Firm Profile > Penkov, Markov & Partners > Sofia, Bulgaria

Penkov, Markov & Partners
IZTOK DISTRICT, TINTYAVA 13B
FLOOR 6
1113 SOFIA
Bulgaria

Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 1

Penkov, Markov & Partners has recently handled high-value transactions for sellers in the energy, retail, and financial services sectors, and is advising buyers on M&A deals in the IT, manufacturing, and food production industries. A core focus of the team is structuring complex and robust SPAs in post-merger processes: in 2019, the firm advised on the post-closing arrangements of one of the largest transactions in Bulgaria in recent years – the sale of 100% of the equity interest of the Paradise Center Mall for €253m. Vladimir Penkov and Alexander Stefanov, who is ‘exemplary in his professional knowledge’, lead the practice. Atanas ValovRoman Stoyanov, Milena Gaidarska and Yura Mincheva are other key names.

Testimonials

‘They have a number of experienced individuals that can assist on commercial, corporate and M&A from all legal angles.’

‘The team of Penkov & Markov & Partners always strives to meet to the greatest extent the specific requirements we have and to provide legal services to the full satisfaction of our high expectations.’

‘We can always refer to their diverse and competent range of partners and associates for many different matters.

Key clients

ČEZ a.s.

Bul Dom OOD

Basildon Holding Sarl

Mondi Stambolijski EAD

Enikom-M EOOD

Industrial Capital Holding AD

Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetics Bulgaria EOOD

BA Glass Bulgaria AD

Zlatna Panega Cement AD

EU and competition Tier 1

The ‘excellent’ Penkov, Markov & Partners has extensive experience of advising on merger clearance for large-scale mergers in heavily regulated industries, including armaments and energy. In 2019, the firm acted for ČEZ and Emco OOD, an arms manufacturer, in appealing the CPC’s decision to block their respective asset sales and mergers. The firm is well versed in contentious work, acting for Uber and Enicom-M, a furniture retailer in unfair competition proceedings as defendant and claimant respectively. Vladimir Penkov and Yura Mincheva lead the team, which also advises major clients including Heineken and Coca-Cola on compliance related to distribution agreements, promotions and marketing campaigns on an ongoing basis.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘In terms of the quality of advice, consistency in the content delivered, accessibility of the advice, understanding of our format, general formation and presentation of the content delivered and speed with which the process was handled, I would put PMP very high on the list.’

‘Excellent knowledge of the law and local situation, hard-working, always accessible.’

‘Their lawyers are specialised in all the fields important for the business. They react fast to customer demands.’

Key clients

ČEZ, a.s.

CEZ Bulgarian Investment B.V.

EMCO OOD

ENICOM-M

Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Bulgaria AD

UBER B.V.

Titan Group

Zlatna Panega

Correct Consulting Ltd

Klett Lernen und Information GmbH

Heineken Group and Bulgarian subsidiary Zagorka AD

SM Control Ltd

Real estate and construction Tier 1

Penkov, Markov & Partners advises on high-value commercial real estate projects and transactions, with a particular focus on challenging zoning and cadastral maps and facilitating clients with permission grants and construction licences. As well as advising on transactional matters, practice head Milena Gaidarska is experienced in leading complex negotiations between both private companies, and between companies and municipal authorities. Atanas Valov advises on structuring lease agreements on behalf of both landlords and tenants, and has experience in real estate litigation and disputes concerning restitution and zoning.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

Knowledgeable and approachable.’

‘I am very happy with their services. They are highly motivated professionals who always try to do their best for their clients.’

Key clients

Bul Dom OOD, former sole-owner of the capital of BULFELD EOOD (Paradise Center)

ARTEKS ENGINEERING Group

Siko Service EOOD (Part of SiKo Trans Group)

Frech Internationale Beteiligungen

Kontrol Engineering AD

Klett Bulgaria OOD

Nedvizhimi Imoti SIPJV

Investicionna Companiya Galata AD

Glorient Investment BG OOD

Kambana Burgas AD

B&B Hotels Group

Zagorka AD, part of Heineken Group

Enikom-M EOOD

Artstroy Holding Group

BA Glass Bulgaria AD

Mondi Stambolijski AD

Banking, finance and capital markets Tier 2

Penkov, Markov & Partners has considerable expertise in banking regulation in Bulgaria, having been selected to draft the operating agreement for an investment fund financed, initially, by state and EU funds. The firm has assisted cutting-edge fintech, cryptocurrency, and payment software companies with complying with banking regulations, including with the updated anti-money laundering legislation. On the transactional side, the team assists clients with acquisition finance, real estate, and project finance for borrowers and lenders. Vladimir Penkov, Ivan Markov and Nikolay Cvetanov lead the team. Smilena Hrusanova is a name to note.

Testimonials

‘We rely on the team’s efficiency, in-depth legal advice, and analysis of the sector, which are always related to our specific needs.’

‘They understand the business climate in this field and provide practical and business-oriented legislative advice.’

‘We definitely benefit from the strong business focus of their lead partners in the sphere, as well as from their legal precision, expedient approach, and ability to work within very narrow deadlines.’

Key clients

Fund Manager of Financial Instruments in Bulgaria EAD (FMFIB)

Paynetics AD

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

PROFIREAL Group SE

MoneyGram International

ARTEKS ENGINEERING AD

4FINANCE

Weston Growth Capital

Phyre AD

Billy UK

Industrial Capital Holding (HIKA) and M+S Hydraulic (5MH)

CEZ a.s.

Energy and natural resources Tier 2

The energy and natural resources practice at Penkov, Markov & Partners has handled major deals in the sector; in 2019, the team advised ČEZ on the planned sale of its Bulgarian assets to Eurohold. The firm has notable expertise in renewable energy feed-in pricing, having acted for manufacturers seeking to sell energy, generated as a by-product of waste-processing, back into the grid. In this vein, the firm counts over 60 renewable energy producers among their clients, and has represented them in compensation claims against the regulatory authorities after a change to feed-in tariffs enacted, and declared unconstitutional in 2014. The practice is jointly led by Vladimir Penkov, Roman Stoyanov, Nikolay Cvetanov and Atanas Valov.

Testimonials

‘We highly appreciate the internal consistency between the team members and the unique expertise each one provides to the client.’

‘My impression of the team is that their working group has not only a good understanding of the legislative framework, but also is proficient in licensing and regulatory matters as well as dispute resolution.’

Key clients

CEZ a.s.

Mondi Stambolijski EAD

Zlatna Panega Cement

Markan Holding AD

Knauf Bulgaria EOOD

EnergiMidt Renewables A/S, Denmark

Minstroi Holding group of companies

Aenerg energy management team

Solar group

Sunpower EOOD

Wat Burgas Co&KD

Aleksandrina Solutions

Photon Sredets EOOD

Televic Bulgaria EAD

Gravel and Sand Pits Bulgaria EAD

Healthcare and life sciences Tier 2

Penkov, Markov & Partners advises on the requirements and conditions for conducting clinical trials for medicines and medical devices for manufacturers and the hospitals where the trials are to be conducted. The team also advises on commercial and regulatory matters for clients in the sector, covering data protection, competition and marketing issues, National Health Insurance Fund reimbursement, licensing, and distribution agreements. Vladimir Penkov and Roman Stoyanov, who advises on contentious matters, jointly lead the team.

Testimonials

‘Roman Stoyanov has been collaborating with our company for almost 10 years and has supported us with his professionalism and precision in matters of development and clinical research.’

Key clients

Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetics Bulgaria EOOD, part of the Group Pierre Fabre

InnoPharma S.r.l., international Clinical Research Organization (CRO) and its Bulgarian subsidiary InnoPharma International BG

Berlin-Chemie AG and Berlin-Chemie/A.Menarini Bulgaria EOOD part of Menarini Group

Medical Center Mona Lisa EOOD

Intellectual property Tier 2

Penkov, Markov & Partners perform trade mark searches and due diligence, registrations, oppositions and renewals on an ongoing basis for clients in a wide range of industries. Practice head Vladimir Penkov advises on copyright and trade mark infringements. Ivan Markov is a key contact in the team. In 2020, Yordan Politov left the practice and is now an independent practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘Very competent and easy-to-work-with team. Highly engaged for each and every case.’

‘The intellectual property practice team of Penkov, Markov & Partners provides the best possible advice ensuring maximum effectiveness and a customised approach to the client.’

‘They always provide excellent, timely and really useful and practical advice.’

Key clients

Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Bulgaria AD

Zlatna Panega Cement/ TITAN

Jos H. Lowenstein & Sons, Inc.

BA Glass Bulgaria

White Ltd.

Tekra EOOD

Arteks Engineering

Naturproduct Ltd.

Klett Bulgaria Ltd.

Novo Staklo (New Glass) EAD

MVB Track & Bus Bulgaria /MAN SE

Build Invest – Sofia

Ivo Todorov

Karelia Tobacco Company Inc.

Rinamar Ltd. (Guardium)

G Star OOD

Makter Consult Ltd.

Educational Center “Temida”

BSTD Consult Ltd.

Strimona Ltd./ Fencing Systems Ltd

ENCO Vending Ltd.

TMT Tier 2

The TMT practice at Penkov, Markov & Partners assists clients at the intersection of IT and software, advising on compliance in an evolving regulatory environment for companies in the SaaS, SAP, fintech, cryptocurrency, and blockchain spaces. Nikolay Cvetanov, the head of the practice, has particular expertise in data protection and GDPR, having assisted in drafting Bulgarian data protection law, and additionally is a leading figure in non-bank lending and fintech. Vladimir Penkov’s practice is more closely focused on telecommunications, having contributed to the drafting of Bulgaria’s Telecommunications Act and Electronic Communications Act. In his career, he has advised clients including Vodafone, Telefonica, Telenor, and Nokia.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘Their multi-disciplinary, global team helps us to turn our innovative ideas into practice and practice into growth with their professional legal advice and business-oriented approach.’

‘Nikolay Cvetanov anticipates change and seizes new opportunities with the foresight and insight to manage deal execution and post-merger integration effectively. He helps us to integrate risk, regulatory and crisis management.’

Key clients

UBER

pCloud EOOD

V Mobile AD

Booking.com

Getti AD

Phyre AD

Paynetics AD

Teletek Electronics AD

Depository Network

Novatel

Cable Internet Systems EOOD

Secure Group Lab / Delatek

Mnemonika AD

SiteGround

GDPR Project

Colibra AD

Dispute resolution Tier 3

Penkov, Markov & Partners is active in representing clients from a range of sectors in high-value disputes with the Bulgarian administrative and regulatory authorities. The firm is particularly active in the energy sector, having acted for ČEZ in an appeal against the CPC for a blocked merger, and for numerous renewable energy producers in cases against the state regarding changes to energy tariffs. Real estate and construction is another of the firm’s strengths; the firm has represented a major property developer and cement manufacturer in appeals against administrative acts. Vladimir Penkov and Atanas Valov jointly head the practice. Yura Mincheva and Ralitsa Tihova are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘The firm has a very professional, customer-focused, result-orientated and pragmatic approach.’

‘The team is well organised, with extensive legal knowledge both of civil and administrative disputes procedure law, but also on arbitration rules of the big arbitration institutions in Bulgaria.’

‘My impression of the team is that they are strict, efficient and proactive, applying innovative approaches to leading litigation cases in area where there is no explicit legislation that could be directly applied.’

Key clients

Haskovo Minicipality

Arteks EngIneering AD

Red River Bulgaria EOOD

Red River Van Eck B.V.

EBRD

PRO AGRO 2000

EMCO EOOD

DNV GL SE (former Germanischer Lloyd SE)

Gravel and Sand Pits Bulgaria EAD

Arteks Zlaten Vek OOD

BA Glass Bulgaria AD

Zagorka AD, part of Heineken Group

ČEZ, a.s. and CEZ Bulgarian Investment B.V.

Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Bulgaria AD (CCHBCBG)

Balkan Star Retail

Nedvizhimi Imoti Sofia SIPJV

Obzor Development Ltd

Established in 1990 Penkov, Markov & Partners is one of the first law firms in Bulgaria having nowadays the biggest and most significant client portfolios and being respected both domestically and internationally. The firm currently has approximately 40 partners and associated members, several external legal consultants, 12 trainees, 12 assistants and staff members.

The firm publishes its own newspaper PMP Legal News, circulation 2200 (published in Bulgarian, English and German languages) which is also available on its website.

Since 1996 PM&P is the exclusive member firm for the jurisdiction of Bulgaria of Lex Mundi – the world’s leading association of independent law firms.

PM&P is a member of Lex Mundi and FLI Net and is the first law firm in Bulgaria certified under the ISO 9001:2000 and later recertified under ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015 standards by Bureau Veritas Certification.

For their professionalism the experts from PM&P are frequently engaged not only in legal advice and procedural representation but also in the legislative process (e.g. the Commercial Register Act and the New Renewable Energy Sources Act, as well as competition regulations).

In 2019 PM&P was awarded Superbrand of the year award for a fourth time (2007, 2015, 2017) as recognition for exceptional reputation of the trademark Penkov, Markov & Partners among its current and potential clients, partners and investors.

Department Name Email Telephone
Commercial and company Vladimir Penkov
Mergers and acquisitions Vladimir Penkov
Mergers and acquisitions Ivan Markov
Litigation and arbitration Vladimir Penkov
Litigation and arbitration Atanas Valov
Public procurement Milena Gaidarska
Taxation Radost Georgieva
Labour Radost Georgieva
Labour Maria Pashalieva
Real estate and project development Milena Gaidarska
Real estate and project development Atanas Valov
IT, media and telecommunications Nikolay Cvetanov
Competition and antitrust Smilena Hrusanova
Insolvency and bankruptcy Ivan Markov
Banking, finance and insurance Vladimir Penkov
Banking, finance and insurance Ivan Markov
Banking, finance and insurance Nikolay Cvetanov
Concessions Vladimir Penkov
Concessions Ivan Markov
Energy, RES and natural resources Roman Stoyanov
Energy, RES and natural resources Boris Lazarov
Intellectual property and trade marks Vladimir Penkov
Customs Roman Stoyanov
Pharmaceuticals Roman Stoyanov
Immigration Maria Pashalieva
Immigration Vyara Tomova
Commercial and company Nikolay Cvetanov
Consumer protection Nikolay Cvetanov
Photo Name Position Profile
Mr Asen Apostolov  photo Mr Asen Apostolov Attorney at Law; Practice areas: Corporate and Commercial Law, Contract Law and…
Mr Nikolay Cvetanov  photo Mr Nikolay Cvetanov Managing Partner; Practice areas: Commercial law, Banking & Finance, Litigation, Corporate Law,…
Mrs Milena Gaidarska  photo Mrs Milena Gaidarska Partner; Practice areas: Real Estate Transactions, Development and Construction, Commercialisation of Retail,…
Ms Radost Georgieva  photo Ms Radost Georgieva Attorney at law; Practice areas: Company and Commercial law, Tax and Labour…
Ms Smilena Hrusanova  photo Ms Smilena Hrusanova Attorney at law; Practice areas: Banking & Finance, Regulatory Permissions (CPC, FSC,…
Ms Ana Krusteva  photo Ms Ana Krusteva Lawyer; Practice areas: Corporate and Commercial Law, Intellectual Property, Copyright
Mr Koycho Marinov  photo Mr Koycho Marinov Lawyer
Mr Ivan Markov  photo Mr Ivan Markov Partner; Practice areas: Company Law, Commercial Agreements, Banking and Finance Law, Regulatory…
 Ivo Nickolchev  photo Ivo Nickolchev Attorney at law; Practice areas: Administrative Law and Process, Consumer Protection, Pharmaceutical…
Ms Maria Pashalieva  photo Ms Maria Pashalieva Attorney at law, Practice areas: Labour law, Real Estate, Public Procurement, Corporate…
Mr Vladimir Penkov  photo Mr Vladimir Penkov Chairman of the Consultative Board and Senior Partner: Banking & Finance, Corporate…
Mr Lachezar Raichev  photo Mr Lachezar Raichev Attorney at law; Practice areas: Bankruptcy and Creditors Rights, Company and Commercial Law,…
Mr Vencislav Semkov  photo Mr Vencislav Semkov Attorney at Law, Practice areas: Corporate and Commercial Law, Administrative Law, Protection…
 Mila Stoeva  photo Mila Stoeva Lawyer; Practice areas: Corporate and Commercial Law, Capital Markets, Civil Procedure, Mergers…
Mr Roman Stoyanov  photo Mr Roman Stoyanov Partner, Practice areas: Administrative Law, Commercial and Corporate Law, Pharmaceutical Law, Customs…
 Boris Strijlev  photo Boris Strijlev Attorney-at-law, Practice areas: Corporate and Commercial Law, Competition Law, Intellectual Property and…
 Pavel Tsanov  photo Pavel Tsanov Attorney at Law; Practice areas:Corporate and Commercial Law, Banking & Structured Finance,…
Mr Plamen Valkanov photo Mr Plamen Valkanov Attorney at law, Practice areas: Contract Law, Labor Law, Company Law, Commercial…
Mr Atanas Valov  photo Mr Atanas Valov Associated Partner, Practice areas: Real Estate Law, Commercial Contracts and Corporate Law,…
 Nikolay Voynov  photo Nikolay Voynov Attorney at Law; Practice areas: Energy, Public Procurement, PPP and Concessions, Infrastructure, Transport,…
 Rumyana Yordanova, CIPP/E  photo Rumyana Yordanova, CIPP/E Attorney-at-law, Practice areas: Personal data protection, Corporate and Commercial Law, Mergers &…
Number of lawyers : 50+
Bulgarian
English
French
German
Russian
Exclusive Bulgarian member of Lex Mundi
Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria
Austrian Business Club
Bulgarian Business Leader Forum
German-Bulgarian Industry and Commerce Chamber
French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce
Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce
Vienna Economic Forum
ICC Bulgaria
Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria
Bulgarian-Japanse Economic Council
First Law International (FLI)
Other offices : Burgas
Other offices : Lovech
Other offices : Pleven
Other offices : Russe
Other offices : Stara Zagora
Other offices : Varna

Atanas Valov, Associate Partner

Associate Partner Atanas Valov comments on the challenges of Bulgaria’s legal market in the year ahead

What do you see as the main points that differentiate [law firm name] from your competitors?

Penkov, Markov & Partners is a renowned brand on the Bulgarian legal market (this year we are celebrating 30 years from our establishing). During the years we have created a name for innovation and dedicated approach to the problems of the clients, diversity of services, strong support of entrepreneurship and investors including via participation in the legislation process, as well as constant defense of the rule of law and its principles in the courts, where we have represented throughout the years a number of clients whose rights have been violated by acts of the public authorities incompatible with the Constitution, EU Law and the ECHR. We have a competitive advantage from the mix of generations in the firm, with the experience, wisdom and organizational skills of the founders of the company supporting my generation’s eagerness to expand our market shares and presence and strong wish to prove our own merit as the persons before us.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Our Data Protection and AML practices will definitely continue their expansion as these spheres become more and more important worldwide in the light of the new legislation and continuous measures of the governments to reduce and prevent money laundering. With some strong new additions to our PPP, Energy and Litigation departments in the end of 2019 and first half of 2020 we have reasonable expectations for strengthening and expanding our practices in these spheres as well, whereby a significant driver for our Litigation practice was the newly formed practice of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court on matters regarding the “constitutional tort”, which led to breakthrough in the decades old practice of the Bulgarian courts and acknowledgment of the positions we have stood for in the past 5 years or so.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

As organization we are constantly evolving, whereby in the latest months a strong emphasis was put on the organization of smoother distant communication between team members and possibilities for effective home office, as well as additional coordination with our working groups in order their members to become even more interchangeable. Also, we have formed specific teams dealing with the constant changes in the legislation in the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as reformed our communication to the clients concerning any hot topics that might affect their business and increased its volume and specific highlights quite drastically.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Absolutely. And this became all the more evident during the months of 2020 when Bulgaria was in a state of emergency. The constant Zoom meetings and webinars hosted by us on various topics and forums became a new standard for fast and interactive communication with our client base and for updating them on the dynamic changes in may spheres.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

As my core activity is the ADR and litigation, these are not strictly legal branches that accumulate “added value” for a business. But we always strive to give practical and business-oriented advice to our clients on these matters in order to optimize their costs and give them a fair evaluation of the potential gain at the end of a court trial against the benefits of a settlement under certain conditions before the trial or through it.

Our AML, Data Protection, Consumer Protection and Competition teams constantly work with clients advising on the structuring of their advertising messages, promotions and sales policies, relations with partners and employees, so we ensure not only the regulatory compliance of our clients, but also give them a valuable side glimpse on the markets they are operating and what might or might not work given our extensive history of deals, disputes, ups and downs of businesses in different economic situations.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Definitely, the clients look for diverse advice on the development of their activity and long-term relationships with reliable partner in the face of their law firm. So, we aim at establishing long-lasting partnerships with our clients, whereby some of our core ones are with us more than 15-20 years already. As I said above, we are also in constant evolution and that impacts a lot of our practices, the way we engage the modern technology for facilitation of our work and the expansion of our activities in new and fast developing sectors through seminars, webinars, simulations of dawn raids, audit of the internal processes of our clients and activity in the legislation process through the NGO sector and the commercial chambers. Thus, our vision in 3 years’ time is one of a diverse legal practice, following the best international standards and forging its own ones, where practitioners from several generations co-exist in a creative and stimulating environment and where we are even stronger factor and continue to be recognized as one of the pillars of protection of the investments of foreign and local entities and avid fighters for the principles of rule of law and safeguarding of the legitimate interests of the private sector in its dialogue with the State.

Milena Gaidarska, Partner

Partner Milena Gaidarska comments on the challenges of Bulgaria’s legal market in the year ahead

What do you see as the main points that differentiate [law firm name] from your competitors?

Penkov, Markov and partners unite the knowledge, experience and vision of three generations of lawyers – the founders of the company, who are direct participants in building the modern legal system of Bulgaria after 1989, but at the same time who have preserved the knowledge and understanding of legal institutes from the old socialist legislation; the second generation of lawyers who grew up professionally during the transition period and the youngest generation of lawyers building up as professionals in a globally digitalized society.

This symbiosis between the experience of the elder generation, including in the understanding of legal institutions that have operated in the past, but in many cases have to do with the proper resolution of today’s cases, with the excellent training of younger staff in the current legal regulations in real estate and construction, is undoubtedly a prerequisite for providing high quality legal service in complicated legal cases.

Especially in the field of real estate and project development the fruitful collaboration between the legal, technical and sales teams working on a particular project is a condition for its success. Therefore, we work actively with architects, engineers and leasing managers thus accumulating knowledge and understanding of notions relevant for other professions; we strive at going beyond the purely legal framework of the problems and to offer workable legal solutions that are pragmatic and entirely business-oriented.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Taking into consideration the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and the fact that this crisis has not passed at all, we may reasonably assume growing of our labour law practice in the next 12 months in connection to the introduction by the employers of new organisation of the work, including work from home, regulating the possibilities for the employer to impose measures to limit the spread of the infection, which the Bulgarian legislation does not regulate so far.

The strong litigation team we have built and the success that this team has already achieved for example in series of lawsuits against the Bulgarian state instigated by owners of assets for the production of electricity from renewable sources make us believe that in the next 12 months we can expect a growth of our litigation practice.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

In connection with the COVID-19 crisis, we have formed teams to monitor all legislative initiatives and acts of the administration, aimed either at introducing restrictive measures to stop the spread of the infection, or at introducing measures to overcome the social and economic crisis. Our clients can count on us to both bring their operations in compliance with the restrictive measures that are constantly and dynamically changing in line with the development of the pandemic situation, and assist in the preparation of documentation for applying for the use of financial tools included within the government program dedicated to the overcoming the consequences of the crisis.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes, undoubtedly.

The digitalisation of the main public registers in Bulgaria has greatly facilitated the swift registration of new companies, immediate access to legal information related to the corporate history of legal entities, as well as the collection and analysis of information on the real estate and urban status of real estate. All this opened the possibility to offer standardized legal services within predictable cost-saving budgets and in significantly shorter terms.
In the context of the COVID-19 situation the meetings in person were replaced by zoom and other video conferences, thus ensuring the personal element in the communication, but avoiding the health risk, and saving time and expenses.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

A key client of ours, one of the major construction companies operating on the Bulgarian market, has entered into a preliminary agreement for sale and purchase of real estate property, whereby an escrow mechanism has been involved. Significant amount representing part of the purchase price has been deposited to an escrow account and blocked there until closing of the transaction. Due to COVID-19 restrictive measures it became impossible to close the deal in time. In this complex and sensitive situation we managed to convince the seller to accept the release of part of the deposited escrow account to be used by our client for its current projects, and to amend the preliminary agreement by introducing more flexible terms for closing the deal in line with the everyday changing regulations related to COVID-19, and the practical complications arising thereof.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

We have always strived to build a loyal clientele. We have a lot of clients to which we provide complex legal service for more than 20-25 years. We know their history, we understand the challenges their business faces and together we build the strategy for further development, which of course has a direct impact on the strategic planning of our business as well. Indeed, our loyal clients expect from us a much more extensive care, going far beyond the performance of specific legal assignments, and including information on an ongoing basis about all legislative changes and initiatives that could be relevant to the business, initiating such changes through appropriate legal instruments, and strategic planning of the business based on both legal and economic arguments.

Within the next three years, I see our law firm as a stable organization of highly qualified, well-trained and experienced lawyers, unreservedly committed to the work and sharing our common values, with optimally functioning working groups in various legal fields. In addition to the stable development of the traditionally strong practices of the company, in which we are established as one of the market leaders, I expect a planned expansion of our practices in the field of labour and transport law.

Nikolay Cvetanov, Managing Partner & Asen Apostolov, Attorney-at-Law

Managing Partner Nikolay Cvetanov and his colleague Asen Apostolov comment on the challenges for Bulgarian business and how the law firm meets clients’ expectations

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Penkov, Markov and Partners from your competitors?

Penkov, Markov and Partners is one of the oldest and most experienced law firms on the Bulgarian legal market which unites the legal practice of expert lawyers ever since 1990. The vast experience in various national and international transactions and other legal exercises accumulated in all those years allows us to better understand the business of our clients, to help them realize their goals and thus to provide much more comprehensive and results oriented service. We believe that the strong business sense, the well-prepared and analyzed strategy, along with the perfectionism of the professionals part of our team, distinguish our firm as one of the leading in the country. Furthermore, our commitment to always strive for even higher standards and job performance motivates us to build on our achievements and tradition and drives us to always look for ways to develop our practice and the way we provide legal services.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Speaking about the local Bulgarian environment, we could foresee significant development in a few sectors in the coming year.

Firstly, this is the new regulatory framework and development in the AML/CFT field in Bulgaria. This is a topic which concerns large parts of the locally presented business and it is related to the implementation on EU level of the 4th, 5th and 6th AML directives. Ensuring compliance with the AML/CFT requirements represents a considerable challenge for the obliged companies, respectively sufficient support should be provided in order for the latter to comply with the new set of regulations. Our law firm is definitely the leader on the local market in providing comprehensive legal assistance in this field by preparing respective internal company AML/CFT policies and procedures, individual risk assessments, etc., as well as by assisting various international NGO organizations.

The Bulgarian TMT sector is also rapidly growing which is evident from the recently launched ranking – the FinTech locations of the future where Sofia was given number one position in the cost effectiveness field. This landmark sign of growing market opens new legal niches to be filled by experienced and new technology oriented law firms, such as Penkov, Markov and Partners.

Another sphere where we expect the practice to develop significantly is the Energy field where the Green Deal shall have significant overall impact on the export oriented Bulgarian economy and in particular – the energy sector.

Here could be mentioned also the new EU whistleblowing regulations, as well as the initial discussions on the adoption of Payment Services Directive 3 – again on EU level.

As a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis as well, large EU funding has been agreed and is expected to be distributed through various programs in order to stimulate the EU economy (along with innovations, creativity and digitalization). We have been supporting many of our clients (existing and new ones) and various NGO’s in identifying the proper funding programs and to get them prepared for applying for financing which allowed us to generate significant additional experience in working with those new, extraordinary financial instruments. Naturally, most of the new EU programs are expected to be opened in the next 12 to 24 months so this field is expected to generate added value for both the clients and the legal market.

Last but not least, as a consequence of the pandemic situation many producers have decided to shorten their distribution and supply channels. Thus, Bulgaria being one of the countries in the EU with highest cost effectiveness indicators, should potentially benefit from these trends. Respectively, we are expecting increased dynamics in the new investments of international manufacturing companies operating locally, opening large opportunities for our legal team, being well known and ranked for its dominant legal expertise and experience in supporting legally new investments.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Expectedly, in recent time the main changes have been related to the mechanisms for facing the unprecedented COVID-19 challenge. Our main priority during the pandemic was to promote sustainability and to continue providing our clients with high-quality legal services that correspond to the standards set by our team and the demands of our clients. As a “Law Firm of the Future” (we were awarded with the prestigious award last year in a competition organized by the European Bars Federation), in the recent months we focused our efforts on optimizing the processes of providing digital services, working remotely, as we were fully committed to meeting our clients’ needs with the same level of service, security and care. In order to respond to COVID-19’s near-term challenges, we have formed a specific working group dealing with the constant amendments in various legislative acts related to the new global business environment. Our team is also actively engaged in organizing webinars concerning any hot topics that might affect the business of our clients, thus keeping our partners informed of any significant developments in the legal framework. We have been also supporting our clients, on the one hand, in developing various optimizations of services and on the other, in digitalizing such services, so that we meet the new needs.

Further, we are trying to support those clients of ours whose business has been influenced the most by the crisis, by adjusting our standard applicable fee rates or even by providing pro bono services when it comes to legal assistance related to attracting financing from EU/governmental anti-crisis programs. We genuinely believe that such approach could only strengthen the synergy with our long-term partners and lay the foundations for future joint initiatives and collaboration.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Absolutely, having in mind especially the new reality related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The in-person communication with clients which many practitioners were used to, had to be “transferred” to the virtual world. This starts with the use of technology, including video conferencing tools for face-to-face communication and client portals for online collaboration. With the support of technology and at the same time “despite” the technology, during the state of emergency we were strongly focused on providing legal services of the highest level and it is our firm belief that we succeeded in this challenge.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

In view of the fact that the needs of each client are strictly individual, we aim to offer an adaptive and innovative approach to each case, however, always united around the idea of maximum precision in providing the service. Having said this, we make ourselves familiar with the clients’ values and corporate governance, so we could “feel” the way a particular company, for instance, is doing business and interacts with partners.

What we also focus on is to provide as comprehensive assistance as possible (which, in some cases, is not particularly and explicitly required by the client), resulting sometimes in opening new topics, matters and potential issues which initially have not been considered at all by our partners.

As a practical example of adding value to a business, just recently we managed to arrange a huge financing to a client of ours by connecting him with a very large foreign investment fund which we work with on other projects. This gave the client the opportunity to practically open a new market for its services, i.e. something that, without the ensured financing, could not have been possible.

On a separate note, we have been closely monitoring all possible state and EU financing programs opened to support the economy in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and proactively exchanged exhaustive information for all opportunities which, in turn, resulted in being assigned with large amount of assignments for assistance on preparation of legal applications for such financing.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Definitely. In our practice we strive to focus not only on the attorney-advisor and counselor role, but also on connection, deep understanding of the clients business and synergy building, which is key for any long-term relationship. The faster adaptation to the clients’ real needs is clearly fostered also by the continuous expansion of our team’s expertise in new legal spheres which are of utmost importance to our partners. For instance, ever since the beginning of 2016 the compliance topics of personal data protection and measures against money laundering demanded provision of very specifically designed services, incl. in collaboration with technological companies.

Potentially, in the next three years we will put even more focus on digitalization when it comes to providing legal services, of course, in line with the quickly flowing societal and economic changes. Our law firm is structured in a way which gives us the opportunity to adequately get in-line with the fast-paced changes worldwide, as saying that the present year is the perfect example in this regard.