Solicitors governing body: Latvijas Zvērinātu advokātu padome
Competition authority: Konkurences padome
Financial regulator: Finansu un kapitala tirgus komisija
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Energy and infrastructure (published June) – Energy and infrastructure
Financial and corporate (published October) – Financial and corporate
Latvia sits in the middle of the Baltic states, geographically, economically and in terms of population. It is a civil law jurisdiction based on a constitution first ratified in 1922 and reaffirmed as the country’s de facto governing document in 1990, following the parliament’s declaration of the Soviet occupation and annexation as illegal.
An EU and Eurozone country, it is ranked as a very highly developed nation by the UN and is listed as among the 25 best countries to do business in by the World Bank. It operates a mixed economy with a strong focus on services. Key industries include agriculture, manufacturing and the processing of natural resources.
As one of the Baltic countries it maintains strong links with Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south, economically, socially and politically. Around one in four Latvians are ethnically Russian. As such, the country has traditionally had the strongest connection to Russia of the three Baltic states, with Estonia having a similar Russian population but much stronger cultural ties to Finland and Scandinavia and Lithuania having a much smaller population and a more traditionally European focus.
The legal market resembles that of its Baltic neighbours, dominated by pan-Baltic firms at the top of the market with several domestic firms also active. All major practices are based in the capital Riga.
The individual practice of law follows a similar pattern to that of most EU states. To qualify as a Zvērināts advokāts (sworn advocate) one must be an EU national, fluent in Latvian and have prior experience working in the legal market. Foreign lawyers from European Free Trade Agreement countries may practice relatively freely but must register with the Latvian bar. Otherwise there are no specific restrictions that apply to foreign lawyers or law firms operating in the country.
Jonathan Moore – Journalist - EMEA
BDO Law is the Latvian branch of the BDO network. The firm has been active in providing corporate services to clients, with a particular specialism in dealing with the registration of alternative investment funds and working on the licensing of alternative investment fund managers. Deal highlights during the research period include assisting Bulkestate to establish a crowdfunding platform.
In the project development space, a notable deal involved representing the Freeport of Riga in concern of an infrastructure project to be developed in the Krievu Sala area.
Altium, Nasdaq and Riga Technical University are among the firm’s notable clients.
“The firm is knowledgeable and efficient. Strengths: easily contactable and quick to respond.” – M&A, project development, restructuring and insolvency
One of the leading teams in the Latvian market, Cobalt, is particularly noted for the strength of its financial and corporate work across the board, with banking and M&A matters being particular areas where it excels.
The firm’s corporate team acts on a range of matters from capital markets to project financing. Notable capital markets deals during the research period included advising SEB Bankas on Altium’s novel green bond issue, and several global banking groups as joint lead managers on a dual tranche eurobond issue by the Republic of Latvia. Within the private M&A space, the firm worked on several deals in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, retail and technology.
In the project development space, the firm worked on construction, energy, infrastructure and shipping mandates. A clear highlight involved advising Akropolis on entering a construction contract to build a large mixed-use mall in Riga.
The one notable change to the team this year was the arrival of Sabīne Vuškāne from Sorainen. She works on M&A and project development matters.
Other key clients include international banking groups such as Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
“High-level professionals with an in-depth understanding of the client's needs.” – M&A
“The firm provides high-quality services. The lawyers were experienced and knowledgeable in the areas where the service was provided. They quickly identified the key aspects and came up with proposals on how to handle the issue.” – Project finance, restructuring and insolvency
The legal team of Deloitte in Riga offers corporate support services to international and local clients. The firm specialises in providing advice on topics including corporate restructuring, legal due diligence and liquidations.
Highlight corporate deals include assisting construction equipment company, Storent, on its post-merger reorganisation, and representing IKEA group companies regarding a construction loan and overdraft facility from SEB Banka.
The firm has also worked on a significant project development deal in Latvia, as it represents Latvian State Roads on the ongoing construction of the E67/A7 Kekava Bypass. The PPP project will improve road connections between Latvia and neighbouring Lithuania.
A notable departure from the firm saw partner Ilze Znotina leave to join the Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity (FIU Latvia).
Other notable clients of the firm include the Alternative Financial Services Association of Latvia (LAFPA), Callidus Capital, and the management company, Indexo.
“Professional and dependable, with a good understanding of regulatory bodies and processes.” – Banking
Ellex is strong across financial and corporate work, and is a market leader in areas including banking, capital markets and M&A.
In the banking space, the firm has worked on several of the market’s biggest project finance and acquisition finance deals. A key highlight included advising the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Nordic Investment Bank on the provision of loans to modernise Riga’s tramways system. The firm’s recent M&A highlights include representing Livonia Partners on the acquisition of Santa Monica Networks, and OP Financial Group on the sale of its non-life insurance company, Seesam Insurance to Vienna Insurance Group.
In the projects area, the firm’s lawyers have substantial expertise in areas such as electricity, gas, retail and transportation. In a recent notable transaction, the firm advised Uniper Ruhrgas on its exit from the Latvian gas transmission and storage market. In a highlight in the retail sector, the firm advised the developer on matters related to the opening of the first IKEA store in Latvia.
Key clients of the firm include the First Data Corporation, Hewlett-Packard and Nokia.
In February 2017, the firm merged its operations with Glimstedt & Partners to create the largest law firm in Latvia by number of lawyers.
Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns – the Latvian branch of international firm Eversheds Sutherland – is recognised in particular for its banking and finance work. In that space, it regularly acts for banks and investment funds.
A clear financial highlight saw the firm advise Food Union Group in respect of a loan portfolio refinancing, alongside several other regional offices of Eversheds. Other notable mandates include representing BaltCap Infrastructure Fund on its investment in a biogas business and acting for Citadele Banka on its bond issue and public offering in Latvia and Lithuania.
The firm’s projects team has been active in the energy and transport sectors, and notably assisted RB Rail – the company co-ordinating the construction of the Rail Baltica project – on various corporate matters.
During the research period, corporate counsel Vadims Čabans left to become a general counsel with media group Thesoul Publishing.
The Latvian Shipping Company, Ohm Laboratories and Vitol Netherlands are among the firm’s key clients.
Banking and finance is an area of strength for the team at Fort, especially on matters concerning crowdfunding and cryptocurrency.
The firm’s recent financial work includes acquisition financing and refinancing mandates. A notable M&A highlight saw the firm represent Estonian bus company, Hansabuss, on the purchase of Latvian bus company, AIPS, in a move that increases the market share of its client. In further roles, the firm has represented lenders including ExpressCredit, Hipocredit and Mintos on general matters.
The firm’s projects team have worked on mandates in the real estate and renewable energy sectors. Public deals include work on the building of cogeneration plants, the development of a direct electric line and construction of a luxury hotel in the historical centre of Riga.
The firm’s clients include the Alternative Financial Services Association of Latvia (LAFPA), Eesti Energia, and the Latvian Red Cross.
The work of the team at Kronbergs Čukste Levin is evenly distributed between banking, corporate and project development matters, with the firm often engaged in providing regulatory advice to a wide range of public and private sector clients.
The firm’s work within the banking and finance space included matters dealing with financial regulations, structural financing and syndicated loans. In M&A, the firm advised on deals in sectors including manufacturing, real estate, sport and transport.
In the projects space, the firm has worked in sectors including real estate, shipping and transportation. Deal highlights include providing advice to Daugavas Stadions on its EU-funded reconstruction, and to Latvia University on the procurement of construction services for new campus buildings.
International clients of the firm include DHL, European Railway Lines, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft.
“Deep expertise in their specialist fields. Good local knowledge. Broad international contacts and expertise.” – Banking, M&A
Leadell Fogels & Vītols is recognised most for banking and finance work. The firm is the Latvian corner of a pan-Baltic alliance involving Leadell Pliv in Estonia and Leadell Balčiūnas & Grajauskas in Lithuania.
Several of the firm’s mandates are related to financing and the licensing of payment institutions. The firm has also extensively operated on work within the restructuring and insolvency space, notably working with clients including Lumnior Bank and Swedbank.
Further clients of the firm include Altum, BlueOrange Bank, and insurance company Balta.
The Riga office of pan-Baltic firm Primus Derling is widely recognised for its presence in banking and finance and M&A work in Latvia. Financial services, energy, and infrastructure are sectors in which the firm is active.
The firm’s corporate team was active throughout the research period, working on mergers, capital markets deals and financial restructurings. Highlights included advising Madara Cosmetics on its IPO and working for Sapiens International Corporation on its merger with Knowledgeprice.com.
In the projects space, the firm notably worked with EG Energia, as it took on a part of the functions of the state in the field of has supply. In another standout energy matter, the firm represented the developer, Energia Verde, on the development of a cogeneration plant.
The firm’s other notable clients include Jyske Bank, Luminor Bank and Santa Monica Networks.
The legal team of PwC specialises in providing advice on topics including share acquisitions, legal due diligence and loan restructurings.
Highlight corporate deals include providing assistance for Tele2 on its merger with its subsidiary, and performing due diligence tasks for Wise Group in regard to its acquisition of engineering firm, DWG.
Short-term loan provider 4finance, Domenikks and Uralchem Trading are among the firm’s key clients.
The team at Skrastiņš & Dzenis is involved in M&A deals. The firm often provides legal services across the Baltic region alongside its partner offices, Tark in Estonia and Motieka & Audzevičius in Lithuania.
A clear highlight for the firm during the research period, saw it advise Kesko Senukai on the acquisition of an e-commerce business and to expand its market share within the Baltic region.
Among others, Vienna Insurance Group is also a client for the firm.
Sorainen is one of the leading firms in Latvia for corporate and project-related work, and ranks in the top tier in both categories. With a strong regional base, the Riga office attracts a range of international clients in areas including banking and finance, capital markets and M&A.
The firm’s recent financial work includes acquisition financing, loan restructurings and mergers, across sectors such as financial services, retail and transport. Deal highlights included acting for Nordea on Latvian elements of the Baltics’ largest merger, as it combined with DNB to create Luminor Bank. The firm also acted on large, regional deals for the likes of Aon, Nasdaq and Providence Equity Partners alongside its Estonian and Lithuanian offices.
In the project development space, the firm worked on several mandates in energy and infrastructure, by acting on issues such as power transmission networks, rail projects and wind parks.
British American Tobacco, Eurovia, and Northern Horizon Capital are among the firm’s recent clients.
The Latvian branch of TGS Baltic is renowned for both its banking and M&A work, where it ranks among the best in the country. Sectors where the firm excels include capital markets, fintech, insurance and private equity.
During the research period, the firm worked on several acquisition and project financing deals, representing both the lenders and the borrowers. Clear highlights include assisting the University of Latvia in relation to arranging financing for its new campus, and advising Bergs Timber as it acquired the Estonian and Latvian operations of Norvik. In another notable M&A deal, the firm acted for the Augstsprieguma Tīkls via the Ministry of Economics as it purchased shares in Conexus Baltic Grid.
Other clients of the firm include ABN Amro, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Expobank.
Previously known as Tark Grunte Sutkiene, the pan-Baltic firm’s new name was announced in May 2017.
“Very quick and accurate advice. A pleasure to work with individually.” – Banking
“High-class experts that provide practical and business-oriented advice in a timely manner.” – Banking, investment funds
“Solid knowledge of regulatory requirements, and are focused on long term relationships.” – Banking, investment funds
“TGS Baltic has been the best known and the most experienced Baltic firm for more than 25 years, who are constantly at the top of the mind for clients due to the firm's prime quality legal services. The firm is very well connected with the elite worldwide law firms. True specialists in their fields in all practice areas of business law.” – M&A, project development
“She is the Queen of the Baltic Alternative Investment Funds market. The lion's share of the alternative investment funds and managers registered in the Baltics have been established and registered with the helping hand given by her. She is highly efficient.”
“Very speedy and thorough responses. Always one step ahead of developments in regulatory requirements.”
“Very knowledgeable, smart, analytical, and is quick to react. Overall, very impressive.”
“Provides a very quick and accurate approach to requests from clients.”
“She has the most impressive track record of the largest and and the most complex cross-border and local M&A transactions. She is undeniably a leader in M&A work in the Baltics. She recently handled the most strategically significant M&A transactions for energy in the region.”
“He was responsive and accurate.”
Vilgerts is strongest in financial and M&A work, where it has acted for a mixture of international and local clients. The firm has also engaged in mandates in the aviation, manufacturing and technology sectors.
In banking, the firm notably worked for Valmiera Glass on its syndicated loan from Danske Bank and SEB Bank, as it sought to finance the construction of a production plant in the United States.
The firm acted for buyers and the sellers within M&A, the firm’s busiest practice area. Highlights include working for private equity house, East Capital, on its acquisition of Galleria Riga shopping centre, and for Air Baltic Corporation on the sale of its PINS loyalty programme business.
A notable change during the research period saw corporate partner Edgars Koškins depart to join Supremia Attorneys at Law.
Recent significant clients include automobile factory Autokraz, Balcia Insurance, and property developer Saliena.