GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Finland

10 January 2017

Finland

Recent moves within Finland’s competition bar have shuffled the partnership at some firms, and left Peltonen LMR apparently without much of a competition law presence.

Elite

Sizeable Finnish firm BORENIUS continues to impress with its caseload and its active merger practice, even in the face of deep financial trouble in the country. Practice leader Ilkka Aalto-Setälä maintains a high profile in the bar; he’s joined by Asko Lindqvist, another full-time competition partner, as well as two senior associates and four junior lawyers. The group continues to draw on the experience of others in the firm, including an intellectual property lawyer and two dispute resolution partners when needed.

The firm has secured a prominent position in the follow-on damage claims against members of an alleged asphalt cartel – the highest-profile private antitrust case in the country. The firm advises NCC Roads in the case, which is now before the Helsinki Court of Appeal, and for Interasfaltti as the court sorts out the question of economic succession. In other behavioural matters, the firm advises Matkahuolto and the Finnish Bus and Coach Association against allegations of a bus and coach cartel in the country by Finland’s competition enforcer.

The Finnish Composers’ Copyright Society turned to Borenius to defend it against Finnish abuse of dominance accusations involving discriminatory pricing and illegal bundling. The firm is also involved in a half-dozen or so other top flight confidential matters.

The team at CASTRÉN & SNELLMAN continues to thrive as perhaps the best competition group in Finland. The Castrén group, led jointly by partners Sari Hiltunen and Anna Kuusniemi-Laine, continues to boast the largest competition group in the country with three full-time, dedicated competition partners. That includes partner Hannu Pokela, who remains one of the most highest-profile names in Finnish competition law, while others, such as dispute resolution specialist Marko Hentunen, assist on the firm’s glut of high-profile court cases. Six counsel, two senior associates and five associates round out the team; counsel Mikko Huimala left the firm this year, but Jussi Nieminen won a promotion to the ranks of counsel in October.

As with other major Finnish competition groups, private litigation has taken on a more prominent role in the Castrén practice over the past few years. The Castrén team remains tied up in the country’s two major follow-on actions in the raw wood and asphalt cases. The team acts for Stora Enso in the raw wood antitrust case, and Rudus Asfaltti in the asphalt cartel follow-on action. Both cases are now on appeal before Finland’s Supreme Court. The firm is also handling follow-on actions for Valio stemming from its record-breaking abuse of dominance fine at the hands of the Finnish competition authority. The Castrén team also advised Valio on the authority’s case, which remains under appeal at the Supreme Administrative Court. The Castren team also acts for VR Group in cartel proceedings concerning Finnish bus and coach transportation markets before the Market Court and represents several other major companies in high-profile investigations before Finland’s Competition and Consumer Authority.

Hiltunen says the practice handles merger work when there are mergers to work on, but the struggling Finnish economy has slowed deal work to a trickle. Still, the firm has helped clients kick the tyres on a number of deals, she says, and that advisory work continues – as does the firm’s typical slate of dawn raid assistance, compliance work and other advisory matters.

HANNES SNELLMAN is another major player in the Finnish competition market, its rivals say. Practice leader Mikael Wahlbeck works alongside two other partners, including top merger specialist Tapani Manninen, and a group of dedicated associates operating out of the firm’s Helsinki office. Wahlbeck and his group tap the expertise of dispute resolution partners Mika Savola and Antti Järvinen when handling the practice’s complex private litigation docket, and as a major transactional firm in Finland, the Hannes Snellman competition group has recently assisted on a number of deals.

Notably, the team represents principal defendant Lemminkäinen in the ongoing asphalt cartel case. Around 40 claimants are seeking damages against Lemminkäinen in the asphalt follow-on litigation; the main hearing in that case ended in September 2015. Meanwhile, another 1,500 or so claimants sit on the other side of client UPM-Kymmene, leniency winner before the authority, in the raw wood cartel damages action that has been to the Supreme Court on a statute of limitations issue. The team is also advising Empower, the Finnish electrical conglomerate, in the authority’s high-profile power transmission cable cartel investigation. The team helped Empower win immunity in the case, but private follow-on actions may yet loom.

Merger work continues apace at the firm, which has one of the country’s largest M&A groups. The Hannes Snellman competition team has helped on recent transactions, including advising Patria and the state of Finland on the sale of shares of Patria to Kongsberg, which required filing in several countries. The firm also helped TeliaSonera secure FCCA approval for a joint venture with DNA last November.

The small but impressive competition practice at Finnish mainstay ROSCHIER grew organically over the past year as the firm’s litigation work caught up with its docket of behavioural matters and deals. Christian Wik remains head of the practice; he is joined by fellow partner Niko Hukkinen, one counsel and a range of associates that focus on competition matters. Because of the steady growth of private enforcement work, dispute resolution partner Gisela Knuts now spends more than half her time on antitrust matters. The firm also gained senior associate Niina Hänninen from the FCCA, where she was a case officer.

Last year, behavioural matters dominated the firm’s time, as Wik and his team continued to advise dairy company Arla Ingman as the main complainant in the predatory pricing case against raw milk producer Valio. The case now rests with the Supreme Administrative Court, which is expected to rule by the end of the year. The team is also acting for a major defendant in the car parts antitrust litigation, and is co-counsel to Eltel in the authority’s investigation into a possible cartel in the power transmission lines market. The Supreme Administrative Court is now deciding whether to uphold the lower court’s outright dismissal of the case.

Elsewhere, the Roschier team worked with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom to advise Konecranes in its purchase of the Terex Material Handling & Port Solutions business. Digita is also a client – this time in a market power investigation before the FCCA, which remains under appeal.

Peltonen LMR last year lost the core of its competition team to dittMar & indRenius, which rightly takes its place in our Highly Recommended band. Former Peltonen partner Ilkka Leppihalme became head of the Dittmar competition practice; he took counsel Matti Huhtamäki and associate Heidi Muukkonen with him. Meanwhile, associate Ricardo Gomes joined from Lalive in Geneva, creating essentially an all-new competition practice at Dittmar. Another five partners assist with competition law matters part-time.

The team is involved in major cartel damage cases, including the asphalt case, where the firm is advising several cities and municipalities attempting to recover alleged losses due to the cartel, and an auto parts damages case for client Örum. The auto parts case was the first leniency case ever handled by the Supreme Administrative Court, and in March the Helsinki Court of Appeal upheld an earlier dismissal of the litigation. In mergers, the firm is advising Autoklinikka Holding in the sale of its holdings to Procuritas Capital Investors, and it acts in several other confidential transactions. Meanwhile, the firm continues it occasional representation of the FCCA in court cases, including its abuse of dominance case against leading dairy company Valio, the appeals of which remain pending at the Supreme Administrative Court.

Already one of the largest competition teams in Finland, KROGERUS grew even larger last year with the addition of counsel Anna Roubier, who joined from the European Chemicals Agency. Katri Joenpolvi and Leena Lindberg continue to lead the practice; counsel and former authority official Mikko Pirttilä remains a major member of the team, along with several associates.

Korgerus is currently advising Finland’s largest raw wood seller, Metsähallitus, in the massive follow-on litigation over an alleged raw wood purchasing cartel. Metsähallitus was the main claimant in the case, which is now on its way to the Court of Appeals. The Finnish Food and Drink Industries Association turned to the firm to address a DG Comp state aid complaint over the excise duty on sweets, ice cream and soft drinks. It is also advising the Pohjolan Matka group of transportation companies in the FCCA’s bus transport cartel investigation, and Boliden in the purchase of a nickel-copper gold mine that required notification in Finland, Sweden and Germany.

Arttu Mentula leads the two-partner practice at MERILAMPI, one of the longest-tenured groups in Finland; Mentula and partner Erkko Ruohoniemi helped in drafting Finland’s competition law. Mentula is backed by one counsel and seven associates, including new hire Lauri Putkonen, who joined the firm in August after spending time at the FCCA.

Over the past year, the firm has advised Kesko Food in its acquisition of Suomen Lähikauppa, which the FCCA took to Phase II but ultimately cleared after the companies agreed to sell off 60 stores to rivals. Kesko was again a client in the acquisition of Onninen, which was approved unconditionally. In behavioural matters, the firm remains active for Skanska Asphalt in the asphalt cartel follow-on case. That lawsuit was dismissed, but it remains before the Court of Appeal. Merilampi also advises a group of local dairies in the Valio abuse of dominance case.

The two-partner, six-associate competition group at HPP Attorneys maintains a diverse workload behind the experience of practice leader Tuomas Saraste. The firm maintains a full docket of contentious matters, including acting in top follow-on actions. Metsä Group is a headline client in the raw wood cartel damages case; the firm is currently advising on 2,000 claims against the forestry company. The team also works for the Posti Group, Finland’s state-owned postal service provider, in matters related to the company’s incumbent status, including a case now at the Market Court against FCCA abuse of dominant claims. Eltel Group continues to retain HPP to assist with claims in the power line cartel cases at the Market Court.

WASELIUS & WIST boasts a portfolio packed with public procurement and IP cases that intersect with core competition issues. Led by partner Lotta Pohjanpalo, the Waselius group includes litigation and intellectual property partner Bernt Juthström and two dedicated senior associates. Junior associate Tatu Paavilainen joined the group in September. The firm is advising Alumeco Finland in its merger with rival Ovako Metals, and is helping Ejendals with the restructuring of its distribution systems, particularly regarding its e-commerce business. SCA Hygine Products turned to the firm in its third-party intervention during the Kesko Food/Suomen Lähikauppa merger case before the FCCA. The consumer goods deal was approved in April with structural and behavioural conditions. Other clients include the Moventia & Smoove consortium and Bayer Diabetes Care.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Borenius

Ilkka Aalto-Setälä

2 partners

6 associates

Ilkka Aalto-Setälä

NCC Roads Oy, Interasfaltti Oy, Oy Matkahuolto Ab, Finnish Bus and Coach Association, Finnair, Teosto

Castrén & Snellman

Sari Hiltunen

Anna Kuusniemi-Laine

3 partners

6 counsel

2 senior associates

5 associates

Sari Hiltunen

Hannu Pokela

Stora Enso, Valio, VR Group, Gasum, YIT Group, OP-Pohjola Group, the Federation of Finnish Financial Services

Hannes Snellman

Mikael Wahlbeck

3 partners

5 senior associates

4 associates

Mikael Wahlbeck

Tapani Manninen

Lemminkäinen, UPM-Kymmene, Empower, EQT, TeliSonera, Fazer, Alma Media, Patria

Roschier

Christian Wik

2 partners

1 counsel

7 associates

Christian Wik

Niko Hukkinen

Nokia, Stora Enso, Rautaruukki, Arla Finnair, IBM, Eltel

Highly recommended

Dittmar & Indrenius

Ilkka Leppihalme

1 partner

1 counsel

6 associates

Ilkka Leppihalme

Örum Oy Ab, Autoklinikka Holding Oy, Atria Oyj, Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, Modern Times Group

Krogerus

Katri Joenpolvi

Leena Lindberg

2 partners

1 senior counsel

3 counsel

3 senior associates

4 associates

None

Cargotec, Samsung, Boliden, Neste, Fortum, Teollisuuden Voima, Metsähallitus, Pohjolan Matka group, DNA

Merilampi

Arttu Mentula

2 partners

1 counsel

7 associates

Arttu Mentula

Kesko Food, Skanska Asphalt, Posti Ltd, Koivunen Oy

Recommended

HPP Attorneys

Tuomas Saraste

2 partners

2 senior associates

4 associates

None

Metsä Group, Posti Group, Finavia, Kotkan Kantasataman Kehitys, Eltel Group, Pharma Industry Finland, Mondelez International

Waselius & Wist

Lotta Pohjanpalo

2 partners

2 senior associates

1 associate

None

SCA, Bayer, Royal Canin, Olympus, Mars, Ejendals

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