Hungary

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Hungarian Bar Association (Magyar Ügyvédi Kamara) 

Competition authority: The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, GVH) 

Financial regulator: The Central Bank of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Bank, MNB)

IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:

Energy and infrastructure (published June) - Energy and infrastructure

Financial and corporate (published October) - Banking, M&A, Project finance  

Jurisdiction overview

Hungary is a republic. It began its current, third incarnation in this form of government in 1990 when the first multi-party parliamentary elections were held and 40 years of communist rule ended.  

In a global context, Hungary’s governing laws are only in their infancy. The present constitution, Magyarország Alaptörvénye (Fundamental Law of Hungary), was adopted in 2011, superseding a document drafted in 1989. The Civil Code is younger still, having only been implemented in March 2014. 

Ostensibly, the country is now a democracy, but the government’s model can best be described as a loose interpretation of how such a system traditionally functions. Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz, first came to power in 2010 and, with a sufficient majority, was able to implement a new constitution in 2011, making substantial changes to the judiciary and generally implementing reforms which removed a system of checks and balances in favour of those enabling it to cement its position. Further amendments have been made in 2013 and 2014. Some of the more recent contentious changes included implementing laws restricting political adverts in public media during election campaigns and introducing penalties - including incarceration - for homelessness.  

Looking at the legal market, there are only a few restrictions to establishing a law firm in Hungary. Both domestic and foreign firms cannot take the form of an LLC or MDP. No licence is required but a firm must be registered with the relevant regional bar. If a firm does not employ a Hungarian qualified lawyer, it must be called ‘office’ in its title rather than ‘law firm’. Firms from outside the EU hoping to practice in Hungary, must include the name of a lawyer from the office in the firm’s title. 

Requirements for international lawyers hoping to practice in Hungary are fairly standard, provided the counsel is registered with a regional bar and adequately insured. Any lawyer from an EEA member state can practice the law they are qualified to in Hungary. Lawyers who qualified in a non-EEA member state face tighter restrictions. They can advise on the law of their jurisdiction and international law only if they have a contract with a Hungarian attorney or law firm or a foreign law firm established in Hungary. Lawyers qualified within the EU, can re-qualify as a local attorneys if they are sufficiently proficient in the language and have been practicing within Hungary for three years. 

Hungary’s legal market for significant deal work is dominated by international firms, principally those from the US or UK. Weil Gotshal & Manges, Baker & McKenzie and DLA Piper are known for being the preferred advisors of the state. Thanks to its takeover of White & Case in Budapest, Dentons has one of the leading practices in the country. CMS is highly regarded too. 

Of the local firms on the market, Lakatos Köves & Partners, Clifford Chance’s former office in Budapest, is the clear leader. There are a host of other, smaller local firms, which generally handle local work for foreign firms with no presence in Hungary.

Firms mostly handle a mix of bank finance, private equity or venture capital and M&A work. Capital markets transactions are limited, there are some project finance transactions and restructuring and insolvency cases. 

Ben Naylor – Journalist - EMEA

Financial and corporate
Andrékó Kinstellar

Andrékó Kinstellar is the Hungarian arm of regional outfit Kinstellar. The Budapest based firm is one of the country’s most experienced advisors for large cross-border bank lending and financing transactions, and generally has a good transactional offering. Banking regulatory is another area of expertise, as is work in the energy sector. The firm generally represents banks on finance deals. 

In the banking area the firm had lender-side roles on various large corporate, real estate and projects financings. 

The firm’s recent capital markets highlights were predominantly in the debt area. The most prominent deals were issuer’s roles on Waberer’s Budapest Stock Exchange IPO, and Nitrogénművek’s RegS eurobond issue. 

In M&A, the banking, energy and pharmaceutical sectors have been active for the firm recently. It was involved in more than five significant transactions; in a number of deals representing the Hungarian state, or state-controlled sellers. A highlight was advising MET on the acquisition of Tigáz.

Key clients of the firm include Citigroup, JPMorgan, UniCredit, and Raiffeisen. 

Client feedback

"Fast responses, experienced partners, superior knowledge, efficient advice, adequate quantity of prepared colleagues and appropriate value for money." – Banking, funds

"Good value for money." – Project finance 

"Reliable, strong and professional team." – M&A

"Very precise and fast paced with great communication." – M&A

"Very good work and commitment." – Private equity 

"Andreko Kinstellar is a top notch legal practice in Hungary. It is well familiar with international transactions and constantly adds value to projects." – Capital markets, project finance

 

bpv Jádi Nemeth

In Hungary Bpv Jádi Németh is active in M&A. The firm worked for both buyers and sellers recently, often performing due diligence for multinational clients doing business in Hungary. The firm also saw some private equity work during the research period. A transactional highlight for the firm in this regard was representing a private equity fund in selling a renewable energy asset in Hungary. 

Some clients of the firm include TREOS Bio, Thermo-Seat, and Rolf Plötz. 

 

CHSH Dezsö & Partners

CHSH Dezsö & Partners is the Hungarian office of Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati. In Hungary the firm operates in banking and finance and M&A, with M&A being the stronger of the two practice areas for the firm. 

In banking, the firm represented both lenders and borrowers. A highlight for the firm was advising Erste Group Bank on a loan in the real estate sector, requiring a security deposit from the borrower. 

With regard to M&A the firm predominantly represented purchasers, for example advising a subsidary of the JRD Group on acquiring six project companies working in solar power. 

A few notable clients of the firm not mentioned above are Raiffeisenlandesbank, Infogroup, and Tunsgram Group. 

Client feedback

"The firm is always at our disposal with prepared lawyers." – M&A

Tamás Polauf

 

"Always available, and very customer friendly."

 

 

Deloitte Legal Erdős and Partners Law Firm

Deloitte Legal Erdős and Partners is the Hungarian legal branch of the global consultancy firm. The firm works in M&A and banking and finance. 

With respect to banking and finance the firm has experience both lenders and borrowers, also holding a broad advisory roles for several banking clients. 

In M&A the firm worked for the most part on the sell side of transactions, and on mergers which were often cross-border. The firm represented OKI Europe in its Hungarian restructuring through a cross-border merging of the Hungarian subsidiary into OKI Europe.

Some of the firm’s clients are MCI Capital Group, NIKON Holdings Europe, and OTP Pension Fund. 

Client feedback

"Strengths: high and wide experience in screening financial institutions, customer specific recommendations and flexible price structure." – Banking 

 

Dentons Réczicza

Réczicza Dentons Europe, the biggest firm in the world’s Hungarian branch, is strong in banking and finance, M&A, and projects work. LBOs and private equity transactions are an area where the firm is one of the most experienced firms in Hungary and the wider region, in a large part thanks to the firm’s global head of PE being stationed in Budapest. Large cross-border syndicated loans and project financings are another area where the firm’s experience is comparatively high by market standards.

In the banking area the firm worked on a number of high profile transactions recently. The highlights included negotiating new financing for Invitel after its private equity buy-out. Other mandates included a cross-border project financing for a PPP. 

In the firm’s recent M&A work, private equity featured heavily. One deal example saw the firm advise Enterprise Investors on the sale of Netrisk.hu to MCI Capital Group. A strategic M&A highlight was advising Engie on the sale of ÉGÁZ-DÉGÁZ to state-owned Hungarian energy company NKM Nemzeti Közművek. 

In the projects area the firm has been advising sponsors and developers on the development of power projects.

Hungarian Development Bank (MFB), Magyar Export-Import Bank, UniCredit, and Rockaway Capital are some of the firm’s notable clients.

Client feedback

"Rob Irving led the transaction team on our acquisition mandate covering three jurisdictions. He is one of the best M&A partners in the CEE region. He is responsive, available 24/7, solution driven and always keeps a cool head under pressure." – M&A

"Good understanding of the business, in depth expert knowledge and experience, dedicated persons and good networking background." – Banking, M&A

"The firm offers excellent client service, comprehensive knowledge of the industry and proactive advice." – Project development, project finance 

"Strengths: quick service; up-to-date knowledge on nuclear and electricity market legislation; excellent lawyers; and wide international experience and network of experts." – Project development

 

DLA Piper Posztl Nemescsói Györfi-Tóth and Partners

Horváth & Partners DLA Piper is broadly strong in transactional work and is often instructed by the government or state-controlled entities on M&A deals. Banking, energy and real estate are sectors where the firm has expertise.  

The firm’s banking practice represented borrowers in the energy and banking sectors when securing large syndicated loans and worked for the lenders financing a large real estate M&A deal. 

A transactional capital markets highlight for the firm saw it advise Konzum on a capital increase.

In M&A the firm was involved in prominent deals across a range of sectors but particularly active in the banking and energy sectors where it has been heavily involved with deals with state involvement. In energy, for example, it advised MVM on the acquisition of 50% of shares in ENKSZ and represented Eni on the sale of its 98.99% shareholding in Tigáz to MET.

The firm’s significant clients include MVM, Budapest Bank, and MFB.  

Client feedback 

"The firm has deep knowledge and a client friendly approach." – Banking, investment funds

"In the past 12-18 months, the law firm supported the bank in significant and complex litigation cases. We are indeed satisfied with the services provided by the law firm. Internationality, professionalism, flexibility, reliability and the network have a great impact on the bank." – Restructuring 

 

Forgó Damjanovic & Partners

Forgó Damjanovic & Partners is a domestic firm active in banking and finance and M&A. 

The firm worked on a loan for Pacific Drilling VII from Eksportkreditt Norge, Citibank and DNB Bank. More broadly in banking the firm represents high profile financial institutions.

In M&A the firm worked on the buy side of acquisitions and on some mergers, with experience on cross-jurisdictional transactions. A highlight of such work was the firm’s advice to United Molasses Group on a cross-border acquisition of one of the client’s trading partners. 

A few clients of the firm are Erste Group Bank, Bank of Ireland, UniCredit, Rabobank, and Ikea Group. 

 

Hegymegi-Barakonyi Baker McKenzie

Horváth & Partners DLA Piper is broadly strong in transactional work and is often instructed by the government or state-controlled entities on M&A deals. Banking, energy and real estate are sectors where the firm has expertise.  

The firm’s banking practice represented borrowers in the energy and banking sectors when securing large syndicated loans and worked for the lenders financing a large real estate M&A deal. 

A transactional capital markets highlight for the firm saw it advise Konzum on a capital increase.

In M&A the firm was involved in prominent deals across a range of sectors but particularly active in the banking and energy sectors where it has been heavily involved with deals with state involvement. In energy, for example, it advised MVM on the acquisition of 50% of shares in ENKSZ and represented Eni on the sale of its 98.99% shareholding in Tigáz to MET.

The firm’s significant clients include MVM, Budapest Bank, and MFB.  

Client feedback 

"The firm has deep knowledge and a client friendly approach." – Banking, investment funds

"In the past 12-18 months, the law firm supported the bank in significant and complex litigation cases. We are indeed satisfied with the services provided by the law firm. Internationality, professionalism, flexibility, reliability and the network have a great impact on the bank." – Restructuring 

 

HP Legal Hajdu & Partner Law Office

HP Legal Hajdu & Partner Law Office is a domestic firm operating in banking and finance. 

Within banking and finance the firm has worked for a mix of both borrowers and lenders on credit facilities, such as advising K&H Bank on a loan to BSZL. 

Other notable clients of the firm include Unicredit Bank, OTP Bank, and KESZ Group. 

Client feedback 

"HP Legal is characterized by its high quality standard. The team's legal advise is pragmatic yet of the highest quality and always tied to clients' need. Communication is concise, and the HP legal team is very responsive and takes a pro-active approach when resolving legal issues. Costs are very competitive. Being a smaller firm, the relationship with clients is characterized by a high degree of personal responsibility and commitment, which is a significant positive asset." – Banking, M&A

 

Lakatos Köves & Partners

One of Hungary’s few remaining independent firms with a focus on transactional work, Lakatos Köves & Partners is experienced and active on high-end deals across all areas of covered by the rankings. The firm is the local counsel of choice for many international banks and law firms not present in the market. Telecoms is a sector in which the firm has expertise.

Recent banking highlights for the firm include local counsel roles on several significant cross border deals in Hungary in 2017/18. One which stands out was representing the banks which financed the acquisition of Invitel.

In the capital markets area the firm secured roles on two of the most notable deals in Hungary recently. The clear highlights were acting as local counsel to the joint lead managers of Hungary’s recent sovereign bond issue and representing Waberer’s financial sponsors when the company went public

The firm’s most significant recent M&A mandates were in banking, energy and food, telecoms and beverage sectors. These included advising Mid Europa on its exit from Invitel, acting for EPH when it bought a power plant, and representing Citibank when it sold its local consumer business. 

Clifford Chance, Deutsche Bank, EDF, and Europa Partners are a few of the firm’s significant clients. 

Client feedback

"Lakatos Köves & Partners is a reliable and client focused law firm with highly expertised partners and hard working attorneys. Their service is above market standard, and they pay attention to detail while maintaining their focus on strategy." – Banking, M&A

"Lakatos Köves & Partners is an outstanding law firm with highly professional attitude and outstanding international legal experience and knowledge. We have always been very pleased by their prompt responses to our issues and requests. The firm's lawyers always handle our cases with a great deal of attention and care. It has been our best choice to work with them. They are experts and excellent with great client management skills." – Capital markets, M&A, restructuring 

"Wide range of expertise with a very strong sense of responsibility for the client's needs." – Banking, M&A, insolvency

"LKP are simply excellent. They are incredibly responsive and accurate. Szabolcs Mestyán and John Fenemore are both fantastic to work with." - Capital markets

"Highly professional and motivated firm that may be relied on in complex legal situations." – M&A

 

Lengyel Allen & Overy

The only magic circle firm with a presence in Budapest, Lengyel Allen & Overy is among the capital markets leading specialists in Hungary, and active in lending work. 

The firm’s recent domestic banking work was mostly on the side of banks as lenders but also included an inter-group financing for a bank as a borrower. It also had supporting roles on larger mandates led from other offices, including the financing of PPF’s acquisition of Telenor’s CEE assets. 

In the capital markets area, the firm was active on significant debt and structured finance deals by Hungarian issuers or foreign issuers listing in Budapest. Publishable mandates include advising MOL on a schuldschein issue.

Erste Group, UniCredit, and MOL are a few of the firm’s notable clients.

Client feedback 

"Well prepared, high professional knowledge, deliverables always on time and good work atmosphere." – Banking, M&A

 

Nagy & Trócsányi

Nagy & Trócsányi is a domestic firm that is active in banking and finance and M&A. 

With regard to banking and finance the firm has advised banks on regulatory advice, security advice, and some transaction documentation. A highlight in this respect was advising Sberbank on loan collateral enforcement issues. 

In M&A the firm represented large corporate entities and generally provided due diligence reports for acquisitions, often working in the renewable energy sector. A more specific example of the firm’s work was representing KS ORKA Renewables on the acquisition of a company opening the first geothermal power plant in Hungary. 

Other noteworthy clients of the firm not previously mentioned include Raiffeisen Bank, OTP Bank, and the Government of Hungary. 

Client feedback 

"Péter Nagy is an excellent litigator with in-depth knowledge of procedural law and strategic thinking. Zoltán Varga has in-depth knowledge in derivatives, retail, corporate, banking, and dispute resolution. The firm's solutions are focused on clients' needs, and their services are great value for money." – Derivatives 

"Reliable, quick and professional." – Investment funds 

"Strong local practice with good connections to authorities. Excellent understanding of the market." – Regulatory 

"We approached their banking and finance team for assistance in connection with a Polish finance transaction involving a Hungarian law element. It is the first time we had a chance to cooperate with their banking team. I think that, generally, their level of responsiveness is acceptable. In some cases we had to ask some follow up question to receive a bit more specific advice or recommendation our banking client was seeking for. However, it has to be mentioned that due to completely non-standard nature of the questions we had, driven by some debt restructuring angle to our matter, I can imagine that the answers were sometimes not so straightforward." – Banking, restructuring  

Zoltán Varga

"Great added value, focussed on client needs."

"Professional, reliable, good value for money."

"Good understanding of the local market and litigation developments; valuable connections and working relationship with authorities."

 

Partos & Noblet

Partos & Noblet is the Hungarian office of Hogan Lovells and operates in M&A and banking and finance within the Hungarian market. 

In terms of banking the firm represented Vajda Papir on a financing from a syndicate of banks including OTP, Unicredit, MFB, and Exim Bank. It was also active in the infrastructure sector and more broadly advised a mix of borrowers and lenders. 

Within the M&A the firm worked on joint ventures and acquisitions from both the sell and buy side. An example was representing DIGI Távközlési és Szolgáltató on the purchase of 99.99% of  Invitel Távközlési.

High profile clients of the firm include Intertoll, Danube Fund, and Lone Star. 

Client feedback

"The lawyers are very friendly and knowledgeable." – M&A

"Very high standards, great advice and flexibility." – Banking 

"High level legal advice and creative solutions for complex transactions." – M&A

 

Schoenherr Hetényi

Schoenherr Hetényi is the Hungarian branch of the international firm Schoenherr, which has offices across Central and Eastern Europe. Within Hungary the firm is active in banking and finance, capital markets, and M&A.

In banking and finance the firm represented clients on loan facilities, for example advising Bain Capital Europe on a repricing of a financing agreement. 

In terms of capital markets the firm largely advised its clients on equity and debt capital market issuances. 

M&A is the firm’s strongest practice area, where it represents both buyers and sellers in acquisition transactions. Recent deals included advising Telenor in the sale of its Hungarian operations to PPF Group. 

Other notable clients of the firm include UniCredit Bank, Export-Import Bank, and EOS Faktor.

Client feedback

"Punctual, very responsive and knowledgeable." – M&A

"This law firm was really excellent and provided a great support to our transaction." – Banking, M&A

"They provided accurate assistance and high professional input on transactions. M&A lawyers at the firm made great impression from both legal and business perspective." – M&A 

"It is competent and answers to the point; understanding the practical implications." – Regulatory 

"Good and reliable service as local counsel." - Banking

 

Siegler Bird & Bird

The Hungarian arm of Bird & Bird (until fairly recently Weil Gotshall & Manges), has a particularly strong finance practice. The firm is used by most of the country’s leading banks for loans, and debt and derivatives transactions, and in the firm’s name partner it has one of the most knowledgeable securities regulation experts in Hungary. The M&A practice is strong too, and generally secures some high-end work where there are Hungarian parties or interests.

In the banking and finance area, the firm reported a fairly high volume of deals for the research period. The transactions were more often on the side of the lenders and included a number of reasonably large outbound export financings by Exim Bank. A notable borrower side deal was a large leveraged real estate buyout by a US fund. 

Notable capital markets deals for the firm in the research period included a number of deals relating to securities issues by MOL. These were mostly on the side of the banks, but include one transaction acting on behalf of MOL, and included several cash-settled put and call option agreements. 

In M&A the firm was active in the energy sector, including for MOL with respect to the acquisition of the OT Industries Group, and in banking where its notable deals included advising OTP Bank on the acquisition of the Serbian Vojvodjanska banka. General Electric’s exit from certain industries also helped keep the firm occupied as it handled much of the CEE work this created. 

General Electric, OTP Bank, Magyar Export-Import Bank, and MOL are some of the firm’s key clients. 

Client feedback

"Highly qualified and reliable legal advisors providing the best advice with excellent market and sector insight. Very well connected to key decision makers in their respective industries." – M&A

 

Szabó Kelemen & Partners

Szabó Kelemen & Partners is active in M&A. 

In M&A the firm worked on the cross-border merger of Cemex Hungary, its client, and Cemex Espanha. More broadly the firm advised on sales for clients. 

Some clients of the firm are MKB-Euroleasing, Glencore Group, and BMW.

Client feedback 

"Expertise, efficiency and correct invoicing." – Banking 

"Pros: availability, legal network, new ideas and ownership attitude. Cons: small team." - Banking

"Strong, professional team that are customer focused and fully dedicated, offering practical solutions." – M&A

"Very responsive, client-focused and great value for money. The firm was able to find pragmatic solutions even in complex legal projects and within challenging deadlines." – Insolvency, M&A

 

Szecskay Attorneys At Law

Szecskay Attorneys at Law is an independent domestic firm in Hungary recognised most for its M& work. In M&A the firm was mostly active advising acquirers, for example working for PPF with regard to the acquisition of Telenor, for example. 

László Pók, a corporate partner, left the firm in January 2018 to join Magyar Telekom as in-house counsel. 

Other clients of the firm are Globalworth Real Estate Investments, Fedrus International Group, and Mercer. 

Client feedback 

"Atttentive and professional service, our client was pleased." - 

"Excellent industry sector knowledge, good risk management, correct client-attorney relationship and good value for money. Also, precise and detailed invoice attachment." – M&A

"I believe there is a very good reason why Szecskay Attorneys at Law is the largest independent law firm in Hungary. Simply put, they provide a very professional and thorough service in all major areas of business law. Of course, our business does not require the full breadth of Szecskay's expertise, but in the areas where we do require it, they can be relied on to give us the right answers, even when it may not be the ones we wanted. In those cases then, they often come up with creative approaches and solutions that get us to where we need to be. I believe all this is testament to the hard work and diligence of the firm's founder and managing partner, András Szecskay. He runs a tight ship with professionalism and class. His style is evident throughout the firm." – Restructuring 

"I primarily work with Orsolya Görgényi as my contact partner. I appreciate the immediate response and handling of mandates with great care, speed and top professional support." – Banking, M&A

"Very good quality, highly responsive and committed." – Restructuring 

 

Taylor Wessing e|n|w|c

Taylor Wessing in Hungary is active in banking and finance and M&A. 

In banking and finance the firm worked on an extension of a loan facility requiring collateral for its client, a lender. 

Within M&A the firm has been active on acquisition transactions for its clients. 

M&A partner Orsolya Bánki left the firm March in 2018.