Belarus

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Belarusian National Bar Association

Competition authority: Ministry of the Economy

Financial regulator: National Bank of the Republic of Belarus

IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:

Financial and corporate (published October) - Financial and corporate

Energy and infrastructure (published June) - Energy and infrastructure

Jurisdiction overview

Belarus’ infamous authoritarian government, which won a fifth term in 2015, and the figurehead of the regime, Alexander Lukashenko - dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” - do not make the country the easiest place to do business. Fortunately for those needing representation, there are plenty of good local independent and larger regional firms present in Minsk. 

Belarus’ private practice legal market is relatively young, having only emerged around the time the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.  The largest and oldest of the domestic firms, the likes of Vlasova Mikhel & Partners, Stepanovski Papakul & Partners and Borovtsov & Salei, along with several regional firms from the neighbouring Baltic states and Russia, are generally the strongest. 

Foreign firms first made segues into Belarus’ legal market in 2006, when Arzinger opened in Minsk. Although a UK or US firm is yet to launch in the country, several large regional firms now have branches in the capital. Russian firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners, which has the largest network in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), and Baltic outfit Sorainen both made astute hires from local firms to launch in the country and now represent two of the best options on the market.

Younger local firms have a share of the work too. Revera, Aleinikov & Partners and Sysouev Bondar Khrapoutski are all active and recommended. Jurznak, another boutique which could be categorised similarly, recently merged with Borovtsov & Salei. 

When it comes to transactional work, firms and lawyers do not generally specialise - although there are exceptions - instead offering the full range financial and corporate advice. In Belarus, a firm that is good at finance work, tends to be a good at M&A. 

Looking at the structure of Belarus’ legal profession there is a nuance that is worth noting. As in the UK, there are two types of lawyers, advocates and attorneys, which are equivalent to UK barristers and solicitors respectively. Advocates can represent clients in all courts and advise on any area of law; licensed attorneys, it is worth noting, are only permitted to advise on commercial law matters and, since a reform in 2011, cannot represent clients in court in any capacity. 

Ben Naylor - EMEA Editor

Financial and corporate
Aleinikov & Partners

Aleinikov & Partners is best known for its M&A work within the technology and telecommunications sectors, and is experienced in acting for international acquirers and investors on inbound M&A deals in the tech sector.  

During the research period the firm assisted a venture capital fund and angel investors in providing finance to a local online business platform, and supported a regional investment group in acquiring a Belarussian creator of telecommunication and technology products. 

Other recent mandates included working for clients on the establishment of blockchain platforms and the implementation of fintech. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Alfa-Bank acquisition of Home Credit Belarus
  • RBF Ventures investment in RocketData
  • Verge Capital Management / Sentosa Capital investment in Healthy Networks

Client feedback

"Knowledgeable." – Banking

"High quality legal services." – M&A

"The company has very strong positions in M&A and in the IT industry." – M&A

"The company is flexible and is able to respond promptly." – Project development

"Very professional work." – Project development

Arzinger & Partners

Arzinger & Partners is active in the financial and corporate space, where it often works on transactions in sectors such as consumer goods and technology and telecommunications. 

In finance work the firm advised mobile software developers on fintech projects. 

The firm’s M&A team often works on the buy-side and advised international acquirers on recent deals in the retail sector.  

On the projects side the firm has been active on PPP projects. 

During the research period, the firm lost M&A partner Dmitry Viltovsky to the new Grata International office in Minsk. 

Recent Deal Data highlights

  • CDRL $6.39 million acquisition of Buslik
  • European Lingerie Group acquisition of Yustyna 

Client feedback

"Delivery is smooth and professional. The main strength is the ability to evaluate the legal risks." – Banking

"Shown themselves to be responsible legal partners. For each of our requests, we always receive timely quality advice." – Banking

"Their legal opinions were executed quickly and efficiently." – Banking

"Very knowledgeable, responsive, and provides us with practical advice." – Banking

BDO Law

BDO Assurance is the Belarussian legal branch of the wider BDO network, which provides accountancy and other business services. The firm is active across the financial and corporate space. 

The firm often worked on M&A mandates during the research period, and has expertise working for both acquirers and sellers. It is active in sectors including financial services, manufacturing and telecommunications.

Client feedback

"Their good attitude to long-term perspectives provide a comprehensive understanding." – M&A

Borovtsov & Salei

Borovtsov & Salei has a strong financial and corporate offering in Belarus. Industry sectors where the firm has been active recently include construction, energy and real estate. 

The firm is active in banking (lending and debt restructuring) and M&A for local and foreign clients. The firm has recently acted for borrowers and lenders on deals where Belarussian companies borrowed from Russia and China, and international development banks.  

In the projects space the firm regularly acts for developers on road infrastructure projects. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Apteka $5 million financing
  • Food Union loan restructuring
  • Mebelain €20 million financing

Client feedback

"Competent lawyers, who are easy to work with." – Banking

"Excellent." – Banking

"Highly professional specialists who provide timely and effective consultations and legal support." – Project development

"Key strengths are fast and clear responsiveness, a solution-focused approach, and an accessible style of communication." – Project development

"Professionals with lots of experience." – Project development

BusinessAdvisers

BusinessAdvisers is recognised for its work within the project development area where it has experience advising on the construction and engineering elements of projects.  

The firm regularly assists Chinese clients on nationally significant projects in Belarus and often advises on licensing and EPC contracts. Recent mandates have seen the firm represent Chinese construction companies on EPC contracts for the construction of a mining plant, a Minsk skyscraper and one of the largest malls in the country.  

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • iPay $1 million restructuring 

Client feedback

"Has a consistent ability to deliver pragmatic and solution-driven advice to clients by combining innovation in thoughts and technical excellence in the law." – M&A

"A very experienced law firm that's distinctive feature is reliability." – Project development

"Experienced in construction work. Has strong knowledge of possible risks." – Project development

"Professional. Appreciated for operating on time without delays." – Project development

"Showed confidence in solving the tasks. Communication with the company is carried out in an understandable language, which is a clear advantage." – Project development

"Quickly resolves complex issues." – Project development

"Very professional lawyers. Everything is done efficiently, quickly and on time." – Project development

"Young and ambitious. We appreciate their customer focus and desire to find the best solution for our business." – Project development

CERHA HEMPEL

Austrian firm CERHA HEMPEL’s Minsk branch has a credible offering across the financial and corporate areas, where it often advises on cross-border deals with a local element. 

The firm acted on a number of restructurings for clients during the research period, including for Austrian firms Baumit and Silgan Metal.  

A further highlight saw the firm represent an Emirati company on a multi-jurisdictional and multi-stage transaction of structuring the financing of its subsidiary, involving two M&A deals, three loan arrangements, and a capital increase. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Baumit / Kema merger
  • Lukoil Belarus restructuring
  • Miory Group €34 million financing 

Client feedback

"We are very satisfied with the team. They always provide us with quality work products and their turnaround time is very fast. I especially appreciate that the team really listens to our needs and wants. In my view, CHSH is an excellent law firm with an experienced, highly professional and hard-working team."  – Project development

Sergei Makarchuk

"Excellent."

Cobalt

Baltic firm Cobalt has a strong financial and corporate practice in Belarus, which supplements its strong offering in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 

The firm has worked across all areas during the research period, appearing on a mix of M&A, financing and restructuring mandates, often for international clients. 

In the projects space the firm regularly represents international developers constructing facilities in Belarus and has recently advised developers on solar plant and waste disposal projects. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Lida Veterinary Disposal Plant expansion
  • Mangrove Capital investment in Flo Health
  • Orbico acquisition of Beauty Line 

Client feedback

"Has due understanding of the industry and the team considers local issues within the international framework of the company's activities." – Banking

"Performs great work of all the issues we have, combining deep legal expertise, knowledge of international approaches, and a deep understanding of our business processes. The team is available for us around-the-clock." – Banking

"The team was very responsive." – Banking

Collegia

Collegia Law Firm is active in the financial and corporate space, where it has often acted on restructuring work. 

The firm’s M&A team is active on transactional work within the real estate sector. In the restructuring area, the firm has assisted companies in rearranging their corporate set-up and debts. It has also represented a group on its reorganisation in the form of a merger. 

Client feedback

"Professional approach and quick solving of problems." – M&A

"Employees are highly qualified, have positive energy and motivation to provide services, and perform all works at the highest professional level." – Restructuring and insolvency

Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners

Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners is one of the best Belarussian firms across the financial and corporate area and the market leader in banking and capital markets work.   

The firm is often the local counsel to international financial institutions on the provision of loans to Belarusian borrowers and has recently worked on loans in the banking and healthcare sectors.  

In the capital markets area the firm is the only firm in the market that has advised on all the sovereign bonds Belarus has placed on international markets. 

The firm has a strong track record in the projects space where it regularly works on nationally prominent projects in the construction, renewable energy and transport sectors. A particular highlight sees the firm work on the first national PPP project, where it acts for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Belarussian authorities. Its other mandates involved advising international developers on the production of rail facilities and water treatment plants. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Belinvestbank $50 million financing
  • Oasis acquisition of Belarusian assets of Heineken
  • Vitebsk 40MW hydropower plant 

Client feedback

"Quick responses, sharp attention to details, thorough review of documents." – Capital markets: Debt

"Excellent work." – M&A

"Very diligent and hardworking lawyers with prompt and practical advice." – M&A

EY

The legal arm of professional services firm, EY Law, is broadly experienced in matters concerning M&A and restructuring in Belarus.  

The firm regularly works on transactional support services for a mix of acquisitions, financial investments and privatisations, when supporting domestic acquirers. The firm also often assists clients on their restructurings and through their liquidation process. Sectors that have been active for the firm during the research period include food services, retail and technology. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Reuters Belarus restructuring

Client feedback

"Has the ability to prepare documents in a compressed timeframe." – Banking

"It was very easy to communicate with international colleagues based on documents prepared by the firm. As a result we've get very convincing, clear, structured memorandum covering all sensitive topics." – Banking

"Prepares professionally. The company`s lawyers are reliable, have good attention to details and strictly observe the confidentiality of information." – Banking

"Very good service." – Banking

IE Skuratovich KI

IE Skuratovich KI has a strong banking practice, and works on matters including foreign investment and project financing. 

The firm often represents domestic clients in securing bank loans from Belarussian and international banks to finance their projects. In recent times the firm has worked for clients engaging with Chinese money and on the financing of the construction of malls and buildings. In the M&A area, the firm regularly acts for acquirers within the real estate sector. 

Client feedback

"Excellent professionals." – Banking

"Great professionals." – Banking

"They are brilliant professionals." – Banking

"This is a team of wonderful professionals who are able to structure strong deals." – Banking

Legaltax

Legaltax is active across the financial and corporate space in Belarus.  

Though most of the firm’s transactional work is confidential, it recently acted on a cross-border restructuring mandate.  

In the projects space the firm worked for an international brewery group on the construction of a production facility in Belarus. 

In January 2019 the firm – previously called Vilgerts – underwent a name change after breaking away from the pan-Baltic Vilgerts alliance. 

Client feedback

"The partners are mobile, flexible, and open for change and improvement. They often focus on complicated but topical legal matters which lack necessary legal framework and develop their expertise in such areas to high professionalism." – Banking

"They are good solutions finders in unusual situations, respect our time and involve us in the process only when it is really necessary. At the same time, lawyers constantly keep us informed about the development of our issues. When working with him there is a sense of reliability." – Banking

"They are progressive, effective and active with tailored client service." – Project development

Leshchynski Smolski

Leshchynski Smolski is active in the Belarussian legal market on financial and corporate matters. 

The firm regularly works on transactional support services, and has worked on a mix of joint ventures and construction mandates for clients during the research period.

Client feedback

"They are competent, trustworthy and fast." – Banking

"High level of professionalism, attentive attitude, quick reactions and flexible." – Project development

"Overall, we are very pleased with the services provided by the firm. Their responsiveness, customer oriented approach, ability to understand specifics of our business, and flexibility stand out." – Project development

"Perfect knowledge of local legal terrain. Good care overall with support during all stages of business establishment." – Project development

"Young, modern, quick and interested." – Restructuring and insolvency

Parada + Partners

Parada + Partners is active in the Belarussian legal market on financial and corporate matters. 

The firm notably worked in the restructuring sector during the research period, representing the creditors in an insolvency case. 

Peterka & Partners

The Minsk office of regional firm Peterka & Partners is active in the financial and corporate space, where it often acts on M&A and restructuring work. 

Though all of the firm’s work is confidential, it has recently been active in acting for the acquirer on share purchases, as well as on gathering financing for acquisitions. In the restructuring area, the firm has assisted companies to rearrange their corporate set-up and shares. 

On the projects side, the firm has assisted developers on matters related to the automotive and construction sectors. 

Revera

Revera is renowned in the Belarusian legal market for its strong project development work.  

The firm regularly works for contractors and developers on projects across a wide range of sectors, and has recently been active on construction mandates within the agriculture, mining, retail and wind energy sectors. Recent highlights include representing a German contractor on developing Belarus’s largest mining project. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • CDRL $6.39 million acquisition of Buslik
  • Miorsk metal rolling plant 

Client feedback

"Fast, professional." – Banking

"High level professional skills." – Banking

"Creative thinking. Fast and specific." – M&A

"High quality." – Project development

"Qualified professionals. All provided information that was comprehensive." – Project development

Rödl & Partner

Rödl & Partner is active across the financial and corporate space in Belarus.  

Although all of the firm’s recent transactional work is confidential, it was active in the M&A space during the research period. The most active recent sectors for the firm were construction and manufacturing. 

Sorainen

Sorainen is strong in all areas of transactional work in Belarus, and is one of the country’s most active firms in banking and M&A. 

The banking team acts for a mix of borrowers and lenders across a wide variety of sectors, and regularly assist international financial institutions in their finance transactions in the region.  

In the M&A area the firm has a particular strength on work within the IT sector and has recently advised corporate firms and private equity houses on inbound investments in the industry in Belarus. 

The firm is also active across the project development space where it often secures roles on nationally prominent work within the construction, heating and telecommunication sectors. Recent highlights have included acting for telecom companies building telecommunication infrastructure for the China-Belarus Industrial Park, and for the development of a 4G telecom network in Belarus. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • CDRL $6.39 million acquisition of Buslik
  • Modern-Expo $15 million financing
  • Modus Group $11.3 million financing 

Client feedback

"Advice is detailed and prompt." – Banking

"Excellent service and quick response times." – Banking

"The staff is highly experienced and professional, with a vast level of knowledge." – Banking

"The team are professionals. Very friendly and helpful." – Banking

"Have an ultimately high level of skills, knowledge and experience. Could successfully solve difficult issues." – Capital markets: Debt

"Excellent work across the board. The firm provides proactive advice and often identifies potential issues and proposed solutions before we expressly ask." – M&A

"Knowledgeable and diligent lawyers on all levels. Excellent responsiveness." – M&A

"A top-notch firm. Their team is professional, gives timely and precise advice." – Project development

Stepanovski Papakul & Partners

Stepanovski Papakul & Partners has a credible offering across the financial and corporate area. 

Most of the firm’s recent work is confidential, but the firm is generally active on transactional work in sectors including food, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. 

In the project development space the firm has recent experience supporting developers of solar power plants.

Sysouev Bondar and Partners

Sysouev Bondar and Partners (SBH Law Offices) has a strong offering in Belarus for both financial and corporate and project development work, where it is among the market leaders. 

During the research period the firm’s financial and corporate team worked for international and domestic clients on a mix of M&A, financing and restructuring work. Though much of the firm’s recent work was confidential, clients it worked for include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Baltic bank, Luminor. 

The firm’s projects team has represented developers on the construction of potash plants. Energy and mining are sectors where the firm often represents clients in projects work. 

A notable staffing change saw name partner Alexandre Khrapoutski depart to set up a new firm, Lex Torre. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Cherikov 109MW photovoltaic power plant
  • Rublevskiy $50 million refinancing
  • Servolux €13 million financing 

Client feedback

"Great legal firm with very professional staff, who can deal with difficult tasks in the timely and proper way." – Banking

"Experts at counselling and providing service." – M&A

"Efficient and delivers comprehensive advice. Administrative personnel is also responsive." – Project development

Usinvest

US Invest is active in the Belarussian legal market on financial and corporate matters. 

The firm has a focus on representing Chinese clients as they enter the Belarussian market, and supports them on transactional and incorporation-related matters. Recent highlights has seen the firm act on project financing matters for Chinese borrowers, in relation to construction of buildings in Belarus. 

Veda Consulting

Veda Consulting is best known for its strong banking and project finance work.  

The firm’s banking team is active on matters including project finance and bond debt restructuring, where it often works within the construction sector. Recent highlights include working on the financing of a Minsk-based multifunctional trade complex. In the M&A area, the firm has been active for the acquirer within the retail sector. 

Verdict

Verdict has a credible financial and corporate offering. Often working for with medium sized domestic clients, within the banking space the firm recently acted on matters such as reverse leasing, bank loans and debt restructuring. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Goetz Group $9 million debt restructuring 

Client feedback

"An active, aggressive style of work together with experience helps them to achieve quick results." – Banking

"High quality. A wide spectrum of knowledge." – Banking

"Profound knowledge of financial law, as well as understanding of internal procedures of financial institutions." – Banking

"A team of professionals that provide services of exceptional quality." – M&A

"Provides advice of outstanding quality on time. Guarantees a highly professional approach, brilliant legal competence and a thoughtful attitude to the client. The team is quite fluent in our industry and always provides practical advice for each case." – Project development

"We were impressed by the responsiveness of the team and business approach." – Project development

"High professionalism and strong skills as negotiator." – Restructuring and insolvency

"The team is highly professional and experienced. Their most significant expertise lies in the field of corporate law, structuring various deals as well as managing shareholder disputes. The team is compact but has a broad set of experience." – Restructuring and insolvency

Verkhovodko & Partners

Verkhovodko & Partners is an active firm in Belarus with strength in banking and M&A. 

The firm has a strong project finance team and acts for lenders ranging from international financial institutions such as the Brazilian Development Bank, to corporate banks like Sberbank of Russia. The firm has advised on loans to clients in the aviation and rail sectors recently.  

During the research period, the firm has also acted on domestic M&A for sellers, and restructurings among other transactional work. 

Within the project development area the firm regularly assists on mandates within the energy, mining and transportation sectors. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus €100 million financing 
  • Sosedi acquisition of four Arvitfood supermarkets
  • Velcom acquisition of Aichyna Plus / Drive / Summit

Client feedback

"A very professional team, which is ready to study and support the project despite its difficulty." – Banking

"Everything was very quick and professional." – Banking

"We are fully satisfied." – Banking

"The law firm provides services at a high level. The strength is the knowledge and experience of the partners and lawyers of the company, the ability and desire to achieve their goals, and their sober assessment of the situation." – Capital markets: Equity

"Competent in different sectors of construction and production." – Project development

"Extremely competent in fields such as investment. Thorough understanding of the business makes strategical legal plans that bring the best possible results." – Project development

"High professional level, consistently high quality of services, extensive experience, creative and efficient in working with clients." – Project development

"Ready to help the client to solve any legal issues, with a systematic and flexible approach." – Project development

"Strong understanding of the main task and a clear way of finding arguments on how to achieve the main goal." – Project development

"The main advantages are professionalism, punctuality, responsibility, and experience." – Project development

VMP Vlasova Mikhel & Partners

VMP Vlasova Mikhel & Partners is one of the best banking experts in Belarus, and is generally strong in all other financial and corporate areas. 

The firm regularly acts as the local counsel on large, international banking transactions, including on trade and project finance mandates. In this space, it often completes high-profile financing deals for lenders including Commerzbank, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Export-Import Bank of China and Gazprombank. 

In the projects area the firm has experience and expertise in dealing with issues related to the implementation of construction projects. The firm worked for the developer on the production of nitrogen fertilizer plants and potash mining plants during the research period. 

Recent Deal Data highlights  

  • Belarusian Railway $52.6 million financing
  • Belgazprombank €117.5 million financing
  • Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus €50 million financing

Client feedback

"10/10 from my perspective. It is a pleasure to work with VMP. Very knowledgeable, quick to respond, highly ethical, dedicated and skilled team. I'm always very impressed with the level of professionalism, communication, and reassurance from VMP." – M&A

"The law firm has shown its skills as professionals with great experience meeting deadlines." – M&A

"Exact and practical solutions. Good understanding of business specifics. Good expertise in investment, construction, contractual items, commitment and availability." – Project development

"Highly professional specialists with a deep knowledge of Belarus law and its specifics. Fully dedicated to providing business oriented advice." – Project development

Svetlana Dashuk

"Impressed by her deep knowledge and non-standard solutions to problems."

Tatiana Emelianova

"Highly professional, intelligent, smart, fully supportive, understanding, patient and always approachable and available. She explained all the options to me clearly and answered any questions I had until I felt comfortable. I really appreciate her honest, clear, delicate and transparent communication."

Yuliya Liashenko

"She is a truly talented lawyer who gives her utmost to clients. Her dedication, attention to detail, strong work ethic and expertise in dealing with any issues always impress me and I greatly appreciate her professional manner in handling our matters. She possesses all the attributes I expect in a good lawyer: knowledge and experience, professionalism, integrity, strategic thinking, enthusiasm, and responsiveness. On a personal level, Yuliya is very responsive and easy to communicate with."

Konstantin Mikhel

"Extremely knowledgeable, convincing and persistent, confident, well-spoken and possesses great emotional balance."