Award-winning Law Firms Shine in Budapest


The Budapest legal market has long been considered highly competitive. One of the ways that is revealed is through the scores of the various rankings agencies as well as numerous business awards. The Budapest Business Journal asked leading law firms to share their recent successes with us. 

Magnificent Seven

International law firm CMS won in seven categories, including CEE Deal of the Year, at the 2018 CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Awards held in Budapest on March 28.

In recognition of its work across multiple CMS offices and jurisdictions, the firm was awarded for advising on:

Advent International’s EUR 1.9 billion acquisition of Zentiva (awarded CEE as well as Czech Republic Deal of the Year);

OTP Bank Group on its EUR 600 million acquisition of Société Générale subsidiaries SG Expressbank Group, Sogelife Insurance Company, and SG Banka Albania;

Vodafone’s EUR 18.4 bln acquisition of Liberty Global’s Operations in Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania;

EBRD and private equity firms AB Invalda INVL and Horizon Capital on the acquisition of a stake in of Moldova Agroindbank, the largest commercial bank in Moldova.

The privatization of Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla International Airport; and

The ArcelorMittal Zenica, City of Zenica, KPA Unicon Oy and Finnfund joint venture to implement a new CHP plant in Bosnia.

CMS Partners Graham Conlon and Éva Talmácsi were present to receive the awards. “We are proud and honored that the lawyers who vote on the various submissions recognized the value and complexity of the deals we were able to bring to completion in 2018. We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate our good year with our peers throughout the region, and we thank CEE Legal Matters for hosting this fantastic annual event,” Conlon commented.

National Law Firm of the Year

Dentons received the National Law Firm of the Year Award for Hungary for the fourth consecutive year at the IFLR European Awards, held in April at the Grosvenor House in London. The award, conferred annually by International Financial Law Review, recognizes the firm’s work on major projects and transactions in Hungary and across the CEE/SEE region over the past 12 months.

Dentons has a team of more than 50 legal professionals in Budapest, and has been involved in major deals such as the acquisition of majority stakes in the Mammut Shopping Center and in TMX Mobile Solution, and a high profile insolvency proceeding for a global private equity firm.

“Being named the ‘National Law Firm of the Year’ for the fourth consecutive year is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, quality and vision of our Budapest team, and our capability to deliver in significant transactions across the country as well as the entire CEE/SEE region. By delivering innovative quality service and professional excellence to our clients, we continue to reinforce our strong reputation as a market leader in Hungary,” said István Réczicza, Hungary managing partner at Dentons.

European Law Firm of the Year

Noerr was named “European Law Firm of the Year” in March at London’s Grosvenor House at The Lawyer European Awards 2019. According to The Lawyer, the judges praised Noerr’s all-round performance as representing a beacon of progressive management and a strong culture of service delivery.

Prizes and Rankings

Oppenheim founder Klára Oppenheim has been honored with the most prestigious award given by the Budapest Bar Association: the Eötvös prize. The prize is named for Károly Eötvös, a prominent Hungarian attorney in the 19th and early 20th century, was presented at the Budapest Bar Association’s annual assembly in April.

The company said it was also proud to have received “great rankings” for almost all of its practices in Legal 500’s latest in-depth, comprehensive analysis of law firms in Europe, Middle East and Africa for 2019, released in April. It received first tier ranking in three fields: competition; dispute resolution; and intellectual property. Banking/finance, commercial/corporate/M&A, employment, projects/energy and real estate practices were also highly ranked. In addition, five of Oppenheim’s partners were included in the elite “Leading individuals” list: Mihály Barcza, Iván Bartal, Tamás Éless, Gábor Fejes and Zoltán Marosi.

Independent rating agency Chambers and Partners released its “Global” ranking results in February. Oppenheim said particular praise should go to the dispute resolution practice group, which received Band 1 ranking, while head Tamás Éless was praised for being a “deep legal thinker” who “delves into industry knowledge surrounding a matter.”

The 2019 survey of the International Financial Law Review (IFLR) recognized Oppenheim in three categories (Banking and Finance, M&A and Project Development). In addition, partners, Mihály Barcza and Gergely Légrádi were named as “highly regarded” in their respective fields.

World Trademark Review, meanwhile, has recognized Oppenheim as one of the leading trademark practices in Hungary, saying the team lead by Áron László is a “full-service powerhouse” and that Oppenheim “has a reservoir of business savvy in its ranks”.

Deal of the Year

At the CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year awards gala held in Budapest on March 28, Szecskay Attorneys At Law won the Deal of the Year Award for Montenegro for PPF’s acquisition of Telenor’s telecommunications assets in the CEE region in 2018 for EUR 2.8 bln on an enterprise value basis. The deal was shortlisted for the “CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Award” in several country categories since it covered Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria.

According to Szecskay, lead counsel for the buy side was White&Case, which coordinated the independent local law firms Karanovic & Partners in Serbia and Montenegro, DGKV in Bulgaria and Szecskay in Hungary, which was the jurisdiction with the main target companies.

The sale side lead counsel was Latham&Watkins, assisted by Schoenherr in the CEE jurisdictions. Allen & Overy, BDK Advokati, and Boyanov & Co. advised Societe Generale, as agent, and a syndicate of banks on a EUR 3.05 bln credit facility provided to PPF Group for the acquisition. Szecskay advised PPF Group on Hungarian law issues in connection with the financing of the acquisition.

“This shows that independent law firms with a strong international network can serve the clients’ interests efficiently, seamlessly and successfully,” a spokesperson for the firm told the BBJ.

Now in its second year, the CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Awards are exclusively peer-selected, with partners from across international and domestic law firms in all relevant jurisdictions being involved in selecting the shortlist and voting for the winners.

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