Kinstellar conquers Turkey’s ‘protectionist environment’ with launch of CCAO

Kinstellar has opened in Turkey through the ­creation of a new firm, which it has called CCAO.

The new entity is backed and financed by Kinstellar, allowing it to operate in the country without falling foul of Turkish bar rules.

CCAO opened its doors today (14 June) with three partners. The firm said it will have up to 12 associates by the end of the month.

Former Linklaters partner Charles Dunn, who joined Kinstellar last October, has been named as managing partner of Kinstellar’s Turkish operations.

Halide Çetinkaya, previously a partner at Turkish firm Paksoy, and former White & Case partner Gamze Çigdemtekin have been named founding partners of CCAO.

Kinstellar managing partner Jason Mogg said the move has been part of ­Kinstellar’s core strategy since it was established.

“Turkey’s the single most important country in our region,” he told The Lawyer. “It’s expected to come out of the recession quicker than any other country and there are lots of opportunities. If you’re going to be pitching yourself as an Eastern ­European firm, you need to be in Turkey.”

CCAO has attracted associates from Denton Wilde Sapte, Paksoy and White & Case, among others, and Mogg believes the Istanbul office will become the firm’s largest within two years.

“The feedback we’ve had from working in this region is that it’s hard to get ­consistent service from the country’s incumbent law firms. We see that as a good opportunity,” he said. “The equity structure of domestic firms is such that it ­effectively constrains their ability to offer broad, ­consistent and high-quality service. Most are unable to get past the first generation and they don’t hand it over to younger partners.”

The Turkish bar remains closed to foreign firms ­opening in the country. However, Kinstellar joins Dentons, DLA Piper, Salans and White & Case, which all have presences through tie-ups with local firms.

To enable it to operate Kinstellar has financed the creation of a new Turkish firm. Managing partner Dunn will be registered as a separate entity but will work in the same office.

“There are significant limitations on what foreign firms can do,” explained Mogg. “There’s a strong ­protectionist environment, which is why other foreign firms haven’t yet set up there.”

Linklaters, which refers the majority of its CEE work to Kinstellar, has two ­partners working on Turkish deals. Mogg met with Linklaters to discuss the new opening and said that the relationship between the two firms remains strong.

CCAO will practise M&A, banking and finance, energy, infrastructure and PPP and capital markets law.

The associates who have already joined CCAO are: Yunus Sezener from Bicenoglu; Öncü Serter from Paksoy (financing); Tuna Çakırca from White & Case (capital markets/ M&A); Ilkim Toprak from Paksoy (capital markets/ M&A); and Ömer Erdogan from Dentons (energy). Senior lawyer Onur Taktak has also joined from Turkish bank Yapi Kredi in the real estate, bankruptcy and ­litigation practice.

Nick Eastwell, former Linklaters managing ­partner for emerging Europe, Middle East and North Africa, acted as a ­consultant to Kinstellar on the deal.
Kinstellar was formed from the Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest and Prague offices of Linklaters in 2008. In March this year the firm opened an office
in Belgrade.