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The Romanian legal market is fast becoming one of the hottest in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) after Spanish leader Garrigues opened an office in Bucharest and Salans made a top-name lateral hire in the same week.
Garrigues has merged with Romanian law firm Mares & Asociatii for its Bucharest launch. Name partner and Mares founder Mihai Mares will join the Spanish firm as a partner.
Mares’s firm has been acting for Spanish clients on investments in Romania for the past five years. It focuses on energy and infrastructure work, as well as banking and real estate.
Mares will manage the Romania office and work with Garrigues CEE managing partner Jaime Fúster.
The new Bucharest office will field a team of 10 lawyers to start with, covering practice areas including construction, corporate, employment and tax, as well as litigation and arbitration.
The venture is Garrigues’ 34th office, following openings in Shanghai, Warsaw and Casablanca over the past two years. Meanwhile Salans has boosted its Bucharest office with the hire of Septimiu Stoica, former president
of the Romanian Stock Exchange and current president of Romania’s Corporate Governance Institute.
Stoica will join as an adviser in the firm’s Romanian capital markets practice, which acts for issuers, investment banks and shareholders on deals, as well as on the related regulatory and governance.
Salans was one of the first Western firms to open in Bucharest and has had a presence in Romania for 11 years. The office has 38 lawyers, including three partners.
Transactional practice areas, particularly real estate, banking and corporate, are beginning to take off in Romania. Fúster said Garrigues saw Romania growing in importance in CEE.
“The core idea is to be able to offer our clients a comprehensive service throughout Central and Eastern Europe,” he said.
For his part, Salans’ Stoica ;described ;the Romanian market as going through “a time of great potential”.
Capital gains: The law firms flocking to Bucharest
International firms have been quick to spot opportunities in Romania, and the past few months have seen a surge in activity in Bucharest from some of the world’s biggest firms.
May 2008 Allen & Overy launched a presence in Romania, signing an exclusive association with local firm Radu Taracila Padurari Retevoescu SCA (RTPR). RTPR was formed in 2004. The firm has five partners and 33 lawyers in total. Clients include Citibank and the National Bank of Greece.
May 2008 Austrian firm Schönherr boosted its Bucharest office with the hire of a capital markets partner from Romanian firm Bostina & Associates. The firm has brought in Bostina capital markets head Narcisa Oprea as a partner to strengthen its Bucharest office.
March 2008 White & Case became the newest entrant into the Romanian legal market, opening a Bucharest office with former Linklaters lawyer Todd Shollenbarger. The Romania office is the firm’s 37th and is led by Shollenbarger, who joined from the Bucharest office of a private equity house.
October 2007 Clifford Chance poached a real estate partner from the Bucharest office of Salans. Perry Zizzi, a partner with Salans in Prague and Bucharest for the past four years, joined the magic circle firm to work alongside Romania real estate and M&A head Nadia Badea.