Continuing to strengthen its presence in central and eastern Europe, Austria-based Schoenherr said Wednesday it has finalized a merger with its Turkish ally, Türkol?u & Celepçi.
The two firms have been operating through a formal cooperation agreement since 2010, but moved to integrate fully after a proposal to do so received the unanimous backing of Schoenherrs 25 equity partners at a recent shareholder meeting. The merger formally took effect with the start of the Austrian firms fiscal year on February 1.
Schoenherr managing partner Christoph Lindinger says the combination is a logical step toward ensuring the 300-lawyer firm is uniquely well-positioned to benefit from Turkeys continuing economic dynamism and the expanding trade and investment between Turkey and the markets in central and eastern Europe.
Established in 2005, Türkol?u & Celepçi specializes in corporate, M&A, and finance transactions, while its dispute offering was recently bolstered with the arrival of experienced attorney Murat Canyürek, who now heads the practice. The 19-lawyer firm has a particular focus on the energy and telecommunications sectors, acting for such major corporations as fuel products giant OMV Petrol Ofisi, power plant developer Metcap Energy Investments, and Turkcell, the country's largest mobile phone operator. The Turkish firm also advised pharmaceutical wholesaler Hedef Alliance Holding on its sale of a majority stake to U.K. retailer Boots.
The Türkol?u & Celepçi lawyers will work closely with Schoenherr's existing group of Austria-based Turkey specialistsa four-lawyer team led by partners Markus Piuk and Alexander Popp that focuses on cross-border M&A and Turkish energy projects. (Piuk plans to relocate from Vienna to Istanbul as a result of the merger.) The group recently represented Turkcell on its bid for Macedonian mobile operator Cosmofon.
With the tie-up finalized, Türkol?u & Celepçis founding partner Levent Celepçi will join Schoenherrs equity partnership. Schoenherr opened its equity ranks to partners outside its Vienna headquarters in 2010some 16 years after the firm established its first international office. International partners now account for more than 20 percent of Schoenherr's total equity partnership.
"Quite some time ago, we started to transform ourselves from an Austrian firm into an international firm," Lindinger told The Am Law Daily at the time. "But you cannot be truly international with ownership that is only local, so this is clearly a step in the right direction. It's a new chapter for the firm."
Since opening in Bucharest in 1995, Schoenherr has expanded aggressively throughout central and eastern Europe. The firm now has 14 offices across the region, having launched in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia in 2008.
(Schoenherr's main Austrian rival, Wolf Theiss, has pursued a similar strategy of targeting central and eastern Europe. It operates an almost identical 13-office network, and has had international equity partners since 2003just three years after it launched its first foreign base in Prague. (A firm spokeswoman says the firm is watching the Turkish market closely but has "no concrete plans" to open an office there.)