Reff & Associates has expanded its practice to include over 40 lawyers, with new graduates and experienced lateral hires in the Real Estate, Energy and Corporate & Commercial teams, with a current focus to develop the Environment & Climate Change practice. The added talent is serving an expanding client portfolio, which contributed to strong revenue growth in the first half of 2013 against the same period of 2012.
“I am very proud of our progress in a market which remains difficult, with declining foreign investments and relatively modest M&A activity maintaining the pressure on the legal business. Our flagship practice areas have again placed our firm at the top of the business law league, where seven-digit transactions challenge lawyers to address complex legal and commercial matters, often under significant time pressure,” Partner Alexandru Reff noted. “We have a solid pipeline of projects and a stronger-than-ever team, which makes me confident that we will exceed our EUR 3.5 million revenue plan for our reporting period (ending June 2014).”
Real Estate / M&A: After Ziarul Financiar awarded the firm at the beginning of the year for assisting in the most important real estate transaction of 2012 (the award was received for the third time in the last five years), the team continued to beinvolved in buy or sell side mandates in deals worth over EUR 270 million so far during 2013. Notably, the team assisted NEPI with its most recent transactions in Romania, including the acquisition of the class A - office building Lakeview from AIG/Lincoln Lakeview (the largest property M&A deal in Romania in the first months of 2013), the acquisition of a 70% stake in the development of the Mega Mall shopping centre in Bucharest (together with the Austrian group Real4You), the acquisition from Bel Rom of the Severin Shopping Center in Drobeta Turnu Severin as well as a commercial centre in Deva. All of these transactions (with individual value in the tens of millions of euros range) were complex, included arrangements with the financing banks and were executed under a tight schedule. In addition, the team assisted NEPI in the buyout of the co-investor in the development of the Vulcan site in Bucharest and has been involved in several other transactions which are still in progress. The portfolio of the real estate practice includes other clients such as IKEA Romania, H&M, Hercesa, Moritz Group, Decathlon, First Property, AEW Europe.
Banking: For the banking team of Reff & Associates, the most recent activityrevolves around distressed transactions, with significant transaction work related to large distressed real estate exposures. The banking mandates of the team relate to matters worth over EUR 300 million so far this year. In the area of banking M&A, in one of this year’s landmark deals, Reff & Associates acted as exclusive Romanian legal advisor to Bank of Cyprus in the structuring, drafting and negotiating transaction documentation for the sale of part of Bank of Cyprus’ business in Romania to Marfin Bank Romania. Bank of Cyprus transferred gross assets of EUR 82 million (including certain loan agreements, related collateral and cash and other liquid assets) and liabilities of EUR 77 million (most of the customer deposits) as well as all staff related to servicing the transferred business.
“This transaction has been a premiere for the Romanian market from several perspectives: it was the first time that the Romanian banking system has seen measures applied under the EU Directive on the reorganization and winding up of credit institutions (i.e., the temporary suspension of the activity of a branch of an EU bank) and in the context of first time application of the bail – in legislation,” said Andrei Burz Pinzaru, Partner, Head of the Banking, Finance and Capital Markets practice of Reff & Associates and the leader of the Deloitte multidisciplinary team assigned to the project. “The completion of such a complex transaction under an extremely tight schedule was possible due to the dedication of our team which worked around the clock together with the legal departments of Bank of Cyprus and Marfin Bank and the M&A Division of Bank of Cyprus, and in close consultation with National Bank of Romania and Central Bank of Cyprus.”
Burz Pinzaru added: “The complexity of the transaction required a unique mix of legal, financial, consulting and tax capabilities from the bank’s advisors. Deloitte’s Financial Services Industry group (including, besides Reff & Associates, the Deloitte Tax, Financial Advisory and Management Consulting teams) was excellently positioned to ensure swift turnaround, all-angles covered approach and responsiveness within the highly pressured timeframe for implementation”.
Insolvency: Joint teams of insolvency, banking lawyers and litigators assisted creditors or debtors in insolvency cases worth over EUR 80 million, including opening of the insolvency procedure, management of the relationship with other categories of creditors and judicial administrator, settlements and acquisition of distressed assets.
Capital markets: Capital marketsmandates this year included advice on cross border rights issues, dividend election circulars, stock option plans and securities compliance in matters worth over 110 million EUR.
Energy: The energy practice of Reff & Associates also gained significant momentum. So far this year, theteam has advised on an increasing number of renewable energy deals that involved solar and wind projects of more than 260 MW capacity. Assistance included due diligence, drafting and negotiating pre-contractual and contractual transaction documentation (MoUs, SPAs, escrow agreements, security agreements, EPC contracts, supply of equipment agreements) as well as legal opinions on regulatory aspects.
Competition law: The competition practice has seen an increased workload regarding compliance matters (currently working on the implementation of a complex competition law compliance program for one of the largest distributors of pharmaceuticals in Romania). Meanwhile the team continues to assist clients with on-going investigations of the Competition Council and notifications of economic concentrations to Romanian competition authorities as well as the European Commission concerning transactions exceeding EUR 170 million. In one of the most complex projects of the first half of the year, Reff & Associates competition law team assisted in obtaining a waiver from the Competition Council in order to implement the economical concentration resulting from the Bank of Cyprus – Marfin Bank Romaniatransaction. This is the first waiver of its type to be granted within the Romanian banking sector and the only one granted by the Competition Council in the last three years.
Labour law: The employment practice was busy with transfers of more than 200 employees in the context of transfers of business, ensuring legal compliance and avoiding disputes with employees, as well as more regular, yet complex, aspects like termination of employment agreements, cross border secondments and employment due diligence.
On the rise
Effective 1 September, Robert Ionita, one of the most senior real estate lawyers in the team, was promoted to Associate Partner. Robert has been part of the management team since 2009 and has been involved in various types of mergers and acquisitions, especially in the real estate area, assisting clients in a wide range of real estate projects - property acquisitions (both share and asset deals), real estate development projects, lease of retail and office space, construction contracts, joint ventures, etc.. Robert has thus joined the leadership of the firm, which now includes two Equity Partners and five Associate Partners.
Awards and nominations Reff &Associates:
Award for the most important real estate transaction of the year 2012 - Ziarul Financiar, Lawyers’ Gala Awards, 2013
Award for the most important real estate transaction of the year 2010 - Ziarul Financiar, Lawyers’ Gala Awards, 2011
Nomination for the most important banking transaction of the year 2010 - Ziarul Financiar, Lawyers’ Gala Awards, 2011
Award for the law firm of the year 2010 in real estate - Avocatnet, Avocatnet.ro Gala | 10 years, 2011
Award for the most important transaction of the year 2010 - Avocatnet, Avocatnet.ro Gala | 10 years, 2011
Award for the most important real estate transaction of the year 2009 - Ziarul Financiar, Lawyers’ Gala Awards, 2010
Award for the most important real estate transaction of the year 2009 - Finmedia, Top Lawyers’ Gala, 2010