Distinguished Ukrainian law firm AVELLUM has a highly-diversified offering for agribusiness, amalgamating corporate matters and M&A, obtaining merger clearances for certain transactions, real estate deals, sector financing, topped off by international trade and commodities arbitration. The firm regularly advises Ukrainian corporate borrowers, and acted for MHP Lux S.A. and Kernel Holding S.A. in the course of their Eurobonds issue in 2019. The M&A highlight is advising Kernel Holding S.A. on the acquisition of Rail Transit Kargo Ukraine. Having a significant share of agricultural holdings in its client portfolio, the firm has the largest practice of GAFTA, FOSFA and LMAA cases in the market. The international trade team contributed heavily to drafting the new contract and promoting amendments to the existing one in terms of introduction of GAFTA78UA — a new typical contract for Ukraine with the application of English law infused with the peculiarities of the Ukrainian market. The team represented Agrolana Ltd in a dispute concerning delivery of Ukrainian organic commodities to Netherlands; Ukrlandfarming in the first tier of GAFTA Arbitration in a dispute arising under the sale contract for delivery of commodities; Eastmarket Grain LLP in a dispute regarding cargo damaged during a sea voyage from Russia to Egypt. Among other long-standing clients are the noteholders’ committee of Mriya Agro Holding, Astarta, ADM, COFCO Agri, Syngenta, EFKO Group, NCH Capital Inc. (UK), Harvest Group S.A., Kazansky Oil Extraction Plant (Russia), State Food Grain Corporation of Ukraine. The big team of partners involved: Glib Bondar (capital markets and finance), Yuriy Nechayev and Mykola Stetsenko (corporate and M&A), Iryna Moroz, Aminat Suleymanova and Ivan Kasynyuk (trade and commodities ­arbitration), Vadim Medvedev (tax)[1].

Often retained by international investors and large Ukrainian agricultural holdings, Baker McKenzie is a port of choice for transactional activities, inbound investment and commercial operations. The firm is preferred counsel for cross-border M&A and JVs establishing, capital markets transactions, financing and debt restructuring involving agricultural companies. This past year the firm represented Remington Seeds with respect to a strategic agreement with MAIS to purchase its seed plant and farming operations; became lead counsel to MHP SE on acquisition of 90.692% of the issued share capital in Perutnina, a well-established and vertically integrated company in Southeast Europe; advised De Heus Animal Nutrition B.V. in connection with establishing a joint venture through investment in the Ukrainian animal nutrition business. On the capital markets front the firm assisted Aragvi Finance International DAC in connection with a Eurobond issue to the value of up to USD 300 million. Another area of focus is development of agrarian infrastructure. The agricultural industry group in Kyiv, which consists of practitioners from various practice groups, is run by partners across their primary practice areas: Viacheslav Yakymchuk (corporate and M&A), Oksana Simonova (competition), Lina Nemchenko (real estate and construction, employment), Hennadiy Voytsitskyi (tax).

In addition to its transactional and regulatory strength Sayenko Kharenko is explicitly active in a broad range of disputes, including both litigation and arbitration. Furthermore, the firm has a market-leading international trade team, and advises on various issues related to food labeling and commodities trading. The M&A highlight in 2019 include representing Orexim Group in respect of the sale of a grain terminal business to Posco Daewoo Corporation. The firm is a preferred legal counsel for capital markets work. In particular, the firm advised joint lead managers on Eurobond issues by MHP and Kernel. The past year was also marked by a series of tax disputes. For example, the team represented Trigon Farming Kharkiv (Agromino) in a tax dispute regarding additional assessments of valued added tax. Oleksandr Nikolaichyk, corporate and M&A partner, heads the practice. Andrew Zablotskyi left the firm to become the head of the State Agency for Forest Resources.

AEQUO has a multidisciplinary offering for the agribusiness sector, being sought after by Ukrainian and global players, investment funds, manufacturers and grain traders, lenders and borrowers. The spectrum of the team’s work takes in M&A, corporate, competition, intellectual property, litigation, debt restructuring, tax and customs. The firm is known for advising Epicentr K on its further expansion into the agricultural business, inter alia, on obtaining merger clearances for the acquisition of a number of agricultural assets — operating company and grain elevators. Another competition highlight is representing one of the Ukrainian subsidiaries of Koninklijke Bunge BV in the competition investigation related to labeling of the company’s products with the “Eco” sign and potentially misleading information for customers. Among the M&A highlights of 2019 are advising Cropio Group regarding the sale of its entire business to Syngenta; representing Posco Daewoo on the acquisition of a majority stake in a grain export terminal. The IP team acted for MHP on acquiring IP rights to trademarks, trade dress and designs in foreign jurisdictions. The firm’s clients include leading names, such as Kernel, Agroprosperis Group, DuPont, Parus Agro Group, Ukrainian agricultural holding Rostok, and others. The sector-related projects are led by the firm’s partners: Anna Babych (corporate and M&A, commercial contracts), and Yulia Kyrpa (finance and restructuring), Sergey Denisenko (competition), under the general guidance of Denis Lysenko.

Given a long-standing presence in the agrarian market, Arzinger advises agricultural holdings, farm enterprises, manufacturers of agricultural equipment, processing enterprises and dairy products industry, plant protection means and mineral fertilizers as well as other companies connected to the agricultural business. In 2019 the multidisciplinary team was active in corporate and M&A, finance and restructuring, international commercial arbitration and litigation, tax disputes as well as criminal proceedings. The firm recently advised Delta Wilmar in connection with the acquisition of shares in food producer Chumak from Dragon Capital; advised on corporate restructuring of the group Agrovista; acted for creditors in bankruptcy proceedings of several companies of the former Mriya group. The firm has noted strength in disputes arising from contractual matters and debt recovery. Most recently the team represented Soufflet Negoce and New World Grain Ukraine, its Ukrainian subsidiary, in a series of commercial litigation proceedings against a local agroholding due to the latter’s default on grain storage agreements; represents one of the world’s leading agricultural machinery traders, Marubeni Corporation, in a commercial litigation and enforcement dispute against a Ukrainian debtor due to the latter’s breach of contract, which is governed by Swiss law. Oleksander Plotnikov, banking and finance partner, heads the practice.

Ukrainian law firm ADER HABER demonstrates long-lasting dedication to complex support for the expansion of land banks, encompassing share deals, managing property right issues. In 2019 a big scope of work was addressed to the tax litigation team of Tetiana Daniltseva, and concerned appealing the additional assessment of tax obligations on income tax and the reduction of the negative value on value added tax. The practice head is Aleksandra Fedotova, the firm’s real estate partner, with significant experience in the field of land and agrarian law.

Domestic arbitration boutique ARBITRADE represents Ukrainian traders in agricultural commodities and foreign agricultural traders in disputes related to trade in agrarian produce and commodities. The team has been engaged in both pre-arbitral dispute resolution and arbitrations under the auspices of GAFTA/FOSFA under English law. In 2019 the team was engaged in an arbitration case under ICAC rules at the UCCI, as well as in domestic litigation cases. Major clients of the firm are the Astarta Group of Companies, Ancor Investments Limited, Adama Ukraine, Bunge S.A., UBM Agro Private Company Limited, UBM Agri Trade Private Company Limited, Alberta Corp. LP, C.P.Intertrade Company Limited, EFKO-Trade, Veres Group of Companies. Pavlo Trytenichenko is in charge of the practice.

Asters is a full-service Ukrainian law firm providing agribusiness with a wide-ranging offering, including antitrust and competition, corporate, finance, labor and employment, tax disputes. Throughout the past year the firm advised Monsanto on various issues of Ukrainian corporate and commercial law, including preparation of shareholders resolutions and agricultural contracts; represented Enza Zaden, a major European plant breeding company, with day-to-day corporate and contractual matters related to operation of its Ukrainian subsidiary. In 2019 the firm continued to represent international financial institutions on both financing agribusinesses and supporting debt restructuring. The firm’s team is led by a number of partners, namely Vadym Samoilenko, Oleg Boichuk, Oleksiy Demyanenko and Iryna Pokanay.

Eterna Law, a full-service firm, was initially known for its strong dedication to international arbitration. Thus, the firm advises a range of national leading producers and traders on international arbitrations, especially GAFTA and FOSFA, as well as LMAA. Among other client queries are corporate disputes, tax matters related to conducting grain trading activities, lease and corporate advisory. The previous year saw the firm act for a client in an India-seated arbitration matter arising from fraudulent misappropriation of cargo. The client list includes Artis-Agro Export, EFKO, Ukrenergy Trade, Bunge, Barbara Krom. Eugene Blinov, international arbitration partner, heads the firm’s practice.

Agricultural and land law practice at EVERLEGAL utilizes the expertise of corporate and M&A, banking and finance, commercial and dispute resolution practices. Among the highlights of 2019 was legal support to the Louis Dreyfus Company Ukraine to set up a rail logistics business in Ukraine with EBRD funding of USD 35 million. The team rendered legal support to the Czech agricultural holding Resilient a.s., part of the Agromino agricultural holding, in court proceedings and advised on all legal issues arising in the activity of companies in Ukraine. Another recent area of focus is protection against raiding attacks in the agricultural sector. In particular, the firm successfully repelled a series of raider attacks on the land bank of Resilient a.s. Furthermore, the firm extended its track record of land disputes. Andriy Porayko, litigation partner, is the practice head.

In 2019 EUCON Legal Group experienced an increase in queries on agribusiness, approaching the group for land and real estate transactions, regulatory consulting, representation in courts and state authorities. The key strength of the firm is its unique experience in supporting entries of investors to the agricultural markets of Ukraine and Poland, with subsequent advice on formation of a land bank and its management, obtaining land plots in ownership and use. Most recently the firm protected the interests of German investors regarding the illegal alienation of corporate rights of LLC Victoria; represented interests of agricultural company Dovzhenko in a corporate dispute with Astarta-Kiev; accompanied the entry of Green Peaks Technology to EU markets, in particular Poland. Partner and renowned scientist Anatolii Miroshnychenko, practice head, has considerable experience of supporting land and agrarian projects.

INTEGRITES reveals a remarkable client portfolio of agriholdings, grain exporters and traders, sunflower oil and grain producers, producers and processors of milk and dairy products. The team is sought out to assist with M&A and JV establishment, competition issues, tax litigation and GAFTA arbitration. The competition practice represented Gals Agro in an abuse of dominance investigation initiated by the Antimonopoly Committee against a sugar production plant. The firm represents a large grain exporter in multijurisdictional debt recovery and in ECHR proceedings related to non-enforcement of a GAFTA arbitral award in Ukraine; acted for Svitoil, a part of the Gradoil group of companies, in a tax dispute. In 2019 the firm was also active in resolving multimillion corporate disputes between shareholders of agricultural companies. The firm also represents international financial institutions advising on restructurings involving the sector. The partners acting in industry related projects are Olena Perepelynska and Dmytro Marchukov (international arbitration, cross-border litigation), Viktoriia Fomenko (tax), Illya Tkachuk (corporate and M&A), Serhiy Shershun (competition).

Odesa-based law firm Jurline provides clients with contractual support in the activities of agro-industrial enterprises, which includes the development of land lease agreements, deliveries, storage of agricultural crops. In addition, the firm’s lawyers advise on issues arising in the field of consumer protection legislation, food safety and quality, and antimonopoly legislation, litigation and arbitration. The firm is widely known for providing legal services to the largest wineries in the south of Ukraine. The team has extensive experience in matters of licensing the production and sale of wine products, taxation, rent of integral property complexes of wineries, contractual mattes and competition. Grain terminals located in Black Sea ports is another area of the firm’s expertise. The client list includes TIS-Grain, Illichivsk Grain Terminal, Glencore Agriculture Ukraine, PJSC Odesawinprom (TM Frantsuzky Boulevard), PTK Shabo, Arus Trade LLC. The partnership staff of the practice is made up of Volodymyr Zubar, Svitlana Panova, Maxim Kapelist and Vitaliy Cherkes.

KM Partners is sought after by multinational agricultural biotechnology companies and grain traders. Given its strong commitment to tax, the firm constantly represents sectoral clients in tax planning and litigation. The offering also included structuring interrelations between a group’s enterprises, elaboration of the contractual scheme of relations between the producer, seller of the seeds and trader, land lease. The projects are run by partners Alexander Minin, Alexander Shemiatkin and Maxim Oleksiyuk.

AMBER Law Company advises agribusiness, with the focus on VAT-related and other tax-related matters, including working out crop export optimization schemes. The vast majority of requests from clients address VAT-related litigation with the State Fiscal Service. The main clients are Almeida Group, Agrarian System Technologies, Kagarlyk Resource, Artemida.Lad. Semen Khanin is the lead partner.

The agribusiness practice of Odesa-based ANK Law Office encompasses trade deals connected with purchasing grain commodities and further export, and legal support of infrastructure projects on construction and modernization of internal and port silos and grain terminals. The firm is retained for supporting grain traders, the majority of work with which meant representation in Ukraine of world-leading agricultural holdings like ADM, Bunge, Cargill, COFCO, Glencore, Louis Dreyfus etc.; wine makers producing local wines and other spirits and related industries. The past year was noted for legal support provided to Delta-Wilmar CIS during realization of the project on construction of the plant to process soya, transshipment of oil seed meals and grain at Yuzhniy Sea Port, as well as a new berth in the port’s water area; support of Vector Oil Trade group during construction of a new silo complex in Vinnitsya Region. Oleksandr Kyfak and Dmytro Kolodiazhniy are the key figures.

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang has a transaction industry focus, often preferred for M&A, cross-border financing, commercial and competition issues. The office advises longstanding client ING Bank N.V. on financing to Ukrainian businesses, most recently supported EUR 120 million worth of financing to MHP for the acquisition of Perutnina Ptuj, a well-​established and vertically-integrated company in South-East Europe. The firm is retained to build contractual structure in relations with local customers and distributors. Ihor Olekhov and Kateryna Chechulina are the key figures of the practice.

Dentons is traditionally followed by international agricultural players, whom the Kyiv office advises on a wide range of legal issues related to their activity in Ukraine. These include operational and regulatory matters, transactional work within the agribusiness sector, M&A, financing, cross-border debt restructuring. Ihor Mehedynyuk and Volodymyr Monastyrskyy are lead partners.

The multidisciplinary practice of EY Ukraine assists with a broad range of issues facing the industry, and includes ongoing advisory, structuring and restructuring, and transaction support. In 2019 the team acted as the lead legal counsel to an EU investor in connection with the sale of a Ukrainian agricultural company holding a land bank of over 4,000 ha to one of the leading domestic agricultural players. Tax advice, including representation in tax disputes, is an important service. Albert Sych, Iryna Kalyta and Bogdan Malniev are the key figures.

Gramatskiy & Partners deepens its sector specific offering for domestic clients in agriculture, industrial manufacturing, technology and engineering industries. The firm has expertise in livestock and crop farming, production and distribution of agrochemicals, processing, logistics and agricultural export. This past year the firm advised on agrarian receipts, VAT refund, land lease, technical requirements and certification of agrarian production. The client roster includes AgroAlliance Group, AgroTechnologies, Ugrain, VPG Agro Trade, Agriconsulting, Green Farm, Selkhozmechanizatsia PJSC, Fly Harvest, NewGen Organic, United Grains, Zaporizhzhia- Land. Mykola Voitovich handles supervision on the industry practice group.

In 2019 the project portfolio of Ilyashev & Partners included debt recovery, restructuring, business protection and litigation. Among recent highlights is representing GrainCorp on business activities in Ukraine; protection of the Rostock Holding agricultural group from illegal blocking of 16 enterprises; advising LU Invest in a dispute regarding the management of the Golden Sunrise agricultural holding, etc. The client list includes GrainCorp, Bunge Ukraine, Myronivsky Hliboproduct, Al Ghurair Investment, COFCO Agri Ukraine, RONLY, Ascania Group of Companies, Agrotrade. Mikhail Ilyashev is the lead partner.

KPMG Law is approached by leading Ukrainian and international agribusiness companies and organizations. Some recent highlights encompass assisting a leading Ukrainian producer of seeds, grain, oilseeds and vegetables with international structuring advice; advising GrainCorp with establishing of business presence in Ukraine; NCH group Ukraine in growing its land holding and participation in the tender for purchasing a Ukrainian agricompany; Norbilc Agri on the purchase of a dormant petroleum storage facility with the aim of transforming it into a facility for storing grain and agricultural equipment. Yuriy Katser, director, is responsible for the practice.

The main focus of Krolevetskyi & Partners, a Kharkiv-based law firm, lies on registration of land rights, sector taxation, support on the sale of agrarian production and equipment, and litigation. The Astarta Farm Firm, Vozrozhdenie Farm, Novaia Zhyzn Private Farming Enterprise are among the firm’s clients. Viktoria Liubych runs the practice.

Law Offices of OMP and Alexandrov & Partners are referred as law firms with a sharp focus on advising agricultural holdings and private landowners[2].

[1]In late May 2020 the firm announced that it continues to cooperate as an alliance of two firms — AVELLUM and AGA Partners (these two firms merged in June 2018).

[2]Both firms didn’t provide their submissions.