Stephensons takes off in Croatia with airline deal

Stephenson Harwood has sealed its association with Croatian firm Zuric Partneri in less than a year by acting in a deal that is worth more than $270m for Croatian Airlines.

The two firms acted for the airline in its pre-delivery financing of six A-319 airbuses from Airbus Industries, to replace the existing five Boeing B737-200 aircraft.

The firm signed an agreement of association with Zuric Partneri last May that gave the firm what it described as a “window to Croatia”.

A spokeswoman said that Stephensons had been active in Croatia for some years through its shipping work, but the association had allowed it to diversify into banking and corporate work.

Marie Schulte, a Stephensons banking assistant, is currently seconded to Zagreb. She assisted in the financing deal for Croatian Airlines and said the firm's presence there had definitely helped win the work. She also said that she hoped the practice would be sending another English lawyer to help her cope with the sheer volume of work.

Bojan Fras, one of the eight partners in the Zagreb firm stressed the team approach adopted by the two firms when working together. He admitted that the local bar rules which prohibit the establishment of foreign lawyers were a help to local firms.

Fras said: “We have learned a lot about London big city firm legal methods. Three of our lawyers have already been to visit the London firm. Our concerns, like those of Croatia, are international in association with our foreign partners.”