Solicitors governing body: Türkiye Barolar Birliği
Competition authority: Rekabet Kurumu
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking, Capital markets, Competition, M&A, Project finance
Energy and infrastructure (published June) – Energy, Infrastructure
Economically, Turkey is expanding and growing, with inward foreign direct investment playing an important part in virtually every industry and practice area. Most notably, large-scale projects in energy and infrastructure are abundant throughout the jurisdiction. As one of the MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey) it is seen as one of the up-and-coming economies of the developing world.
Situated at the meeting point between Asia and Europe, the country is seen as important regionally and internationally. As perhaps the only secular democracy in the region it is an important local ally for Europe and America, but also maintains a position as a leader among the Middle East nations. Persistent conflicts on its eastern borders and ongoing tensions with the minority ethnic Kurdish population, however, remain significant challenges that need to be overcome.
The legal system is based on the 1982 constitution and the country is a civil law jurisdiction. It is a sophisticated legal market that is largely in line with those of continental Europe, having incorporated elements from a number of different nations in its creation.
In order qualify as an avukat an individual must be a Turkish citizen and have qualified in Turkey. Qualified lawyers must then register with one of the 78 bar associations and with the Türkiye Barolar Birliği. They are also required to work in an office established in the jurisdictional area of their bar association. Qualified attorneys are allowed to practice anywhere in the country, but only on a temporary basis.
Firms are not permitted to have more than one office and foreign partnerships are not permitted to open a branch in Turkey. In practice, this means that domestic firms will often form associations or alliances with international firms and operate on a de facto basis as the Turkish office of that firm. Many also have non-Turkish lawyers on the ground in Istanbul as well who, while technically not able to work on any aspects of Turkish law, work in close contact with their domestic colleagues on multi-jurisdictional matters.
Thanks to the peculiarities of the regulations, the Turkish legal market is a hotchpotch of different firms, ranging from expansive, large-scale, Western-style partnerships to small family-run firms with only two or three partners. And, due to the sheer volume of work available, it is as likely to see one working on a major deal as another.
There are a number of different types of firm that lead the market. Both large domestic and international firms are some of the strongest names around. However, alongside them there are also the traditional family-run organisations, and now also a new wave of smaller operators made up of partners who were formerly senior associates at the traditional firms. Some of these have already joined together with an international partner, while others remain independent. All of the above can be found working on major deals, such is the nature of the Turkish market.
Jon Moore - Journalist - EMEA
Akol Özok Namlı is recognised in the Turkish market as having one of the strongest M&A teams around. Beyond this, it is also very strong in projects and capital markets work.
The banking team splits its work fairly evenly between lenders and borrowers, and one interesting matter it advised on recently saw it acting for Viatrans on the refinancing of existing debts and simultaneous financing of the construction of residences, offices and a Fairmont Hotel.
Private equity and banking play a significant part in the work of the capital markets team, which for the most part focuses on equity work.
Probably the firm’s strongest practice, the M&A team continues to regularly secure impressive mandates. One example of that during the research period saw it acting for ÜNLÜ Menkul Değerler on its sale of 85% of the shares of Korozo Ambalaj Sanayi ve Ticaret to Actera.
In the projects space one of the more interesting recent matters the firm advised on saw it advising YDA İnşaat in relation to the financing for the Konya Healthcare Campus. A PPP project, it was notable as the first financing of an infrastructure project in Turkey that used both Islamic and conventional financing, and the first dual tranche deal of this type in Europe.
Perhaps the two most significant changes to firm’s line-up recently were the arrival of corporate partner Jonathan Clarke from DLA Piper and the addition of real estate and construction partner Emre Çizioğlu. One other notable addition was banking and energy counsel Tom de Gols, who joined the firm from the London office of JPMorgan.
Beyond those already mentioned, other significant clients of the firm include Global Ports Holding, Gazprombank and the Qatar Investment Authority.
“They are a great firm, very accessible and responsive during projects.” – M&A
“She is a great lawyer with a lot of experience in all products.”
Project work is clearly the stand-out practice are of Ankara-based firm Çakmak, where it ranks as one of the very best in Turkey, especially for energy matters.
In the banking space one of the more notable recent matters the firm worked on saw it acting for Česká exportní banka in connection with the extension of a €272.58 million export financing package to Adularya Enerji Elektrik Üretimi for the purchase of mining equipment and the construction of a coal power plant.
The M&A team recently acted for Koninklijke Bunge in relation to its acquisition of Turkish olive oil producer and distributor Ana Gida.
The projects team remains active on a number of the country’s ongoing PPP hospital construction projects, which are among the most important social infrastructure programmes currently taking place in Turkey.
The one notable change to the team during the research period was the departure of partner Çağdaş Evrim Ergün, who left the firm in December 2016 to set up his own practice.
Some of the firm’s notable clients include the International Finance Corporation, Western Union and Denizbank.
One of the stronger overall practices in the Turkish market, Esin Attorney Partnership – part of the Baker McKenzie network of firms – is noted as a market leader for banking, capital markets, competition and M&A.
The banking team works extensively with the banks but also has a lot of work on the borrower side as well. One of the more notable matters it recently advised on saw it acting for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and a syndicate of 42 international banks in connection with a €762 million and $240 million dual tranche facility extended to Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Ziraat Bankası, Turkey's second-largest bank.
Equity work is where the firm’s capital markets practice is strongest and does the most work, though it is also active on the debt side and significantly advises on some more sophisticated products like derivatives, a relative rarity in the Turkish market.
The firm’s competition practice is one of the strongest in Turkey and regular represents clients before the Turkish Competition Authority.
One matter the M&A team worked on during the research period saw it advising UN Ro-Ro İşletmeleri on the €215 million acquisition of the Ulusoy Group’s entire roll-on-roll-off and port business.
Energy and mining work make up the core of the firm’s recent projects mandates, which are a mostly a collection of financing matters and regulatory advice.
The firm welcomed a new member to the banking practice with the addition of counsel Sıla Yavuz, who joined from Pekin & Bayar. It also strengthened its competition practice with the arrival of counsel Sinan Diniz from ELIG Attorneys-at-Law
Other notable clients of the firm include ING Bank, Akbank and Anagold Madencilik.
“Very solid people with very diligent effort.” – Banking, M&A
“They are a great team for collaboration in the relevant fields and provide timely responses” – Capital markets: Debt
“The firm’s strengths are punctuality, knowledge of information, good team work and accessibility.” – Project finance
“Very high quality.”
“Very highly collaborative and suggests easy solutions.”
“Great knowledge and promptness.”
“Very solid and accessible.”
Hergüner Bilgen Özeke is generally regarded as having one of the strongest practices across the board in Turkey, considered a top-tier firm in almost all areas it works in.
The banking team continues to serve on some of the most important projects in Turkey, including advising on a number of the financing packages for the country’s PPP hospital building programme.
The capital markets team is primarily engaged with regulatory and equity work, covering a broad range of practice areas.
One of the more interesting matters the competition team continues to advise on sees it acting for Technicolor, who is being sued by Turkish television producer Vestel for damages relation to a CRT cartel in Europe.
One matter the M&A team worked on during the research period saw it advising Gençoğlu AVM Yatırımları on the acquisition of Merkür İnşaat Ticaret and BYN Gayrimenkul Geliştirm, the shareholders of the Starcity Outlet Center.
The projects team continues to advise on some of the most significant matters in the market, and this includes the ongoing support provided to Otoyol Yatırım ve İşletme, the project company of the under-construction Gebze Orhangazi İzmir Highway.
One of the more notable changes to the team this year was the departure of partner Kemal Mamak, who left for private practice.
“Hergüner provides very good legal services in all matters at stake, are very much responsive, their fees are absolutely reasonable and their billing practice always correct and timely.” – M&A
“The people I have worked with have a good knowledge, practical business attitude and are largely available.” – M&A
“Hergüner Bilgen Özeke provides its clients a very thorough service; diligent and responsive when working together. As their clients, we are more than content with the hands-on approach of the partners. One of their biggest strengths is their constructive approach when structuring the project and negotiating the deal.” – M&A
“Hergüner provides an outstanding expertise with a highly qualified team of advisers. The local team is highly cooperative on all topics and presents a holistic approach with alternative solutions and a high level of open and candid communication.” – M&A
“Highly dedicated with extreme focus, enriched with his strong experience in M&A and corporate governance. Embraces all assignments and acts efficiently and promptly with full accessibility and open communication.”
“Good knowledge, practical business attitude and largely available.
“Mr Üçer has a very thorough and deep knowledge of the local law. He is very responsive and closing the deal in the best interests of his clients is his priority.”
Undoubtedly one of the leading names in the market, Paksoy is generally considered to be one of the strongest firms in the country for all types of financial and corporate work.
The banking team primarily works for the lenders and continues to operate on some of the most notable mandates in the market, acting for both domestic and international banks.
In the capital markets space the firm’s strength lies in debt work, with one recent example of that seeing it acting for Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası on the issue of a €300 million green bond, the first in Turkey and the wider region.
The competition team remains very active. One stand-out matter is the ongoing work it is doing advising Zurich Insurance in relation to a cartel investigation on alleged concerted practice in the traffic insurance sector.
One of the more notable matters the M&A team advised on during the research period saw it acting for South Korean multiplex chain CJ CGV on the acquisition of the Mars Entertainment Group from Actera, Esas Holding and minority shareholders for a total consideration of €605 million.
Energy and infrastructure matters dominate the firm’s work in the projects sector, including several matters relating to the government’s PPP hospital construction programme, one of the most important building programmes in the Turkish market.
One change to the team saw the departure of banking and finance senior associate Esen İrtem, who left the firm to take up a position with Pekin & Bayar. The projects team also saw a departure with Nilüfer Türkçü Hıra leaving the firm to take up an in-house position with mining group Lidya Madencilik.
“Excellent knowledge of the sector with high coverage and responsiveness.” – Capital markets: Debt
“The firm has a sound business judgment to identify issues and present creative and practical solutions to the issues we raise. They always revert in a timely manner and are always keen to assist us with tailor-made solutions. There is no weakness we can attribute to the firm.” – Capital markets: Debt
“The firm is an exceptional one, providing cutting-edge advice in the local market. They offer technical skills, responsiveness, a commercial understanding of the client and the deals and attention to detail that are all outstanding.” – M&A
“Elvan is an outstanding corporate partner, extremely reliable and detail oriented. Her ability to identify issues at an early stage (and to address them adequately) is remarkable.”
“Friendly assistance and responsiveness are his strengths.”
“Derya Genç made herself completely available to my company and competently advised me on all of my queries. She represented us before the Competition Authority, drafted our defence and safely finalised the investigation. I am very pleased with the level of attention she showed my firm during the investigation.”
“She has strong analytical and problem solving skills, she is fluent in English and she is quite experienced in the banking & finance fields.”
One of the most established practitioners in the Turkish legal world, Pekin & Bayar stands out particularly for its work in banking.
That reputation was backed up during the research period as the team secured a number of key mandates. One such example saw it acting for Finans Finansal Kiralama as it secured a €100 million loan facility from the European Investment Bank.
In the competition space the firm continues to service clients in getting approval from the Turkish Competition Authority.
The M&A team recently advised Esas Holding and other shareholders on the sale of Peyman Kuruyemiş Gıda Aktariye Kimyevi Maddeler Tarım Ürünleri Sanayi ve Ticaret to European DFNS Services.
There were a few changes at the firm during the research period that saw the addition of partner Esen İrtem from Paksoy and the departure of partner Sıla Yavuz to Esin Attorney Partnership and of junior partner Murat Soylu to Bezen & Partners.
Other clients of the firm include Akbank and Rabobank.
“Very reliable law firm with a practical approach, cost effective and perfect integration with our in-house legal team.” – M&A
“The firm makes specialists available at the required level of expertise (no under- or overqualified attorneys). Response times are short and they provide clear advice.” – M&A
“Very responsive and reliable.”
“Excellent M&A lawyer and a great project manager.”
“Very knowledgeable and practical.”
“Good oversight, good drafting skills, creative.”
Senem Gölge Yalçın
“Very responsive, clear advice and good drafting skills.”
Pekin & Pekin is recognised as a market leader in Turkey for banking, capital markets, M&A and projects work.
In the banking space the firm works mostly for the lenders, advising a number of international banks during the research period.
Again, in the capital markets space the team mostly works with the underwriters of debt and equity issues, and has been working with major international banks recently on both these kinds of matters.
The competition team regularly advises international clients with regard to the rules under the Turkish Competition Authority (TCA) and represents them in hearings before the TCA.
In the M&A space the firm’s work is more varied and it maintains a broad client base of banking and financial institutions alongside corporate entities.
There were a few departures from the team this year. That included capital markets partner Ceyda Tapşın, who left to form her own firm, senior partner Kemal Serdengeçti and senior associate Cihan Mısırlı.
For projects work the firm is primarily involved on the financing side, working with the lenders in providing facilities to project companies.
“Efficient no-nonsense work. The teams are available and responsive and have the ability to handle and manage additional requests from offshore legal teams.” – Banking, Project finance
“They are responsive and proactive; good at following up.” – Capital markets: Debt
“We believe that the firm has sophisticated experience in various areas of legal affairs and usually provide us with highly professional comments and advice that is easily understood.” – M&A
“He rendered tremendous efforts to us at any time.”
“He seems responsive and knowledgeable.”
“Everything was perfect - so excellent.”
The team at Yegin Ciftci makes a strong showing across the board in the Turkish financial and corporate market, performing well in most every field.
The banking team continues to impress with a range of different matters that has included corporate financing, asset financing, project financing and export financing in the recent past.
One change to the team saw counsel Erkan Ayaz leaving the firm to take up an in-house position heading up the legal department of Alternatifbank.
The strength of the capital markets team lies in debt work, though it does cover some equity deals as well. One recent example saw it advising HSBC Bank as bond arranger and bond bookrunner on the issue of $350 million bonds to help finance the Elazığ Integrated Health Campus.
In the M&A space the firm remains strong, with one notable recent example of its work seeing it advise the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Finance Corporation on the $298 million acquisition of a minority stake in Odea Bank.
The projects team also continues to impress with the mandates its secures, including advising on a number of the PPP hospital building projects currently underway in Turkey, one of the government’s most important infrastructure programmes.
Other clients the firm recently advised include the Abu Dhabi Investment Company, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Koç Holding.
“They try to understand our position, our business and will support us carefully. However, sometimes their response will be later than we expected, possibly due to a lack of resources.” – M&A
“He has an understanding of the business and our position and provides us with excellent advice.”