GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Slovakia

10 January 2017

Slovakia

With an increasingly active local authority and a growing economy, the need for competition law compliance advice is accelerating in Slovakia.

Elite

ČECHOVÁ & PARTNERS prides itself on its local knowledge and relationships, preferring to establish working connections with law firms from outside the country rather than expand beyond Slovakia’s borders itself. Practice head Tomáš Maretta dedicates the vast majority of his time to competition matters. Other colleagues also participate on a case-by-case basis: partner Tomas Rybar helps with pharmaceutical matters and clients, while senior associate Juliana Turcekova chips in on litigation.

The firm continues to work on merger filings, although less frequently than a few years ago. Advice on compliance issues has become an even more important part of the firm’s practice and counts many multinational companies among its clients. Čechová & Partners also works with multiple pharmaceutical companies on compliance measures relating to local distribution chains.

The firm is currently advising LeChequeDejeuner, the Slovak subsidiary of global service vouchers company Up Group, in an ongoing investigation led by the Slovak Antimonopoly office into the market for meal vouchers.

Alena Černejová leads the ČERNEJOVÁ & HRBEK competition practice, which also features dedicated competition partners Tatiana Žiaková and Peter Stavrovsky. Although the team is small, it has a widespread reputation for high-quality work.

The practice only dedicates 20% of its time to competition but has worked on high-profile cases recently including the sale of train carriages from the state monopoly to a German transport provider.

The firm still regards mergers as its specialty, but as the number of deals has decreased in Slovakia, the firm has taken on more cartel cases. The firm also does an increasing amount of litigation work, a trend it expects to continue in the short-to-medium term.

HAVEL HOLÁSEK & PARTNERS is headed by Robert Neruda, an alumni of the Czech competition authority. The group had a couple of major hires in 2016, including partner Ondřej Majer, who had spent the previous 15 years in another Czech law firm, and Milan Brouček, who joined the firm’s economics team. Milan had worked at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition and was a chief economist at the Czech Republic’s competition watchdog, as well as at the Slovak competition authority.

The firm helped automotive company Škoda settle claims brought by the Slovak authority that it had entered into an illegal horizontal agreement with rivals. The competition team also provides Nestlé with regular competition advice and advises it on compliance issues.

KINSTELLAR’s small competition team in Bratislava is led by partner Roman Oleksik and counsel Zuzana Hodoňová. Hodoňová formerly worked in the legal department of the Slovak Antimonopoly Office. The pair is often assisted by one to two associates with relevant experience, depending on the complexity of projects and clients’ needs.

Kinstellar has a strong merger control focus. The firm helped global automotive supplier Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp obtain clearance from the Slovak competition authority for its acquisition of Key Safety Systems. It has advised a global car producer in connection with the agency’s investigation into the supply of maintenance services to the company’s cars sold in the Slovak Republic. The firm also counts major international construction companies among its clients.

PRK PARTNERS’ competition practice is run by partner Peter Oravec, who heads a team of four other lawyers. The practice dedicates 80% of its time to competition cases. Oravec himself is now a full-time competition lawyer – a rarity in Slovakia.

The firm’s focus has shifted away from merger control to cartel investigations over the past few years, but it works on the full spectrum of competition law matters. It also has expertise in retail law, a highly regulated sector in Slovakia, and has worked with banks, large construction companies, and domestic and international retail distributors.

ALLEN & OVERY’s practice in Bratislava, led by senior associate Juraj Gyárfáš, advised Infracapital on its acquisition of Slovak utility group GGE – one of the largest transactions of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe in 2015. The practice is also currently representing Tesco in the Slovak competition authority’s investigation into retailers and one supplier for alleged resale price maintenance in the dairy products market. The firm regularly advises pharmaceutical companies Sanofi-Aventis and Eli Lilly on various competition and regulatory aspects of their operations in Slovakia.

Michal Kohn, a former employee of the Slovak Antimonopoly Office, was promoted to be leader of RUŽIČKA CSEKES’ small competition and regulatory practice in July after Nad’a Spustova left to work for long-term client Slovnaft, a Slovakian oil refining company. Kohn works in a team with partner Ján Azud, with support of other younger colleagues. Over the past year, Ružicˇka Csekes represented a multinational beer brewing company in connection with an investigation and dawn raids by the Slovak competition authority related to possible vertical competition restraints on the beer distribution market. The firm is also advising one of the largest Slovak telecoms operators in two disputes concerning follow-on actions.

Perhaps the longest-established international law firm in Bratislava is WHITE & CASE, which opened its doors in the city in 1996. Led by partner Marek Staroň, the firm represents multinationals and large domestic companies. The firm is advising Kofola, one of the largest Czecho-Slovak producers of non-alcoholic beverages, in its acquisition of Slovak company WAD Group. The merger is currently under a rare Phase II investigation by the Slovak Antimonopoly Office, as the WAD Group owns a 40% minority stake in beverage company conglomerate Water Holding, and would combine two of the leading non-alcoholic drink producers in the Slovak market. The firm is also representing Toshiba in TV and computer monitor tubes cartel litigation before the Slovak competition authority.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Čechová & Partners

Tomáš Maretta

1 partner

1 associate

Tomáš Maretta

Skanska, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Celgene, Amgen, Povazsky cukor (Slovak subsidiary of Nordzucker), LeChequeDejeuner

Černejová & Hrbek

Alena Černejová

3 partners

2 junior lawyers

Alena Černejová

N/A

Highly recommended

Havel Holásek & Partners

Robert Neruda

2 partners

5 associates

Robert Neruda

Slovak Telekom (Deutsche Telekom branch), CRH, Strabag, Škoda, Porsche, Philip Morris, Heineken, Nestlé, CˇSOB

Kinstellar

Roman Oleksik

1 partner

1 counsel

None

RWE AG, PKP Cargo SA, Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp, VINCI Concessions, Meridiam Infrastructure

PRK Partners

Peter Oravec

1 partner

3 senior associates

1 junior associate

Peter Oravec

Colas, Sodexo, Mars, Wrigley, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson

Recommended

Allen & Overy

Juraj Gyárfáš

1 partner

2 senior associates

1 junior associate

None

Tesco, Eli Lilly, HB Reavis, Infracapital, Sanofi-Aventis

Ružicka Csekes

Michal Kohn

1 partner

1 senior associate

None

SWAN, Slovak Telekom (Deutsche Telekom Group), Slovnaft (MOL Group), ZSE Energia (E.ON Group), IBM Slovensko, Arriva Slovakia

Schönherr

N/A

N/A

None

N/A

White & Case

Marek Staroň

1 partner

1 local partner

3 associates

None

Toshiba, Kofola

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