White & Case's CEE (Central & Eastern Europe) head, who also led its Prague capital markets practice, has joined Kinstellar's rival office in the city.
Květoslav Krejčí, who is admitted in England and Wales in addition to the Czech Republic, is a capital markets specialist focussing on debt and equity, highly-regarded for his work on cross-border deals. He has, until now, spent his entire legal career at the white shoe firm.
Krejčí's departure leaves the firm with one dedicated capital markets partner - Eva Svobodová - in Prague. Svobodová is well thought of, although not as experienced.
Among Krejčí's recent deal highlights were advising České dráhy on its Kc4 billion ($169.8 billion) bond, and representing the joint bookrunners, which included JPMorgan, on EP Energy’s €600 million issue.
The hire is an impressive statement by Kinstellar, a regional spin-off of Linklater’s now defunct CEE network. White & Case is one of the leading firms on the Czech market, with strength and depth domestically and across the wider region, and Krejčí is one of the country's top capital markets lawyers.
Krejčí is the fifth partner to leave White & Case’s Czech offering in the past 15 months. The second most recent departure saw banking partner Jiří Tomola join Dentons Prague last September. He too had a long history with the white shoe firm, having spent 10 years there.
The other three partners to leave had the same destination. Ivo Barta, Petr Kuhn and Jakub Dostal now form the partnership at Badokh, a nascent Czech firm launched by the latter two lawyers last year. Barta was a finance specialist and head of the firm’s CEE energy and utilities practice. Kuhn was lauded for his restructuring and insolvency expertise, and Dostal was especially well-known for finance work.
Another experienced lawyer, of Counsel Michal Dlouhý, who once led the US firm’s CEE capital markets practice from Prague, retired last year.
Tomola was the second senior White & Case Prague employee to join Dentons’ offering last year. In July, Richard Singer, the US outfit's former chief operating officer for CEE and EMEA director of strategic projects, was recruited as Dentons’ new European COO.
Last year saw several international firms retrench from the Czech Republic. Both Hogan Lovell’s and Norton Rose Fulbright decided to close offices in the country's capital, citing the challenging economic climate. Neither move was met with much surprise domestically as neither firm had the local relationships needed to sustain an office in lean times, of which there have been plenty in the Czech Republic since the financial crisis. Given White & Case’s stature in Prague, the firm's recent loses are a little more unexpected, particularly given the steadily growing Czech economy.
The US firm still maintains a significant presence in Prague and has a number of experienced and leading partner working across the financial and corporate space. It also continues to grow organically. In its recent global promotion round, two Czech associates - Tomáš Jíně and Markéta Štáfková - were made up to local partner. Both are banking and finance specialists.