Tailor made

Austria’s ENWC is the perfect fit for Taylor Wessing’s Eastern European ambitions

How to tackle Eastern Europe has been a headache for a number of firms from outside the region. Many key developing markets, such as Romania, the Balkans and the Czech Republic, have relatively undeveloped legal sectors, which are dominated by local firms.

Of the foreigners that have tried to establish presences, the most successful arguably hail from Austria. Many of the country’s largest firms have networks reaching into neighbouring countries and compete well with the top domestic practices, thanks largely to consistent flows of investment from Austria.

Hence Taylor Wessing’s merger talks with Austria’s ENWC, which has a history stretching back 26 years and brings 70 lawyers in eight offices and six jurisdictions to the UK firm’s network. The bulk of ENWC’s lawyers are based in its Vienna headquarters, but it also has presences in Brno and Prague
in the Czech Republic, Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Kiev.

ENWC is not the largest or best-known of Austria’s independents, but Taylor Wessing managing partner Tim Eyles said there is a cultural fit and similar client base.

Poland is top of the jurisdictions for development. Other global firms have been content to run Eastern European work from Poland, the region’s largest economy.

Taylor Wessing will have the advantage of tapping into its other regional offices, but to make an impact the Warsaw office needs to be bigger – ENWC in Poland is much smaller than Taylor Wessing’s Polish alliance partner BSJP, as well as being smaller than the local firms in its other jurisdictions.

From ENWC’s perspective, the merger makes perfect sense. With increasing globalisation many more mid-sized firms will think about merging with a larger player. Taylor Wessing gives ENWC a foothold in key jurisdictions in the Far East and provides a much broader base for future growth and competition.

This will not be the last merger between a UK outfit and a mid-tier Continental firm.