GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Hungary

10 January 2017

Hungary

Hungary’s relatively small competition bar tackles antitrust issues for a variety of clients, as the country’s enforcer continues to go from strength to strength.

Elite

Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi and partner Márton Horányi head up BAKER & MCKENZIE’s Budapest competition practice. Horányi rejoined the firm in September 2016 after just a year and a half away, around the same time that partner Péter Vörös left the firm for Kinstellar. Four associates assist the two partners to complete a team that advises clients on almost all major Hungarian antitrust cases, including merger, cartel, vertical and abuse of dominance investigations.

While half of the team’s work centres on compliance and advisory assignments, the office remained active last year on several new and ongoing cases. The firm represented automotive fleet management company ALD Automotive Magyarország in its acquisition of the Hungarian and Bulgarian fleet management subsidiary of MKB Bank, a deal that combined two of the biggest players in the industry. The team also led the way on the merger clearance – including arguing about the limits on vertical effects due to regulated energy prices – for MVM Magyar Villamos Művek, a vertically integrated, nationally owned energy group, in its acquisition of an energy supplier.

On the behavioural side, Baker & McKenzie represented a major medical equipment company in an investigation by the competition authority for allegedly bid-rigging diagnostic imaging equipment. The team acted for two industrial transport companies accused of rigging bids for salting and deicing national and local roads. The firm also counselled a large consumer electronics retailer in a comprehensive review of its commercial practises toward suppliers.

OPPENHEIM’s competition practice continues to be led by Gábor Fejes, who works with fellow partner and nominee Zoltán Marosi as part of one of the strongest competition firms in the country. Balázs Csépai, former vice head of the antitrust section of Hungary’s Competition Authority, and four other associates round out the team.

The firm acted on behalf of new client Messer, an industrial gas giant, in its successful acquisition of the Hungarian operations of Air Liquide, a huge global gases company headquartered in France. The team helped Messer navigate an eight-month complex merger investigation that required coordination of foreign merger notifications in Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia, ultimately obtaining unconditional clearance for the deal in Hungary.

Oppenheim was also active in the behavioural field, representing OTB Bank, the nation’s largest, in its review of the competition authority’s fine regarding alleged price fixing – a case currently before the Supreme Court and involving all major banks. The team also represents METRO Hungary in an ongoing investigation into household paper and personal hygienic products, an alleged conspiracy involving the hub-and-spoke concept; Procter & Gamble in an ongoing investigation into the market for personal batteries; and Visa Europe in the interchange fee proceedings.

The competition practice at BÁN, S SZABÓ & PARTNERS continues to be led by Chrysta Bán and Álmos Papp, who are joined by one senior associate. Despite its small size, the firm’s competition team has been active this past year, working on a number of merger and cartel cases.

The firm successfully advised Antenna Hungária, the state-owned national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting company, in its acquisition of LigaTV, a Hungarian sports television company. The team also represented Duna-Dráva Cement, a Hungarian joint venture of HeidelbergCement and SCHWENK Zement in its planned acquisition of the Croatian and Hungarian cement and ready mix arm of Cemex, a multinational buildings material company based in Mexico. Merger clearances are still pending. Looking toward cartels, Bán, S Szabó & Partners acted for window and door company Roto-Frank and its Hungarian subsidiary, Roto-Elzett, in the competition authority’s pre-investigation into alleged price-coordination among major market players. The authority also has been investigating an alleged market sharing arrangement among healthcare distributors, and the firm is representing Premier G Med, one of the largest distributors of General Electric’s healthcare products in the country.

There was a change of leadership this past year at KINSTELLAR’s Hungary practice, as partner Péter Vörös took the helm when he joined the firm in September 2016. The practice lost its former competition head Ádám Máttyus as well as Eszter Ritter, and currently works on matters with a small team of Vörös and three associates. The team maintains relationships with major companies, providing counsel to Teva and Energizer, and advising massive Japanese general trading company ITOCHU in a merger notification process.

In the cartel realm, the firm acted on behalf of Raiffeisen, a major bank with branches throughout the region. Hungary’s Competition Authority looked into the bank in connection with two major cartel investigations – a case involving the foreign exchange early repayment regime and an information exchange case regarding a Hungarian interbank database. Kinstellar also advised the Hungarian Banking Association and several other banks in connection with the latter investigation.

The relatively new competition practice at ALLEN & OVERY remained active this past year, despite not having any partners in the Budapest office. Counsel Tibor Szanto, formerly a member of the competition council at the Hungarian Competition Authority, leads the five-person team that works on a variety of cases, including for telecommunications company Magyar Telekom in an ongoing case regarding network sharing deal with rival Telenor. The firm is also representing CIB Bank, on of Hungary’s major banks, in the Hungarian Competition Authority’s cartel investigation of the FX mortgage loans market; and Hungaropharma, the country’s largest pharmaceutical wholesaler, in its challenge to the Hungarian Competition Authority related to a cartel investigation.

Of note, White & Case closed its competition practice in Hungary. Its former lawyers Tihamér Tóth, Tünde Gönczöl and Áron Károlyi-Szabó moved to Dentons’ Budapest office, where Tóth and Gönczöl now co-head the firm’s local antitrust department.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Baker & McKenzie

Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi

Márton Horányi

2 partners

2 senior associates

2 junior associates

Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi

Shell, Allianz, Accenture, Monuta, Mitsubishi, Eneco, Egeria, Ercros, Abbott, Daimler

Oppenheim

Gábor Fejes

2 partners

2 principal associates

2 senior associates

1 associate

Zoltán Marosi

Gábor Fejes

Procter & Gamble, Messer, PortfoLion, OTP Bank, Panasonic, GySEV, ABB, Generali-Providencia, CooperVision, Vienna Insurance Group,Borsodi (Molson Coors), Metro Hungary

Highly recommended

Bán, S Szabó & Partners

Chrysta Bán

Álmos Papp

2 partners

1 associate

Chrysta Bán

Álmos Papp

Antenna Hungária, Duna-Dráva Cement, Roto-Frank, Alfa Girod, Premier G Med

Kinstellar

Péter Vörös

1 partner

1 associate

2 junior associates

Péter Vörös

Raiffeisen, MVM, Johnson Controls, Teva, Energizer

Recommended

Allen & Overy

Tibor Szanto

1 partner

1 senior associate

3 associates

Tibor Szanto

CIB Bank, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, Hungaropharma, ING Bank, Magyar Telekom, OTP Bank, Otthon Centrum, UPC Hungary, Uniqa Biztosító

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