CMS, Dewey, Linklaters bag CEE telecoms work

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is undergoing a boom in telecoms M&A following EU accession, and Dewey Ballantine, CMS Reich-Rohrwig-Hainz and Linklaters have been the first firms to benefit.

Last week, Reich-Rohrwig advised Telekom Austria on its agreement to buy Bulgarian mobile operator Mobiltel for €1.6bn (£1.07bn) and Dewey advised Greek mobile operator Cosmote on its e120m (£80.5m) deal for Romanian telco Cosmorom, which was advised by Norton Rose.

These deals closely followed Telefonica’s $3.6bn (£1.97bn) deal for Cesky Telecom and Vodafone’s £1.8bn acquisition of Oskar Mobile of the Czech Republic and MobiFon of Romania from Canadian-based Herbert Smith client Telesystem International Wireless.

Linklaters has grabbed a big slice of the action, advising Mobiltel on its sale and Vodafone on its CEE splurge. The firm is well placed to take advantage of this work, with the network that former CEE head Nick Eastwell built following the collapse of communism in the region. The firm also recruited telecoms partner and emerging markets specialist Tim Schwarz from Clifford Chance last year.

“It’s partly EU accession, which has created a comfort factor for inward investors. Also, from a legal standpoint, as a part of accession, association agreements have been signed implementing EU laws. It’s a very harmonised, safe environment to invest in,” said Schwarz.

Reich-Rohrwig’s seven-year relationship with Tele-kom Austria should also pay off. Following the collapse of its proposed merger with Swisscom last year, Telekom Austria vowed to plough its energies into CEE.

With other firms also well placed in the region, there is a lot of competition in this re-emerging market.