EU and competition in Bulgaria
Boyanov & Co. handles the full range of matters in the sector, including abuse of dominance, vertical and horizontal agreements, cartels, unfair competition, and compliance issues. The team is led by the ‘business-oriented’ Peter Petrov, who ‘has solid knowledge, is one of the best competition lawyers in the CEE region and can handle any legal challenge a company can have in the difficult Bulgarian market’. The team represents major international companies such as Procter & Gamble, Allianz, Bayer and Philip Morris International, as well as several Bulgarian institutions and subsidiaries of multinational brands. The firm advised Hungarian financial group OTP Bank (which owns DSK Bank) on obtaining approval from the Commission for Protection of Competition for its proposed €125m acquisition of DSK's rival Vojvodanska Banka.
The ‘co-operative, reliable and client-oriented’ team at CMS has ‘in-depth knowledge in the sphere’ and provides ‘timely and thorough advice’ on all aspects of competition law, including merger control, cartels, abuse of dominance and superior bargaining position, unfair competition and compliance. The co-heads of the department are ‘technically perfect and innovative’ senior associate Nevena Radlova, who has ‘excellent antitrust knowledge and profound business acumen’ and is also the coordinator of the firm's CEE Competition Group, and associate Gabriela Edreva, who has acted on a number of antitrust and state aid cases in the European Court of Justice. Clients are from various industries including pharmaceuticals, telecoms and fast-moving consumer goods, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Syngenta. Atanas Bangachev provided advice to Kaolin on merger control triggers in various jurisdictions.
Dimitrov, Petrov & Co's 'highly efficient' team advises on abuse of dominance, collusive agreements, incompatible state aid and unfair competition matters. Practice head Zoya Todorova specialises in merger clearances and senior associate Donka Stoyanova is 'able to address regulatory matters before the respective authorities'. Other key lawyers are the 'distinguished' Metodi Baykushev and senior associate Dimitar Karabelov, who is 'highly reliable and available at any time'. The team's client roster includes global companies such as Google, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Fox Networks Group, and the Bulgarian subsidiaries of multinationals such as Telenor and Société Générale. Recent highlights include defending Sofia Airport against a claim of abuse of dominance via predatory pricing offered by some low-cost airlines in a high-profile case before the Bulgarian competition regulator.
Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov is ‘clearly a tier 1 firm thanks to its knowledge of competition law and its practical handling of cases’; it advises clients such as BMW, British American Tobacco, Honeywell and Lukoil on merger control, cartel investigations, horizontal and vertical restraints on trade, and abuse of dominant position, among other matters. The ‘very experienced' Nikolai Gouginski heads the team; senior associates Dr Anton Petrov, who regularly represents clients in unfair competition disputes, and Desislava Iordanova, who focuses on compliance, are also recommended. The team advised Nikon on an investigation launched by the Commission for Protection of Competition into alleged abuse of dominant position and prohibited practices in vertical agreements with regard to the structuring of its selective distribution system in Bulgaria.
Georgiev, Todorov & Co has ’exceptional knowledge and experience in the field of EU and competition law’. The team acts for companies in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics (F. Hoffmann-La Roche), telecoms (Bulgarian Telecommunication Company and GPS Bulgaria) and retail (Comsed). The practice is led by Ivan Todorov and Alexander Pachamanov, while associate Lena Borislavova specialises in matters related to foreign investments. The team advised Balkantel on the competition law aspects of its proposal for the €95m public procurement project for the design and construction of signalling and telecoms systems on the Plovdiv-Burgas railway line.
The ‘reliable, attentive, highly qualified and well-organised team' at Kambourov & Partners stands out for 'its incomparable level of commitment and dedication and across-the-board market knowledge’; it regularly advises on matters such as market dominance, cartels, vertical restraints and unfair competition. Practice head Stefan Tzakov is ‘truly exceptional’ and ‘combines all the qualities you would imagine the perfect lawyer to have, blending together extensive legislative knowledge, deep industry insight, an analytical mind, intelligence and trustworthiness’. Recently promoted senior associate Plamen Yotov is deputy head of the team and has expertise in cases involving alleged abuse of stronger bargaining position. The team counts international and domestic companies such as Lidl, Wizz Air, Prestige 96 and Zora among its clients.
Wolf Theiss covers all areas of competition law, including abuse of dominance, vertical and horizontal agreements, merger control, private enforcement, state aid and public procurement. Notable clients include KKR, Monster Energy and Boehringer. In a recent highlight, Richard Clegg and Anna Rizova advised Sumitomo Corporation on obtaining merger clearance from the Bulgarian competition authority following its acquisition of Moto-Pfohe. Senior associate Hristina Dzhevlekova is also noted.
Andrey Delchev and Partners - Eurolex Bulgaria
Andrey Delchev and Partners - Eurolex Bulgaria's 'experienced' team handles abuse of dominant position, alleged market manipulation and public procurement matters, and is praised for its 'state-of-the-art expertise in local laws, procedures and regulations’. Team head Severina Liubenova regularly represents clients before the Commission for Protection of Competition. Senior associate Boriana Chotekova ‘impresses with her excellent knowledge of both Bulgarian and foreign laws and excellent personal communication skills’; she and the ‘competent’ Andrey Delchev represented Orbelus Organic Winery in a complaint to the European Commission regarding abuse of dominant market position by the state-owned alcohol monopolies in several Scandinavian countries where the client's wine was imported.
Hristov & Partners
Hristov & Partners has expertise in merger control and compliance matters, among others, and is active in the automotive, pharmaceutical, food and drink, and transportation sectors. The key contacts are ‘excellent competition lawyer’ Pavel Hristov and associate Dragomir Stefanov. The team advised a multinational transportation solutions company on its proposed participation in an EU-funded public procurement tender for the supply of electric trains.
Jordanov, Ignatov, Ivanov Law Firm's ‘solid competition practice’ advises clients in the online retail, financial services, real estate and energy sectors. The team is praised for its ‘excellent' advice and 'great attention to detail’, and each lawyer is ‘highly dedicated and strives to find the most efficient solution to the client's problem with a passion for the law and a commitment to excellence’. Practice head Dimitar Ivanov is noted for his ‘unrivalled strategic advice and industry knowledge’ and senior associate Svetlana Valeva is ‘quick to respond, precise and very easy to work with’. The team advised online retailer Dante International on the alleged breach of various regulations on misleading advertising, prohibited gifts and unlawful promotion campaigns in four investigations by the Commission for Protection of Competition.
Kinstellar advises on compliance, merger filings and cartel investigations, among other matters. Of counsel Dessislava Fessenko, who focuses on merger control and state aid regulations, leads the practice. The team advised Generali Group on the competition law and regulatory aspects of entering into a bancassurance partnership with UniCredit.
Penkov, Markov & Partners
Penkov, Markov & Partners advises clients on EU regulations, public procurement and unfair competition issues. Key contacts include practice co-head Vladimir Penkov and recently promoted partner Yura Mincheva, who regularly represents clients in merger notification proceedings. In a recent highlight, the team successfully obtained clearance for the merger of two domestic companies in the armament industry. Uber, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, CEZ and Heineken are major clients.
Schoenherr (in cooperation with Stoyanov & Tsekova) advises on compliance, abuse of dominance and stronger bargaining position, and merger control matters. Clients include major international companies in the finance, retail, oil and gas, and automotive industries. Team head Ilko Stoyanov and associate Galina Petkova are recommended.
Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski's team is made up of ‘experts with extensive knowledge’ who ‘understand the market’; it advises on merger notifications and clearance, vertical and horizontal agreements, and unfair competition. Key contacts include practice head Venelin Dimitrov, who ‘always tries to maintain the balance between managing the competition law risk and the functioning of the business’, and senior associate Eleonora Mateina, who ‘has extensive knowledge in the sector and always considers the relevant case law and the economic aspects of the case’. The team advises companies from the healthcare, natural resources, IT, energy and fast-moving consumer goods sectors, among others; AstraZeneca and Mars are long-term clients.
BWSP Ilieva Voutcheva & Co Law Firm
The ‘incredibly responsive’ team at BWSP Ilieva Voutcheva & Co Law Firm provides ‘high-quality’ advice on abuse of dominance, vertical and horizontal agreements, cartels, compliance and unfair competition. Practice heads Rossitsa Voutcheva and Diliana Ilieva are ‘technically competent’; Voutcheva has expertise in merger control matters, and Ilieva specialises in unfair competition and misleading advertising. The team advised Mars on the fair competition requirements of a promotion campaign for Whiskas and Pedigree.
Delchev & Partners
Delchev & Partners advises clients from the cosmetics, energy, media and agriculture sectors, including global brands such as L’Oréal and Flamagas, on the full range of competition law matters. Ivan Marinov, who advises on the commercial and IP aspects of competition law matters, is a key contact. In a recent highlight, the team successfully represented L’Oréal before the Commission for Protection of Competition in a major unfair competition case.
The ‘business-oriented’ team at Deloitte Legal Law Firm is made up of ‘talented, bright and experienced lawyers who know competition law extremely well’ and ‘take every client's assignment to heart and treat it as a priority’. Key contacts include practice head Reneta Petkova; managing associate Kaloyan Yordanov, who ‘has good connections with the national competition authority’; and 'sharp-minded, diligent and co-operative’ senior associate Yoana Zhechkova. The team acted for a real estate company to obtain merger clearance from the Bulgarian competition authority.
Dinova Rusev & Partners has a ‘personal approach’ towards its clients and shows ‘the utmost level of care, understanding and diligence’ when advising on abuse of dominant position, unfair competition and misleading advertising matters. Department head Milen Rusev advises on complex M&A deals from a competition perspective, and Iliya Grozdanov is ‘very responsive and dedicated’. The team acted for Eko Bulgaria in proceedings before the Bulgarian competition authority regarding a possible cartel in the motor fuel retail sector, where the client faced a fine of €30m. Sofia South Ring Mall and Sephora are also major clients.
Popov & Partners
Popov & Partners advises clients from the chemical, tourism, pharmaceutical and TMT sectors, among others, on abuse of dominance, cartel, merger control and unfair competition matters. The team consists of ‘a wide range of specialists with knowledge and skill in all legal fields, which allows clients to trust them easily’; the practice is led by Hristo Koparanov, while Benislav Vatev offers ‘timely advice’.