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Denis LYSENKO | AEQUO
Ukrainian retailers generally follow global industry trends. We see how stores introduce IT-based solutions and use big data to predict the preferences of customers, manage their inventory and market products. More and more retailers are building their communication with customers through popular social media and messaging apps. Yet, while the share of online retail is growing, some Ukrainian market players have still been investing more in the expansion of their physical stores.
Typical requests from clients in the industry have not changed much. Our clients often required assistance in real estate, tax and regulatory matters. Competition issues have also been in big demand, primarily in the context of M&A activity of certain larger market players reinforcing their presence in Ukraine’s regions or seeking acquisitions of logistics assets.
We also observe continuing activity on the market in relation to corporate restructurings of large retailers. Some market players had a legacy of unresolved issues with their Crimean assets left on the peninsula after it was annexed by Russia. Dealing with such projects usually requires engagement of associates with corporate, tax and regulatory expertise.
Several M&A deals we had in 2017 in the retail industry could be viewed as a trend of increasing M&A activity.
We expect that the long-awaited arrival in Ukraine of global players such as IKEA will warm up the interest of foreign investors in the Ukrainian retail market and so push up the number of big-ticket M&A deals in the industry.
Known for its international expertise Baker McKenzie has a formidable team of crosspractice experts, and offers a full scope of services pertaining to the retail sector. The office has prominent international names amongst clients, seeking advice on M&A, financing, intellectual property protection, e-commerce, tax, employment and dispute resolution. The Kyiv team is instructed for complex transactions, expansion strategies, and evolving regulatory and competition issues. The firm advised Billa Ukraine, one of the largest retail supermarket chains in the country, on the sale of its five supermarkets in Ukraine. The special retail real estate group supports retail clients with sector specific offering. A big portion of instructions relates to trademark rights protection, counterfeiting matters, enforcement and unfair competition matters, franchising and distribution. The firm represents Columbia Sportswear Company in IP matters related to trademark infringement matters, including criminal proceedings against counterfeiters. Vyacheslav Yakymchuk, corporate and M&A partner, is in front of transactional projects. IP partner Ruslan Drobyazko manages IP related requests. Other practitioners of the team bring in their expertise practice-wise.
The multidisciplinary offering of a full-service Ukrainian law firm AEQUO covers corporate law and transactions, competition, tax, trademarks, compliance, as well as litigation. The firm advises a spectrum of prominent clients in the retail and consumer product industries, acting for major national retail stores, DIY market players, international retailers and consumer electronics producers. The strong corporate team advises on high-profile corporate instructions and leads significant transactions in the sector. In particular, the firm advised Epicentre K on the acquisition of shopping malls in Lviv, Bucha and Boryspil. The firm also counsels foreign investors and private equity firms on their retail sector investments. The competition team had a strong inflow of instructions this past year, and represented ERC Group’s wholesale distributors in the Antimonopoly Committee in connection with investigation on the wholesale distribution market for mobile phones. The team’s landmark case is representing Novus in a case on an alleged cartel. Two partners, Denis Lysenko and Anna Babych,led projects in the retail sector. Sergey Denisenko, counsel, actively advises on competition matters.
The Kyiv office of DLA Piper is a part of the firm’s global market group dedicated to retail. The multifaceted demand requires involvement of practitioners of real estate, corporate, competition, tax, IP areas. Many clients are international brand names, including Inditex S.A. (Massimo Dutti, ZARA, brands), GAP, Wendy’s, Mondelez, Assos Capital, Royal Coffee and Tea Ukraine (Gloria Jeans brand), McDonald’s, Bomond. The office is well-known for supporting the expansion projects of Leroy Merlin Ukraine. The team guiding real estate partner Natalia Kochergina consistently actedon construction issues for a new DIY hypermarket, advised on lease and reconstruction of state owned property in Kyiv. The IP team, as led by Natalia Pakhomovska, acts on a variety of IP and franchising issues, trademark infringement cases, online and e-commerce issues. The team of Galyna Zagorodniuk advises on a variety of competition law matters arising out of sectoral M&A, distribution, other commercial agreements and competition compliance; while Illya Sverdlov covers international and domestic tax aspects.
Asters advises prominent retailers, landlords and consumer brands on competition law, financing, real estate lease, import and distribution, regulatory matters. Its significant competition team provides support in investigations and litigations. The firm successfully represented ACNielsenin a dispute on challenging a decision by the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine on a trade networks cartel, de facto prohibition of further operations on the Ukrainian market and annulment of a fine. Asters counsels luxury stores. For example, it advises PRADA Group on the operation of its first mono-brand boutique in Ukraine. The firm advises international financial institutions on financing transactions. This past year the firm acted as a legal counsel to the EBRD in connection with its financing of Novus, a major Ukrainian retail chain owned by Lithuanian shareholders. Aster partners Vadym Samoilenko, Svitlana Chepurna, Oleksiy Didkovskiy, Igor Svechkar, Alexey Pustovit, Oleksandr Voznyuk led the projects for sectoral clients.
ADER HABER (the team was previously part of Spenser & Kauffmann) rapidly developed a broad-based offering facing retail clients. The team has a multidisciplinary approach, covering competition and IP, compliance, real estate and lease, employment, restructuring, debt recovery and tax litigation. The firm was boosted by dispute work in 2017. In particular, the litigation team guided by Yuriy Petrenko, managing partner, represented a major Ukrainian retail and FMCG network within a debt recovery proceedings and in tax litigation. The team as led by Tatiana Kharebava, represented the interests of a major Ukrainian winery, NYVA NVP, in antimonopoly disputes over the identification of signs of unfair competition in the course of a marketing campaign and marking products. The employment group of Tetyana Ivanovych is a popular choice for labor advice. Over the past year the team extended its clientele, including solid domestic and international names, for example, Fudmerezha, LLC (ТМ Velyka Kyshenya), Inditex Group, local subsidiaries of Nestle and Coca-Cola, AVK Company, MERX, IDS Borjomi Georgia. Aleksandra Fedotova manages sector specific lease and real estate queries. Andrii Hvozdetskyi contributes on the dispute front.
GOLAW expands its client base, advising retail groups on regulatory issues, corporate, financing competition, tax, licensing and franchising, technical regulations and safety standards, employment and compliance. The established litigation team has an extensive record of dispute work. In recent highlights the firm supported the conclusion of a contract for the distribution of goods with Sun InBev Ukraine, in the interests of Red Bull, an exclusive importer and representative in Ukraine of the Austrian company producing this energy drink; advised KISS Chocolaterie, a Ukrainian chocolate сhocolaterie of Belgian chocolate, on a franchising agreement to expand the brand to Kazakhstan. The team has a following of solid names from fashion, household and FMCG retail players and, notably, advises on e-commerce and online sales instructions. Select clients encompass Kiddisvit Group, Lacoste, Mirs Corporation, Oriflame, RedHead Family Corporation, Antoshka, Evyap Trading, Medcom Marketing & Sales, Mercator Medical, GAP, Marka (Marks & Spencer stores), Network TwentyOne, New Balance, U Dress and others. Maksym Lebedev, a recently promoted partner, is the core practitioner.
Gramatskiy & Partners is involved in a wide range of client requests, including specific regulatory queries in retail, and scaled projects of structuring big retail chains. The team often acts on corporate structuring of business, elaborating appropriate tax models and structuring tax aspects of operational activity, adjusting trade channels throughout different industries, as well as support clients in the course of various state inspections. The firm is also noted for enhancing its portfolio of clients with producers and distributors and retailers of foodstuffs and beverages, electronic devices and other FMCG industries. PJSC Dniprovskyi Rynok, City Capital Group (Trade Centre Darynok), Novyi Complex (Trade Centre Chocolate), Lavinia, Finrostorg, Ditrade, Isavaca LLC, Samurai Communications LLC, Art Beveridge LLC, are among its clients. Yurii Gorda supervises retail projects in the firm.
In 2017 Ilyashev & Partners supported M&A in the sector (i.e., sale of supermarkets and shopping center) and advised on competition, trade remedies, customs, franchising issues. The firm primarily stands out for extensive caseload of disputes around the sector related to construction finance for a trade and entertainment mall in Kyiv. The firm acts for one of the major pharmacy chains in the competition authority with respect to convictions in unfair competition; advised chain of stores for Budynok Igrashok on customs issues; advised on tax aspects of doing business under the LeBoutique brand. The international trade team represented the interests of Epicentre K, a national chain of construction hypermarkets, in a review of safeguard measures regarding the import of crockery and flatware from porcelain irrespective of the country of origin. Other significant clients include ROSHEN, Anthousa Ltd (Furshet group of companies), as well as developer companies. The named partner Mikhail Ilyashev is the key contact.
Vasil Kisil & Partners enjoys a following of international retailers, namely supermarkets,apparel and accessories. In the past year the firm has been instructed for competition advice and representation in tax disputes. The team of Andriy Stelmashchuk, managing partner, is known as a proficient tax litigation force, and represented Pull and Bear Ukraine and Melon Fashion Ukraine in tax disputes. Anna Sisetska, partner, acted for Billa Ukraine in an AMCU cartel investigation and further ongoing court proceeding regarding challenging a decision adopted by the AMCU. The firm is also known for its strong expertise in commercial real estate matters.
EY traditionally advises well-known retail groups, as it is often preferred for tax and legal structuring of business, structuring supply chains, subsequent contractual support, compliance. The legal team also advises on IP, consumer law, lease and employment. Apart from conventional retail, it possesses strong experience in advising on-line retail. Two partners, Albert Sych and Igor Chufarov, and Iryna Kalyta, director, are the main contacts.
The Odessa-based ANK Law Office has a mainstay of advisingoperators of shopping malls and business centers, including major regional clients like the Riviera Shipping Mall, FontanSky Shopping Center, Marine Plaza Business Center, Vuzovskiy Business Center. The traditional focus of the firm’s offering takes in issues of lease (negotiations with lessees, during preparation and signing of the lease agreements, changing of lease conditions); reconstruction and commissioning of new complexes. Clients also require tax support, particularly during inspections by the tax authorities and while creating a comfortable tax regime for owners of shopping malls. The practice is headed by Denis Yakovlev, with the support of Pavel Budzar.
ILF Law Firm, a Ukrainian law firm with offices in Kharkiv and Kyiv, is involved mostly in structuring asset deals in the sector, as well as issues regarding commercial property, land use, property lease and related disputes. Olena Petrova and Anton Zinchuk led projects this past year.