• Oleksandr Voznyuk | Asters

    Last year we saw significant changes to antitrust rules as well as noticeable progress in the AMCU’s operating style. The authority is now more actively engaged in constructive dialogue with businesses and society in general, openly discussing practical problems in competition and the ways of solving them, including by initiating further amendments to the law and its own procedures. The AMCU’s readiness to hear the concerns of business has encouraged lawyers, public organizations and business to step up, which provided impetus to the reform spree resulting in modernization and simplification of merger control regime, opening access to AMCU decisions, and clarification of rules on the calculation of fines. The revision of merger thresholds caused a certain decrease in the number of notifiable transactions, and the legal services market has to some extent lost profits. However, in the long run, changes to the law are likely to open up wider prospects for development. Antitrust rules and the AMCU enforcement practice are starting to look less like parallel worlds. The AMCU is taking on more complex cases, which raise more sophisticated legal questions, with many of them requiring profound understanding of the underlying economic concepts and how industries work. Hence, the importance and increased demand for professional legal services.

    It is worth noting that this is not simply the result of recent legislative changes — they only touched the top of the iceberg — but rather a reflection of current trends. Antitrust practice is not a thing in itself. Being part of the system, its development depends on its own activity in creating conditions for such development. Introduction of the principles of due process, creating conditions for improving the quality of judicial control, developing transparent competition rules and standards of assessment are all challenges that antitrust lawyers face today, which request them to be active participants and lobbyists in this process. This is the cornerstone of further development in this area.

Asters is regarded a stellar leader on the Ukrainian competition market, which has acted in all high-profile antitrust probes and investigations over the last 10 years. The three-partner team is the biggest one on the market with internal specialization covering the full spectrum of competition matters. Throughout 2016 the team acted for Allergan plc in the USD 160 billion merger with Pfizer; represented The Dow Chemical Company in USD 130 billion merger with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; assisted in obtaining merger clearance for the indirect acquisition by China National Chemical Corporation of shares and control over Syngenta AG. The team is present in key investigations of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) and competition litigation. For example, Asters represents Bayer in the sector investigation on the market for distribution of pharmaceutical products; and represents ACNielsen Ukraine in commercial court in connection with appeal of the AMCU’s decision in the cartel investigation. Igor Svechkar is recognized as a leader in the competition area. Oleksandr Voznyuk is a highly reputed name who gets particular praise for his legislative work. Alexey Pustovit is noted for expertise in cartel and abuse of dominance matters. IP partner Julia Semeniy is present in projects on the intersection of competition and intellectual property.

Sayenko Kharenko is among market leading teams with an established reputation and significant share of antitrust work volumes. The firm’s antitrust team is consistently mandated for merger control instructions in the course of global transactions, as well as domestic deals. Another strength is particular expertise in unfair competition and concerted practices. Among the highlights was obtaining merger clearance for the merger of DuPOnt and Dow; USD 67 billion acquisition of EMC Corporation by Dell; obtaining merger clearance for the acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway of Precision Castparts; acting for Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A./N.V. with regard to the merger with SABMiller. Reputed partner Vladimir Sayenko leads both competition and corporate and M&A practices. Maksym Nazarenko, counsel, is acknowledged by peers who observed his deep involvement in work with clients. The firm strengthened its practice with the hire of Oleksandr Nagorny (previously held executive positions in the AMCU, who joins the firm as a counsel).

AEQUO commands a comprehensive competition practice that covers a full range offering. This includes merger control matters, cartel cases and high value disputes, unfair competition, abuse of dominance. The firm has rapidly increased its clientele and bespoke support to its transactional practices. Selected highlights included acting for Danone S.A. on obtaining merger clearance for acquisition of sole control over Dairy JV Holdings Limited; merger clearance in connection with acquisition of Signet Group by NCH Capital; advising Lohika on competition aspects of a share sale transaction as well as the Ukrainian merger clearance process. The firm’s recent caseload takes in significant presentations in key AMCU investigations involving the petroleum, gas, tobacco, retail markets and antitrust compliance. The team represents Novus in a sound alleged cartel case which is under review by the appelate court. The core competition team members are Sergey Denisenko, counsel, fairly dedicated to competition practice, who has demonstrated an outstanding track record in the past year; Yevgen Blok, senior associate, bringing significant input. Managing partner Denis Lysenko, renowned multifaceted lawyer, is the practice head.

Established in 2015, CLACIS is a boutique practice with a geographical reach including Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. The well-versed practice covers an all-round offering, including investigations, audits, infringement, leniency, merger control approvals, antitrust due diligence, litigation, distribution and contract related antitrust issues, public procurement, and compliance. In 2016 the team provided support to Terex Corporation, a globally acting US cranes and mining equipment maker, on obtaining  merger control issues in its merger with Finnish rival Konecranes. Notably, the boutique puts strong emphasis on competition law investigations and litigation. Thus, CLACIS represents major multinationals working in the region in various continuous competition law cases, such as MasterCard, ArcelorMittal, AB InBev and others. Antonina Yaholnyk, founder and managing partner, has been named for years as among the strongest competition lawyers on the market. Kateryna Tkachenko, an experienced team member, has been promoted to partner. She is noted for active involvement in market investigations and competition law cases.

Empowered by its global presence, the competition practice of DLA Piper Ukraine encompasses multijurisdictional merger filings, anti-competitive concerted practices, commercial agreements and trade practices, competition compliance policies, AMCU investigations. In 2016 the team provided full legal support in obtaining a merger control clearance for Orkla’s acquisition of Hamé, one of the leading branded consumer goods companies in the food sector; advised Georgian Industrial Group acquisition of a stake in JSC Indar from Polish biotechnological company Bioton S.A; advised ABH Holdings in connection with the sale of Ukrsotsbank (UniCredit Group) to Alfa Group. Practice lead partner Galyna Zagorodniuk is highly active in merger control and investigations, with particularly noted knowledge of the pharma sector.

Arzinger’s antitrust and competition practice is among the core strengths of the firm. The practice features a full-service offering, including clearances for mergers and concerted actions, cases concerning dominance, unilateral practices and discriminations, concerted actions, unfair competition, cartels and parallel market behavior, as well as intersection of IP and antitrust, sector-specific regulation. Among the team’s core advantages is its industry expertise, particularly in the retail, energy, automotive and pharmaceutical sectors. The firm stands out for proficient work in competition disputes. Among its landmark projects is representing Zeonbud in appealing the decision of the AMCU in accusations in abuse of dominance and a fine of UAH 44.5 million. The team regularly advises on distribution and supply chain cooperation matters, and supported Teva Ukraine on developing a new model for its cooperation with distributors and pharmacies in the field of marketing. On the merger control side, Arzinger supported the obtaining of a merger clearance (under the amnesty announced by the AMCU) by PKC, an international group, a leader in the field of electricity and electronics for trucks, for the purchase of Groclin’s wiring and controls business. The practice has two lead partners: Timur Bondaryev and Lana Sinichkina, who are also praised for their sharp industrial specializations.

Baker McKenzie is best known for advising big multinational public and private companies for merger control work in Ukraine, especially global transactions. Notably, the Kyiv office is experienced in advising clients (especially from pharma sector, as well as consumer goods companies) on implications of various vertical arrangements with Ukrainian customers, and investigations of the Ukrainian competition authority. Amongst the notable highlights are representing Baxter and Baxalta Incorporated in three merger control filings related to the second stage of transfer of Baxter International Inc.’s Bioscience Business and certain related assets and corporate rights located in a number of deferred jurisdictions into a spin-off — Baxalta Incorporated; assisting in establishing a JV between Bunge and Wilmar for the purpose of production and distribution of the soybean oil; advising Alfa Bank Group in a merger control filing and a concerted actions filing related to acquisition of PJSC Ukrsotsbank. Partner Oksana Simonova leads and constantly develops the competition practice of the office, representing prominent clients.

CMS Cameron McKenna has strong experience of merger control issues, general antitrust compliance and unfair competition. The office advised DECAPTERUS S.A.R.L. on EUR 175 million sale of Hamé to food group Orkla; acted on obtaining merger control filling in connection with establishment of a JV between MV Cargo and Cargill for the construction of a new grain terminal in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Yuzhny. Olga Belyakova, partner, has long-time practice and enjoys market recognition. Olexander Martinenko, senior partner, is one of the most reputed general practitioners.

Dentons competition group is best known for advising on a wide range of competition/antitrust matters within cross-border M&A transactions and complex corporate restructurings where the global law firm is a legal counsel. Over the last couple of years the firm’s team has been particularly active in the agricultural, energy, luxury, consumer products, hotels and leisure and automotive sectors. Volodymyr Monastyrskyy is a lead partner.

Ilyashev & Partners, guided by Mikhail Ilyashev, provides offering on various competition and antitrust matters, and is active in Ukraine and in Russia. The firm acted for Ukrrichflot in obtaining merger clearance for acquisition of a stake in LLC Ekozerno, and represents Ukrtatnafta with regard to investigations by the AMCU of violations on exchange auctions for the sale of oil and gas condensate. The firm also provided merger clearance work in the course of acquisition of shares in BTA Bank Kazakhstan and NJSIC Oranta by a private investor and Kazcommerzbank (Kazakhstan). Oleksandr Fefelov is the head of practice, and is referred as an experienced practitioner.

With the consistent M&A and corporate workflow, AVELLUM is principally centered to merger control clearance and antitrust due diligence. The firm, as led by managing partner Mykola Stetsenko, has acted for Mr. Hamed Alikhani in connection with obtaining merger control clearance for acquisition of PJSC Commercial Bank Center (Ukraine); obtained merger clearance for the acquisition of Lohika by Altran Group. Yaroslav Medvediev is seen in project work.

Integrites actively develops its antitrust practice, and boasts them simultaneously in Russia and Kazakhstan. With established work on merger filings, unfair competition, and competition in commercial arrangement, the firm possesses experience designing and implementing compliance programs and advising on public procurement matters. Notably, the firm acted for Farmak in merger clearance for its acquisition of KWW Kotkowski Wierzbicki Wegrzyn sp.j., the leading Polish distributor of biologically active substances; represented Nova Poshta Group in merger clearance for the purchase of PE Batist-Dnepr. The list of selected clients includes ADM International Sàrl, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd, LKQ Corporation, Schreder, Dragon Capital Investments Limited, Brain Computers, Suhail Bahwan Group. Serhiy Shershun and Pavlo Loginov, counsels, are the core practitioners.

In 2016 the Kyiv office of Wolf Theiss was actively involved in advising clients on Ukrainian competition law peculiarities and obtaining merger and concerted actions clearances. Its network of offices in Europe enables bespoke advisory. Selected highlights include advising Deere & Company and Monsanto Company in obtaining merger clearance with regard to the USD 190 million acquisition of a shareholding in Precision Planting LLC, a subsidiary of Monsanto, and Monsanto’s assets related to business in the development, manufacture, licensing and sale of precision planting equipment. On the domestic front the office represented AMIC Ukraine and the Ukrainian targets, LUK AVIA OIL LLC and LUKOIL AVIATION Ukraine LLC in obtaining merger clearance for acquisition of 100% shareholding in each target; represented Erste Group Immorent International Holding GmbH in obtaining merger clearance for the sale of a 100% shareholding in its subsidiary. Olga Ivlyeva is the practice head.

Vasil Kisil & Partners increased its presence in investigations conducted by the Ukrainian competition authority, and is strong in advising on regulated markets, i.e. energy sector, pharmaceuticals, tobacco and alcohol, markets of banking and other financial services. Among notable highlights is representing Billa Ukraine in a cartel investigation into the retail market and further ongoing court proceeding regarding challenging of one of the AMCU’s decision. The team has notable expertise in abuse of dominance, commercial arrangements, antitrust risks. Anna Sisetska, counsel, is the key practitioner.

Established in 2015 EVERLEGAL is centered to merger filings, advisory work related to restrictive practices and unfair competition, as well as controversies with the antimonopoly authorities. Major clients include foreign companies in pharma, IT, agribusiness and energy sectors. Some recent mandates included merger control notifications in connection with a global merger between international pharmaceutical companies; advising a specialised Czech investment firm on the merger control implications of its acquisitions of agri-businesses in Ukraine. The antitrust practice is co-headed by managing partner Yevheniy Deyneko and counsel Ulyana Khromyak (currently on secondment to the Investment Promotion Office of Ukraine).

Sytnyk & Partners is seen mainly in merger control clearances related to multinational M&A. Robert Bosch GmbH, firm’s established client, regularly instructs the team of Denys Sytnyk for merger clearance work, most recently, in connection with indirect acquisition of joint control over Automotive Web Solutions AB together with Mekonomen Nya Affärer AB and Lasingoo Sverige AB; acquisition by Chervon North America, Inc. of assets in the form of a business division used for manufacturing and selling portable electric power tools, measuring tools and accessories from Robert Bosch Tool Corporation.

Highly active throughout 2016, Spenser & Kauffmann reinforced its practice with a new counsel Tatiana Kharebava, who joined in the past year. The practice is industry-oriented and mainly focused on agribusiness, land and real estate, pharmaceutical and healthcare, tobacco and alcohol, FMCG and retail. Among illustrative recent projects is advising domestic agrarian holding regarding its further corporate restructuring in view of competition law as well as conducting antimonopoly compliance of its current corporate structure; obtaining merger clearances for acquisition of assets in Ukraine. On the side of competition investigations, the firm advised national retail chain on enhancing legal position in a court case regarding the AMCU’s investigation on the retail market; and represented a national winery in an investigation amid accusations of unfair competition.

ANTIKA Law Firm is known for the antitrust expertise of its team members. The firm represents a company operating in the oil and gas sector, in a case of alleged violation of legislation on protection of economic competition. Managing partner Alexey Kot is a highly regarded expert on the market.

ECOVIS Bondar & Bondar advises on antimonopoly clearance in connection with M&A, as well as on various cases related to competitive market regulations. The firm is known for its strong presence in aviation and the aviation infrastructure field. Clients include Ukraine International Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa Group, Swissair, Interavia, Aerohandling, Danske Commodities, Europcar Ukraine, Bionorica SE (Germany), OPower Inc (USA), Advent International. Oleksandra Nikitina and Oleg Bondar are lead partners.

Ante Law Firm has a specific competition expertise in the aviation sector, the core strength of the team. In the past year the team represented the interests of airlines in all AMCU activities on the aviation market and advised Pavo group with regard to duty free market investigations and analysis. The firm also acted for the interests of a diesel supplier with regard to rail operator Ukrzaliznytsia public procurement procedure conflicts as to an estimated sum of more than UAH 250 million, and represented Zdravo and Technomedex group at the AMCU during public procurement claims. Andriy Guck is the primary contact.

EY Ukraine advised on the notifyability of a contemplated transaction with the AMCU and provided merger and concerted practices filing support on a turnkey basis. EY provided merger clearance filing support to Rozetka in connection with the acquisition of a warehouse complex in the city of Brovary; sell-side merger filing support to a Central European business group in connection with the sale of its Ukrainian agricultural business. Albert Sych, partner, is the main contact.

Legal Alliance Company is mostly known for handling antitrust and competition matters in its core industry of presence, pharmaceuticals. The firm is involved in several landmark cases in competition on the pharmaceutical market such as investigations of the AMCU regarding distributors contracts and marketing agreements with pharmacies. Among the major clients are Alcon, Astellas, Baxalta, Berlin Chemie, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Dial Service, Izotop, Orion Corporation, Reckitt Benskiser, Servier, Stada, Takeda. Associated partner, Andrii Gorbatenko, is in charge of the practice.

Throughout the previous year KM Partners provided comprehensive legal advice on competition matters with regard to cooperation between the major players of the seeds supply sector and grain traders; assisted on the antimonopoly aspects of distribution; defended the client’s interest in connection with contesting the results of bids for the purchase of software. Maxim Oleksiyuk and Alexander Shemiatkin are the key figures.

EQUITY (called FCLEX up till June 2017)  is seen in dispute resolution representing clients in the AMCU and courts. The firm acted for PJSC Zaporozhtransformator, challenging the AMCU decision on prohibition to participate in procurement for 3 years. The practice is guided by partner Andrey Nikitin.

Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners Ukraine is an important visible practice preferred for merger clearance and cross-border projects. Oksana Ilchenko, partner, is the practice head.