbH

Porr Beteiligungen und Management GmbH

nöGIG and Breitbandholding

MLP Group

ENCAVIS Asset Management

ADX ENERGY LTD

Swietelsky Tunnelbau GmbH & Co KG

VNext AB

Siemens Gebäudemanagement & -Services

Projektgemeinschaft Brenner Basistunnel Nord

Strabag

EIB

Equitix

Work highlights

  • Advising automotive supplier Plastic Omnium on the process of establishing a joint venture with ElringKlinger for the development and large-scale production of fuel cell stacks for CO2-neutral mobility and acquiring an Austrian subsidiary of ElringKlinger focused on R&D activities.
  • Advised eFriends Energy GmbH on the development of a tailored donation-based crowdfunding model that Austrian enterprises can use to finance the acquisition of photovoltaic systems.
  • Advising Glasfaser Bezirk Weiz, on structuring the financing of a glass fibre project in Styria and state aid matters/broadband subsidies, procurement law.

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach Rechtsanwälte GmbH

At DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach, the projects and energy practice covers the whole gamut of related matters with a strong focus on international work, particularly in Eastern Europe. The group's proficiency advising on renewable energy, corporate PPAs and certificates, CO2 emissions allowances and offset trading make it a go-to advisor for high-profile gas network operators and multinational corporations. Project work in the areas of construction, infrastructure and transport are also areas where the team is active. Practice head Andreas Gunst assists with work across the entire energy value chain spanning numerous jurisdictions. Jasna Zwitter-Tehovnik, who is admitted in Austria and Slovenia in addition to England and Wales and New York, is particularly experienced in project finance and infrastructure projects.

Practice head(s):

Andreas Gunst

Other key lawyers:

Jasna Zwitter-Tehovnik

Testimonials

‘Strong availability. Low fees for the quality of work.’

‘The team is really good at delivering quality advice in relation to several jurisdictions. Especially for multinational companies, active in several jurisdictions, the team acts as a great point of contact.’

‘Dr. Jasna Zwitter-Tehovnik is a professional and dedicated partner, very approachable and flexible when it comes to satisfying clients’ needs.’

‘Responsiveness and focus on solutions are outstanding.’

‘The level of flexibility and width of knowledge and competence.’

Key clients

ICGB

BASF

Gazprom

EBRD Renewable Energy Tenders

GIZ

European Trading Hub / Gaspool / Net Connect Germany

Vitol

OMV

Verbund

Trailstone

Work highlights

  • Advising initially the German gas network operators Gaspool and Net Connect Germany and then European Trading Hub as the joint venture of all German gas network operators on the successful bid for the provision of all gas balancing and clearing entity for the entire Austrian gas market by way of procurement procedure by the Austrian regulatory authority (E-Control).
  • Advising BASF on its long-term corporate power purchase agreements with Vattenfall, Orsted and Engie from offshore and onshore wind generation asset to switch its entire energy consumption in its industrial processes to renewable energy and on the purchase of 49.5% in the Dutch Hollandse Kust Zuid wind park from Vattenfall.
  • Advising a group of lenders including some of the largest commercial banks in Canada on the project financing of the Scarborough Tunnel Project.

DORDA Rechtsanwälte GmbH

DORDA Rechtsanwälte GmbH’s project and energy practice advises clients from the oil, gas and power sectors industries on commercial projects, domestic transportation and infrastructure. The team counts large Austrian providers, operators and project companies among its clients, for which it acts in regulatory, development and financing matters. Co-head Heinrich Kühnert also leads the firm’s antitrust and regulatory practice group and his sector expertise includes energy, transport, healthcare, and mechanical engineering. Second practice lead Bernhard Müller is in charge of the public law group and regularly advises on public procurement, environmental law as well as regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):

Bernhard Müller; Heinrich Kühnert

Key clients

Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H. (BIG)

Inductive Energy A/S

Kommunalkredit Austria AG

Novartis Pharma Austria

OMV Group

OMV Exploration & Production Austria GmbH

ÖBB Holding AG

Sandoz

TrailStone Renewables GmbH

3M Precision Grinding GmbH

Work highlights

  • Advised Novartis on the creation of a technology campus and the investment by BASF as first tenant at Novartis’ site in Tyrol/Austria.
  • Representing OMV in negotiations with another energy company on the implementation of a joint venture for the construction and operation of a plant in the renewable energy sector.
  • Advised BIG on a large urban development and construction project (including road construction) known as the “Siemensäcker Project”.

E+H Rechtsanwälte GmbH

The multidisciplinary energy and projects team at E+H Rechtsanwälte GmbH has expertise in conventional and renewable power, oil and gas, telecoms, engineering and construction projects as well as public and critical infrastructure. Financing, restructuring projects and assisting with regulatory and commercial aspects form part of the firm’s portfolio, which has also recently expanded into advising on structuring and implementing energy communities based on the the Austrian Renewable Expansion Act passed in 2021. Vienna-based Marco Steiner and Ulrike Sehrschön, and Tatjana Dworak, who heads the firm’s offices in Graz and Klagenfurt, are the key names.

Practice head(s):

Marco Steiner; Ulrike Sehrschön; Tatjana Katalan-Dworak

Key clients

WIEN ENERGIE GmbH

Three Seas Investment Fund

KELAG

Energie Burgenland

Three Seas Investment Funds

Work highlights

  • Advising WIEN ENERGIE GmbH on acquiring several hydropower and photovoltaic power plants as well as on the setup of innovative Energy Communities.
  • Advising KELAG on several share deal acquisitions of wind farms in SEE.
  • Advising Energie Burgenland group on auction processes and the conclusion of agreements regarding the erection and maintenance of large wind power plants.

Niederhuber & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH

Niederhuber & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH has a strong energy and projects practice, with a notable focus on environmental law. Clients from sectors including energy, circular economy and heavy industry benefit from the team’s holistic approach and expertise in matters regarding due diligence, project development, and regulatory questions, among others. Martin Niederhuber and Peter Sander together with hydropower expert Paul Reichel are the key contacts. Florian Stangl is noted for his experience in energy and climate law including plant licensing procedures and regulatory issues, while David Suchanek’s specialisations include wind energy projects.

Practice head(s):

Martin Niederhuber; Peter Sander; Paul Reichel

Other key lawyers:

Florian Stangl; David Suchanek

Testimonials

Florian Stangl has a great overview on energy related topics in Austria, for example legislative developments and court proceedings. He is very involved, always up-to-date and can use that know-how in other cases.

Excellent know-how of Dr. Stangl, in-depth understanding of the legal matters under discussion.

Niederhuber & Partner is one of the experts when it comes to environmental and energy law. They were willing to venture with us into a new market and thus new legal issues.

Dr. Florian Stangl is one of the up-and-coming young lawyers in the field of renewable energy and is a highly recognised energy law expert. He is willing to break new ground with his clients and thinks ahead to what legal developments may be of interest to his clients and actively shares this information with them.

Florian stands out not only for his expertise but also for his good network, commitment and hands-on mentality.

Key clients

VERBUND Group

Austrian Power Grid AG

EVN AG; EVN Wärme GmbH; EVN Wärmekraftwerke

Salzburg AG für Energie, Verkehr, Telekommunikation

Photovoltaic Austria

ECOWIND Handels- & Wartungs- GmbH

ÖWAV (Austrian Water and Waste Management Association)

Work highlights

  • Advising Verbund on various legal issues relating to the development of renewable energy projects (hydro, wind and solar power) including the drafting of energy-related contracts.
  • Advised Ecowind on the legal aspects of innovative solar power plants, like agriculture and floating PV, on planning law and on the new state aid scheme for renewable energy.
  • Advised the Austrian Transmission System Operator on various regulatory questions.

Wolf Theiss

Wolf Theiss‘s energy and projects practice is active in regulatory and environmental law, development and structuring, contracts and agreements as well as project finance and acquisitions. Recent work has seen the firm called on to advise clients in the construction industry on Covid-19 related matters, including force majeure clauses and safeguard measures. Sustainability and renewable energy are other areas of expertise for the team, which is led by Andreas Schmid, Manfred Essletzbichler, Silvia Fessl, Sebastian Oberzaucher and Kurt Retter.

Practice head(s):

Andreas Schmid; Manfred Essletzbichler; Silvia Fessl; Sebastian Oberzaucher; Kurt Retter

Testimonials

‘We have been working with WT for many years already since they are able to provide premium legal advice in all the key areas which are relevant for us.’

‘Cooperation is swift and easy through our main contact points, who involve specialists from different legal areas, if and to the extent needed.’

‘Naturally, work products are of high legal quality, but also come with the added value of WT lawyers understanding our business and always striving to provide practical solutions, even if that means less fees for them.’

‘We very much appreciate Kurt Retter’s excellent legal expertise and the practical approach he takes, aiming to understand and solve the actual issues we face, not only to answer an isolated legal question.’

‘WT’s finance team has (a) a good standing with all banks who offer project finance in AT; (b) WT’s response to mails and calls is always very fast; (c) deliver in the first round workable drafts (no unnecessary rounds of negotiations as with other law firms…).’

‘Highly professional team; deadlines are met; structured and solution-oriented exchange and way of working.’

‘Immense commitment and willingness to perform; always available – you can call anytime; constructive exchange; high solution orientation – focus on solutions instead of problems.’

Key clients

Engie (formerly GDF Suez)

Gazprom

RWE / KELAG Group

PORR Group

Lukoil Group

BP Power Trading Limited

Exxon Mobil Corporation

Vinci Group

Axpo Group

ERG Renew Group

Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH

European Investment Bank (EIB)

SNAM SpA

Meridiam

Vienna Airport (Flughafen Wien AG)

Work highlights

  • Advised Verkehrsverbund Ost-Region GmbH on the comprehensive reorganisation of the ordering regime for (subsidised) public passenger transport services, the sale and distribution of rail tickets throughout Austria, as well as in a tender procedure for the procurement of a road database for the collection, management and evaluation of data in Lower Austria.
  • Advised a syndicate of lenders, including UniCredit and EBRD, on one of the largest project finance transactions in Bulgaria regarding the concession of Sofia Airport in the value of EUR 281 million.
  • Advised E2 Hungary on energy efficiency rules affecting energy trading companies in Hungary, Austria, Croatia and Slovakia.

Binder Grösswang

Binder Grösswang has a cross-disciplinary approach to projects in this space, and draws on the firm's real estate, corporate M&A and banking and finance practices depending on the nature of the matter. In terms of energy, the firm has a specialised team advising on acquisitions, construction and the operation of power plants, financing, as well as regulatory and compliance-related issues. Infrastructure, transport, and grid-based industries are other areas of expertise in addition to a strong international focus. Johannes Barbist and Andreas Hable are noted for their experience in this field.

Other key lawyers:

Johannes Barbist; Andreas Hable

Key clients

VERBUND AG

CORESTATE CAPITAL Fund Management S.à.r.l.

UniCredit Bank Austria AG

Mubadala

Smurfit Kappa Nettingsdorf

Kärntner Beteiligungsverwaltung

ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG

CUBE Infrastructure Fund II

Rail Cargo Austria AG

ÖBB-Holding AG

ÖBB group

CAPE 10 Errichtung & Betrieb GmbH

viktor kaplan muerz gmbh

TIWAG-Tiroler Wasserkraft AG

bpv Hügel

The main focus of bpv Hügel’s projects and energy practice is on advising a wide range of clients on regulatory issues, where the team works closely with its competition department, particularly for matters concerning energy regulation. In line with the firm’s strong presence in Brussels, the practice is also able to provide comprehensive advice on questions surrounding EU law. Practice head Christian Schneider has extensive expertise in environmental law as well as work relating to public procurement and the energy sector.

Practice head(s):

Christian Schneider

Testimonials

‘The excellent understanding of very specific topics and lot of experience in the energy sector.’

‘Outstanding knowledge of the specific energy law.’

Key clients

VERBUND AG

OMV AG

KELAG

Erdöllagergesellschaft

Fachverband Gas Wärme

Kärnten Netz GmbH

IG Holzkraft

TIGAS

Gas Connect Austria

Österreichs Energie

Work highlights

  • Advising Verbund AG and subsidiaries on energy matters and representation before courts on a regular basis.
  • Advising OMV AG and subsidiaries on energy matters and representation before courts on a regular basis.
  • Advising Kelag and subsidiaries on energy matters and representation before courts on a regular basis.

Schima Mayer Starlinger Rechtsanwälte GmbH

Schima Mayer Starlinger Rechtsanwälte GmbH handles the full gamut of energy-related issues including day-to-day matters and regulatory aspects. The group is also experienced in handling mandates that cross over into other practice areas including competition law and civil law, enabling it to handle complex matters for domestic and international clients. With more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, practice head Thomas Starlinger's expertise spans regulatory frameworks for gas and electricity, contractual work and dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Starlinger

Key clients

Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH

Work highlights

  • Advising network operators in several ICC arbitrations on the validity of long-term contracts, in particular regarding competition, energy regulatory and civil law aspects.
  • Advised an electricity power producer on energy regulatory, competition and state aid questions in relation to the contractual relationship between the energy producer and the Austrian control area manager regarding the provision of congestion management measures under newly enacted rules.
  • Representing different energy traders in cases regarding possible infringement of Regulation (EU) No 1227/2011 on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency (REMIT).