Solicitors governing body: Suomen Asianajajaliitto
Competition authority: kilpailu- ja kuluttajavirasto
Financial regulator: Finanssivalvonta
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Energy and infrastructure (published June) – Energy and infrastructure
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking and finance, Capital markets, M&A
The smallest of the continental Nordic countries – both in population and economically – and the most sparsely-populated country in the EU, Finland is a civil law-governed market with a well-developed legal sector.
Though it lags slightly behind its North European neighbours in many indices it is still regarded as one of the most transparent, least corrupt and well-developed countries in the world. In terms of ease of doing business, it consistently ranks comfortably above such European powerhouses as Germany and France while GDP per capita is roughly the same as that in France and the UK. In terms of openness and transparency, it is routinely considered to be above neighbours Sweden and Norway and among the very best in the world.
The economy itself is a fairly dynamic and sophisticated one, albeit only mid-sized in the context of Europe. However, with a population of just under 5.5 million this means it punches above its weight financially. Mining and forestry, the country’s traditional industries, remain important parts of the economy but there has been a sea change in the market. While both have struggled in recent years the electronics – and in particular gaming – industry has become increasingly important. Helsinki is considered a global capital for mobile gaming and is increasingly recognised as one of the more important tech hubs in Europe.
The legal market, much like the economy, is a mixed bag. In contrast to some of its Nordic cousins, there is far more representation from regional and international firms on the ground here. Almost universally they are confined to Helsinki, though there are some with regional offices as well. While the most successful practices are a mix of domestic, regional – usually with a sister practice in Stockholm – and international names, there are a number of smaller domestic teams making an increasing impact on the market.
Many lawyers would argue the government could do more to encourage investment but there is also a sense that the regulators and legal professionals are moving in the same direction. Considered a safe bet for inward investment, there is a lot of interest in Finnish companies and so a sophisticated legal market has developed in parallel to this. Lawyers tend to be relatively specialised with a few specific experts dotted among the community. They will normally have a strong focus on one particular area but at the same time have extensive experience in related fields; e.g. corporate lawyers who also do notable equity capital markets and public takeover work. Really focused specialists do appear, however, and are increasingly active, though the size of the market means complex matters, like detailed structured finance deals, are relatively rare and subsequently the experience of working on such deals is equally sparse.
Jonathan Moore – Journalist - EMEA
Avance is recognised as one of the leading names for corporate and M&A work in Finland. It is also increasingly being recognised for its capital markets work, especially on the debt side of things.
Recent work has been across a range of areas, with perhaps real estate deals figuring slightly more prominently than any others, and several significant matters in the gaming sphere.
The banking and finance team was predominantly engaged on acquisition financing matters during the research period, with a few smaller pure financing transactions also included.
In the capital markets space the firm performed well in a challenging market, with a number of high-value notes issues in addition to several listings.
By far the stand out matter for M&A team during the research period was the advice provided to Tencent in connection with its $10.2 billion acquisition of gaming group Supercell, the largest divestment in Finnish history.
The firm welcomed a couple of new additions during the research period. Most notably insolvency partner Salla Suominen was added to the banking and finance practice from Castrén & Snellman. Capital markets and M&A senior associate Victor Fagerlund also joined the firm, coming from Hannes Snellman.
Outside of those already mentioned, key clients of the firm include the Next Games Corporation, Elenia Finance and the Terex Corporation.
“Highly professional and friendly service.” – Banking and finance
“The Avance team is extremely dedicated, innovative and proactive.” – Capital markets: Debt
“Christoffer Charpentier is an excellent lawyer with extraordinary social and negotiation skills.”
“Robin is very innovative and has good knowledge of the trends in the market. He is very pro-active and friendly, as well as being easy to deal with.”
“He is an excellent restructuring lawyer.”
“Highly professional and friendly service.”
“Sari Wallgren is excellent at explaining complex financing issues in a manner a non-lawyer and non-finance expert can understand.”
The Finnish office of international firm Bird & Bird is mostly recognised for its work in the capital markets and M&A spaces.
In the banking and finance space, real estate work has been a recent trend. One example of this work saw the team acting for NREP on various acquisitions and financing matters.
The capital markets team has also had a busy time recently, acting on matters in the manufacturing, professional services and technology sectors.
One notable matter the M&A team advised on recently saw it acting for the Ramboll Group on the sale of its Finnish and Estonian laboratory and analytics business to Eurofins Scientific.
One notable change to the team this year was the arrival of partner Maria Carlsson, who joined the firm from Borenius. On the way out, Harri Hynninen left to join Hammarström Puhakka Partners and Matti Ylä-Mononen followed suit, leaving for DLA Piper.
Other clients of the firm have included the Zeeland family and Incap.
As one of the leading names in the Finnish market, Borenius can count itself among the market leaders in every field of financial and corporate work.
The firm’s work during the research period was pretty varied, though in the project space energy matters dominated while real estate and financial services work featured prominently in the financial and corporate space.
The banking and finance team, in particular, saw a fair amount of work in real estate, with refinancings and restructurings featuring prominently.
In the capital markets practice, bond work made up bulk of the matters completed recently, though equity work – including advising the join global co-ordinators on the IPO of Nets – was where the stand out matters were.
The M&A team was involved on some significant transactions during the research period. This included both high-value private and public acquisitions, with a number of significant cross-border elements.
Projects work recently has largely focused on the energy sector, though has included several matters related to the beleaguered mining sector.
There was one notable addition to the team during the research period. In the capital markets space Ari Syrjäläinen joined as counsel from OP Corporate Bank, where he was a director and legal counsel in its capital markets group.
Major recent clients of the firm include Citycon, Rolls-Royce, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and McDonald’s.
“Borenius provides constantly high-quality legal services. Partners listen carefully to clients and their particular wishes – you can be sure that you get a solution that is tailor made. The relationship relies largely on the partners themselves compared to other offices, where the contact point might in some simple cases also be a senior associate.” – Banking and finance
“I have worked with all the major firms in Finland. I would say that Borenius is one of the best.” – Capital markets: Debt
“Borenius consistently provides top-level work. They are always available and very easy to work with. I have worked a lot with Borenius, very much enjoy our cooperation and expect to continue to work with them.” – Capital markets: Equity, M&A
“Very good overall, very strong.” – M&A
“The corporate and finance teams at Borenius did a remarkable job for us in connection with a difficult cross-border going-private transaction without specific precedent in the marketplace. Their ability to give practical, commercial advice was key to achieving the client's objectives.” – M&A
“Highly competent out-of-the-box thinker who listens to the customer’s needs.”
“Juha is a terrific attorney. He is always accessible and very responsive. He gives very practical, commercial advice and has the internal resources to augment areas outside his particular expertise.”
“Excellent work, totally available, amazing understanding of the market. I have worked with many lawyers at the firm and have always been impressed.”
“Excellent work in all cases, very deep industry knowledge as well as detail in legal aspects.”
"Young, skilled and hardworking partners Niina Nuottimäki and Johannes Ahti are trusted, hands-on advisors in Finnish bond issues. When either of them is involved, you can trust that the deal will be made. Otherwise, the firm’s resources are a bit more varied.”
“Very good overall.”
“Great expectations for Ari Syrjäläinen, who recently joined the firm and has significant experience from a managerial position in a significant Finnish bank and the Helsinki Stock Exchange.”
“For capital markets, Ari Syrjäläinen, a recent addition to the team, is a stand out practitioner.”
Castrén & Snellman is the oldest extant law firm in Finland, having been established in Helsinki in 1888. It remains one of the most widely recognised names in the market to this day, with its banking and finance, capital markets and project work among the very best.
Technology and real estate were the two areas that featured most prominently in the firm’s recent work, though there were a number of significant deals completed in other areas as well.
The banking and finance team was mostly active on acquisition financing matters during the research period, though the most significant matters involved real estate financing.
In the capital markets space the firm advised on a number of major bond issues by financial groups, among others. Perhaps the most significant matter it worked on saw it acting for Finnish telecommunications group DNA on its listing on the Nasdaq Helsinki, one of the largest Finnish IPOs in the last 10 years.
One of the most significant matters the M&A team has advised on during the research period saw it advising Comptel in connection with the public tender offer by Nokia for its shares.
The project team continues to advise on some of the biggest and most challenging project in the Finnish market, including the Kilpilahti Power Plant and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
There were a number of changes made to the team this year. Most notably that saw the departure of insolvency partner Salla Suominen to Avance in January 2017. Capital markets counsel Joni Painilainen also left the firm to take up a partnership position with PwC Finland. In the project team counsel Maria Landtman left the firm and joined Hannes Snellman as a specialist partner and counsel Emma Niemistö joined Merilampi as a partner. At the same time, senior associate Aleksi Aakula was brought into the team from Applex Attorneys.
Key clients of the firm include Nordea Bank, OP Corporate Bank and Suomen AsuntoHypoPankki (The Mortgage Society of Finland).
“The strengths of the firm are highly capable senior associates and wide range of skills and expertise. Its weakness is partner-level participation, which is not totally hands on.” – M&A, Project finance
“Superior – one of the best.” – Capital markets: Debt
“Castren & Snellman compares favourably to other big firms.” – Capital markets: Debt
“Jonne is an experienced corporate and project finance lawyer with good communication skills, but sometimes more reactive than proactive.”
“Pricey, but excellent.”
The team at Dittmar & Indrenius can reliably claim a strong presence across the board for financial and corporate work in the Finnish market.
The firm’s work runs across a range of industries, with financial services and banking clients featuring prominently during the research period.
That is certainly the case in the banking and finance team, where it worked to advise primarily borrowers on both initial financing and refinancing matters. On the lender side it notably served as Finnish counsel to BNP Paribas, Société Générale and the other lenders on the refinancing of the FQM Group, which operates one of the largest mines in the country.
In the capital markets space the firm’s recent work revolved around debt and regulatory work.
The M&A team had a particularly active time during the research period, advising on a range of industrial and technology deals. Most significantly it served as Finnish counsel to Alcatel-Lucent in connection with Nokia’s €13.5 billion acquisition of the company.
In the projects space energy is clearly a key component of the firm’s work. One example of its work in that area is the advice provided to the European Investment Bank in relation to the development of the Kilpilahti Power Plant.
Key clients – beyond those mentioned – include CapMan, The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and Bridgepoint.
“Very good commercial awareness. They find practical solutions to problems and respond in a timely and efficient manner.”
“I would particularly highlight the work of Juha-Pekka Mutanen, who has a strong commercial awareness and delivers solution-driven responses.”
Banking and finance and capital markets work are what the team at DLA Piper Finland are recognised for, though it remains active in the M&A and restructuring and insolvency spaces as well.
The banking and finance team was mostly active in the energy space during the research period, advising on a number of different deals, mostly from the lenders’ side.
In the capital markets, debt work has been the main focus of the team with financial services firms and banks featuring prominently.
Perhaps the most notable matter the M&A advised on recently saw it acting for the management shareholders of Millbrook Proving Ground with regard to the sale of the company’s shares by Rutland Partners and the management to Spectris.
In restructuring and insolvency work the team has been active on a range of different matters, most notably advising on several from the media sector.
There were a number of new additions to the team during the research period, as the firm looks to develop its presence. This included the arrival of partner Matti Ylä-Mononen and counsel Mikko Luukkonen from Bird & Bird, partners Outi Tähtinen and Mikko Huimala from Castrén & Snellman and counsel Jaakko Klemettilä from Outokumpu.
Notable clients of the firm include HSBC Bank, Newell Brands and the NTT Data Corporation.
“They have a dedicated team and quick responses. They very quickly got the hang of issues that were not previously familiar to them.” – Banking and finance
“Proactive, practical advice. Timely and good communication. Solid across the board.” – M&A
“She was the team mate of Hans Sundblad in the transaction and did very good work.”
“Commercial approach to resolving problems and practical approach to deal making.”
“Very strong knowledge and always in-touch with the transaction in hand. He is interactive asking how the client wants it done.”
The team at Eversheds Sutherland in Finland is probably best known for its work in the M&A space, though it remains active across the board in terms of practice area involvement.
The banking and finance team has been active recently in a number of sectors, most notably in the technology space where it worked on several matters.
Similarly in the capital markets space, technology has played a notable role as the team advised on both debt and equity matters.
Technology matters have also been the driver for a number of different deals in the M&A space, though it has also seen significant activity in the manufacturing sector as well.
It is a slightly different story in the restructuring and insolvency space, where the firm’s client list includes a wider range of sectors. Its work in this area is mainly focused on advising insolvent entities.
The one notable change to the team this year saw the arrival of new partner Juha Taipale, who joins the firm from Magnusson.
Notable recent clients of the firm have included Staffpoint, Finnvera and the Nanso Group.
One of the older firms in Helsinki – first established in 1909 – Hannes Snellman has a record as a leading name for financial and corporate work in Finland. For banking and finance, capital markets work and M&A matters it ranks as a market leader.
The banking and finance team’s work during the research period was largely focused on providing acquisition financing in support of its M&A practice.
In the capital markets space, the firm was active on both the debt and equity side, with perhaps the more impressive mandates coming from the bond issues. This included acting for the VVO Group on its €200 million 1.625% senior secured notes issue.
As one of the leading M&A teams in Finland, it is no surprise that the firm was active on a number of the most significant matters in the market this year. This included acting for the SoftBank Group Corporation on the sale of its stake in Supercell to Tencent.
Energy work makes up the bulk of the recent matters handled by the project team, with wind farm activity being a noticeable stand out.
The one major addition to the team this year saw the arrival of specialist partner Maria Landtman from Castrén & Snellman, who was brought in to co-head the projects and construction practice.
Recent key clients of the firm include Veolia Nordic, Ahlstrom and Powerflute.
“Hannes Snellman is dedicated, innovative and proactive, but more expensive than some firms.” – Capital markets: Debt
“I have been very satisfied with the support of Hannes Snellman team in various projects. The M&A team, led by Sten Olsson, has demonstrated a strong combination of long-term partnership thinking, good commercial judgment and excellent technical skills.” – M&A
“Overall, we find them comparable to the top firms with respect to substantive knowledge and technical capabilities but they are much more conservative and overall less willing to be practical, commercial and creative in the search of solutions for the client.” – M&A
“Excellent senior lawyer with strong communication and technical skills and ability to develop trusting long-term relationships. However, it may sometimes be difficult to get sufficient accessibility, if Sten has various live projects ongoing simultaneously.”
The work of the team at KallioLaw is mostly focused on the M&A space, though it has a notable presence in project development as well.
With a specialist focus on technology matters, it is no surprise to see that much of the team’s work has a tech focus. However, perhaps the most significant matter it advised on recently saw it assisting First Quantum Minerals on the Finnish aspects of its sale of the Kevitsa mine to Boliden Mineral for $712 million.
Other notable recent clients of the firm include Verto Analytics, Digital Foodie and Futursoft.
In recent years the team at Krogerus has really established itself as one of the leading names in the Finnish market. For banking and finance and project work, especially, it ranks among the strongest practices available.
Energy work featured relatively strongly in the firm’s work during the research period, though across all areas the client base was quite varied.
In the banking and finance space the firm’s recent work has been almost exclusively dominated by financial groups and banks, largely on the lender side for pure financing matters.
The capital markets team was notably active in equity work during the research period, though it did advise on one or two major debt issuances as well.
Energy matters featured highly in the firm’s recent M&A work, especially the purchase of wind farm assets. Outside of that it also acted on a major matter in the recently much-maligned mining sector.
Wind farm work also dominated the firm’s project work, though one of the larger matters it acted on was advising the Neste Corporation in connection with the development of the Kilpilahti Power Plant.
With offices in Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Oulu and Turku the firm can also claim to have a broader domestic reach than many of the other business law firms in Finland that only have a presence in Helsinki.
Key clients for the firm include Sampo, Nordea Bank and Allianz Capital Partners.
“Delivered accordingly, happy with their service.” – Banking and finance
“Very agile and proactive and business oriented.” – Capital markets
“In-depth knowledge of financing agreements and understanding of the real estate investment business combined with the ability to educate the client and the ability to solve problems by presenting creative alternative solutions are clear strengths of the Krogerus team.” – M&A
“Excellent quality of advice, responsive, reliable.” – M&A
“Krogerus provided specialised environmental advice on an acquisition in Finland. They provided strong subject matter expertise and excellent responsiveness and partner attention.” – M&A
“Krogerus is quite comparable to other big firms, so no big difference. But Krogerus seems to be more careful and needs detailed follow-up with the approval of their proposals.” – M&A, project finance
“Very responsive, easy to work with and knowledgeable.”
“Excellent for responsiveness and availability.”
“He was able to provide a high quality of service coupled with a responsive and reliable attitude.”
“Good service level, accessibility, clear communication.”
“Juha Wessman has excellent understanding of the real estate investment business as well as the construction business, which, combined with expertise in financing agreements and personal contacts with leading financing institutions, are clear strengths. Moreover, Juha has excellent problem solving skills making negotiators on both sides of the table satisfied.”
M&A and capital markets work are where the team at Merilampi excels, though it remains active on the banking and finance side of things as well.
One of the more notable matters the banking and finance team advised on recently saw it acting for the Hartela Group, a Finnish construction company, in connection with the €43 million financing of construction receivables related to its new headquarters.
In the M&A space, one significant matter the team advised on recently saw it assisting the Kesko Corporation with its €369 million acquisition of all shares in Onninen from Onvest.
Other notable recent clients of the firm have included Nordea, the Fortum Corporation and the Nanso Group.
With one of the strongest practices in both Stockholm and Helsinki, Roschier is recognised as one of the leading names in the region. In Finland, the firm is particularly known for its banking and finance, capital markets and M&A work.
As a market leader the firm works across the board, with real estate and banking featuring prominently as well as technology.
In the banking and finance space the team was very active. For the most part it was working with the banks but on some of the most significant matters it advised the borrowers.
The capital markets team has advised on pretty much every major deal in the market, both on the debt side and on the equity side.
The M&A team was also involved on many of the biggest deals in the market during the research period, including acting for Nokia on its acquisition of Comptel.
For project work the firm has particularly impressed during the research period, picking up a number of the most significant mandates in the market. Most notably it has advised on two different high-value city centre shopping mall projects, among the biggest every construction projects ever in the country.
Major recent clients of the firm include Nordea Bank, Outokumpu and Nokia.
“Very good. Extreme availability and nice to work with.” – M&A
“Excellent overall.” – M&A
“Close to the level of other top Finnish firms we have worked with in terms of service quality.” – M&A
“Excellent availability and pleasant personality. Competent in his field of work.”
The team at Waselius & Wist is best known in the Finnish market for its banking and finance and capital markets work.
Undoubtedly the firm’s strength lies in the banking sector as it more often than not advises both domestic and international banks in its work.
In the banking and finance space that plays out as the firm regularly acts for the lenders. Its work in the research period mostly covered pure financing matters.
The capital markets team has performed very strongly recently, advising on a number of the most important matters in the market. This included acting for Santander Consumer Finance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays and Santander Global Corporate Banking on the securitisation of auto loan hire purchase contracts.
One of the more significant matters the M&A team advised on during the research period saw it acting for biotechnology company Chr Hansen in connection with its acquisition of LGG from Valio.
The one major change to the team this year saw the arrival of specialist partner Fredrik Lassenius from Deloitte to join the M&A team. An experienced lawyer, he previously served as head of M&A legal at Nokia.
Significant clients for the firm include international banking groups like Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole.
Global firm White & Case is recognised as perhaps the strongest international firm in Finland. In particular, it is recognised for its banking and finance, capital markets and M&A practices, where it ranks among the best in the market.
One of the more notable matters the banking and finance team advised on during the research period saw it acting for Antilooppi in connection with a €470 million facilities agreement secured from a consortium of Nordic banks.
In the capital markets space the firm was most active on the debt side of things recently, advising on several of the most notable matters.
The M&A team continues to impress as well. For example, it acted for Supercell in connection with acquisition by Chinese company Tencent of an 84.3% stake in the company, one of the largest ever Finnish deals.
Clients not already mentioned include corporate names like Finnvera and Munksjö alongside banks such as Nordea Bank and Danske Bank.
“White & Case advised us on corporate transactional aspects of a transaction and provided a comparable quality of work to leading firms we have worked with.” – M&A