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Macedonia

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Editorial

Legal market overview

With the aftermath of the 2015 wiretapping scandal leading to the downfall of Macedonia’s nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, the country was left without a working government. However, in May 2017, after two years of political crises, Macedonia elected a new government, which is led by the centre-left Social Democrats’ Zoran Zaev.

Notwithstanding the country’s lack of political unity, a weak economy and high unemployment levels, the new government appears set on boosting the country’s economic growth.

Macedonia has a civil law legal system and foreign investors can acquire shares in local companies in the same way as Macedonian residents; practice areas which regularly provide Macedonia’s top lawyers with advisory work include energy sector matters, consisting of M&A deals and competition law issues, and tourism.

International firms are not officially present in Macedonia, as a result of the country’s bar restrictions; nonetheless, several foreign practices do work on Macedonian matters. Serbia-headquartered South East Europe firm Local lawyers in cooperation with Karanović & Nikolić regularly acts, alongside local, independent lawyers, on Macedonian deals; while Slovenia-based ODI Law Firm’s Macedonia-related transactions include large M&A deals from the technology, energy and infrastructure, pharmaceutical, telecoms, and IT sectors. Greece-based Rokas Law Firm also has a notable Macedonian practice, particularly in banking law, litigation, labour law and taxation.

Highly rated domestic firms include Debarliev, Dameski & Kelesoska Attorneys at Law, Polenak Law Firm, Cakmakova Advocates, Lawyers Antevski, and Law Firm Knezovic & Associates.

Established in 2003, Debarliev, Dameski & Kelesoska Attorneys at Law is a full-service law firm that routinely handles antitrust and competition law, banking and finance, taxation, IT matters, and energy law. Other areas of note include infrastructure and projects, corporate and M&A, real estate and construction, employment law, and litigation and arbitration. The founding partners are Ivan Debarliev, who heads up the large clients (outsourcing) department; Dragan Dameski, who leads the foreign investments group and has particular experience in energy, capital markets and real estate; and Emilija Kelesoska Sholjakovska, the head of the firm’s domestic clients department and whose principal areas of expertise include labour law, M&A and IP.

Frequently acting for European clients, Lawyers Antevski also has representative offices in Liechtenstein and Vienna. The firm’s scope of practice includes dispute resolution, transactional and contentious IP matters, and M&A transactions. Zlatko Antevski is the key contact.

Cakmakova Advocates is a full-service firm that acts for large corporations, mid-sized and small businesses, and individuals. The key advisers are managing partner Biljana Cakmakova, who is highly rated for financing and energy transactions, IP and arbitration, Olivera Grozdanovska and Vesna Gavriloska.

Georgi Dimitrov Attorneys fields lawyers with experience in banking and finance, energy law, administrative law, labour law issues, and litigation. Highlights included advising a foreign energy company on the public procurement procedure for the purchase of a power plant, and assisting an international bank with project financing matters. Name partner Georgi Dimitrov is recommended for tax law, employment law, banking and finance, and contentious corporate governance issues. Dimitrov is also noted for real estate law, including commercial property developments. Katarina Ginoska is recommended for energy matters and international commercial law, particularly commercial contracts.

Polenak Law Firm has a highly rated banking and finance practice, including project finance. The firm is also highly regarded for M&A transactions, capital markets deals, competition law, real estate, and litigation and arbitration. Managing partner Kristijan Polenak is recommended for M&A, banking, securities regulation, corporate law, and corporate governance; and Tatjana Popovski-Buloski’s experience includes advising on industrial property, M&A and corporate law, commercial litigation, and labour law issues.

Apostolska & Aleksandrovskihas a strong and confident team of professionals, who provide an efficient legal service that leaves clients feeling safe’. Recent highlights include handling labour law issues, sales and co-operation agreements, and contentious matters for a large packaging and cardboard producer. The team’s advisory experience also includes competition law matters; construction-related contractual negotiations; and setting up a microbrewery. ‘Excellent lawyer’ Igor Aleksandrovski and Emilija Apostolska are ‘true professionals’; and Ivana Kostovska and Svetlana Trendova are highly regarded senior associates.

Apostolski Law Firmprovides very good legal counsel and is a very reliable partner to clients; the lawyers have an incredibly quick understanding of issues and the solutions they offer always seem to be the right ones’. The firm has longstanding experience in civil litigation and defending high-profile criminal law matters, while in recent years, the firm has grown its corporate and commercial law capabilities. Its representative experience includes company incorporations, direct investments, corporate governance, and banking and finance law. Other sector strengths include insurance, energy and mining. Recent work includes handling trade mark infringement claims, customs matters, breach of loan agreements, and a share-sale and purchase transaction. Jordan Apostolski, who is ‘always punctual with his advice, has international training, and provides very helpful risk assessments’, is the key name.

At Karanović & Nikolić in cooperation with local lawyers, highlights included advising a group of lenders, as local counsel, on the financing provided for the SASA lead-zinc mine. Other work includes assisting Lear Corporation with its investment project in Macedonia, which includes handling various negotiations with the state. Veton Qoku, who heads the group, and Leonid Ristev and Ljupka Noveska Andonova are the key names. Central Asia Metals and Vestas Eólica are also clients.

Law Firm Knezovic & Associates is widely praised for its experience in business law and project finance transactions; it also acts in significant arbitration matters. Dejan Knezovic is a key contact.

Papazoski and Mishev Law Firm is associated with global professional services network, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP. The team acts for corporations and a sizeable number of Macedonia’s foreign investors. Key areas of expertise include banking and finance; corporate restructuring and complex corporate matters; automotive industry investments; energy; and compliance issues. Managing partner Kiril Papazoski leads the firm’s business law department and Ivan Mishev is highly rated for corporate and financial law, and capital markets.

Law Office Pepeljugoski is highly rated for its IP law experience; it also has robust practices in civil and commercial law matters and disputes, including competition law, electronic communications, IT, energy, banking, and corporate governance. Valentin Pepeljugoski and Aleksandar Trajkovski are the key contacts.

Popovski Law Office’s practice is best known for corporate law, IP matters, healthcare sector issues, labour law, and litigation. Acting for both domestic and foreign clients, Aleksandar Icokaev is recommended for corporate and IP work; and Biljana Slavkovska is a litigation and labour law expert.

Founded over 25 years ago, Trpenoski Law Firm regularly handles corporate and commercial deals, corporate governance issues, and competition law matters. Natasha Trpenoska Trenchevska is recommended for dispute resolution.

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