UK and US firms move to cash in on EU expansion

CMS Cameron McKenna, Linklaters and White & Case have topped headcount rankings in key Central European accession countries.

UK and US firms are battling for supremacy in Europes most promising markets following last months expansion of the EU.

A survey by The Lawyer has found that, across the key Eastern European markets of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, a handful of international firms are best placed to profit from the anticipated upswing in foreign investment following accession.

Linklaters, with 113 lawyers throughout Budapest, Prague and Warsaw, has invested heavily in the region in recent years, and now boasts the largest presence across the three cities.

Fellow UK firms Camerons and Clifford Chance have 106 and 58 lawyers respectively.

US firm White & Case has 102 lawyers across its three major Eastern European offices, while fellow US firm Weil Gotshal & Manges widely regarded as the premier firm in Prague has 66 lawyers in the region.

While privatisation work is largely completed, international firms in Budapest, Prague and Warsaw are now advising on accession-related law, such as state aid and competition, as well as capital markets, private equity and M&A deals.

Weil Gotshal last year advised Cesky Telecom on its $1.2bn (679.2m) purchase of the remaining 49 per cent interest in Eurotel, while Allen & Overy acted on Cezkys $675m (382.1m) domestic bond programme, which was the largest Czech capital markets deal last year.

Consolidation in the Czech electricity sector has also ensured a steady stream of work for international firms, with White & Case and Weil Gotshal particularly dominant.