GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Greece

10 January 2017

Greece

Like everyone else in the country, Greece’s competition lawyers work in the shadow of the ongoing economic crisis, but behavioural and state aid work keeps them busy while they wait for the merger market to re-emerge.

Elite

Dimitris Tzouganatos is an academic, former Hellenic Competition Commission chairman and renowned practitioner. So it is unsurprising that his competition boutique DN TZOUGANATOS & PARTNERS is considered by most as the best in Greece. He is assisted by fellow partner Nikos Kosmidis and three associates.

The firm almost always acts for the defendant, although in the past three years it has filed three complaints, which are currently being investigated by the HCC. The group is currently defending Nissan Greece against a distributor’s complaint; Hochtief against allegations of bid-rigging in the construction sector; and Interamerican against accusations that it participated in an insurance cartel that imposed maximum prices on car repairers. The team successfully represented Sidenor in an investigation into alleged parallel pricing and information exchanges in the steel sector.

The firm is challenging several HCC decisions before the administrative courts. It represents Athenian Brewery in its appeal against a fine of over €31 million for exclusionary practices as well as Germanos in its appeal against a fine of approximately €10 million for maintaining retail prices and restricting cross-supply among its franchisees. In merger control, the firm secured clearance with remedies in one of Greece’s major privatisation cases: the acquisition of Piraeus Port Organization by COSCO.

While counsel to Esso and Shell in the 1970s, John Dryllerakis was practising competition law in Greece before the country even had an antitrust regime. The former member of the authority is still going strong and leads the practice at DRYLLERAKIS & ASSOCIATES, where he works alongside his son Emmanuel Dryllerakis and Cleomenis Yannikas.

The firm is involved in most of the country’s big cases, including investigations in the food, beer, poultry and cosmetics sectors. In 2016, it acted for FCC Constructions, Salini Impregilo and Ch D Constantinidis in an investigation into an alleged 45-member bid-rigging cartel in the country’s construction industry. Other important behavioural work includes advising the Carlsberg-owned Olympic Brewery in its abuse of dominance complaint to the authority against Athenian Brewery; the latter is appealing against a €31 million fine, in a case that is still pending before the Athens Administrative Court of Appeal. The team represents leading retailer Hondos Center in an investigation into selective distribution channels and secured a 90% fine reduction for the poultry industry’s trade association after an investigation into alleged anticompetitive horizontal agreements in the sector.

The firm acts for LARCO Mining & Metallurgical in a complex arbitration dispute with PPC, the state-owned electricity incumbent, which involves abuse of dominance and state aid concerns relating to PPC’s pricing practices. Few mergers now take place in Greece, although the firm has been active in a handful in recent years. The team was instructed by Carlsberg in its acquisition of the Mythos and Olympic breweries in 2014, securing unconditional clearance.

Augustine Almyroudi leads the capable and settled competition practice at M&P BERNITSAS, supported by another partner and three associates. Managing partner Panayotis Bernitsas helps out on particularly complicated and high-level matters.

Although merger work is not as common as in previous years due to the economic crisis, the firm has taken on a handful of merger control cases, most notably in the supermarkets’ sector. A major client is Greek retailer Marinopoulos Group, and firm helped guide its acquisitions of the Kronos and CRM supermarkets, securing unconditional clearance.

Bernitsas has advised the government’s privatisation body, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, in international tenders for the sale of the state railway and state railway companies, and has also assisted various international financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, on competition issues related to loans granted to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project in Greece. The practice remains primarily involved in compliance matters, advising high-profile clients on the application of competition rules to their business operations.

Highly regarded Stamatis Drakakakis heads the competition practice at KOUTALIDIS, where he is assisted by one partner and two associates. The team is advising Intracom and its subsidiary Intrakat in the construction cartel investigation, which is the country’s largest and longest- running probe to date. The firm continues to represent Colgate-Palmolive in an investigation by the commission into alleged antitrust infringements by Colgate’s Greek subsidiaries.

On the deal side, Koutalidis secured merger clearance for Ravago in its acquisition of Delta Chemicals and advised the Fraport-Slentel consortium on merger control approvals relating to the privatisation of 14 regional airports – a deal worth an estimated €10 billion, the largest of the Greek privatisation programme so far. The firm regularly advises Alpha Bank in relation to state aid and merger control issues, and is also instructed by Vodafone Hellas to advise on joint ventures in the electronic communications sector.

KYRIAKIDES GEORGOPOULOS is one of Greece’s largest commercial law firms and is part of the South East Europe Legal Group, which provides it with excellent links with neighbouring countries. The competition practice is led by Anastasia Dritsa, who is assisted by four associates.

Over the past year, her team has been kept busy with behavioural work, representing Estee Lauder Hellas in an investigation by the HCC into an alleged cartel in the luxury cosmetics industry, and J&P Avax in an investigation into the rigging of several construction project contracts between 1989 and 2016. They are also defending the Greek subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in an abuse of dominance investigation. The firm is active in a number of other abuse investigations, representing companies that cannot be named in the markets for medical and surgical devices, as well as food manufacturing and exports.

Dimitris Emvalomenos, head of the competition practice at BAHAS GRAMATIDIS & PARTNERS, leads the team advising a Greek bank in relation to competition law topics, including a state aid investigation regarding its share capital increase. Mars Hellas and Royal Canin Hellas remain long-term clients, with the firm assisting on a variety of competition law issues.

Anna Manda is the competition specialist at M&A-focused KARATZAS & PARTNERS. The firm was involved in several investigations in 2016, notably in the security services and construction sectors, but it is mainly preoccupied with mergers. In the past year it has been involved in some interesting deals, advising private equity group KKR on the creation of a joint venture with Alpha Bank and Eurobank to create a new platform to manage credit and equity exposure. It also represented Chipita, a producer of baked goods, in a joint venture with Dutch processed meat company Impala Invest, to acquire PG Nikas. Other deal work included acting for NBG Insurance on its acquisition of a life insurance portfolio from International Life Insurance, and for Munich Re subsidiary ERGO on its buyout of Agricultural Insurance.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

 

Elite

DN Tzouganatos & Partners

Dimitris Tzouganatos

2 partners

3 associates

Dimitris Tzouganatos

Athenian Brewery, COSCO, Hochtief, Sidenor, EKO, Hellenic Petroleum, DEPA, OTE, Germanos, Diageo, Angelini, Vivartia, Chipita, Interamerican

Dryllerakis & Associates

John Dryllerakis

3 partners

3 associates

John Dryllerakis

Aegean Airlines, Air Liquide, Barilla, Beiersdorf, Burlington Books, Carlsberg, FCC Constructions, Henkel, Hondos Center, Larco, Odeon Cinemas, Praktiker Hellas, Salini Impregilo, Socar

M&P Bernitsas

Augustine Almyroudi

2 partners

3 associates

Panayotis Bernitsas

BMW Hellas, Diesel Hellas, Eurobank Ergasias, Hellenic Fuels (formerly BP Hellas), Hellenic Petroleum, Hellenic Republic, Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, Lidl Hellas, LMVH Group

Highly recommended

Ballas Pelecanos & Associates

N/A

N/A

None

N/A

Koutalidis

Stamatis Drakakakis

2 partners

2 associates

Stamatis E Drakakakis

Colgate Palmolive, Public Gas Company, Vodafone, Alpha Bank, Novartis, Bosch-Siemens, Bolton Group, Intracom Holdings, Fraport/Slentel, Public Power Corporation, Ravago

Kyriakides Georgopoulos

Anastasia Dritsa

1 partner

4 associates

Anastasia Dritsa

Konstantinos Gr Vouterakos

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, The Estee Lauder Companies, J&P Avax, British American Tobacco, Bolton Hellas AE, Delhaize Group/AB Vassilopoulos, Alpha Bank, UBS

Recommended

Bahas Gramatidis & Partners

Dimitris Emvalomenos

1 partner

1 special counsel

1 associate

None

Mars Hellas, Royal Canin Hellas

Karatzas & Partners

Anna Manda

1 partner

4 associates

None

National Bank of Greece, Wind Hellas, Kotsovolos (Dixons Greek subsidiary), Papoutsanis, Munich Re, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Chipita, KKR

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