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Russian powerhouse Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners triumphed at The Lawyer’s fifth European Awards last night, taking home the title of European Firm of the Year.
Egorov Puginsky, which was also named as Russian Firm of the Year and European Corporate Team of the Year and was shortlisted in the Ukraine & CIS and Managing Partner of the Year category, was praised by judges as a “clear standout” in its crowded market.
While chairman Dimitry Afanasiev lost out to Gómez-Acebo & Pombo managing partner Manuel Martin as European Managing Partner of the Year, the judging panel also agreed that he had been key to the firm’s success and its domination of the Russian market.
The firm won the Corporate Team of the Year award for its work for metals giant UC Rusal on the acquisition by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich of a minority stake – worth $1.5bn – in Norilsk Nickel, which is partially owned by Rusal. Afanasiev, alongside corporate partner Robin Wittering, led the work. Wittering’s hire at the end of 2012 (21 November 2012) was a key step in Egorov Puginsky’s strategy of building an English law practice, and he provided English law advice on the deal.
The other multiple winner of the night was Austrian firm Wolf Theiss, which won both Austrian and Central European Firm of the Year. The firm’s efforts in building a pan-regional practice have paid off, with judges saying it is “close to becoming the dominant regional player”.
Ukrainian firm Asters won the inaugural Ukraine & CIS Firm of the Year award, with rival Sayenko Kharenko highly commended.
In the practice area awards, handed out for the first time this year, Spanish firm Broseta was named European Banking & Finance Team of the Year for the restructuring of the Banco de Valencia. Slaughter and May took home the European Competition Team of the Year award for its work on the merger between Penguin and Random House while Herbert Smith Freehills continued the strong Russian theme by winning European Projects Team of the Year for advising the government of St Petersburg on the world’s largest PPP toll road project.
Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) Russian operation, Goltsblat BLP, won the International Firm of the Year award. Judges said the firm’s growth, and its contribution to the wider BLP network, was impressive.
In one of the toughest categories, European Specialist Firm of the Year, Italian employment boutique Lexellent - founded only two years ago - triumphed, for its mix of growth and innovation.
The awards, attended by 250 lawyers from across Europe, were presented by Mishal Husain, presenter of the BBC’s Today programme, at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square.