• Vladyslav FILATOV |Sokolovskyi & Partners

    The applicable legislation significantly restricts the feasibility for creditors to initiate bankruptcy proceedings and fails to protect their rights to any significant extent. Meanwhile, debtors may freely evade fulfilment of their obligations. In reality, bankruptcy proceedings last too long, the solvency of debtors is restored extremely rarely, and the ratio of the sum recovered to the sum of debt is insignificant. However, certain improvements in this area need to be emphasized. In particular, judicial authorities expand the debtors’ estates by restoring the titles to the property alienated prior to initiation of bankruptcy proceedings. The latter is achieved by invalidating transactions aimed at alienation of the relevant assets. Using the information regarding the financial history of debtors, creditors can expect their claims to be satisfied in significantly larger proportions.

    Bankruptcy proceedings are initiated against debtors in order to improve their financial condition. Other important goals include preservation of the feasibility for debtors to conduct business in the future, protection of creditors’ interests and satisfaction of their claims to the maximum possible extent out of the proceeds obtained as a result of the sale of available property.
    The investment attractiveness of Ukraine largely depends on the improvement of efficiency of bankruptcy proceedings.

    As a rule, bankruptcy cases represent complex court proceedings. They can involve various claims against debtors that may not be directly related to the restoration of their solvency.
    A lawyer representing a creditor should have proficient knowledge of various branches of law. For example, labor, corporate, financial, and tax. For a case to be considered properly, it is very important for the relevant insolvency receiver to have special knowledge and conform to high ethical standards.

    Specialists place high hopes on the adoption of new regulations. The Draft Bankruptcy Code should resolve many existing regulatory problems and introduce the concept of bankruptcy of individuals, which is new for Ukraine.
    The adoption of the codified law will significantly increase the efficiency of proceedings at the pre-trial and trial phases. This will undoubtedly raise the interest of both creditors and debtors in the application of bankruptcy procedures and restoration of solvency.

Acclaimed for its strong litigation capabilities, Ilyashev & Partners has a well-positioned sizeable team supporting large bankruptcy cases and handling representation of both creditors and debtors. Its project portfolio contains sound cases of recent years, including complex cases in Ukraine and abroad. The firm supports the bankruptcies of Creative Group, Sumykhimprom, Okean Shipyard, FSC More, AvtoKrAZ. Often hired for creditor side mandates, the firm receives new instructions from its long-standing client BTA Bank Kazakhstan. In 2017 the practice received strong enhancement due to rapid development at its Russian office. The Moscow team supports a range of benchmark bankruptcies of developers and infrastructure companies. Roman Marchenko, senior partner, has a strong reputation as a litigator, and is widely acclaimed as being among the strongest bankruptcy experts in Ukraine. Andriy Konoplya and Vadym Kizlenko are the most recognized practitioners in the senior team.

In 2017 two law firms with the principal focus on bankruptcy and insolvency — Alekseev, Boyarchukov & Partners and Trusted Advisors merged, and continued to operate as a single firm under the brand of the former. The amalgamated client base and project portfolio enhanced the firm’s positions on the market, combining explicit expertise acquired from acting for creditors and a vivid track record of representing debtors. Among recently supported bankruptcies are the cases of Illichivsk Oil and Fat Plant, Illichivsk Grain Company, Illichivsk Grain Port, Odessa Oil and Fat Plant, Kherson Cotton Combine, etc. The firm preserves a strong commitment to supporting banks in complex bankruptcy matters and debt recovery litigation. The sizeable team has three dedicated partners on board. Vladyslav Reznikov and Artem Podolskiy exceled in advising debtors. Sergey Boyarchukov, managing partner, has recognized practical expertise and is referred to as a good strategist.

EQUITY has one of the largest market litigation teams centered on debt recovery, and is very well positioned to advise on large comprehensive insolvency matters. The firm is acknowledged for its aptitude and extensive experience on matters involving distressed assets. The largest case in the market supported by the firm is two cases of bankruptcy of enterprises belonging to the Azovmash group of companies with creditors claims coming to a total of around USD 1.3 billion. AIS Corporation, the largest Ukrainian provider of automobile services, enlisted the firm to handle the bankruptcy procedure of five enterprises that are part of the corporation. Other selected ongoing cases include representing debtors in the bankruptcy cases of Belvedere Ukraine and PJSC Rosava; acting on the creditor’s side in the bankruptcy case of PJSC Kremenchukmyaso. Since 2011 the firm has been providing  legal support to the Dutch investor Okean B.V. in the bankruptcy cases of the Mykolayiv-based Shipyard Okean, where they defended a client’s creditor claims. The firm also covers criminal matters within bankruptcy projects, and its partner Taras Poshivanyuk has a sharp focus. Oleg Malinevskiy is lauded for his substantial litigation expertise and enhancing cross-border experience. Viktor Barsuk, managing partner, handles strategic guidance.

Ario Law Firm is a highly-regarded Ukrainian team recognized for its expertise in the full circle of bankruptcy practice, representing a big range of commercial clients. This past year saw the firm’s presence across a number of significant cases, predominantly representing debtors. For example, the firm supports PJSC Lysychansk Glass Factory Proletary in the course of its bankruptcy procedure and is developing a plan on its financial recovery; represents the interests of Rusanovskiy meat processing plant in bankruptcy proceedings. Other ongoing significant cases include representing АВС Logistic Park, which owes debts to PJSC Ukreximbank. The firm is known for its long-standing case of Mykolayiv Shipyard Okean, where partner Iryna Serbin acts asan insolvency official. The sophisticated case includes criminal proceedings and the firm’s criminal practice represents the client’s interests. The firm houses a number of distinguished practitioners, namely Julian Khorunzhii, Oleksii Voronko and Iryna Serbin.

L.I. Group has a principal focus on representing creditors — banks in insolvency matters, credit recovery and during bankruptcy proceedings. Among the landmark representations is acting for VTB Bank in the course of the bankruptcy of the Rainford Dairy Plant. The firm represents Sberbank, Motor Bank, VAB Bank, OTP Bank, Piraeus Bank and other clients in bankruptcy proceedings of their debtors. Insolvency and bankruptcy is the primary area of focus for both partners Mykola Kovalchuk and Artur Megeria.

Absolute Law Agency, a Ukrainian law firm with offices in Dnipro and Kyiv, is specifically known for its broad bankruptcy practice. The firm demonstrates an extensive portfolio of large-scale projects representing a wide array of banks. For example, the agency acts for VTB Bank in the bankruptcies of Industrial Power Systems, Dnipro Plant Mineral Fertilizers, Westa Industrial LLC. Another client, the First Ukrainian International Bank, enlisted the firm for representation in a series of bankruptcies of TMM-Energobud, Mriya Agro Holding group of companies. Another feature of the firm is its extensive track record in debt recovery cases. The key figures of the agency are Oleksandr Bondarchuk and Oleksandr Hladii.

Arzinger is traditionally present across a number of sound bankruptcy cases, actingpredominantly on the creditor’s side. The team has a notable skill advising international banks, agrarian, food and beverages, life science clients. The firm acts for a syndicate of banks in an insolvency case against a member of a famous Ukrainian agricultural group of companies. The firm is a general Ukrainian external legal counsel to Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits S. A., a global beverage producer — in litigation and related bankruptcy proceedings of its Ukrainian subsidiary — Belvedere Ukraine LLC. Most recently the commercial courts annulled an auction for the sale of the client’s Ukrainian assets and ordered assets to be returned back into the possession of its subsidiary. Well-known for consistent work in the field of insolvency and bankruptcy, Anton Molchanov, senior associate, heads the practice. The practice lead partner is Markian Malskyy.

The well-versed practice of Gramatskiy & Partners includes judicial and extrajudicial bankruptcy proceedings, and is especially noted for its broad-based representations of lenders, borrowers, shareholders and participants, and insolvency officials. The firm actively develops and implements plans on sanation and amicable agreements. The team rendered full legal support to the bankruptcy procedure for PJSC Plant Quant, and currently advises on restoring commercial activities, solvency, exits from bankruptcy procedures and post-procedure disputes. Other clients include Plant Keramic, Gordons Impex Ltd, Yust-Service LLC, Isaveca LLC, LKO LLC, Zolotoy Mandarin Group, Vinotex LLC. Andrii Trembich leads the practice.

Khomenko, Pita & Partners is known for its niche expertise and presence in a range of significant cases, with its recent involvement in bankruptcy issues surrounding state enterprises. The team handles restructuring of assets and debts within framework of insolvency proceedings, and is skillful in related litigation work. Oleksandr Khomenko has represented a wide range of debtors and creditors throughout his long-standing career.

LCF Law Group has practical experience of representing creditors, and given the rapid diversification of its client base over the last couple of years — Ukrainian corporate debtors. The team has experience of supporting cases in the industrial, construction, agrarian, food industries. Significant projects include representing insolvent Mriya Agro Holding in litigations with creditors. Two counsels lead the firm’s bankruptcy projects. Olena Volianska actively develops the practice in the group, and enjoys recognition for her recent public activity. Alexander Biryukov is another key figure who has experience of cross-border insolvency matters.

Sokolovskyi & Partners has a good standing practice of that focuses on a wider agenda ofliability crisis management, bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings. The firm is active in the mid-market and also stands out for experience in matters involving taxable assets. The bankruptcy team cooperates with criminal practice to resist crime occurring during debt-servicing and bankruptcy procedures, including the enforcement stage. Vladyslav Filatov has been leading the practice for many years. He also frequently acts as a bankruptcy administrator.

Baker McKenzie is a point of choice for many significant players, with a footprint of cross-border expertise of this international firm. The Kyiv office customarily acts for international corporations and banks during bankruptcy proceedings of Ukrainian borrowers. Ihor Siusel, partner, headsthe dispute resolution practice group.

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang is active in cross-border debt restructuring, and in the outgoing year also acted in insolvency matters. The team acts for Deutsche Bank and Eksport Kredit Fonden with respect to insolvency and restructuring matters relating to finance provided to four SPVs connected to Mriya Agro Holding Public Limited. The practice is supervised by Warsaw-based partner Mark Segall, with the Kyiv team comprised of Vyacheslav Ovechkin and Andrii Stetsenko.

With a well-established banking and finance practice, Dentons is highly active in debt restructuring, insolvency, debt recovery matters. The team is traditionally instructed by prestigious international banking institutions, and stands out in particular for its experience in the acquisition of distressed debts. Dentons continued advising CRI Group Limited and took a central role in coordinating and working together with other legal and financial advisors from Ukraine, Cyprus and the UK, on debt and corporate restructuring of Mriya Agro Holding, and its announced bankruptcy. Natalia Selyakova, a renowned banking lawyer, is the lead partner.

Vasil Kisil & Partners has a well-regarded litigation team being often involved in representation in bankruptcy proceeding and liquidation. The firm is traditionally reputed among foreign clients. The team represents Lessiron Commercial Ltd (Cyprus) in the bankruptcy case of a real estate developer; represents Latvijas Krajbanka in debt collection litigations and liquidation procedure of a Ukrainian bank. Another noteworthy representation relates to acting for a major Belarusian company in litigation in Ukraine related to enforcement of an arbitral award of the International Arbitration Court at the BCCI and bankruptcy of a leading Ukrainian manufacturer of complex and mixed fertilizer that is a debtor under the said arbitral award.The practice lead partner is Oleg Kachmar, with key contribution from Yuriy Kolos, senior associate.

The dynamic and expanding dispute resolution practice of INTEGRITES traditionally handles insolvency and bankruptcy matters, and enjoys the following of reputable banking clients. In 2017 the firm represented VTB Bank within large bankruptcy proceedings (over UAH 25 billion) in Ukraine for the 2011-2016 with respect to debt restructuring of Westa. Foreign banks instruct INTEGRITES for representing their interests in terms of insolvency and liquidation of Ukrainian debtors. The key practitioners are Volodymyr Pavlenko, partner and Orest Tsimerman, senior associate.

Dynasty Law Firm represents debtors in insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings. The firm has a traditional strong following around leading industrial, manufacturing and agrarian clients in Dnipro Region. Its team supports ERA-PLAST, a Dnipro plant of preforms in course of its bankruptcy and further liquidation; and acts for Slobozhanska Budivelna Keramika in protecting its rights. Denys Kytsenko, partner, is known for his extensive work on bankruptcy cases.

Jurvneshservice law firm is mostly centered on representing creditors in bankruptcy proceedings involving Ukrainian companies. The standout strength of the team is its notable expertise in the aviation sector. Partner Anna Tsirat represented foreign lessors and parts suppliers in past bankruptcy proceedings initiated against Aerosvit, Khors Airlines, Air Onix Airlines and Donbassaero Airlines. Dmytro Salatiuk is another key figure in this practice.

The Kharkiv-based Shkrebets & Partners has recognized litigation capacities in bankruptcy— related matters. The firm has a following of important industrial clients in the region. The firm renders legal support to ensure the return of deposits of Credit Union’s participants in a bankruptcy procedure. Yuriy Artyukh is the main contact.

The Ukrainian bankruptcy boutique NOBILI has facilitated its presence on the market. The firm supported the bankruptcy of a large metallurgy enterprise. Its team also acts in debt recovery litigations. Natalya Tyschenko, managing partner, is a known figure in the insolvency community.