In their first successful joint Russian bid, the two firms have won a tender to advise Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (MMK) on all of its projects. Partner Eric Sumner will lead the cross-departmental Kennedys team with Russian assistant David Goldberg, and the director of 10-partner Vegas Lex’s Moscow office Alex Shmakov will become MMK’s main relationship partner at Vegas Lex.
MMK is one of the world’s largest steel-making companies. Of the 11 firms that tendered for the work, Kennedys and Vegas Lex, Freshfields’ Moscow office and Russian firm Andry Gorridisskiy & Partners were those that were shortlisted, said Goldberg. The winner was decided upon by a commission of several MMK executives, including head of legal Lubov Gamper.
Kennedys and Vegas Lex will be treated as a joint-panel firm, although according to Goldberg it will also act as MMK’s main legal adviser. According to Shmakov, Freshfields will not be on the panel and Andry Gorridisskiy will do minor pieces of shareholder-related work.
Sumner thinks that his firm has been able to punch above its weight in Russia through a combination of Kennedys’ talent and the Russian alliance. “I think we won the work because of the litigation expertise, which is a proven quality at Kennedys, Kennedys’ cross-border experience and the association with Vegas Lex,” he said. “Added to that, we have the ability to speak in the client’s language through our Russian assistant David Goldberg.”
Shmakov said that the allied firms also beat Freshfields to the tender because they offered a cheaper rate than the magic circle firm.
“We offer transactional costs at a much more competitive rate than Freshfields,” he said. “The competition is very high in this market, as there are many international firms striving to win Russian clients. Russian clients trust a City name. We have an advantage as we know the local jurisdiction very well and are also allied with a City firm.”
Kennedys is waiting for the results on another three joint Russian bids it has tendered for with Vegas Lex since the two firms officially became associated in April.
Freshfields was not available for comment.
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