Banking, finance and capital markets in Latvia

Cobalt

As a leading pan-Baltic firm, Cobalt operates on a full-service model but is particularly strong in the capital markets space, advising on some of the biggest Eurobond and green bond issuances in the market. Lauris Liepa has been advising on those particular deals and is also highly skilled in M&A transactions in the banking sector. Aviation finance is another of the practice's strengths, thanks to the expertise of founding partner Ģirts Lejiņš. The team also has a strong syndicated financings offering, which is primarily handled by specialist counsel Andrejs LielkalnsSandija Novicka and specialist counsel Edgars Lodziņš are also an integral part of the team, with Novicka advising on tax and M&A issues in the banking sector, and Lodziņš assisting Liepa on major mandates.

Practice head(s):

Ģirts Lejiņš

Other key lawyers:

Lauris Liepa; Andrejs Lielkalns; Sandija Novicka; Edgars Lodziņš

Testimonials

‘An engaged, responsive team with good knowledge of the market standards.’

Key clients

airBaltic

Luminor Bank

European Investment Bank

Nets group of companies (Nets Denmark, Nets Oy, Nets Estonia)

IPF Digital Latvia

Credit Agricole

SEB Bank

LHV Pank

American Express group

Erste Group Bank AG

VTB Bank EU, PSCL VTB Bank (Russia)

Altum

Work highlights

  • Advised the joint lead managers – Barclays, J.P. Morgan and Société Générale – on two consecutive Eurobond issuances by the Republic of Latvia.
  • Advised CMB Financial Leasing on the sale and leaseback of four Airbus A220-300 aircraft to Latvian airline airBaltic.
  • Advised Luminor Bank and Swedbank as arrangers of Latvenergo’s green bond programme.

Ellex

Ellex has an excellent reputation for handling corporate transactions in the banking sector, as well as aviation finance and capital markets matters. Outside these core areas, the team has a growing influence in the alternative investment funds and fintech spaces. Zinta Jansons leads the practice and, alongside banking, has expertise in complementary areas such as corporate and tax law. Also leading the team is Valters Diure, a respected name in the areas of aviation finance, restructurings and cross-border financings. The team’s offices in Estonia and Lithuania also mean it is well placed to handle pan-Baltic instructions.

Practice head(s):

Zinta Jansons; Valters Diure

Other key lawyers:

Raivis Leimanis

Testimonials

‘Very responsive and proactive team. They also know the market very well, which helps a lot during transactions.’

‘What makes them different is their professional attitude.’

‘I would say that the team is knowledgeable and available, and that I was satisfied with the work they did in the transaction in which I have been working with them.’

‘I think that the team are available, helpful and, from my experience, great collaborators.’

Key clients

Bloomberg Finance L.P. (USA)

Citigroup

Deutsche Bank

Providence Capital

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Goldman Sachs

JPMorgan

International Capital Markets Association

International Finance Corporation

Swiss Re

Generali Europe

Unified Post

Danske Bank

Clearstream Banking S.A.

Livonia Partners Fund I/Livonia Partners AIFP

Work highlights

  • Advised a group of banks (ING, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and UniCredit) on Bite Group’s major bond issuance.
  • Advising Danske Bank on various aspects of its exit from the Baltic retail market.
  • Acted as local counsel to Chorus Aviation in a sale-and-leaseback transaction to acquire up to five new Airbus A220-300 aircraft for airBaltic.

Sorainen

Sorainen stands out for its expertise in regulatory work; it counts the Latvian government as a key client and is currently assisting with the country’s efforts to combat any instances of money laundering. Practice head Rūdolfs Eņģelis has been advising on this matter and, alongside his regulatory experience, is highly skilled in banking-related corporate transactions and restructuring matters. Capital markets is another strong point for the practice, with notable clients including Nasdaq CSD and Nasdaq CSD Iceland. Senior associate Inese Heinacka, who assists Eņģelis with most matters, is a promising name at junior level.

Practice head(s):

Rūdolfs Eņģelis

Other key lawyers:

Inese Heinacka; Santa Rubīna

Key clients

Avia Solutions Group

Air Baltic Corporation

OP Corporate Bank

Nasdaq CSD SE and Nasdaq CSD Iceland

ABLV Bank

Nordea Bank Abp

Credit Suisse AG

Mudia

Riga Retail Park

Work highlights

  • Assisted Bitė Group in a major pan-Baltic refinancing transaction.
  • Advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the development of a pan-Baltic legal and regulatory framework for covered bonds.
  • Advised Nasdaq CSD on a cross-border merger with Nasdaq CSD Iceland.

TGS Baltic

Praised as a ‘top-notch law firm’ and ‘leader in the field’, TGS Baltic is experienced in a range of banking and finance instructions, particularly cross-border mandates. Outside its core banking work, the team is also highly skilled in M&A transactions in the financial sector and in regulatory and fintech matters. The group’s recent workload has also included more niche areas such as senior mezzanine financings, shipping finance and restructurings. Inese Hazenfusa leads the practice and is highly experienced in financings and corporate transactions within the banking sector. Her client base predominantly consists of European and Russian banks.

Practice head(s):

Inese Hazenfusa

Testimonials

‘TGS Baltic’s banking and finance team is able to cover the full range of banking matters. It is a top-notch law firm and leader in the field. The team always shows a high level of responsibility and engagement. This practice group has extensive knowledge, but it is not only for that reason that the biggest banking-related companies choose it. The team is strong in domestic matters and also large cross-border matters and investments. The team is excellent.’

‘Inese Hazenfusa is the leading partner and she is definitely a leader in this market. We have been working with her for many years and her knowledge has always been an advantage. She is well known in the market for her skills and availability. She always exceeds my expectations with her market knowledge.’

‘The team offers comprehensive legal advice, along with colleagues from the other TGS offices based in Estonia and Lithuania, which makes investments in the Baltics much more efficient.’

‘Inese Hazenfusa is always very diligent and focused on details, which allows us to proceed smoothly with transactions.’

Key clients

COÖPERATIEVE RABOBANK U.A.

mBank S.A., Poland

BigBank AS

European Investment Bank

Credit Value Investments

Sberbank Investments

Akropole Riga

Luminor Leasing

Swedbank

Moller Auto

Blue Orange Bank

Expobank

Overkill Ventures

Baltic International Bank

4Finance

Amenda Markets

Estateguru

Work highlights

  • Advised Credit Value Investments on a secured mezzanine bonds transaction to be issued by Riga Retail Park.
  • Advised Rabobank on a financing transaction where the loan was issued to a fishing company and secured with a ship mortgage and asset pledge.
  • Advised BlueOrange Bank on the ability of an Estonian company to start listing its debt instruments on Nasdaq.

Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns

Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns is a prominent international law firm in the Latvian market, with notable strengths in capital markets matters and anti-money laundering compliance. The capital markets practice stands out in particular for its strong relationships with the capital markets authorities, thanks to the firm’s status as a pan-Baltic certified adviser on Riga’s Nasdaq stock exchange. Senior partner Māris Vainovskis leads the practice and is a key name for capital markets and compliance work. Other key names include associate Justīne Ignatavičute, who specialises in capital markets work, and senior associates Aigars Gozītis, who focuses on restructurings, and Egita Peimane, who is an expert in compliance and anti-money laundering. Former practice co-head Mikus Freimanis  left the firm in July 2020 to act as head of legal at Adsell.

Practice head(s):

Māris Vainovskis; Aigars Gozītis; Justīne Ignatavičute; Egita Peimane

Testimonials

‘This practice is unique due to its highly professional and at the same time very personal attitude towards the client and their needs.’

‘Senior partner Māris Vainovskis has an incredibly positive attitude and a “challenge accepted!” way of approaching any legal conundrum. He sees the possibility of finding new solutions rather than road blocks.’

‘Competence, professional approach, fast and results-orientated responses.’

‘Māris Vainovskis is a charismatic lawyer with huge experience and knowledge.’

‘The team provided excellent support in a number of projects for capital markets development in Latvia.’

‘Excellent cooperation with Māris Vainovskis.’

‘The team is very friendly, welcoming and open to the client’s needs, with practical knowledge of the possible solutions. The team is detail oriented.’

‘Justīne Ignatavičute is excellent.’

Key clients

AS Valmieras stikla šķiedra

IPAS “Indexo”

SIA DelfinGroup (formerly – SIA ExpressCredit)

AS Industra Bank (formerly – Meridian Trade Bank)

SIA Velo Sock

AS Citadele Banka

AS MADARA Cosmetics

Euromin Holdings (Cyprus) Limited (subsidiary of VITOL S.a.r.l.)

Work highlights

  • Advising AS Valmieras stikla šķiedra on its convertible bonds issuance.
  • Representing Euromin Holdings in administrative proceedings against the Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission.
  • Advising AS Industra Bank on dealing with regulatory and compliance matters involving the Financial and Capital Market Commission.

BDO Law

BDO Law is highly skilled in licensing and registration matters, as well advising on Latvia's new anti-money laundering regulations. The team acts for a mix of traditional and alternative financial services companies, with the added ability to leverage the international BDO network. Regulatory work is a particular strength, to the extent that the team has defended clients in disputes against the regulatory authorities in the national courts. Vita Liberte is a key name for this work, with expertise in complementary areas such as tax and wealth planning. Jānis Zelmenis is particularly experienced in advising commercial banks in Latvia.

Practice head(s):

Vita Liberte; Jānis Zelmenis

Testimonials

‘Vita Liberte demonstrates that creativity combined with quality service together with a huge network is a perfect combination.’

‘Vita Liberte is exceptional in her work because of her ability to connect the right people from BDO to the best external advisers to get the best results.’

Key clients

Altum

Bilderlings Limited

VIA SMS Group

Baltic Asset Management

Transact Pro

Scanalloys LV

Work highlights

  • Advised Altum in a civil ligation case against the previous shareholders of Parex Bank concerning an investment agreement.
  • Advised Bilderlings on anti-money laundering compliance issues.
  • Advised VIA SMS on its restructuring.

FORT

FORT has earmarked Latvia’s growing fintech sector as a core area of focus, counting major crowdfunding platform Mintos as a key client and advising the Alternative Financial Services Association of Latvia on its crowdfunding guidelines. Former practice head Ramona Miglane moved to newly opened law firm drill. in December 2020.

Key clients

AS Mintos Marketplace

Mogo Finance

AAS Balta

Association of Alternative Financial Services of Latvia

SIA AIFP ZGI Capital

SIA DelfinGroup (acting under the brand “Banknote”)

IPAS INDEXO

AS “Hipocredit”

Best Līzings

Loanstream

Work highlights

  • Advising peer-to-peer lending company Mintos on its day-to-day operations.
  • Advising Mogo Finance on its issuance of corporate bonds.
  • Advising the Alternative Financial Services Association of Latvia on its crowdfunding guidelines.

Kronbergs Cukste Levin

Kronbergs Čukste Levin's repertoire includes advising on loan agreements, structured financing, financial transactions and restructurings. Practice head Valters Kronbergs regularly acts for international clients and is highly skilled in cross-border financings. He is supported by Zane Veidemane-Bērziņa, who has an ‘excellent understanding of the regulation of financial services’, particularly when it comes to the fintech sector. Vineta Čukste-Jurjeva is another notable name and focuses on liquidations and consumer credit issues.

Practice head(s):

Valters Kronbergs

Other key lawyers:

Zane Veidemane Bērziņa; Vineta Čukste–Jurjeva; Normunds Orols

Testimonials

‘Zane Veidemane Bērziņa has an excellent understanding of the regulation of financial services.’

‘They stand out for their experience and knowledge of the details of regulatory and banking practice.’

‘Zane Veidemane Bērziņa really delivered.’

Key clients

European Central bank

ABLV

Baker & McKenzie

Luminor Bank

SEB

Express Credit

Sun Finance

Societe Generale

Wirecard Bank (Germany)

AS Fitek

AIG

Latvian Alternative Finance Association

SEESAM

Extra Credit

Pasažieru vilciens (Passenger rail)

State owned company Kulturas un sporta centrs Daugavas stadions

Topanga OÜ

Fundwise

Kokkuhoider O

4Finance Holding

SIA Monetizator

Seesam Insurance / Pohjola Finance SIA

Ministry of Economy

SMS Credit Deposit Solutions

Work highlights

  • Advised ABLV Bank, AS on its liquidation.
  • Served as an expert witness on banking law in an ICC London arbitration for Baker McKenzie.
  • Advised on the liquidation of VEF Banka.

VILGERTS

VILGERTS has a strong track record in financing and debt restructuring deals, with a formidable domestic client base. Managing partner Gints Vilgerts leads the practice and is a respected name for financial transactions and project finance work. He is supported by expert counsel Vairis Dmittrijevs, who has a similar strength in project finance mandates.

WALLESS (former Primus Derling)

WALLESS (former Primus Derling)'s core areas of focus within this space include financings, capital markets matters and banking disputes. Sintija Radionova co-heads the practice and has been advising Luminor Bank as well as private investors on banking disputes. Fellow practice head Kristīne Gaigule-Šāvēja focuses on development finance mandates, in addition to advising on anti-money laundering regulations.

Practice head(s):

Sintija Radionova; Kristīne Gaigule-Šāvēja

Other key lawyers:

Konstantīns Teļakovs

Key clients

Arctic Trawlers Ltd

CM Biomass Partners

Daltra UAB

Dan Store LSEZ SIA

Forevers SIA

Graanul Invest AS

Havas Latvia SIA

PG Wood

Schenker SIA

SIA L-Ekspresis

Svenska Handelsbanken AB Latvijas filiāle

Tele 2 Shared Service Center

UAVFACTORY SIA

Uctam Baltics SIA

VG KVADRA PAK AS

Vilomix Latvija SIA

Work highlights

  • Advised Sakret Holdings in relation to the issuance of five-year bonds and the registration of collateral for those bonds in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
  • Advising Škoda Vagonka with regards to obtaining from the bank and submitting to the client a guarantee and performance bond for fulfilment of a public procurement agreement.
  • Representing Luminor Bank AS Latvian branch and its subsidiaries on a regular basis in various litigation cases (so far more than 120 cases).

ZAB Deloitte Legal

Tied to the Big Four consultancy, ZAB Deloitte Legal is experienced in regulatory and financing work, advising a number of Latvian and pan-Baltic banks. Practice head Maris Liguts is uniquely positioned to advise local banks on regulatory issues due to his former in-house role as head of legal and compliance at Danske Bank’s Latvian branch.

Practice head(s):

Maris Liguts

Other key lawyers:

Ivita Samlaja

Key clients

Crowdestor

AS “Expobank” and EXPOBANK CZ A.S.

Polipaks

Caterpillar Finance

SIA “Monify”

AS “Baltic International Bank”

SIA “LAMPL”

Payoma Limited

Decta Limited

SIA “Prosperitu”

DNB ASA branch in Latvia

Work highlights

  • Advised Expobank on the refinancing of the Arena Riga loan obligations from ABLV.
  • Advised Polipaks on a refinancing involving Danske Bank.
  • Advised Baltic International Bank on regulatory matters.

LEADELL Vītols

LEADELL Vītols has a strong track record of advising on restructurings and insolvencies, with a client roster containing banks, companies and public entities. Managing partner Karlis Vitols leads the practice and is an established name for debt recovery cases. Practice co-head IIze Jankevica also focuses on debt recovery matters, particularly cases involving representation before the courts.

Practice head(s):

Karlis Vitols; Ilze Jankevica

Testimonials

‘The team are professional and agile in their solutions. Overall, they are experts in their legal field and well trained in customer service and communication.’

‘I would like to give my best feedback to Karlis Vitols. His attitude has always been exceptional, as well as his expertise in the industry.’

Key clients

Development Finance Institution Altum

The Payment house

North American Fur Auctions

Swedbank Leasing

Agrochema

Agrochema Latvia

Work highlights

  • Representing North American Fur Auctions in civil, insolvency and criminal proceedings regarding the loan recovery of €4.3m.
  • Representing Latvian development finance institution Altum before the courts regarding the implementation of a limitation period in a debt recovery case.
  • Providing legal advice to Agrochema on financial issues within a reorganisation procedure.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal

PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal benefits from its association with the global consultancy, with particular strengths in financings, real estate fund matters and regulatory compliance. The team is especially active in advising on anti-money laundering compliance. Anastasija Slobodenuka leads the team alongside managing senior associate Maris Butans, who has a similar focus on regulatory and compliance work.