DLA scoops Austria merger

Weiss-Tessbach deal delivers ready-made Central and Eastern Europe capability

DLA is to gain an extensive foothold in Central Europe through a merger with Austrian-based firm Weiss-Tessbach.

As of 1 October, the 16-partner firm will be fully integrated into the DLA partnership, giving the rapidly growing UK firm offices in Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Salzburg, Sarajevo, Vienna and Zagreb.

DLA’s presence in Central and Eastern Europe is likely to generate a significant amount of foreign investment, restructuring and privatisation work, with 10 countries in the region working on their accession to the EU.

“More than 50 per cent of our practice is based outside

Austria,” said Weiss-Tessbach’s Dr Stefan Eder, who will be the managing partner in the region.

DLA partners voted the deal through on Tuesday (9 September), with Weiss-Tessbach partners agreeing the deal a couple of weeks ago.

The Austrian firm will fit into DLA’s partnership structure, with five of the Weiss-Tessbach partners joining the equity practice. The region’s offices will continue to be managed by Weiss-Tessbach’s executive committee, which is made up of Eder and fellow partners Monica Horvath and Ivo Deskovich.

“We first approached Weiss-Tessbach about a year ago with a view to it joining DLA Group [the firm’s European network],” DLA managing partner Nigel Knowles told The Lawyer. “But we got on very well and the firm was keen to integrate itself, so we jointly realised that it made sense to go the whole hog.”

Weiss-Tessbach has 80 lawyers and is a full-service firm. It has handled several large Eastern European cross-border transactions, including advising Deutsche Telekom on its e1.5bn (£1bn) acquisition in Hrvatski Telekom, Croatia’s largest privatisation to date.

The Central and Eastern Europe offices will be integral to a major push by DLA to gain EU accession work.

“We’re targeting the major multinationals that have a presence within the accession states,” said Tim Clement Jones, chairman of DLA Upstream, the firm’s public advisory unit.