Firms To Watch: EU and competition

PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal has a growing reputation in the areas of public procurement and state aid. It also advises clients on compliance with Latvian and European competition law, abuses of dominance and horizontal agreements, as well as merger control. Maris Butans, Maris Logins and Sanda Juska are recommended.

EU and competition in Latvia

Cobalt

Cobalt is highly reputed for its strengths in contentious and non-contentious EU and competition matters. Its varied workload spans merger control, unfair competition and abuse of dominance claims and public procurement and state aid, among other areas. Leading the team is Ugis Zeltins, who leads on most of the contentious work, and has acted before the Latvian Courts and European Court of Justice. Managing partner Dace Silava-Tomsone is particularly skilled in merger control work.

Practice head(s):

Ugis Zeltins

Other key lawyers:

Dace Silava-Tomsone

Testimonials

‘Experience, knowledge and business understanding.’

‘Dace Silava-Tomsone and Ugis Zeltins are experts in competition law with great experience. Both can find a solution in every case.’

Key clients

airBaltic

BaltCap

Eco Baltia Vide

Pfizer

Latvijas Būvuzņēmēju partnerība

Riga International Airport

Procter & Gamble

Moller Baltic Import

Roche

AB Linas Agro Group

Glen Oil

Work highlights

  • Represented Linas Agro Group before the Competition Council of Latvia in merger control procedure concerning the acquisition of the Kauno grūdai group.
  • Represented Riga International Airport in a damages action brought by a bankrupt Lithuanian carrier flyLAL and its shareholders. The claimants alleged that anti–competitive conduct by Riga International Airport and airBaltic had caused damages.
  • Advised Wolt Latvija in an inquiry by the Latvian Competition Council into the legality of Wolt’s online / offline price parity clause.

Ellex

Ellex has handled some of the largest and most high-profile competition law cases in the Baltics. It recently advised UPB Group on a cartel investigation covering approximately 100 different construction sites. The team is involved in competition cases heard at the Latvian Supreme Court, as well as European courts. Practice head and managing partner Līga Merwin advised on the UPB case, and in addition to handling matters in the construction sector, is also known to work on cases in the pharmaceuticals, retail, energy and financial services sectors. She is supported by Martins Gailis, who is an expert in merger filings and unfair competition claims.

Practice head(s):

Līga Merwin

Other key lawyers:

Martins Gailis

Testimonials

‘Has a great and practical knowledge in the retail sector, which helps us a lot. We can always rely on Ellex to support.’

‘Liga Merwin always has great practical comments and ideas on how to solve issues at hand. Very speedy communication and really appreciate the customer centric approach (by not writing long memos, but being straight to the point).’

‘Liga and Martins are one of the most experienced competition law lawyers in Latvia and at the same time they are very friendly in communication with their clients. They are trying to focus on the needs of the client and always are coming with the most appropriate solution.’

‘Ellex has a really great team in competition law area. We can always rely on their expertise and outstanding knowledge of local and ES legislation, as well as the latest developments in the court room.’

Key clients

Swedbank

Orkla Confectionary & Snacks

Drogas

Japan Tobacco International

Maxima group

BTA Baltic Insurance Company

Association of International Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

Connexus Baltic Grid

AstraZeneca

The Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company

Public Utilities Commission

Henkel

LG Electronics

Bolt

DIO

UPB

Work highlights

  • Advised Maxima Latvija on several complicated merger cases where the client acquired retail space previously used by competitors.
  • Advised industry group of drinks manufacturers on creation of packaging deposit system in Latvia, including establishment of joint venture and operation of sole deposit system operator.
  • Advising UPB Group on a major cartel investigation involving all largest construction companies in Latvia.

Sorainen

Sorainen is notably adept at advising on issues concerning major public utilities and services, counting Riga City Council as a key client. Ieva Andersone leads the team, which is instructed in abuse of dominance cases, cartel investigations and merger control matters. It also advises on state aid, among other areas. The group is notably active in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and TMT. Names to note include Rūdolfs Eņģelis, Eva Berlaus, and senior associate Marika Grunte, who is highlighted for her ‘practical and holistic approach‘.

Practice head(s):

Ieva Andersone

Testimonials

‘Very experienced and professional team with a very good practical approach.’

‘Marika Grunte is an experienced lawyer who specialises in competition law and has a holistic and practical approach. I highly recommend Mrs. Grunte in issues related to antitrust law and compliance.’

Key clients

Knauf

Cēsu Alus

Odeon Cinemas Group

Novadu ziņas

Bite

Riga City Council

Jelgavas komunālie pakalpojumi (Jelgava Communal Services)

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Riga Municipality to reach a settlement with the Competition Council regarding an infringement case initiated against the municipality and Getliņi EKO regarding alleged abuse of a dominant position in the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union in the Waste Management Sector under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  • Assisted Jelgavas komunālie pakalpojumi (Jelgava communal services) in reaching a positive result in proceedings initiated by the Latvian Competition Council on alleged abused of dominant position in the waste management services within Jelgava City by concluding a contract on waste management with the Jelgava City Council.
  • Assisted Knauf with the implementation of a complex regional compliance project, which involved internal audits, interviews with employees and drafting of compliance program documents.

TGS Baltic

TGS Baltic, which acts for a significant number of international clients, is mostly known for its expertise in prohibited agreements, abuse of dominance cases, merger control and unfair trade practices. Andra Rubene is highly skilled in the competition aspects of corporate transactions. She co-heads the practice with senior associate Māra Stabulniece-Veldruma, who has expertise in public procurement and public-private-partnerships.

Testimonials

‘The team is very well-versed in all aspects of competition law. It provides top-notch professional services in all conceivable respects and will provide you with both valuable strategic insights and a meticulous, timely and efficient execution of your goals.’

‘Strong pan-Baltic practice.’

‘Andra Rubene – strong communication skills and business insight.’

Key clients

Tele2 AB and Tele2 SIA

Facebook Pay

Inchcape Motors

MAXIMA GRUPĖ

Graanul Pellets Energy/Graanul Invest Group / Graanul Invest / Latgran

Bausch Health

Latvijas Dzelzceļš

LDZ Apsardze

Novartis

Philip Morris

INVL Baltic Sea Growth Fund

GlaxoSmithKline

L.B.T.S.

MCI. PrivateVentures Fundusz Inwestycyjny Zamknięty

Multikino

Work highlights

  • Assisted Tele2 with clearance of the competition law and telecommunications regulatory issues related to RAN network and spectrum sharing with Bite in Latvia and Lithuania.
  • Advised Facebook Inc. on competition law issues and payment regulatory matters regarding the potential rollout of Facebook Pay product in Latvia.
  • Advised Inchcape Motors Estonia on several competition law issues, including restrictions to sale of original spare parts to resellers and potential merger.

VILGERTS

With expertise in contentious and non-contentious matters, VILGERTS has a notably strong presence in the retail, construction, TMT and transport sectors. Practice head Julija Jerneva has  clients before Latvian Competition Council and national courts, mostly involving abuse of dominance and cartel allegations. She also has very niche expertise in advising on cases concerning food supply chains. Debora Pavila, who focuses on cartels and vertical restraint matters, is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Julija Jerneva

Other key lawyers:

Debora Pavila

Testimonials

‘Their technology use was exceptional and thus made our work run very smoothly. We had very tight deadlines and huge field for research. So, we had to work on late nights and holidays. We always were able to communicate and exchange drafts without physical meetings.’

‘They were very into our business and really immersed into complexity of interrelation of many different disciplines.’

Key clients

Air Baltic Corporation AS

Moller Baltic Import SE

Pasta komersantu biedrība

Cido Grupa SIA

Rimi Latvia SIA

If P&C Insurance

Lursoft SIA

Iepirkumu grupa SIA

Omniva SIA

Latvian Association of Optometrists and Opticians

Merks SIA

Latvijas Valsts Meži AS

Work highlights

  • Advising Merks SIA in relation to a cartel investigation initiated by the Latvian Competition Council.
  • Advising Moller Mobility group in relation to its appeal of the imposition of cartel fine by the Latvian Competition Authority.
  • Advising Conexus Baltic Grid (the Latvian gas TSO) before the Latvian court concerning theLatvian Utility Regulator’s (SPRK) imposition of revised regulated price caps.

Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns

Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns has recently altered the structure of its team with senior associate Gunta Lokastova now jointly leading the team alongside Māris Vainovskis, who was previously the sole practice head of the group. Associate Dmitrijs Ņemirovskis and counsel Edijs Poga are also key members of the team, which has experience of advising on merger clearances, state aid issues, cartel investigations and general compliance.

Other key lawyers:

Dmitrijs Ņemirovskis

Testimonials

‘Very experienced and client-oriented practice.’

‘Exceptionally smart, devoted and intelligent associate Gunta Lokastova, who always looks for solutions favourable to a client and goes the extra mile when necessary.’

‘The firm’s employees proved themselves as highly qualified specialists. The firm helped to navigate through the complex process regarding the merger procedures, and proved that the legal experts of the firm are reliable.’

‘We value good communication between the parties, trust, mobility and various solutions that the firm can offer.’

‘Great team working on the competition law area.’

‘Gunta Lokastova has delivered great help in the area of competition law.’

Key clients

Latvijas Mobilais Telefons SIA

Virši-A AS

Work highlights

  • Acted for Latvijas Mobilais Telefons SIA, one of the largest telecommunication operators in Latvia, on the competition aspects of the acquisition of IT infrastructure product reseller and integrator Santa Monica Networks SIA.
  • Assisted Virši-A AS with the creation of an effective internal competition compliance policy.

Kronbergs Cukste Levin

Kronbergs Cukste Levin advises on a wide ambit of high-stakes and reputationally-sensitive competition matters, such as those concerning alleged abuses of dominance, cartel cases and state aid issues. Elsewhere, the team is equally capable handling general compliance issues for clients. Zane Veidemane-Bērziņa is particularly active in the public utilities, transportation and TMT sectors.

Practice head(s):

Zane Veidemane-Bērziņa

Key clients

Latvian Railway

Latvenergo

Electrolux

Ministry of Transport

Microsoft

Gefco

Reckitt Benckiser

Bridgestone

DHL

Linstow

Work highlights

  • Advised Alfor on its compliance to gambling laws and unfair compeition regulations.
  • Advised Globuss on submitting a complaint to the Latvian Competition Council and European Commission regarding possible anti-competitive activities.

WALLESS (former Primus Derling)

WALLESS (former Primus Derling)'s practice covers the gamut of EU and competition law work, with the team being noted for its expertise in merger control, abuse of dominance, cartel investigations and state aid regulations. Practice head Kristīne Gaigule-Šāvēja has a strong background in real estate and construction, and as such is highly skilled in advising on the procurement associated with the construction of property and public infrastructure. She has been active recently in cases concerning the provision of Covid-19 support from governments and compliance with state aid regulations.

Key clients

TAV Airport Group Companies

BHM group

Orlen Latvija SIA

Consortium “BERERIX”

AJ Power Group

Betono Mozaika SIA

Dentons

Citadele Banka

SIA Regula Baltija

UAV FACTORY SIA

Cakes and Bakes SIA

Havas Latvia SIA

Vilomix Latvija SIA

Work highlights

  • Advised TAV Airport Group Companies on application for state aid measures.
  • Advised Orlen Latvija SIA on excise tax amendments according to EU law.
  • Advised the consortium “BERERIX” on its fulfilment of a Rail Baltica public procurement contract and corporate restructuring according to EU law.

Rödl & Partner

Rödl & Partner is very active in cases concerning alleged abuses of dominant positions and the use of EU funds. The team also advises on regulatory compliance with EU law, particularly in relation to anti-money laundering law. Lauris Rasnačs and Esmeralda Balode-Buraka lead the team.

Practice head(s):

Lauris Rasnačs; Esmeralda Balode-Buraka

Key clients

Rodl & Partner SIA

Sirowa Group

Elme Messer Metalurgs LSEZ SIA

SIA AJ Power (AJ Power Holding)

Work highlights

  • Advised Sirowa Riga on distribution agreements focusing onnon-compete and exclusivity issues.
  • Advising Elme Messer Metalurgs on a dispute with a state agency regarding the use of EU funds.
  • Advised SIA AJ Power on the EU law aspects of energy wholesake agreements.

BDO Law

BDO Law provides full-service support to clients on a myriad of matters, such as behavioural investigations by competition authorities, merger control and compliance. Vita Liberte has experience of acting for clients in the manufacturing, distribution, TMT and financial services sectors. She co-heads the practice with seasoned litigator Janis Zelmenis.

Key clients

Getliņi EKO

Baltic International Bank

Chocolette Confectionary

Work highlights

  • Advised Baltic International Bank on the establishment of a European Company or Societas Europaea (SE) by conversion of an existing local joint-stock company.
  • Advised Getliņi EKO on competition and procurement law issues.
  • Advised Chocolette Confectionary on the competition aspects of entering the Latvian market.