Solicitors governing body: Local bar aassociations
Competition authority: The Hellenic Competition Commission
Financial regulator: Bank of Greece
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets, M&A, Project finance
Greece is a civil law jurisdiction backed by the country’s constitution, the latest version of which was adopted in 1974. The technical origins of the system can be found in the city states of ancient Greece.
Foreign law firms can open an office in Greece relatively freely. There are few restrictions and as long as registration is achieved firms can operate under their own name, hire Greek lawyers and practice local law. There is also no requirement for Greek qualified lawyers to have Greek citizenship.
The country’s economic woes have impacted the legal profession directly in that as part of the economic reforms agreed as part of the country’s financial bailout agreement, some previous restrictive measure have been abolished. Most notably the rule that lawyers could only practice within the geographical area of the local bar to which they were registered was abolished in 2011.
Despite the relative ease of setting up an office, few foreign law firms have made the step, even before the economic issues that have troubled the country since 2008. The majority of those firms that have tend to be focused on the country’s thriving shipping industry. Norton Rose Fulbright, Reed Smith and Watson Farley & Williams are the most prominent foreign law firms present in the country at present.
Lawyers often act across a range of practice areas, but within the financial and corporate areas tend to focus either on finance matters or capital markets and corporate deals.
Sam Duke - Editor
Alexiou & Kosmopoulos’s year was marked by mandates and transactions in three distinct areas, namely, privatisations, sales by banks of non-core assets, and equity investment rounds in growth companies and the general restructuring of the Greek finance industry. One of the office’s strengths is dealing with project finance matters.
On the banking side, the firm advised Piraeus Bank, in its capacity as lead arranger and Alpha Bank, Eurobank and NBG as co-arrangers, in relation to the refinancing of Aluminium as part of a €288 million secured syndicated bond loan facility. Another matter saw Kosmopoulos act for Eurobank Ergasias in relation to a €125 million acquisition financing facility to Bigstar and a €157 million refinancing facility for Sani.
In the M&A space, the firm has been advising National Bank of Greece as part of the disposition transaction relating to €400 million acquisition of 90% of the shares in Astir Palace Vouliagmenis; acting for the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund as part of the privatisation transaction in respect to Piraeus Port Authority and the privatisation transaction in respect to Thessaloniki Port Authority.
Bernitsas Law ranks in the top tier in all our practice areas and it is easy to see why when looking through its transactional CV. The firm has been particularly active in bank sector restructuring matters.
A project finance client says: “Knowledgeable, timely responses, market awareness, can communicate efficiently with lenders, commercial and doers.” An M&A client says: “The firm and especially Mr Papachristopoulos has been instrumental in the execution of important projects.”
There is individual praise for Yiannis Kourniotis: “Able to identify quickly commercial issues and provide market oriented solutions, clear drafting.”
In the banking space the firm acted for Hellenic Petroleum on a €100 million bond loan; acted for the lenders on the €700 million refinancing of the Goodyear Group; and advised Elpedison Power Generation on three separate bond loans. In the projects space the firm advised Hellenic Petroleum on the tenders for hydrocarbon exploration rights; acted for the project consortiums on the Serres and Epirus waste management PPPs (public-private partnership); and advised the lenders on the Ilia waste management PPP.
In the capital markets the firm acted for Eurobank Ergasias on its €2 billion recapitalisation via the issue of new shares; and acted for OTE on a €350 million notes offering.
In M&A, highlights included work for Eurobank Ergasias on the sale of Eurolife ERB Insurance Group Holdings; work for DE Master Blenders on its joint venture with Mondalez; and work for Hellenic Petroleum on the sale of its stakes in The Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and The Natural Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA).
Drakopoulos is among the key-founding members of Green Lane, a unique alliance of independent European law firms specialising in customs law and international trade law, providing "one-stop shop" solutions for the whole of Europe. The arrival of senior associate Evangelos Margaritis last year has proven quite fruitful for the firm.
Important transactions include advice to Upstream throughout the second funding round of an equity investment in Smartbox, a UK technology company; another case finds Panagiotis Drakopoulos represent the seller, a Greek company listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, in relation to the sale of its Romanian subsidiary to a Cypriot company, wholly owned by a Panamanian entity.
An interesting case constitutes the advice to Secure Property Development & Investment (SPDI), a Cypriot AIM-listed company, on all capital market compliance requirements following the €15 million restructuring of the financing scheme of the spin-off GED Logistics.
Dryllerakis & Associates has a balanced practice across financial and corporate but is perhaps best known for its finance and capital markets practices.
A capital markets and M&A client says: “We have a very long standing relationship with Dryllerakis & Associates mainly on various corporate matters and have been working together on a specific financing transaction. They have comprehensive knowledge of M&A transactions with excellent support. They are diligent, constructive and effective.”
Sophia Grigoriadou is singled out: “Sophia is knowledgeable, creative and has a very high level of professionalism.”
In banking, transaction highlights include work for DS Smith Hellas on the takeout of two loan facilities from National Bank of Greece; and work for Carlsberg on a bond loan.
In the M&A space a clear highlight was work for Azerbaijan oil and gas company SOCAR on the privatisation of 66% of the Greek national gas transmission operator DESFA. Elsewhere the firm advised Carlsberg and subsidiary Mythos Brewery on the merger between Mythos and Olympic Brewery.
In the finance area, the firm advised a Greek credit institution in liquidation on the high-profile fraud and money laundering lawsuits it initiated against a multitude of defendants in connection with €700 million worth of unsecured loans.
The firm also acted on behalf of an unnamed client in regards to a large and complex insolvency case.
Rokas’s team during the research period acted as legal advisor for the Korean conglomerate LG in a recently awarded €60 million PPP (public-private partnership) project. The firm also advised Equity Fund in relation to an auction sale of the production facilities of one of the largest wood firms in Greece which has been in liquidation for a couple of years now.
KLC Law Firm made a significant addition to its team with the addition of Vasiliki Lazarakou who joined from the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.
During the research period the banking team advised the borrower and security provider Phoenix Solar on the restructuring of a €92 million syndicated loan offered by a group of eight lenders.
In the M&A space, the firm advised SpeedCast International, a top tier worldwide provider of satellite maritime communication services listed in the Australian Securities Exchange, with respect to its cross-jurisdictional (Greece, Cyprus) acquisition of SAIT Communications, a company active in the sector in the Southern Europe region.
Koutalidis claims top tier rankings in all of our tables and a glance through its transactional highlights makes it obvious why, the firm takes roles on a number of the market’s largest deals.
In banking highlights for the team during the research period include work for National Bank of Greece on a €200 million bond loan provided to Hellenic Petroleum and work for Eurobank Ergasias on a €100 million bond loan to the same party; work for Alpha Bank on a €62 million bond loan to Terna Energy; and work for Antenna on the take out of a €162 million bond loan. In project finance the firm advised Fraport and Coplouzos Group on the financing of the concession for the operation of Greek regional airports; advised Aegean Motorway on a debt restructuring of the Maliakos – Kleidi toll road.
In the capital markets the team acted for Alpha Bank on its €2.5 billion recapitalisation consisting of a share offering and a notes issue; advised Attica Bank on a share capital increase.
In M&A, highlights include work for Alpha Bank on the sale of its Bulgarian business to Eurobank; work for Jumbo on its merger with Tanosirian; and work for Olympic Brewery on its merger with Mythos Brewery.
Kyriakides Georgopoulos (KG Law Firm) is one of Greece’s pre-eminent law firms as evidenced by its top tier rankings in all our tables.
There was some change in the team during the research period with the departures of partner Christina Papanikolopoulou and senior associate Kely Pesketzi.
An M&A client says: “Very commercial and focused on customer needs and priorities.” There is also individual praise for Elisabeth Elefteriades: “Very good, always reachable and available and coordinating a complex team.”
In banking transaction highlights during the research period include work for Dexia Credit Local on the amendment of a loan facility granted to the municipality of Athens. In project finance the firm acted for KfW on the financing of the Kafireas wind farm project.
In the capital markets the firm advised the underwriters on the share capital increase by Piraeus Bank; and acted for Black Sea Trade and Development Bank on the establishment of an EMTN programme
In M&A the firm advised the European bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on the acquisition of a stake in European Reliance; advised ECEW Investment International on the sale of ECE-Lamda Hellas; and acted for Russian Railways on bids for TRAINOSE, ROSCO and the Thessaloniki Port Authority which are being privatised by the Greek state.
There was some change in the team at Lambadarios during the research period with the addition of Kostas Botopoulos the ex-chairman of the Hellenic Capital Markets Commission.
A project finance client says: “Excellent expertise, value for money, accessibility”. Another says: “The firm has demonstrated exceptional commercial understanding and unparalleled value for money. Also, they have provided quality services within the agreed deadlines.”
A client who worked with the firm on project development says: "Lambadarios firm provides excellent legal advisory services for PPP (public-private partnership) and related transactions.” Another projects client says: “Prompt service and high quality. Hard working staff and partners whose main priority is client satisfaction. Good knowledge of the business and regulations.”
An M&A client says: "Very good and reliable technical legal advice. The firm is very reactive. It understands the business and adapts to its clients' constraints.” A corporate client says: “Excellent knowledge and aptitude on technical issues. Efficient on problem solving and punctuality of service.” Another M&A client says: “We had excellent cooperation. The law firm dedicated to our project people with deep knowledge of the technical aspects. They were efficient, friendly and helped us close the deal.” Another M&A client says: “The Lambadarios team, led by Constantinos Lambadarios and Prokopis Dimitriadis, exhibited technical skills of the highest calibre, in-depth knowledge of the business, flexibility and constructive attitude during the negotiations and all subsequent stages of the transaction, while being available to provide feedback and support at all times. A final M&A client says: "We used the law firm in a possible M&A, and I have found the company to be very professional, communicative, and with their knowledge they were able to shift conditions towards our benefit.”
A client who the team advised on regulatory matters says: “We are very satisfied, they are very responsive, their advice is always to the point and they are very effective in addressing our needs.”
There was further individual praise for Constantinos Lambadarios: “Reliable legal advice, excellent communication and availability,” another says: “good all round knowledge with strong commercial understanding.” There is also praise for George Panopoulos: “Very professional and hard working. Completely satisfied by the attention to the client needs and promptness of completing of the task in hand.” Another client says: “Excellent help and partners that proactively protect our company's interests.”
In banking, transaction highlights include work for Nireus Aquaculture on its €170 million financial restructuring. The firm also acted for JP Avax on the concessions for waste management PPPs (public-private partnership) in Ilia and Attica.
In the capital markets the firm acted for Eurobank on the IPO of Quest Holdings.
In the M&A space the firm advised Kyvernitis Travel on its sale to American Express; acted for Kerneos Aluminate on the acquisition of European Bauxite; and advised Indesit on its merger with Whirlpool Corp.
In 2015, Machas & Partners announced its strategic cooperation with Yingke law firm to provide legal support in transactions and investments among China, Greece and as well as South East Europe. The legal team welcomed Konstantinos Thomopoulos and Thodoris Thomopoulos from Kelemenis & Co during the research period.
In capital markets, Athanasios Kyriakopoulos is acting for Raymetrics in relation to its re-domiciliation in the UK through a share for share exchange; Petros Machas is also advising Euroxx Securities in relation to the re-domiciliation of a large Greek listed company in London, New York and Brussels.
Details of its M&A activity remain confidential, but it can be said the firm is engaged in several multi-jurisdiction transactions.
Moratis Passas is recognised for its banking, capital markets, finance and regulatory expertise.
In the banking area, the firm advised Citibank on interpretation and implementation of Greek capital controls regimes. Moratis Passas also represented CPB (Greece) in relation to the implementation of the resolution measures ordered by the Cypriot Resolution Authority in Greece.
In capital markets, the firm acted as legal counsels to Barclays Bank in its capacity as arranger in relation to the €10 billion residential mortgage loan covered bond programme of Piraeus Bank.
The main staffing change at Papapolitis & Papapolitis is the departure of senior associate Katerina Dalamara.
In the capital markets highlights include work for the coordinators and bookrunners on an equity offering by the National Bank of Greece; work for Invel Real Estate Partners on the listing of Pangaea Real Estate Investment Company on the Athens Stock Exchange.
In the M&A space highlights include work for GSO/Blackstone on the acquisition of a stake in Lamda Development. Although much of the rest of the firm’s work is confidential it can be said that the firm acted on matters in the banking, energy, infrastructure and entertainment sectors.
The only change during the research period at Politis & Partners saw Emmanouil Savoidakis join the team.
A client from the banking sector that did work with the firm says: “They provided an excellent service advising us on complex financial structuring matters. They provided innovative solutions to allocate risks and showed outstanding business understanding; They have been always available with adequate staff to support us in all internal procedures in our bank. All in all we have been extremely satisfied with their work.”
An individual from a pharmaceutical company says: “I was satisfied with the responsiveness and with the collaboration on corporate matters.” Another client that did regulatory work with the firm says: “Excellent knowledge of the financial regulatory space in Greece”
Evangelos Politis is generally praised by clients: “Evangelos has great experience in corporate law and compared to partners in other firms he is easily accessible and available. He is great in supporting us in tough negotiations with clients and capable at identifying solutions.” Another one says: “I only worked with the one partner Evangelos Politis whom I knew from the past. I was satisfied by the response time and overall cooperation.”
The firm advised Eurobank on several matters including the refinancing of two companies controlled by the Mytilineos Group and the refinancing of four SPVs controlled by ENEL group.
PotamitisVekris is one of an elite group of Greek firms who claim top tier rankings in all the financial and corporate ranking tables and this is backed by an impressive transactional record and stellar client feedback.
Staffing changes during the research period include the addition of Konstantinos Pistiolis from Alexiou Kosmopoulos
A finance client says: “The law firm provided us with excellent service and all partners and associates are very friendly.” Another finance client says: “Excellent business sense and understanding. Extensive experience in the project finance and banking sectors is coupled with a high degree of professionalism.” Another finance client says: “The partners we have worked with have had a very good grip on the sectors referenced, resolving difficult issues, surpassing our requirements and have proved to be very good at handling the transactions overall.” A final finance client says: “The firm in its totality, is very efficient, professional and has high communication capabilities. They are also very credible in their feedback, such that, one does not easily question their legal opinion. It's a given that the issues have been thoroughly assessed and reviewed.
A client who the team advised on insolvency matters says: “Excellent support, swift execution and drive for results.” A client who the team advised on PPP matters says; “PV provides high quality advisory services with strong country knowledge, 24/7 access and fruitful commercial understanding.”
There is individual praise for George Bersis: “High standard of professionalism. Extensive experience in the banking sector and in project finance. Very developed commercial understanding, significantly higher than the average lawyer seems to have.” Another client highlights Euripides Ioannou: “Excellent commercially and for his depth and breadth of legal knowledge,” another client says: “Euripides is an experienced lawyer with strong knowledge of local PPP and renewable energy projects.”
In banking, deal highlights from the research period include work for Lemessos marina on its financial restructuring; work for Piraeus Bank on the financing provided to South Rhodes Investments for the construction of Notus Village; and work for Alpha Bank on the financing of a PPP waste management project in the Peloponnese.
In the capital markets the firm acted for Fairfax Financial Holdings in relation to the €2.8 billion recapitalisation of Eurobank Ergasias and in similar work advised Piraeus Bank on its recapitalisation which included equity issues and CoCo issues.
In the M&A space the firm acted for Denstu Aegis Network Hellas Communication Services on the acquisition of Isobar – Iprospect Advertising Services; acted for Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on the sale of certain real estate assets and separately on the sale of its stake in Athens International Airport; and advised Mylan on the Greek aspects of its acquisition of Abbott’s specialty and generics business.
Souriadakis Tsibris Law Partnership is active in banking, capital markets and M&A.
In the banking area, the firm advised Citibank and Credit Suisse in relation to capital control measures imposed by the Greek government which affected international transactions. The firm also advised Greenfarm Hellas Trade of Chemical Products, the Greek subsidiary of Nufarm Group, in relation to $485 million refinancing of an original syndicated facility of a number of banks to the latter.
In the M&A space, Emmanouil Souriadakis advised Sarantis, a major manufacturer and distributor of cosmetics and household products in relation to the acquisition of the majority package of the shares of Polipak.
Tsibanoulis & Partners welcomed on-board senior associate Vassilios Douzenis during the research period who joined from Karatzas & Partners.
The managing directive of an investment bank that did work with the firm says: “Our co-operation has been excellent. The company and its partners were very efficient in guiding us through local legal issues and providing legal support and comfort to proceed with our transactions.”
The client praises the senior partner: “Mr. Tsibanoulis is one of the most knowledgeable individuals in Greece on capital markets and banking legal issues and one of the most respected.” Other lawyers are also applauded: “Kyttari has very deep knowledge of her field and is very motivated to support her clients and I would recommend any non-Greek investor working with her while entering the country.”
In the capital markets, Emmanouil Komis advised BNP Paribas Securities Services on clearing and settling stock-exchange transactions and transfer of funds subject to capital control measures.
Watson Farley & Williams focuses on maritime, energy and infrastructure, real estate, and banking and finance work. Alexandros Damianidis joined the team in January 2015 as a partner from Stephenson Harwood.
A managing director that did work with partner Nikolaos Kostikas says: “Nikolaos has in-depth knowledge of his subject. He is very responsive and polite, eager to support and cooperative. The most important attribute is that he is business oriented.” Konstantina Siozou is also praised for her “attention to detail, commercial understanding and excellent communication skills”.
In the finance space, Virginia Murray acted for two subsidiaries of the French energy group EDF EN on the Greek bond loan refinancing of four 24MW onshore wind farms.
The firm also acted for Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank as agent and structuring bank, on the $477 million financing made available to eight subsidiaries of Oceanbulk Container Carriers.
In the M&A sphere, the firm advised EREN Group on the acquisition and Greek-law bond loan financing for the acquisition and development of several wind farm projects in Greece, with a total installed capacity of 146.5MW.
Your Legal Partners is gradually building a reputation particularly in the finance and M&A areas.
A finance client says: “Excellent and speedy legal advice, with a thorough knowledge of local regulation and our business.” A project finance client says: “Good technical knowledge, people with understanding of all aspects of the deal and reasonable fees.” Another finance client says: “Excellent, responsive and clear advice. Good to deal with.”
In the finance area the firm has acted on a number of loan matters for the Black Sea Trade & Development Bank and advised Alpha Bank on a number of refinancings. IN project finance the firm was active for the SPV developing the Attica Schools PPP project; and also acted for METKA on the development of the new airport at Heraklion in Crete.
In the corporate space the firm has been acting for the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF). The rest of the firm’s work is confidential.
Zepos & Yannopoulos is particularly strong in M&A. During the research period partner Christina Papanikolopoulou joined from KG Law Firm.
A client that did M&A work with the firm says: “Ilias Koimtzoglou and Elina Filippou are both excellent in their respective sectors”
During the research period the firm advised HSBC Bank, Mediobanca Banca di Credito Finaniario and Merrill Lynch International in regard to a €2 billion recapitalisation of Eurobank Ergasias, one of the four systemic banks in Greece. This recapitalisation was one of the most successful in the market attaining one of the highest percentages of private investor participation.
In the M&A space, the firm represented the consortium of Alstom/Copelouzos Group on a €40 acquisition of ROSCO by HRAD. The team also acted for McCann Erikson Hellas on the buy-out of the company.