Solicitors governing body: Advokatforeningen
Competition authority: Konkurransetilsynet
Financial regulator: Finanstilsynet
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking and finance, Capital markets, M&A
Energy and infrastructure (published June) – Energy and infrastructure
Norway is a wealthy, advanced and stable nation that is consistently ranked as one of the most open and developed economies in the world. It is ranked as one of the top 10 countries in which to do business, in the top five least corrupt nations worldwide and both the most democratic and most developed nation on the planet.
Much of this success has been built on the back of the exploitation of the country’s natural resources. While Norway only has oil reserves comparable to those of the UK, with a population of just 5 million – compared to the UK’s 64 million – it has been able to reinvest that money into Statens pensjonsfond Utland (The Government Pension Fund of Norway). This is the largest pension fund in the world, possessing some 1% of global equity markets and serving as the largest stockholder in Europe. It is, in actuality, two separate funds: The Government Pension Fund Norway and The Government Pension Fund Global; the latter of which is the largest single sovereign wealth fund in the world.
Given these reserves, it is not surprising that a large section of the economy is built on the oil industry, either directly or as part of the supply and servicing chain. Alongside that, shipping also remains a very important industry, mostly in terms of engineering experience and related areas centred in Stavanger. Despite its deep hydrocarbon reserves, most of the country’s energy needs are met by hydroelectric power – some 98.5% – making that another important of the economy.
Though a member of the EEA and EFTA and a signatory to the Schengen Agreement – and despite the increasing harmonisation between its legal system and those of member states – Norway remains outside of the EU. This position is reflected in a legal market that – uniquely for a Western European state – has no international or even regional firms present. Being such an open market, there are few restrictions on foreign firms or lawyers practicing in the country, but it remains a resolutely domestic industry; the general consensus being the high calibre of local lawyers means there is no need for an international firm to establish a presence.
The market is dominated by four or five large firms, though increasingly the competition from others is catching up to the leaders. Generally, these are all full-service firms in one sense or another, but there are a number of sector specialists, notable those with a particular focus on the oil and shipping industries. Lawyers themselves tend to be fairly focused notably in the banking and finance and M&A areas. There are a few strongly-focused practitioners, most significantly either focused on an industry area (i.e. shipping or oil and gas) or on the bond market, where Norway is a particularly strong global player.
Jonathan Moore – Journalist EMEA
Aabø-Evensen & Co is recognised for its strong M&A and capital markets work, and regularly works in the financial services and private equity sectors.
The firm largely deals with equity capital markets matters, and has frequently assisted borrowers and lenders in private placements, financing rounds and listings to the Oslo Stock Exchange. A notable deal saw the firm act as the legal advisor to Baltic Sea Properties in connection with its admission to trading on the Merkur Market.
The M&A team has recently worked on matters in sectors including banking, energy and infrastructure. Norwegian communications company, Link Mobility, was a regular client as it embarked on new ventures in other jurisdictions. For example the firm assisted the company as it expanded through acquisitions in Austria, Bulgaria, France, Italy and Spain.
Notable staffing changes included the addition of corporate partners Hege Dahl and Gard Skogstrøm from Arntzen de Besche.
Other notable clients of the firm include Arctic Securities, Pareto Bank and Sundal Collier.
“Great people. Great results. Really feel the company went the extra mile to make us happy.” – M&A
“My impression of law firm Aabø-Evensen & Co is undoubtedly positive. They explained everything, there were no surprises, the billable hours were regularly updated and explained, strategies were presented and discussed with us beforehand, there were no lack of resources and the time schedule was never exceeded. I believe what makes Aabø-Evensen & Co an excellent M&A law firm, is that they has previously, on numerous occasions, represented both sides of M&A transactions.” – M&A
“Professional, strong, good at negotiation, and effective to cooperate with.” – M&A
“They are knowledgeable and nice to work with. Very happy with their work.” – M&A
“We have given Aabø-Evensen & Co final authority in all contractual work both internally in Norway and internationally. Their strength is broad and they have detailed knowledge about contractual work. It feels safe to have them representing us, and we were given feedback that our legal communication is of the highest level.” – M&A, capital markets
Ole Kristian Aabø-Evensen
“Great negotiator and planner.”
“He performed extremely well.”
“The best M&A lawyer I have worked with.”
Lars André Gjerdrum
“Clever guy - good at following up and is always available.”
“Effective to work with.”
The team at Arntzen de Besche is recognised for its strong banking and finance practice in the Norwegian market, while it also has a strong presence in M&A work. The firm is highly regarded for its expertise in the energy, offshore wind and shipping sectors.
In banking and finance, the firm worked for both borrowers and lenders on prominent acquisition financings during the research period. Notably, the firm acted for Danske Bank as a facility agent, in relation to Aker BP’s acquisition of Hess Norge, which was one of the largest exploration and production financings in Norway in 2017.
The firm’s capital market group has had an active year, working on matters such as bond issues and listings on the Oslo Stock Exchange. One highlight was advising the Palmarium Group in financing its purchase of telecommunications company, Lebara, in the largest Norwegian bond issue of 2017.
In M&A, the firm has a strong presence within the energy, life sciences and real estate sectors. Highlights included completing work for DCC Energy in its acquisition of Esso’s Norwegian retail petrol station network and a role for McDonald’s as it sold its Scandinavian operations to Terra Firma Investments.
Among other mandates within the projects space, the firm provided advice on the development of petroleum projects in countries including Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania. The firm also assisted on a tender a PPP project in the region for the Norwegian Public Road Administration.
The firm added to its projects practice with the hire of Stian Fagervold from Wiersholm. Going the other way, Dag Erlend Henriksen departed to join the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.
The firm advises banking groups including BNP Paribas, Cargill and Citibank.
“They are competent lawyers, who are familiar with financing.” – Banking
“Knowledgeable and approachable lawyers. Work always delivered within deadlines. A very good working relationship overall.” – Banking
“Very satisfied with the quality of the work. Work delivered in timely manner, and rushed if requested by us.” – Banking, M&A
“Professional. Available. Quick response. Provides clear advice. Good at using colleagues with other expertise.” – M&A
“Very skilled in financing.”
“High-calibre legal advice.”
Ole Skeidsvoll Moe
“Very satisfied with the quality of the work.”
Marianne Sahl Sveen
“Extremely knowledgeable, proactive and friendly.”
BAHR has strength right across the financial and corporate area and secures top tier rankings in all of Norway’s IFLR1000 practice areas.
In the banking space, the firm’s recent mandates have been a mix of syndicated loans, acquisition finance and refinancings. Among several deals, clear highlights included working for the borrowers on the financing of five new ferries for Torghatten and the complex refinancing of Deep Sea Supply.
In the capital markets area, the firm picked up a good balance of debt and equity side mandates. On the equity side, the firm notably took roles for the lead managers on the IPO of software specialist, Crayon Group, and for Golden Ocean Group on its equity raising and acquisition of dry bulk vessels.
The firm’s M&A team has been very active on high-value transactions and operated in sectors including energy, shipping and telecommunications. In a stellar year, the firm worked for Point Resources on its acquisition of ExxonMobil’s Norwegian upstream business, and for Aker on its purchase of Hess Norge from Hess Corporation.
Notable project development mandates for the firm include a role for developer Statkraft on the Fosen Vind project, and work for Enbridge on the right to develop the Havsul offshore wind farm.
During the research period, the firm welcomed capital markets specialist Lars Knem Christie from Selmer.
The firm advised the likes of DNB, Terra Firma Investments and Triton.
The recent work of the team at CLP is evenly distributed between capital markets and M&A matters, with the firm working across a range of sectors, such as construction, retail and shipping.
One of the more significant deals that the M&A team advised on during the research period saw it advise Fortum in relation to the voluntary offer made by the Oslo Municipality for all of its shares in Hafslund, one of the largest energy groups in the country.
The firm’s capital markets work during the research period included acting for the managers in two successfully completed IPO processes, and on complex hybrid capital financing facilities for listed companies. A clear highlight saw the firm advise Arctic Securities, Sparebank 1 Markets and Sparebank1 SR-Bank Markets, as managers, in the IPO and listing of shares of IT consultancy firm Webstep on the main list of the Oslo Stock Exchange.
In the projects space, the firm has worked on mandates concerning electricity, heating and wind power.
Key clients of the firm include Cubera, Microsoft Ventures and Verdane Capital.
“Strengths: Hands-on, high quality and agile.” – M&A
“Good guidance in contract handling with suppliers when we needed it. Also very good in one supplier dispute in which we needed guidance and legal assistance.” – M&A, project development
Lars Gunnar Aas
“Extremely hands-on, result-oriented, and competent.”
“Good understanding of our legal needs and guidance.”
Amund Berthelsen Erdal
“Excellent, pragmatic, practical, and hands-on.”
Grette has a strong presence in banking, capital markets and M&A.
In the banking area, the firm has represented borrowers and lenders in large financing projects. A clear highlight saw the team advise a syndicate of banks including Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Société Générale on financing for a private equity house. The firm has also been active on financing public-private partnerships, and advising on financial regulatory matters.
In the equity capital markets area the firm notably represented marketing group TargetEveryone on its IPO and listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange. A standout debt deal saw the firm act as the counsel for investment firm Jool Markets, as manager, on the high yield senior bond issue of a company in the Gefion Group.
Life sciences, renewable energy and technology are areas in which the firm’s M&A team have been active on cross-border work recently. Among other matters, the firm assisted Swiss utility, BKW Group, as it acquired Marker Vindpark, which operates wind power projects in Østfold.
Recent work highlights in the project development space include acting on a number of road construction projects. The firm notably acted for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration in matters related to the planning and procurement of a PPP contract for the Rv 3 and Rv 25 Ommangsvollen–Grundset/Basthjørnet.
Key clients of the firm include the likes of Danske Bank, DNB Markets and Nordkraft.
Haavind has experience in all areas of work covered by the rankings but is recognised most for its project development and M&A advice.
In the banking and finance area, the firm has particular strength on asset-based financing work, where it has worked on sectors such as aviation, real estate and renewable energy. A further recent deal highlight included work for debt management company Axactor, in its corporate refinancing spanning five jurisdictions.
Bond issues and private placements dominate the firm’s recent portfolio of capital markets deals, with the firm representing the issuers and lenders on various mandates.
Recent M&A deals for the firm were mostly strategic with a mix of buy and sell side roles. The deals were carried out in various sectors including energy, technology, and real estate. A clear highlight included acting for Telenor in separating two of the largest online classifieds joint ventures between Naspers, Singapore Press Holdings, Schibsted and Telenor in South America and Southeast Asia.
In the projects space, the firm has notably advised developer Statnett on an energy grid project in northern Norway, and worked for Acciona and Ghella on the development of the Follo Line project. The firm also acted for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration on a number of road infrastructure projects.
A key staffing change during the research period saw the arrival of infrastructure specialist Andreas Rostveit from Føyen Torkildsen.
ABN Amro, ING Bank and Santander are among the firm’s notable clients.
“We used the firm for corporate restructuring. Very organised and efficient. We used them to support refinancing, and had a good experience.” – Banking, restructuring and insolvency
“High availability, value for money, good personal chemistry with the lawyers.” – M&A
“General feedback on the firm is that they provide cost-effective, valuable and hands-on advice. Good on partner attention and have a great insight into industry knowledge.” – M&A, project development
“Broad competence within relevant areas. Takes a large responsibility in arranging courses, material/presentation, in preparing negotiations and in following up on use of contracts. Very high knowledge of the operator perspective as well as the supplier perspectives.” – Project development
“Efficient and practical advice. Good business understanding.” – Project development
“Haavind has provided excellent legal advice, demonstrating an in-depth knowledge of the construction industry and the specific risks associated with major infrastructure projects. Their legal team combines top legal expertise with impressive industry knowledge. Haavind handles complex issues effectively and impresses with providing input tailored to achieve the client’s practical and commercial needs.” – Project development
“I have used Haavind as a legal and strategic advisor on an infrastructure project in Norway. With a knowledge of the industry and the local conditions in the region that few others possess, they have showed time and time that they are the preferred legal team on both real estate and the energy system in Norway.” – Project development
“Strong experience. Good knowledge of oil and gas sector, with regards to new establishments, business partners and project execution.” – Project development
Selmer is generally good in transactional work and has an experienced projects practice. Infrastructure, power and oil and gas are sectors is which the firm has expertise.
Recent banking highlights for the firm include working for SBB on financing the acquisition of DNB’s headquarters in Oslo, marking one of the jurisdiction’s largest property deals of the year. Other mandates included several restructurings and financial regulatory work for the likes of Finans Norge and SpareBank 1 Vest.
The firm’s recent capital markets activity was predominantly issuer side roles on equity mandates including on several large IPOs by SpareBank 1 Østlandet, Infront and SpareBank 1 Nordvest. On the debt side, the firm worked for the likes of AN Amro, Pareto Securities and Swedbank as lenders on various bond issue matters.
Recent M&A deals saw the firm work on transactions for buyers and sellers in the energy, fisheries, retail and private equity space.
In the projects area, the firm is advising on developments in the energy and oil and gas sectors, often representing developers. A highlight venture includes work for the developer Statkraft on the construction of Fosen wind farm, Europe’s largest onshore wind project.
The firm added shipping specialist Norman Hansen Meyer to its team from the Nordisk Defence Club. Going the other way, a notable departure during the research period saw capital markets specialist Lars Knem Christie join BAHR.
Swedish private equity group, EQT, and Nordea have been two of the firm’s active clients.
“Solution-oriented, with a high focus on timely work completion.” – Banking
“Excellent business understanding and are helpful at providing availability and being responsive.” – Banking, M&A
“Business driven, with very good understanding of area and industry. Solutions with a good and balanced proposal for the parties.” – Banking, M&A, project development
“High quality. Always available. Strong and fast execution. Almost always outperforms the opposition. Very good value for money.” – Capital markets, M&A
“Available and responsive. Strong legal skills. Business understanding. Proactive.” – M&A
“Solutions-oriented. Good at landing deals with the counter-party.”
“Business driven with very good understanding of clients need.”
“Steady, clear on advise.”
Jon Fredrik Johansen
“Good M&A lawyer.”
“Excellent business understanding, strong legal skills, responsive and available.”
“He has many positive attributes.”
“He is professional, with great knowledge. He is always available and quick - which also means good value for money.”
Simonsen Vogt Wiig has a strong presence in the Norwegian market across all areas of financial and corporate work. In particular the firm excels in banking, where it works on a variety of cross-border issues for high-profile clients.
The banking and finance team had a strong research period and was active in areas including aviation finance, export finance and project finance, especially within the energy sector. A clear highlight is the ongoing assistance to Norwegian Air Shuttle and the Brazilian Development Bank on the financing and delivery of 271 aircrafts.
In the capital markets space, the firm notably acted for Norwegian Finans Holding on several private placements, and for Jinhui Shipping on its rights issue. Additionally the firm has been an active player in the Norwegian securitisation market.
One of the more notable matters the M&A team worked on during the research period saw it represent Prime Capital in connection with the acquisition of Raudfjell Vind and Tromsø Vind.
Beyond those already mentioned, clients of the firm include Hewlett-Packard, Morgan Stanley and Swedbank.
“We use Simonsen Vogt Wiig on most legal questions. They are very service-oriented, give a timely reply on our questions and know our business well after many years of cooperation.” – Banking, M&A
Steenstrup Stordrange (SANDS) is best known for banking and M&A work. Real estate and shipping are some of the sectors where the firm is most active.
In the banking and finance space the firm has been mostly involved in acquisition financing and other sophisticated loan structures. A clear highlight saw the firm represent real estate developer Solnes Invest on the structuring and accomplishment of a multi-currency bond loan.
The firm worked across a number of sectors in the M&A space, ranging from entertainment to healthcare. A highlight cross-border deal saw the firm act for American company Orchard, a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment, as it acquired Norwegian company Phonofile, and German company Finetunes.
During the research period the firm expanded its personnel significantly, bringing in banking partners Oddbjørn Slinning and Marit Kirkhusmo from Wikborg Rein and Raeder respectively. The firm also added M&A partners Anne Kjølseth Ekerholt from Selmer and Kristin Nyhus Halvorsen from her CEO role at Bøndenes Hus.
Ambea, Arcus, and Double Hull Tankers are among the firm’s notable clients.
Thommessen is one of the leading firms in Norway for high-end cross-border transactions in all areas covered by the rankings. The firm’s sector expertise is broad too, encompassing banking, oil and gas, real estate and technology.
In the banking area, the firm has advised on a range of issues including acquisition and project financing, as well as on financial restructurings for various oil service clients. Notably, the firm represented senior creditors in restructuring projects involving the likes of Atlantic Offshore, Havila and Polarcus.
The firm sustained its position as arguably the market leader in the capital markets space, working on several of Norway’s largest deals. On the debt side, the firm acted on the bank side on bond issues by Chembulk Tankers and ICE Group. On the equity side, the firm advised the banks on the IPO of Evry and acted for issuers Elkem and Saferoad on their IPOs.
In M&A, many of the firm’s headline deals were sale side roles representing private equity houses or Norway’s largest financial investors. In another clear highlight, the firm acted for Triton in its acquisition of shares in lighting product maker, Glamox.
Project development highlights for the firm included work for NorthConnect on the proposed development of a HVDC interconnector between Norway and the UK. Other mandates included roles for developers and lenders on several domestic windfarm projects.
The firm expanded its local presence during the research period by opening a new representative office in Stavanger.
Goldman Sachs, Statoil and Telenor are some of the firm’s regular clients.
“High quality advice, efficient and commercial.” – Banking, M&A
“Tier 1 firm. Excellent combination of a strong legal skill set and commercial understanding.” – M&A
“I am very satisfied with the help from Thommessen. They have practical experience in project development execution, giving them the ability to understand cases.” – Project development
“High quality advice - commercial based, and good value for money.”
“Very good understanding of project development and execution.”
“Fast, efficient and with a very good understanding of project development and execution.”
Wiersholm is among the market’s leaders in all areas of law covered by the rankings. Banking, energy and shipping are sectors where the firm has expertise.
In banking and finance, the firm’s recent work included several large project financings for borrowers, and lender side roles on refinancings and financial restructurings.
The firm has had a busy year in the capital markets area, featuring in several of the market’s IPO deals. Notably, the firm acted for the issuers on the Komplett Bank IPO, and for the lead managers on the IPOs of Fjordkraft and Saferoad. The firm also acted for Borr Drilling on its private placement, the second largest on the Oslo Stock Exchange since 2011.
In M&A, the firm was involved in several high profile deals for buyers, representing Summa Equity when it bought Norsk Gienvinning, and Vinci Energies on its acquisition of Infratek from Triton. On the sell side, the firm notably represented KKR on its sale of shares in Visma.
The firm’s projects team has worked extensively on areas including construction, oil and gas and renewable energy. Deal highlights included representing developers such as Hedmarksvegen and Skanska on PPP contracts concerning road constructions in Hedmark.
Notable additions to the firm’s project development team this year included experienced partners Jon Rabben and Karl Even Rygh from Wikborg Rein and the Nordisk Defence Club respectively. Going the other way, Stian Fagervold departed to join Arntzen de Besche’s team as a partner.
Longstanding investment banking clients of the firm include ABG Sundal Collier, Carnegie and SpareBank 1 Markets.
“Top notch, business savvy advice and they offer round-the-clock service.” – M&A
Wikborg Rein & Co has strengths across the board, especially in the banking and finance area. The firm is recognised for its strong work within the energy, financial services and shipping sectors.
In the banking and finance area, the firm has been active on corporate lending and acquisition financing matters, working in sectors including energy and shipping. The firm has also regularly provided a mix of regulatory advice within the insurance industry and on securities law.
In the capital markets area, the firm has performed notable debt capital markets work, and advised chemical company, Yara International, on its five tranche debt issuance. Further highlights include acting Eagle Bulk Shipping on a high-yield bond issue, and representing River iGaming on its IPO on the Merkur Market.
The firm secured roles on M&A deals in sectors including financial services, retail, shipping and technology. The firm had a number of buy side roles, including its work for Storebrand on the winding-up and acquisition of the portfolio of Silver Pensjonsforsikring.
In the projects space, the firm has notably worked for Awilco Drilling in relation to a Silver Pensjonsforsikringconstruction project for a semi-submersible drilling rig, and for the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) in the complex development of its offices and underground facilities in connection with Prinsens Gate 26.
Staffing changes during the research period saw the exit of two projects partners, as Erlend Holstrøm moved to Schjodt, while Jon Rabben departed to join Wiersholm.
The firm’s foreign offices in London, Shanghai and Singapore means that the firm is able to attract international clients including General Electric, KKR and Siemens.
“Overall performance is very good. Experienced and knowledgeable within shipping and in particular in matters related to shipbuilding contracts.” – Project development
“Highly skilled and very experienced. Gives good and clear advice.”
Ole Henrik Wille
“Impressed with his capabilities and extensive experience. He is honest and direct in his advice and is not afraid to get his clients on the right track.”