Interview with: Nikos C. Koritsas, Managing Partner
Koutalidis Law Firm | View firm profile
Managing Partner of Koutalidis Law Firm, Mr. Nikos Koritsas, explains what sets the Firm apart
What do you see as the main points that differentiate Koutalidis Law Firm from your competitors?
We pride ourselves on taking a business-minded approach to address our clients’ needs coupled with our in-depth knowledge of the Greek market. In this respect, we always strive to communicate even the most complex legal concepts in a simple and straightforward manner as well as to tailor our advice to the commercial objectives of the relevant transaction. At the same time, our multi-disciplinary team allows us to achieve synergies across practices and provide a 360-degree analysis of all transaction-related aspects.
We also take pride in building a culture that translates to a demanding, yet welcoming workplace for our people. Koutalidis Law Firm has remained the professional home to many of our team members for years on end. At the heart of our efficiency as a firm, lies a strong team culture, where individual skills are celebrated and collective value is acknowledged.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
The successful fight against COVID-19 is expected to drive an upward trend of deal volume in the next 12 months across sectors and transaction types. Privatizations should take the stage as the completion of a number of projects was postponed due to the pandemic, bringing lower-than-expected proceeds in 2020 for the Greek State. Banks’ efforts to reduce the stock of non-performing exposures and improve asset quality should spur NPLs transactions, as the sale of portfolios of an estimated total value of EUR 30 billion was also pushed back for 2021.
However, the impact of COVID-19 is not limited solely to the creation of a backlog of deals that is expected to prompt transaction activity in 2021. At the same time, the pandemic served as a market disruptor as well as an accelerant of trends already underway. This was particularly evident in the distribution of deals across industries during 2020 and the relevant trends are expected to continue in 2021. M&A activity should be largely driven by the TMT sector, which accounted for 44% of total deal value in 2020, including high-value transactions in the e-commerce industry.
We also see significant growth prospects in the energy sector supported by Greece’s broader efforts to create a competitive and well-functioning energy market. The Greek real estate market is also evolving as domestic and internal appetite for real estate assets continues to increase both for tourism-oriented and business-oriented investments.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
Growth. Over the last six years we have more than doubled our workforce from 20 to 50 lawyers. This allows us to undertake large-scale projects under strict timelines as well as to advise across a broad range of practice areas. The main strategic goal that guided our expansion was how to build a diverse and inclusive workplace. To ensure excellent working and collaboration conditions for our people as well as for our clients, we have recently moved to a new office building in Athens, The Orbit, which exemplifies modern workspace design and has become the latest landmark in the city.
We place a particular emphasis on gender diversity, as evidenced by our increasingly gender-balanced team. The share of female lawyers in our firm currently stands at 60%. Women make up almost 40% of our Partners and 50% of our Counsels and Senior Associates, while some of our most instrumental practices for our Firm are led by female lawyers. We also strive to create a multi-disciplinary team that will be able to address our clients’ needs. Our hirings cover a broad array of practice areas and industries including financial regulation, energy, pharmaceutical, public procurement, antitrust and state aid, as well as international arbitration.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
Undoubtedly. The shift towards advanced digital tools was accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The multitude of platforms and the continuous improvements thereof have contributed significantly to the efficient and secure connection with our clients. At the same time, the frequent use of virtual data rooms facilitates the assessment of transaction documents, the cooperation among legal, financial and technical advisors, and the exchanges between counterparties.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
Greek banks have redoubled their efforts to de-risk their balance sheets, mitigate cost of risk and return to sustainable profitability. This is considered one of the key challenges not only of the financial sector but of the Greek economy as a whole. In this context, we advise one of the four systemic banks on the implementation of a key pillar of its strategic plan, namely its demerger by way of transfer of its banking sector to a new entity. Our role is key both at the level of strategic planning, where our business-minded approach allows us to design optimal solutions, as well as at the level of implementation, where our diverse team provides support on the full array of issues that arise in such a complex and multi-faceted transaction.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
As the market environment becomes increasingly complex law firms are expected to possess an in-depth understanding of everchanging business objectives and market conditions. This should always be coupled with a client relationship built on trust. Our goal is to continue to grow our team and improve its knowledge span and diversity, especially in terms of gender and practice area expertise.