Competition/European Law: Finland
THE FIRM This large team is consistently one of the top choices for competition law in Finland. It is strong in all areas and regularly acts before the Luxembourg courts, where it recently obtained a preliminary ruling from the ECJ for Mehiläinen and Terveystalo Healthcare concerning procurement. The firm is also involved in several asphalt cartel follow-on cases and advises on merger control issues for the Flybe/Finnair joint venture. Major clients include dairy producers Valio, financiers OP-Pohjola and refiners Neste Oil.
Sources say: "Really easy to work with; the lawyers are down to earth and give practical advice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sari Hiltunen is one of the younger lawyers at the top of the market, and clients say: "Her particular strength is that she worked with the authority side, so she knows how they think." Hannu Pokela is often described as the "grand old man" of competition law, and is considered one of the leading lights in the field. One peer mentions that "it's very nice to work on the same case because you know he's capable, and he doesn't have to show off because we all know how good he is." Commentators say that Anna Kuusniemi-Laine "has particularly good knowledge and skills in procurement issues. Her attitude to providing services is excellent; she's active and thinks about customers' needs in a broader perspective." Senior associate Mikko Huimala has experience working for the competition authority and a growing reputation. "He always provides work within the agreed time and has good contacts in Brussels," say clients.
THE FIRM This top full-service practice features specialists across competition, procurement and state aid law and has been involved in many of Finland's biggest recent cases. In merger control, the firm's biggest case was acting for Myllykoski and Rhein Papier in their acquisition by UPM-Kymmene, cleared by the EC following Phase II proceedings. Working with its Swedish office, the firm helped Shell with merger control filings for divested businesses worth USD460 million. Beyond transactional work, the team represented Lemminkäinen in the asphalt cartel proceedings, and continues to assist it with follow-on damages cases.
Sources say: "The firm knows our business, and it has outstanding expertise in competition law."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Tapani Manninen is immensely experienced in the field, and clients appreciate his vast knowledge and considered approach. Practice head Mikael Wahlbeck has been leading on a variety of difficult matters for important clients, and is seen as key to the group's continued success. "Finland's Mr Procurement," Mika Pohjonen is the country's leading practitioner in this area. Clients say that he has "been doing a great job helping us avoid mistakes in public procurement, and he never gets stressed."
THE FIRM The competition practice of this Finnish giant is focused on merger control, and clients respond well to its business-oriented approach. Recent merger cases include Bridgepoint's acquisition of healthcare operator ODL Terveys, which was approved with conditions by the authority in a Phase II investigation, and it advised on the Finnair/Flybe joint venture. The firm is also appearing before the Supreme Administrative Court concerning an alleged collective boycott in the spare motor parts sector.
Sources say: "It's very commercially minded, it understands our business and it creates additional value for us."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head Christian Wik is the country's most senior merger control lawyer. According to clients, he "has the ability to understand the big picture. He goes straight to the core of the issue and tries to find solutions for it." New partner Niko Hukkinen is a rapidly rising name at the firm. Clients find him easy to work with, saying: "You get the feeling he puts a lot of effort into the cases - he's willing to go the extra mile." Senior associate Ami Paanajärvi has international experience from her time in Brussels, Amsterdam and London. Inga Korpinen joined the firm in February 2013. She has worked in competition for many years, and continues to do corporate and advisory work in the field.
THE FIRM In addition to its practice in competition and procurement, this firm is unique on the Finnish market for its attention to state aid. It is working on two cases in state aid with potentially wide ramifications. The first involves defending a hospital district against claims of unlawful state aid, the second notifying a novel state aid structure for the new airport terminal in Tampere. In traditional competition, cases include advising PKC Group on merger control issues.
Sources say: "It's a law firm you can bring into a company and not be afraid it will misunderstand your needs. It's very business-minded."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head Ilkka Aalto-Setälä is known for his work in both competition and procurement. Clients describe him as a friendly, diplomatic lawyer who is not afraid to give tough advice if required. Asko Lindqvist is best known for his work in transactions and notifications, but he also represents the Finnish Bus & Coach Association in a potential cartel and abuse of dominant position case.
THE FIRM This firm has been hiring new staff to give it one of the largest groups of dedicated competition and European law practitioners in the country. Highlights for the team include representing the state forest company Metsähallitus in a cartel private enforcement case, and acting on an investigation into alleged resale price maintenance by Fiskars/Ittala before the Market Court.
Sources say: "Its core principle is not to create problems but to come up with solutions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Katri Joenpolvi leads on the firm's key competition cases. Clients say that she is service-minded and has a "strong background and understanding of the field." Petteri Metsä-Tokila has been assisting in Krogerus' most important competition cases, and is known for his compliance work. Associate Mikko Pirttilä often works in litigation, including the follow-on cartel damages cases. Leena Lindberg joined Krogerus in December 2010 and was previously a highly respected figure at the Competition Authority, where she led the asphalt cartel investigation. Clients assert that "she has the view from both sides, and can explain the thinking behind certain authority actions more clearly. She knows competition law inside out."
THE FIRM This expanding team has lately been involved in many high-profile cases, and is one of the strongest competition groups in a mid-sized firm. It represented Skanska in the big-ticket asphalt cartel case, and continues to work for it on the follow-on damages cases. Cartel work is a particular emphasis of the practice, and the team is appearing before the Supreme Administrative Court concerning an alleged collective boycott. The firm also defended Ekopullo Association in an abuse of dominance claim.
Sources say: "I like its expertise, understanding of our business and down-to-earth attitude."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Arttu Mentula is lead counsel for Skanska in the Asphalt follow-on cases. Clients note that "because he has worked in a big Finnish company, he knows what company lawyers need and how they think." Competition lawyer Erkko Ruohoniemi is known for his expertise in public procurement, in which he is one of the country's leading specialists.
THE FIRM This recently merged firm provides solid competition and European law advice. It represented NCC in the asphalt cartel case and is kept busy by numerous private follow-on damages cases for this client. The firm also obtained merger control clearance for North European Oil Trade in the acquisition of one of Shell's businesses. Other prominent clients include UPM-Kymmene, and media groups Digita and Viasat Broadcasting.
Sources say: "Its work is always carefully drafted and comprehensive, whilst at the same time kept at the appropriate level."
KEY INDIVIDUALS A much-respected figure with many years of experience, Jukka Luostarinen remains one of the standout names in the field. Ilkka Leppihalme is widely recognised as one of the leaders of Finland's next generation of competition law experts. "You can always rely on his answers being carefully formed and comprehensive," say clients - "he never provides a half-done job even with tight deadlines."
THE FIRM This compact group advises clients on matters across the spectrum of competition and procurement law. A recent highlight was representing St1 Group in its contemplated acquisition of Shell's operations in Finland and Sweden. As one of Finland's few international firms, the team capitalises on its position by acting as a single competition group across Bird & Bird's European offices.
Sources say: "It's an expert team when it comes to competition law. And what's very important for us is that it has a wide European network, including a Brussels office."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head Katia Duncker is seen as a skilled practitioner, across the range of competition law concerns. "I think she's practically minded and very easy to work with," say clients.
THE FIRM This firm is involved in bigger cases than ever before. In November 2011, it successfully cleared the merger between NCC and Destia in only the second merger case to go before the Market Court since 1998. Following its work in the asphalt cartel case, the firm has begun working with new client Lemminkäinen. The team is also involved in the private damages cases following on from a cartel case about raw wood, in which it represents key party Metsäliitto.
Sources say: "The firm isn't too big, so the responsible people take care of the issues themselves, they don't just let junior lawyers do the work." "Cost-effective and high quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients value practice head Tuomas Saraste's business sense, and say that he "takes care of his clients, and knows the law very well. He can explain competition law on quite a practical level and isn't too theoretical." General commercial practitioner Vesa Silaskivi is known for his knowledge of damages and procedural questions. He is representing Metsäliitto in its private cartel damages cases.
KEY INDIVIDUALS This compact competition team is involved in the asphalt cartel damages cases, in which it is now representing the cities of Espoo and Forssa. Other highlights include work on an alleged spare parts cartel for Örum, and on an EU Block Exemption for car importer Veho.
Sources say: "Whether it's a big M&A deal or a smaller question, it's always willing to help you."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Senior associate Hanna Laurila "has a really broad knowledge of all aspects of competition law," according to interviewees, who add that "she worked for the authority before, and I think that gives her a lot of insight."
THE FIRM The competition group at this firm often assists clients with merger filings and advises on the Finnish aspects of pan-European cases. This includes working on an European investigation into the heavy truck industry, representing JCDecaux before the Finnish authority, and assisting Fincomm with its acquisition by Flybe Finland.
Sources say: "It's responsive and immediately on the case, and its advice is hands-on and efficient."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Competition partner Mikko Eerola is known to his clients for being "knowledgeable and a very nice person to work with."
of Procopé & Hornborg Law Offices Ltd has significant experience in competition law, particularly in the automotive and mining sectors.
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