08 Mar 2022

White & Case's Slovakia office spins out to form independent firm

US firm to continue advising clients through ‘exclusive alliance’ with Aldertree

Bratislava - The castle in winter light.

Shutterstock; Renata Sedmakova

White & Case is parting company with its Bratislava office, which is launching as an independent firm at the end of the month. 

Aldertree will be led by the office’s executive partner, Juraj Fuska, and comprise 10 other lawyers, who will work closely with the New York firm under what is being described as an exclusive alliance.

It is the third office to leave White & Case's Central and Eastern European network since 2014. In that year the firm's Romanian arm spun out as Bondoc & Asociatii while its Budapest office joined Dentons a year later.

A spokesperson said: "We are committed to supporting our clients’ cross-border needs in Central & Eastern Europe, where we will continue to be recognised as a market leader for complex legal work in the region. We would like to thank Juraj and the team in Bratislava for their contribution to White & Case, wish them every success and look forward to a close and ongoing working relationship under the exclusive alliance.”

Aside from the highly rated Fuska, the other White & Case partners moving across to the new firm are local partners Zoran Draškovič, Vladimír Ivančo and Michal Pališin.

White & Case has had a presence in Slovakia since 1997 and is ranked by the legal directories as a top tier firm alongside a small number of international firms, which include Allen & Overy Bratislava, CMS, Dentons, Squire Patton Boggs, Taylor Wessing Slovakia and DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach Rechtsanwälte.

Last year, a team of lawyers from the office advised European Emerging markets bank Wood & Company on its €450m acquisition of a majority stake in retail developer and operator AUPARK in a joint venture with Tatra Asset Management. It was the largest-ever real estate acquisition in the Slovak market.

White & Case's exit from Slovakia leaves its CEE network with a physical presence in Poland, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey.

Its Moscow office, meanwhile, remains open following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the firm having issued a statement last week in which it said it was reviewing its Russian and Belarusian client representations and 'taking steps to exit some representations in accordance with applicable rules of professional responsibility'.

Since the invasion, Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced the closure of their Moscow offices while CMS has put its future there under 'critical review'.

In June last year, Central and Eastern European firm Kinstellar acquired DLA Piper’s office in Kyiv while a year earlier Allen & Overy (A&O) ended its longstanding alliance with a Romanian firm in a move that saw six-partner Radu Taracila Padurari Retevoescu relaunch as a standalone practice.

But not all international firms are scaling back their physical presence in CEE. Last week, Top 30 UK firm Osborne Clarke hired 30 lawyers from local practices to launch an office in Warsaw, its first physical base in CEE region.

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