For Slovakia, the global tumult of Covid-19 was preceded by a hotly contested national election. The murder of a prominent investigative journalist provoked a period of sustained public outrage, culminating in the resignation of incumbent prime minister Robert Fico and the formation of a new coalition government led by Igor Matovič’s Ordinary People party. Having secured victory on a wave of populist, anti-corruption sentiment, Matovič’s administration is marked by its vocal critiques of bribery and parliamentary privileges.
Many firms have been keen to stress that, at least prior to the pandemic, the market has never been more buoyant. Slovakia’s favourable location within the Eurozone and highly-skilled, relatively cheap workforce make it attractive to numerous foreign and EU investors. The country’s automotive manufacturing sector has long been a hub for numerous leading multinationals, and it remains one of the strongest in the CEE region. The real estate sector, largely unhampered by the Covid-19 crisis, scarcely manages to keep pace with public demand for new developments, administrative, commercial and residential in the capital and other key urban centres.
Unsurprisingly, energy and natural resources are some of the most dynamic and resilient sectors in the market, while service and high-tech-oriented companies are increasingly establishing local operations in the region. Home-grown software companies and fintech startups are also gathering pace, frequently bolstered by a steady stream of public funding.
In the financial sector, capital markets activity has been building over the course of the past five years, with this year seeing the establishment of the first international debt issuance programme by a Slovak bank and the first AAA-rated covered bond issuance, key tools in the road to post-Covid economic recovery. After shrinking by 6.3% in 2020, the economy is projected to rebound steadily - by 2.7% in 2021, and 4.3% in 2022. An ample fiscal stimulus and EU support package have enabled Slovakia to insulate itself from the possibility of a deeper recession and graver outlook.
Needless to say, the pandemic has spurred record levels of engagement for employment practices, which have handled a range of emergency legislative changes, restructurings, and dismissals for a broad sweep of corporate and commercial clients.
In spite of so much uncertainty elsewhere, the legal market in Slovakia is stable. The biggest deals are generally handled either by renowned international firms with local offices or by independent full-service practices with a decades-long presence in the market. Allen & Overy Bratislava, s.r.o., Dentons, Kinstellar, White & Case s.r.o and Cechová & Partners continuously handle a range of high-value, cross-border mandates, while CMS, Wolf Theiss and Schönherr Rechtstanwälte GmbH, o.z. (Schoenherr Slovakia) are also able to utilise their firms' regional foothold.