Solicitors governing body: Висш адвокатски съвет (Supreme Bar Council)
Competition authority: Комисия за Защита на Конкуренцията (Commission for Protection of Competition)
Financial regulator: Комисия за финансов надзор (Financial Supervision Commission)
IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:
Bulgaria operates on a system of civil law, with essences of French and German structures prevalent.
The Republic of Bulgaria is historically linked with Russia; it shares the Cyrillic alphabet with the nation, and was a member of the Soviet Bloc until its dissolution in 1989. In recent times the political economy of Bulgaria is more linked to that of Austria, which was instrumental in the countries modernisation and is geographically linked by the Danube River. Consequently, of the international firms present in Bulgaria, the majority are Austrian; a trend reflected across much of CEE.
The legal market of Bulgaria is dominated by its domestic firms at all levels, with the exception of a small handful of internationals that remain present. There are not any restrictions limiting foreign firms from within the EU from opening in Bulgaria, so long as all practicing lawyers register to the local bar as well as their own jurisdiction.
Those who have already entered the market include Austrian firms Wolf Theiss and Schoenherr, as well as CMS and recent addition Kinstellar, an offshoot of Linklaters focusing on the CEE region, though there is consensus in the market that it is a difficult environment in which to thrive. Foreign firms in Bulgaria have traditionally been referral based, but appear to be relying on this system less and less frequently.
Domestic firms form the mainstay of what is a very competitive, and often specialised market. Established brands Boyanov & Co and Djingov Gouginski Kyutchukov & Velichkov sit at the apex of the market and are backed up by several excellent firms that provide competition across the domain of financial and corporate law.
Boyanov & Co is one of the leading law firms in Bulgaria with expertise across all areas covered by the rankings. It is a co-founder of SEE Legal, an organisation of 10 leading firms covering 12 jurisdictions across the Balkans.
The firm has been engaged in financing transactions for both borrowers and lenders with the financing of Telenor’s acquisition being the clear highlight. The firm’s strength however, lies in M&A transactions, and it has been active in various sectors including banking and real estate, advising primarily buyers consisting of private companies, and investment and funds.
In the projects space, the firm has been advising clients on land acquisitions for hotels and multi-purpose complex developments.
Key clients include National bank of Greece, and the Embassy of People’s Republic of China.
BWSP Ilieva Voutcheva & Co is an independent firm with a growing reputation in the Bulgarian market.
The firm’s banking and finance work comprises acting for a mix of domestic and international banks and corporates. During the research period the firm mostly acted opposite banks reviewing banking agreements in relation to acquisitions, credit facilities and securities. The firm’s highlight work for banks included advising the Bank of Cyprus on regulatory matters.
In M&A the firm picked up cross border mandates advising on mergers between foreign and Bulgarian entities. For example, it was appointed by Grant Thornton Greece on the merger between a Greek company and a Bulgarian subsidiary.
In the project space the firm has acted on real estate development and regulatory work in the waste sector. Highlights include advising Daramis Holding and Papaya Investment on land plot regulations bank loans and due diligence work on the construction of high end buildings in Sofia, and advising Titan on the implementation of deposit system for return of packaged waste in Bulgaria.
Publishable key clients include Titan Group, Bank of Cyprus and Grant Thornton.
"The legal services provided by Ilieva Voutcheva & Co are characterised by in-depth analysis of the applicable legal norms and an excellent knowledge of the specific problems of the financial sector. The firm's lawyers demonstrate a very thorough knowledge of the legal framework and the relevant case law, including all current law enforcement tendencies. The firm acts as quickly as possible when drawing up a legal opinion or providing services." – Banking, regulatory
The Bulgarian office of the Austrian firm is recognised for its banking and finance, and M&A practices.
In banking and finance recently the firm has mostly advised on regulatory matters for the likes of Euronet and Samsung Electronics in the establishment of new services.
The firm’s corporate team acted for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) on two separate mergers with Micro Focus and CSC. Elsewhere, the team represented Hong Kong listed Chinese company on its acquisition of Bulgarian entity in agri-food sector.
Notable clients include Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, GVC Holdings and Shirble Department Store Holdings.
"They are very well acquainted with the practices and documents in our company which enables them to react fast. Their advice is reliable and their feedback is excellent." – Regulatory
CMS Sofia draws on support from its network of international offices. Strong across all areas, the firm is active on cross-border transactions, especially in M&A where it consistently has a high deal count in the CEE region.
In banking and finance, the firm has been advising the lenders on acquisition, real estate and project finance. It has also worked on capital markets mandates advising on investments in convertible bonds.
In M&A, the firm has been active in the automotive sector, advising the sellers on the country’s largest deal in this industry to date. Elsewhere, it has acted on NPL sales and real estate M&A, advising the sellers. On the buy side, it has acted on deals in the technology and automotive sectors.
In project development, the firm has been engaged in public procurement work in the electricity sector. It has also acted for bidders in public tenders for road and rail contracts.
Key clients include names such as China Communication Construction Company, Hugo Pfohe, and UniCredit Bulbank.
The Bulgarian office of global Deloitte is active in banking and finance, corporate and project development.
In the banking and finance area the firm has acted for banks as lenders and secured creditors in financing and restructuring transactions. It also advised international banks and financial institutions on regulatory matters and on securing licences to operate in Bulgaria.
In M&A the firm has mostly acted for the buyers in the real estate sector advising on several potential and contemplated acquisitions. One notable acquisition mandate saw the firm advise LRC on the acquisition of Business Park Sofia.
In project work, the firm’s highlights include advising a developer in the construction of office building in Sofia.
Key clients include Eurobank, Raiffeisen Bank, and Mercury EAD.
Dimitrov Petrov & Co strength is M&A in the context of the IFLR1000 rankings but it has a presence in the areas of banking and project development.
In financing transactions the firm mostly worked on the borrower’s side on obtaining new credit facilities and on loan restructurings. On the lenders’ side, the firm advised on regulatory matters and launching new products and platforms.
In M&A the firm has primarily acted for buyers on land and real estate acquisitions for development projects. It has also advised foreign and local buyers on acquisitions of Bulgarian subsidiaries in sectors such as IT, construction, and energy.
In project development, aside from real estate and land acquisitions the firm has advised bidders on tender procedures on several infrastructure projects including work for Astaldi and UTI Group.
The firm has acted for the likes of New Europe Venture Equity, Bulgarian National Bank and Societe Generale Expressbank.
"Advice obtained was always comprehensive, accurate and delivered on time." – Banking, restructuring
"Dimitrov Petrov & Co provides great services through their partners and associates. Boyan Ivanov is the best public procurement law expert in Bulgaria, Metodi Baykushev also has expertise in public procurement law, while Boyana Milcheva is a construction law expertise. Aside from work, they also hosts events for their clients allowing us to grow our contacts and develop our business. They are excellent at communicating in English which made our cooperation very easy. They are very flexible, punctual and always at our disposal." – Capital markets, M&A, project development
"Dimitrov Petrov & Co is a great addition to our internal legal resources. Throughout the years, they have become closely acquainted with our businesses and have amassed excellent knowledge about the sectors in which we operate. When we use their services for a certain project, we can rely on the fact that they will be sensitive about impacts on our other activities and other side implications. The lawyers employed at the firm are hardworking and reliable." – Capital markets, M&A, restructuring
"For more than seven years now, the firm has been our trusted team of lawyers on a number of issues that were solved in a most discreet and professional manner. We value the law firm for its dynamic approach, innovative thinking and efficiency. We also admire their impeccable reputation in terms of legal knowledge and experience in all spheres of legal practices." – Banking, capital markets, M&A, project development, regulatory, restructuring
"High level of expertise and professionalism, speed and quality." – Banking, regulatory
"I am very glad to work with this firm. I am very satisfied with their quick work, excellent expertise, relevant solutions, careful study of details in documents and legal regulations, creativity, team work and excellent collaboration with the company in reviewing contracts" – Banking, M&A, project development, project finance, M&A, restructuring
"Prompt and excellent legal advice, easy and friendly communication." – Regulatory
"Since the very beginning of our mutual work, the lawyers from Dimitrov Petrov & Co has been providing us with highly professional and tailored solutions for any task we have assigned to them. The lawyers and partners with whom we personally communicate are professionals with an in-depth knowledge and experience in working with state institutions and agencies. The legal advice we receive from them on a daily basis are extremely useful for taking the right actions in Bulgaria." – Banking, M&A, project development, regulatory, restructuring
"The corporate team at the law firm gives us out-of-the-box solutions to problems we face and is always open for a discussion. They think two steps ahead and evaluate all possible risks, even in situations where we do not see as such." – Banking, capital markets, M&A, regulatory
"They are top quality. Every lawyer I have worked with is top quality. Quality of work is outstanding, and so is their ability to understand complex issues. They are very business friendly and very responsive to client needs." – Banking, M&A, project development
"They are very responsive, punctual and easy to work with. It is rare to encounter such a professional approach and smooth communication simultaneously. They can find the right approach and solutions. Their services for the Bulgarian market are, however, expensive." – Capital markets, M&A, restructuring and insolvency
"Very detailed, working with great flexibility as per client's requests." – M&A
"Very professional and client-oriented." – M&A
"Working at high speed, they provide us with excellent solutions both on everyday matters and extremely important projects that we develop in Bulgaria. We know for sure that behind the perfectly and timely presented legal services there is a lot of hard work provided by the team of young and energetic lawyers. The combination of sector expertise, commercial attitude and in-depth regional understanding provides the unique perspective we need to achieve our company's long-term development plans." – Project development, project finance, regulatory, restructuring
Dinova Rusev & Partners is active across all practice areas and is known for its expertise in energy law. The firm is a member of the Associated European Energy Consultants.
In banking and finance, the firm has primarily advised borrowers on loan and credit facilities transactions. AP Retail I is one of the firm’s repeat clients with publishable work including the renegotiation of its term-loan facility.
The firm’s highlight M&A work saw it advise International Private Equity Fund on the sale of one of the largest shopping malls in Sofia. The firm also picked up number of general corporate work for the likes of Imerys Minerals and Eko Petroleum.
In projects work, the firm’s publishable works includes advising Immerys Minerals on mining concessions and operations in Kazrdzali and assisting Chinese client on its participation in public procurement procedure for the purchase of new trains for the national railways.
Eko Bulgaria, Assos Capital and Terna Energy are some of the firm’s notable clients.
Djingov Gouginski Kyutchukov & Velichkov is one of the most prominent independent law firms in Bulgaria, advises on all areas of law, and has expertise in energy.
In finance, the firm has been advising a syndicate of lenders including Unicredit and China Development Bank in acquisition and project finance for solar farms.
The firm has had a strong research period in M&A, working on some of the larger transactions in the market including advising NEPI Rockcastle on the acquisition of Paradise Centerand British American tobacco on the acquisition of Bulgartabac.
Other work in the project space saw the firm has been advising the arrangers on project finance for the construction of Grand Canyon project, and also acting on behalf of the likes of GE Renewable Energy and SBB Energy on the rehabilitation of hydro and thermal power plants.
NEPI Rockcastle, British American Tobacco and China Development Bank are some of the name who have sought out the firm’s services recently.
"Provided highly reliable legal and practical advice, high service levels and abided by all deadlines." – Banking, M&A, project finance
"Very professional, solution driven, flexible, client-oriented, understanding client needs and the ability to provide solutions in tough situations. Good in translating legal issues to clients." – Banking, project finance, restructuring
"Highly reliable and practical legal advice."
"Highly professional, promptly available, understands clients' needs and provides alternatives solution to an issue."
Dobrev & Lyutskanov has experience across all corporate areas and benefits from its membership with Mackrell International – a network of independent law firms in more than 50 countries.
In banking and finance, the firm has acted on the establishment and settlement of guarantee agreements for guarantor and debtor respectively.
The firm’s corporate work incorporates a mix of restructuring work, equity swaps and regulatory advice concerning the shareholder’s rights and reductions primarily advising publicly listed companies.
The firm’s project work during the research period has primarily focused on infrastructure sector with publishable highlight being the extension of Kozloduy port where it is advising the manager.
HSBC is one of the firm’s notable client.
"First rate; truly excellent work and trusted partner." – M&A, project development, regulatory
"Very responsive, quick and accurate. Their report was easy to read, comprehensive and to the point. They responded really quickly to additional requests." – M&A, restructuring
"We have been very happy with the law firm." – Banking, M&A, project finance, restructuring
In banking and finance, Georgiev Todorov & Co transactional work encompasses work for foreign banks as creditors on the renewal of registration of special pledges.
In M&A, the firm has acted for Hill Clinic as buyer on a cross border acquisitions of seven companies.
In project work, the firm advised Hidroinject on its subcontract for the construction of Sofia subway Line 3. It also advised Galchev Engineering on the public procurement procedure concerning the reconstruction of the main building of National Palace of Culture in Bulgaria.
Key clients include Piraeus Bank Bulgaria.
"The advice that our company was given was accurate, business-oriented and very comprehensive. We highly value the legal support provided by Georgiev Todorov & Co during our project." – Financial and corporate
"The legal firm provides professional and timely commitments to our company." – Financial and corporate
"She has the necessary competence to provide consultancy services in the field of commercial and financial law."
"As managing partner, he is very skilled and highly competent professional lawyer."
Gugushev and Partners is recognised for transactional work across financial and corporate area. It is also a member of PONTES, a legal network of more than 120 professionals.
The firm’s recent banking and finance work included advising APS Holding on the amendments to collateral agreements in relation to credit facilities provided by Alpha Credit Solutions. It also acted for Hareon Solar Technology on the renewal of collateral in relation to credit facility provided by China Development Bank.
In M&A recent work highlights for the firm included advising the shareholders on the sale of a majority of stake in Icom and Polygraphia Office Center. On the buy side the firm advised Easy Asset Management on the acquisition of Provident Financial Bulgaria, and AD Assets on the acquisition of minority stake in DDB Sofia.
Key clients include APS Holding, Kunino Energy, Haeron Solar Technology and Morgan Stanley.
"Very professional and structured operation. High level experience." – Banking, restructuring
Hristov & Partners has a reliable corporate practice which secures referral work from the firms including Baker McKenzie, Eversheds Sutherland and Bird & Bird.
In M&A, recent highlight work saw the firm advise Spadel on its acquisition of Devin Group.
In banking and finance, the firm advised the syndicate of lenders on the replacement of a lender on the financing of Gemseek.
Key clients include Beechbrook Capital, Spadel, ALD Automotive, and G4S.
"Very competent local counselling." – Project development
Kambourov & Partners’ strengths are corporate and M&A work. During the research period, however, the firm has been notably active on projects advising Monolit on its construction of two manufacturing plants and on Sofia’s third metro line.
In banking and finance, although the firm had more mandates for lenders, its significant transactions were on the borrower’s side where it advised Petroceltic Group on refinancing its debt. Other work included acting for the International Investment Bank on issuance of bank guarantees and Wizz Air Hungary on regulatory matters with regard to financing its training programme.
In M&A, the firm has acted for both buyers and sellers working for clients including PROS Holdings and the state on deals in sectors including banking, technology and telecommunications.
In the projects space, the firm has largely acted for project developers on real estate and railways infrastructure developments.
Key clients include Petroceltic, International Investment Bank, Wizz Air, and Visa Europe.
"The law firm is extremely helpful in respect of providing feedback and professional knowledge in variety of key legal areas, leading to full coverage on complex and inter-disciplinary cases." – Banking, M&A, insolvency
"Very professional and responsive." – M&A
Kinkin & Partners is active in all practice areas. The firm is strong in restructuring work, and has experience in the agriculture and financial services sector generally.
The firm’s banking and finance practice has been engaged in refinancing and acquisition financing deals in the context of restructurings, representing the reorganising parties.
The firm’s M&A mandates mostly involved work for Bulgarian, Liechtenstein and Russian entities in the acquisition of shares, with the deals often spanning several continents. One publishable highlight was advising Zenith Corp Sciences on its acquisition of a Venezuelan company.
In project development the firm has been mostly active in real estate sector assisting several investors on contract preparation in relation to the development of residential and commercial properties.
"As a client of Kinkin and Partners, we strongly appreciate their dedication to the client's interest. They are a strong example of professionalism and are always able to react quickly and flexibly. We are fully content with their services." – Project development, project finance, regulatory
"My company and I are fully satisfied with the service and accurate work that they provide." – Capital markets, project finance, regulatory
"He is a great professional who is always perfectly informed in his relevant field and able to provide suitable solution."
"He answered all my question in a very fast time."
Kinstellar has gradually built its reputation in the jurisdiction. Strong in banking and finance and M&A, the firm has expertise in handling big transactions for international clients.
In banking and finance, the firm has advised on the arrangement of loan facilities, and acquisition and real estate financings.
In M&A, the firm worked on the acquisition of United Bulgarian Bank by KBC bank, advising the buyer, and the merger of CIBANK with United Bulgarian Bank where it advised the latter. Elsewhere, it is active across the IT, real estate and telecommunication sectors advising the likes of KBC and Adecco Group.
The firm acts for global names like Unilever, UniCredit Bank and Mezzanine management.
During the research period, Nina Boteva Law Firm acted on corporate restructuring work for the likes of Sony Electronics.
Recent staffing changes includes the recruitment of corporate partner Silviya De Boer and counsel Teodora Taneva.
"My firm has worked with Nina Boteva for a long time and have always been impressed by her service and knowledge." – Capital markets
"Nina Boteva Law Office is one of the leading law companies in Bulgaria with highly and internationally recognised qualification, competence and experience. Mrs Nina Boteva herself has extremely profound knowledge in a very wide spectrum of legal practice areas. The Law Office's team is very communicative, well educated, positive and cooperative. We do really count on their expertise (and especially on Mrs. Boteva's expertise) in different cases for which we use their services. We do not find any weaknesses." – Banking, M&A, regulatory, restructuring
"Prompt and professional." – Regulatory, restructuring
Known for its expertise in M&A and real estate, Penkov Markov & Partners has been active on significant mandates in these areas recently.
During the research period, the firm led on the sale of the Paradise Centre in one of the largest real estate deals in Bulgaria. The firm has also been active in advising its clients on property developments, advising local developers.
Fintech and cryptocurrency has been the source of the work in banking and finance area, with the firm advising fintech companies on regulatory matters.
The firm has advised the likes of EBRD, 4finance and ARTEKS Engineering recently.
"I highly appreciate PMP's availability and prompt responses to our challenging inquiries. Its lawyers can advise on both the current and the upcoming legislation in the matters discussed. Thanks to their network of contacts, they can check practical aspects of the deal with relevant authorities." – Banking, insolvency
"They have an excellent reputation, very good specialists in micro finance, personal data protection and consumer rights - areas in which we work." – Banking
"Very professional with detailed information and great experience in the region." – Banking, project development
"Very good business atmosphere, professional attitude, excellent advices and trustworthy."
"He is always ready to provide his full support in tight deadlines."
"Best lawyer ever. Very professional, precise and knowledgeable."
The Bulgarian office of regional firm Peterka & Partners advised a mix of private equity, global companies and start-ups on the local aspects of M&A transactions in sectors including technology and media sector.
"We worked on a very tight time constraint, and Peterka's lawyers have been very responsive and flexible while keeping a high level of professionalism in all communications both with our client as well as ourselves. We feel confident in their advice." – M&A
Founded by a former Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski lawyer, Saeva & Partners has experience in the aviation sector. During the research period, the firm picked up several transactions in the industry acting on debt settlements claims, sale of aircraft, and leasing agreements.
"Flexible and cooperative. Easy starting new projects. Always within the timeline." – Banking, capital market, project development, project finance, regulatory
"We regularly receive help from Anna Saeva, and we are very pleased with her work. She is an excellent lawyer - sharp, reliable, practical, an excellent negotiator and a person with in-depth knowledge in areas of law such as road transport, banking, finance, corporate, etc. Anna's assistant was also very helpful in certain logistics aspects and overall they both helped us achieve our goals - purchase of two road vehicles, collection of an overdue debt, financing, etc." – Banking
The Bulgarian office of regional firm Schoenherr is able to take on complex cross-border transactions due to its network of lawyers throughout the Balkan region. Often working in conjunction with its other offices, the firm has established itself as one of the leading market players in all practice areas.
The firm also advised on the sales of NPL portfolios and acquisition financing, acting for the banks and financial institutions. It advised bondholders on the restructuring of eurobonds.
The firm has had an active year in M&A with the majority of mandates taking place in the real estate sector, where it has advised the likes of SIMMO as sellers.
The firm’s project work has focused on the oil and gas and infrastructure sectors during the research period, acting for the likes of OMV and Thales on downstream activities and modernisation of railway infrastructure.
The firm’s client base includes the likes of OMV Bulgaria, VTB Capital, and ING bank.
Tocheva & Mandazhieva works on deals across the financial and corporate area and has experience in public procurement and energy projects.
During the research period, the firm was primarily engaged in regulatory matters, advising banks and asset management companies on the implementation of MiFId II. On the financing side, the firm was engaged in two real estate acquisitions where it advised the buyers on the financing and securitisation aspects of the transactions.
In the project space, the firm was engaged in two public procurement mandates, representing construction company Kodar Inzhenering.
Publishable clients include Sky Asset Management and SPVs of Samsung.
"We are very grateful to our legal adviser for the successful projects, dedication and professionalism.” – Banking, project development, project finance
Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski is reputable firm and has been active in capital markets work during the research period. Much of its capital markets work has been bond issues in the energy sector where it has advised a mix of issuers and guarantors. The firm has also been active in advising its clients on regulatory matters in banking, advising on MiFIDII compliance matters.
The firm has acted for the likes of Energo – Pro recently.
"High level of professionalism.” – Banking, capital markets, M&A, project finance, regulatory
"High quality professionals." – Banking, capital markets, M&A, project developments
"I assess highly the overall level of service of the firm. Lawyers keep the deadlines, possess excellent knowledge and understanding in the area of capital markets, providing reliable and to-the-point legal and practical advice in the financial area." – Capital markets
"Nikolay Bebov keeps his ear to the ground and is good at trying to source work and keep abreast of the developments in the region. He is very thorough." – Capital markets
"Swift and detailed advice showing in-depth knowledge of local market practice." – Capital markets
"The team at TBK is very open and proactive towards new businesses operating in the cryptocurrency trading space. They have a great understanding of the current legal framework, which they were able to translate it to the new, and as of yet unregulated, space of cryptocurrency trading. They suggested how we should structure our activities and what good practices we should implement even though we are still not regulated by the state." – Investment fund, regulatory
"Very good. On time, very detail oriented and thorough." – Capital markets
"High level of professionalism."
"Excellent client support and deep local market knowledge."
"Hands-on professional with an eye for detail."
"He is very commercial with an experience of working in the US, which is pretty unusual in the market."
"He is very precise and specific in his answers to our questions."
"He singles out as a highly professional individual with deep knowledge in the capital markets area, keeping well acquainted with the dynamic regulatory framework. He is very trustworthy and concise in his advice and comments."
"He and Dimitar work together and have formed an excellent team."
Wolf Theiss has been active across all areas, drawing support from its regional network to handle cross border transactions.
The research period saw the firm advise its fintech clients on regulatory matters related to the emerging market. The firm is also engaged on financings in real estate and acquisition transactions where it has primarily acted for syndicates of lenders.
In the M&A space, on the acquisition of Moto-Pfhoe business the firm advised the buyer. It has mostly acted for buyers working for the likes of ACE European Group and FactSet on deals in range of sectors including technology and energy.
UniCredit Bank, Sumitomo Corporation Europe, and FactSet are some of the notable clients the firm has advised recently.