Legal Market Overview
Following on from a strong 2020, lawyers in Poland report that the domestic market continued to thrive in 2021. While private equity houses were active in the region, a major theme has been the return of capital markets activity, spurred on by two major deals that brought back confidence; Allegro’s $2.3bn IPO on the Warsaw stock exchange, and Polish company InPost’s $3.4bn IPO in Amsterdam. The transactions generated much excitement in the market, with the promise of significant returns. Lawyers predict a strong pipeline for 2022, including a number of public M&A deals, with particular activity in the Polish e-commerce, fintech and renewables sectors.
Of increasing visibility, ESG issues are beginning to break through into the market. International investors are focusing on offshore wind and photovoltaic projects, but the Polish government and Polish state-owned energy companies are also beginning to react to European pressure towards a green transition, and are beginning to diversify their portfolios, upgrade the energy grid to support more renewables production, and set a timetable for Poland’s transition from a predominantly coal-based energy mix. These issues are of huge political significance, both in terms of Poland’s energy independence from oil and gas imports from Russia, and due to the fact that the coal industry is embedded into many communities in Upper Silesia, with a powerful lobby.
Elsewhere, in the dispute resolution space, a legacy of the pandemic will be the move to online hearings for certain cases. Despite initial teething problems, the Polish courts were able to adapt to a way of working. However, of major concern to Polish civil society and many international observers, the Polish government is still committed to reforming the courts in its own image, which has prompted questions about the independence of the judiciary. There are also signs that journalists critical of government officials are increasingly subject to civil and criminal challenges.
The Polish legal market has retained its reputation for headline-generating moves. In 2021, Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak sp. k.’s Warsaw managing partner Jarosław Grzesiak left the firm to take up a board position at Polsat, and was succeeded by real estate expert Jolanta Nowakowska-Zimoch, reflecting long-term trends in the firm’s strategy in the CEE region. In another well-covered move, Baker McKenzie Krzyżowski i Wspólnicy Sp.k.’s well-respected banking lawyer Ireneusz Stolarski left the firm to become COO of Electrum. 2021 also saw the retirement of Robert Dulewicz from Gide Loyrette Nouel‘s DCM practice.