EU and competition in Bulgaria
Boyanov & Co.’s fields a dedicated EU and competition practice. Led by the ‘strategic and focused’ Peter Petrov, the team principally advises on the competition aspects of mergers and acquisitions, both cross-border and within the country, and has a strong track record in obtaining approvals from the Bulgarian and European competition commissions. In addition to the merger clearance work, the practice has advised clients on unfair competition, cartel activity, and abuse of dominance cases, with a notable focus on IP and trade mark infringement mandates. The firm also advises on day-to-day competition compliance, counting Adidas, Philip Morris and Bayer among its clients.
“BOYANOV & Co are one of my preferred outside counsel firms. They are quick, concise, proactive and their expertise is perfectly balanced and diverse.’
Procter & Gamble
Mondelez (formerly Kraft Foods)
Jacobs Douwe Egberts
- Advised Lundin Mining Corporation on obtaining merger clearance for its acquisition of the Chapada copper and gold mine from Yamana Gold.
- Assisted Unilever, as owner of the Algida ice-cream brand, on the acquisition of its local competitor Sladoledena Fabrika, owner of the Denny ice-cream brand.
- Acted for the largest online retailer in the SEE region, eMag, on obtaining unconditional merger control approval for its acquisition of a regional rival, Extreme Digital.
The ‘hands-on’ EU and competition practice at CMS is highly experienced in the field of merger control, using its regional offices to co-ordinate simultaneous applications across jurisdictions in the EU. The team acts for clients in heavily regulated sectors including telecoms and banking, notably having obtained clearance for the major merger of OTP Bank and the subsidiaries of Société Générale in 2018. Nevena Radlova leads the practice, which also has a core focus on disputing and appealing antitrust and abuse of dominance sanctions, as well as counselling market-leading clients in compliance on an ongoing basis. Former practice head David Butts retired.
‘Professionalism, attention to detail, availability.’
‘They perfectly co-ordinate the job and always suggest a full range of solutions, exceeding the usual service of law firms.’
OTP Bank Group
K.Ludwig GmbH (Calzedonia)
The Sales House
- Successfully obtained merger clearance for OTP’s acquisition of the regional subsidiaries of Société Générale from the Bulgarian CPC.
- Representing Syngenta Switzerland in litigation with a Bulgarian distributor for alleged infringements of domestic competition law.
- Representing the Austrian furniture company, K.Ludwig GmbH, before the CPC regarding allegations of misleading advertising.
Dimitrov, Petrov & Co's EU and competition practice has a strong track record in successfully appealing fines and sanctions imposed for cartel activity, unfair competition through trade mark infringement, state aid cases, and abuse of dominance. The firm also provides ongoing compliance advice to major clients in the pharmaceutical, tech and retail sectors regarding marketing, distribution agreements, and acquisitions. Zoya Todorova, who also leads the firm’s corporate and commercial practice, leads the team. Key lawyers include Donka Stoyanova, praised for her ‘attention to detail’, and Radina Tomanova, who advises on prohibited agreements and vertical agreements. Clients include Google and Pfizer.
‘The team is very efficient in providing assistance in major legal issues due to its large team consisting of lawyers of practically every specialisation.’
‘The ability to understand business-specific data and derive reasonable legal arguments is something that distinguishes DPC practice from rival law firms.’
‘They can work under time pressure, and are available 24/7.’
Sofia Airport EAD
Pfizer Luxemburg SARL, Bulgarian Branch
- Ongoing advice to Google Inc. on the competition aspects of marketing campaigns.
- Acting for Sofia Airport in a case before the competition commission concerning allegations of predatory pricing.
- Defending AgriGate Media in an alleged trade mark infringement case before the competition commission.
The EU and competition practice at Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov acts for clients in antitrust cases, investigations into horizontal and vertical agreements, abuse of dominance proceedings, collusive and cartel activities, and state aid compliance for non-EU importers. Major clients consult the firm on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance in highly regulated sectors, including Visa, Froneri, Merck, and British American Tobacco. Drawing on the experience of its corporate and commercial team, the practice also advises on merger clearance before the Bulgarian CPC and the ECC. Violetta Kunze, who also heads the firm’s TMT practice and jointly heads the corporate and commercial practice, leads the team alongside Nikolai Gouginski, who ‘delivers perfect advice on complex issues'. Vladislav Antonov and Dessislava Iordanova and senior associate Anton Petrov are other names to note.
Nikolai Gouginski; Violetta Kunze
‘DGKV is distinguished by its experience, professionalism, and forward-looking vision.’
‘One of the best firms in Bulgaria, if not the best! They have in-depth knowledge of national and EU competition rules, they are always on top of new developments, they’re very responsive, and they answer complex questions quickly.’
‘They are my go-to firm for antitrust in Bulgaria. Responsive, nice to work with, pragmatic.’
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Limited
Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited
ASTELLAS PHARMA EOOD
Aurubis Bulgaria AD
Auto Kelly a.s.
Bella Bulgaria AD
Bio Fresh OOD
British American Tobacco Trading EOOD ( BAT)
Bunge Romania S.R.L
APPLiA BULGARIA ASSOCIATION (former CECED Bulgaria)
DaimlerChrysler (former Daimler-Benz)
Face Consult EOOD
Froneri Bulgaria EOOD
Ital Food Industry
Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii ve Tic. A.S.
Kronospan Bulgaria EOOD
LUKOIL Europe Holding B.V.
Mayoral Balgaria EOOD
Merck Bulgaria EAD
METRO Cash & Carry Bulgaria EOOD
Mid Europa Partners Limited
National Hockey League
NEPI Investment Management SRL
OMV Bulgaria OOD
OnProcess Technology Inc
Panasonic Marketing Europe GmbH
Pharmastore Invest OOD
Reed Elsevier Group PLC
S.C. Star Foods E.M. S.R.L.
The Body Shop International Plc
The Clorox Company
TI Sparkle Bulgaria EOOD
TRG Management LP
- Representing Nikon in an investigation launched by the CPC, concerning abuse of dominant position and prohibited practices in vertical agreements with regard to the structuring of its selective distribution system in Bulgaria.
- Advising Gazprom Export on an alleged breach of competition rules related to Gazprom’s alleged refusal to supply to the Overgas group of companies.
- Advised Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii ve Tic. A.S., a Turkish truck manufacturer, on the competition law aspects of its proposed distribution agreement.
The EU and competition practice at Georgiev, Todorov & Co acts for claimants and defendants in unfair competition cases regarding exclusionary distribution practices, trade mark infringement, and public procurement procedures. Although the firm’s core focus lies on contentious matters, it also provides ongoing consultancy to companies operating in Bulgaria – ensuring that marketing campaigns, acquisitions, and internal rules and procedures conform to EU regulations. Alexander Pachamanov, whose ‘knowledge and experience are exceptional in the field of local and EU regulations in competition’ leads the team, alongside managing partner Ivan Todorov. Clients include the Bulgarian-American Credit Bank, Metro Cash and Carry and Roche.
Ivan Todorov; Alexander Pachamanov
‘Definitively one of the leading firms dealing with competition law in their country.’
‘The practice is unique due to the combination of in-depth theoretical knowledge of EU law and their great ability to use that knowledge in practice, whether for a legal consultation on a single issue or for a complicated representation in court.’
‘Superb client understanding, extensive insight into the problem, professional expertise in the sector and outstanding negotiation skills.’
Bulgarian-American Credit Bank
Bulgarian Telecommunication Company EAD (BTC)
METRO Cash & Carry Bulgaria
Balkam Group Ltd.
Goldair Handling Bulgaria OOD
NURTS Digital EAD
- Providing ongoing support to Metro Cash & Carry Bulgaria on competition and consumer protection issues in the course of its advertising campaigns, commercial sales and promotions.
- Representing Thales Austria GmbH in a legal proceeding in relation to a €32m public procurement project for the design and construction of signalling and telecoms systems and a European train management system.
- Acting for Vivacom as claimant in abuse of dominance proceedings against Apple
Kambourov & Partners’ EU and competition practice advises corporate clients on compliance, acts in contentious matters brought by competitors or the competition authorities, and provides consultancy on merger control and clearance. Notable contentious matters include acting for Wizz Air in its claim against the Bulgarian state for illegal state aid to its competitors. Abuse of stronger bargaining position - introduced in 2015 - has become another key focus of the firm, which has since advised market-leading clients in a range of sectors. The team is led by the ‘impressive’ Stefan Tzakov, with Plamen Yotov and Elena Apostolova also noted.
Stefan Tzakov; Plamen Yotov
‘They invariably manage to balance legal and business concerns by providing commercially reasonable legal advice. They exhibit tremendous work ethic and always put in the maximum effort necessary to secure utmost quality of their legal services.’
‘The team successfully handles the entire spectrum of competition law (merger control, abuse of dominance, vertical and horizontal agreements, state aid, unfair competition) offering profound and yet client-friendly and business-oriented advice with all competition-law aspects duly taken into consideration.’
‘The firm astonishes with its grasp on current case law developments, thus always providing well-researched and up-to-date legal opinions on any competition-law issue. The team also excels in competition litigation through precise and all-encompassing strategic thinking.’
‘The team and its members are willing to go the extra mile and research the areas outside of their immediate expertise, thus creating innovative legal solutions.’
Robert Bosch GmbH (Bosch)
Consultancy Engineering Group OOD
bTV Media Group/Central European Media Enterprises
Kamenitza AD/Starbev Netherlands B.V./Molson Coors
Dante International S.A. (eMAG)
- Advising Bosch on the legal compliance of various promotional campaigns.
- Acting for Consultancy Engineering Group in proceedings brought against it by the CPC for alleged bid rigging in a public tender.
- Representing Highgate Capital Management in an appeal against the merger clearance granted for Eurobank’s acquisition of the Bulgarian subsidiaries of Piraeus Bank.
The ‘excellent’ Penkov, Markov & Partners has extensive experience of advising on merger clearance for large-scale mergers in heavily regulated industries, including armaments and energy. In 2019, the firm acted for ČEZ and Emco OOD, an arms manufacturer, in appealing the CPC’s decision to block their respective asset sales and mergers. The firm is well versed in contentious work, acting for Uber and Enicom-M, a furniture retailer in unfair competition proceedings as defendant and claimant respectively. Vladimir Penkov and Yura Mincheva lead the team, which also advises major clients including Heineken and Coca-Cola on compliance related to distribution agreements, promotions and marketing campaigns on an ongoing basis.
Vladimir Penkov; Yura Mincheva
‘In terms of the quality of advice, consistency in the content delivered, accessibility of the advice, understanding of our format, general formation and presentation of the content delivered and speed with which the process was handled, I would put PMP very high on the list.’
‘Excellent knowledge of the law and local situation, hard-working, always accessible.’
‘Their lawyers are specialised in all the fields important for the business. They react fast to customer demands.’
CEZ Bulgarian Investment B.V.
Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Bulgaria AD
Correct Consulting Ltd
Klett Lernen und Information GmbH
Heineken Group and Bulgarian subsidiary Zagorka AD
SM Control Ltd
- Represented ČEZ before the Competition Protection Commission (CPC) and Supreme Administrative Court on a €400m merger clearance procedure, which has been blocked by CPC.
- Acted for Enicom-M in an unfair competition claim against competitor Como Hypermarket, which was fined €270,000.
- Representing Uber in an unfair competition case concerning its Uber X service.
Wolf Theiss draws on its strength in corporate and commercial law to advise on merger notification, clearance and control, including in the highly regulated energy, pharmaceutical, banking and telecoms sectors. The ‘well organised’ team primarily handles non-contentious matters: assisting clients with ensuring that planned distribution agreements, marketing campaigns and promotions, acquisitions of real estate and facilities, share purchase of competing companies, and franchise arrangements, comply with the regulatory environment. Anna Rizova heads the team, and specialises in all forms of antitrust matters, while Richard Clegg, banking and finance co-head, and the ‘precise’ and ‘dedicated’ Hristina Dzhevekova are key contacts.
‘Very detailed in all of their analyses. They provide extensive and precise responses and keep their clients informed.’
Bulstrad Vienna Insurance Group
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Monster Energy Ltd.
Arco Capital Corporation
- Advising Hisense, a Chinese domestic appliance manufacturer, on its successful takeover bid for the Slovenian white-goods manufacturer Gorenje, which involved filing fourteen merger clearance applications across European jurisdictions. The Sofia team achieved unconditional clearance in North Macedonia.
- Advised NCCL Natural Resources Investment Fund LP (‘NCCL’) on the acquisition of the entire metal trading division of Louis Dreyfus Company B.V., a privately-owned Dutch agriculturual goods trader.
- Acted for S&T AG, an Austrian IT services company, on the acquisition of the CEE business and subsidiaries (Serbia and North Macedonia) of competitor Kapsch CarrierCom.
The EU and competition practice at Andrey Delchev and Partners - Eurolex Bulgaria has a successful track record representing clients facing allegations of abuse of market position, price fixing, prohibited vertical agreements, and cartel and collusion activity, as well as bringing those proceedings against utility operators and nationalised companies for claimants. The team also has experience working for the state, having defended municipalities against allegations of misuse of EU funds. The ‘pro-active’ and ‘resourceful’ Severina Liubenova leads the practice, which has been bolstered by the arrival of the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Boriana Chotekova, former head of the antitrust unit of the CPC.
‘Unparalleled legal expertise in all matters relating to the regulatory requirements.’
‘We highly appreciate the professionalism and devotion of the law firm of Andrey Delchev & Partners and its employees towards their work.’
CEZ Group Bulgaria
National Trust Ecofund
Allianz insurance group
Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works
Orbelus Organic Winery
Gotse Delchev Municipality
- Representing Treger LTD, a hotel operator, in a claim against the water supply and sanitation services for abuse of its dominant market position.
- Advises Communicorp group, Bulgaria’s largest radio group, on competition regulations on an ongoing basis.
- Acting for CEZ Razpredelenie Bulgaria AD and CEZ Electro Bulgaria AD in proceedings relating to alleged abuse of dominance.
Deloitte Legal Law Firm’s EU and competition practice focuses on obtaining clearance from the CPC for large-scale mergers and acquisitions, as well as the competition law aspects of share purchase in competitors’ businesses. The firm has advised multinational companies on the implementation under Bulgarian law of non-compete clauses for senior and executive staff. Office head Reneta Petkova jointly heads the team with attorney-at-law Yoana Zhechkova, who focuses on compliance and fair trade practices. Kaloyan Yordanov and Hristo Milushev are other key contacts.
Reneta Petkova; Yoana Zhechkova
Bulgaria Blvd. 69 EAD
- Advised Bulgaria Blvd. 69 EAD on the potential competition law issues of its group restructuring.
Dinova Rusev & Partners focuses on unfair competition matters. The firm acts on contentious matters, having assisted a fuel wholesaler in a claim against a competitor alleged to be selling below cost price, and a renewable energy producer in abuse of dominance claims against the nationalised electricity company. Non-contentious matters include advising on the competition compliance of marketing campaigns, promotions, and distribution agreements. The firm is active in public procurement, ensuring the compliance of bidders in public tenders, defending winning bids, and litigating on behalf of losing bidders. Milen Rusev leads the team and senior associate Ivelina Cherneva leads on most of the firm’s matters.
AP Retail I
Sofia South Ring Mall
Imerys Minerals Bulgaria AD
Daskalantonakis Group of Companies
Eko Bulgaria EAD
- Advising Sephora Bulgaria on the competition compliance of marketing campaigns and promotions.
- Acting for Kaliakra Wind Power in proceedings against the National Electricty Company concerning alleged abuse of dominance.
- Handling the competition compliance of lease agreements for the Restis Group, a commercial space developer and manager.
Hristov & Partners
Hristov & Partners is 'a small and very focused firm' specialising in corporate and commercial and EU and competition work. The team is focused on merger clearance, and has experience of structuring mergers such that the competition authority does not need to be notified. The team has advised on distribution agreements, competition compliance, and vertical agreements and the termination of distributors’ contracts. Alongside Dentons, the firm assisted with structuring consortia to participate in public procurement procedures, and has working partnerships with a number of other major law firms. Pavel Hristov, noted for his ‘confidence and professionalism’, leads the team, which includes the highly regarded Dragomir Stefanov.
‘They understand the client’s needs and are proactive in suggesting the proper course of action. I find that the firm provides exceptional value for money.’
‘They are very detail-oriented and delve deeply into all possible scenarios.’
‘I highly recommend Hristov Partners as a reliable and trustworthy company and with pleasure I would work with them in future if necessary.’
PureTech (Breaktime group)
- Advised Pappas Holding on an intra-group restructuring and represented the company’s shareholders in the related mandatory merger control proceedings in Bulgaria.
- Advised Elite Car OOD on the merger control aspects of its acquisition of a competitor and simultaneous sale of a minority stake.
- Advised DMG Bulgaria on the competition and commercial law aspects of its distribution network in Bulgaria, vertical restraints and termination of contracts with local dealers.
Jordanov, Ignatov, Ivanov Law Firm has a strong track record in representing Bulgaria’s state-owned energy companies in abuse of dominance, unfair competition, and state aid proceedings against the European Competition Commission. It represented the National Electricity Company in €1bn proceedings before the European Commission regarding possible violations of state aid rules in its power purchase agreements with foreign investors in the Maritza coal mines. In the private sector, practice head Dimitar Ivanov has acted for Mundus Services, the largest facility management company in the country, in proceedings against a competitor accused of client poaching and trade mark imitation.
National Electricity Company
Ministry of Energy
Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
Bulgarian Energy Holding
Pleven Retail Centre
UVI United Vision Ltd.
Expo Display EOOD
Aqua Lens EOOD
Lenses BG EOOD
Effect 2002 OOD
ZMM Asenovgrad OOD
- Assisted Coca-Cola with the review, design and implementation of competition compliance programmes with regards to several major campaigns and initiatives.
- Advised the Ministry of Energy on the ongoing investigations launched by the European commission on a wide range of competition and state aid-related issues.
- Acted for Dante International, the biggest online retailer in Bulgaria and Romania, in achieving a significant reduction in the sanctions imposed by the competition authorities.
Kinstellar’s EU and competition practice has a strong focus on transactional matters; it advised Old Mutual Property and AG Capital on the antitrust and horizontal overlap aspects of their joint venture to acquire the Polygraphia Office Centre and the €190m Megapark office building. The team is experienced in banking regulation and has worked for banks and insurance companies regarding bancassurance partnerships and the potential for such agreements to fall foul of prohibited vertical agreements. Counsel Dessislava Fessenko leads the team.
International Hotel Licensing Company S.À.R.L., a subsidiary of Marriott International Inc.
Old Mutual Property and AG Capital
- Advising Marriot on the competition aspects of its expansion into Bulgaria, including the review of its commercial arrangements, preferred suppliers, technology transfer and potential abuse of stronger bargaining position.
- Acted for Generali Group on its participation in UniCredit’s tender for bancassurance products, which involved scrutiny of potential regulatory breach of co-operation and exclusivity regulations.
- Advised Old Mutual Property and AG Capital on their joint venture to purchase high-value commercial real estate.
Popov & Partners
Popov & Partners' EU and competition practice has a core focus on assisting private clients with complying with EU directives, with particular attention paid to the Measures Against Money Laundering Act 2019. The firm also has experience of immigration and citizenship issues, and has worked with the state to harmonise Bulgarian law with EU directives concerning same-sex marriage equality. Competition work includes advising on merger clearance, the compliance of distribution contracts, and unfair competition claims in the intellectual property space. Sibina Eftenova, Hristo Koparanov, Stanislav Nikolov, and Benislav Vatev all jointly lead the team.
Sibina Eftenova; Hristo Koparanov; Stanislav Nikolov; Benislav Vatev
‘Hristo Koparanov has demonstrated excellent expertise in all areas of compliance and exceptional precision in his work.’
Ministry of Justice
M & M Agency
Odelo Bulgaria EOOD
Alpen Pharma OOD
Martinez Boutique EOOD
“YOUTH LGBT ORGANIZATION DEYSTVIE”
D&D Commerce and Delivery OOD (Ltd.)
Pokoy EOOD (Ltd)
Aiko Multi Concept Ltd
Megadyne – HU Kft
ATC ACCESS TRADING & RENTAL
BEYOND FABRICS LTD
INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIAL SERVICES
M und C Steidle Bulgaria offene Handelsgesellschaft SD
Ja Ja Services
IBS SCHERER BULGARIA
- Acted for Soitron in securing work and residency permits for non-EEA employees.
- Acted for Bulgaria’s Marine Administration on recovering €600,000 in unverified EU funds.
- Acted for Pokoy EOOD, a funeral services company, in an unfair competition case concerning company theft by former shareholders.
Schoenherr (in cooperation with Stoyanov & Tsekova) has advised on the competition and antitrust aspects of mergers in the banking, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical sectors. The firm also provides guidance on competition compliance with regards to trade secrets, trade marks and intellectual property, public procurement procedures, discounts and promotions, and supply and distribution agreements. Ilko Stoyanov leads the team and Galina Petkova’s ‘detailed and clear responses’, produced in a ‘timely manner’, are appreciated by clients.
‘The team is very responsive and have good relationships with their peers, which makes work on merger filings easier.’
‘The team is well organised and responsive. They were attentive to our needs and diligent in their attention to detail.’
Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski’s EU and competition practice focuses on providing ongoing advice to market-leading clients including AstraZeneca, Japan Tobacco International, and Mars Inc., on competition law matters – reviewing the compliance of distribution agreements, promotional campaigns, and relationships with wholesalers. It also advised on avoiding vertical and horizontal agreements, abuse of dominance, and abuse of dominant bargaining position. The team has advised on merger notification and clearance for clients in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and energy sectors. Practice head Venelin Dimitrov has 'extensive experience'. Iva Georgieva and Eleonora Mateina are other key contacts.
‘The team is able to provide broad scope of legal services, with a complete analysis of the problems from different points of view. Communicating with the team is very fast and easy.’
‘TBK is one of our most reliable partners.’
‘Very cooperative, easy to approach and communicate with. They are highly-qualified and patient in providing services.’
Japan Tobacco International
- Provides ongoing legal assistance with competition and antitrust matters to Mars and Wrigley.
- Advising Takeda on new product launches, on structuring legal relations with wholesalers, and reviewing agreements with distributors.
- Advising AstraZeneca Bulgaria on compliance with Bulgaria’s competition and antitrust legal framework, competent authorities and court precedents.