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CMS strengthens banking and finance team in Poland and CEE

2 September 2021

International law firm CMS is pleased to announce the arrival of a team of lawyers with extensive experience in advising clients on financing transactions. Rafał Zakrzewski, who specialises in international transactions governed by English law, has joined CMS in Poland as a partner, accompanied by senior associate Przemysław Karolak, and two lawyers Marcin Krzemień, and Michał Horelik. 

Rafał is the fourth partner in the 35-strong Banking and Finance team in Poland, which is headed by Michał Mężykowski and supported by partners Jakub Podkowa and Jakub Wieczorek. The team is backed by Finance CEE/CIS team consisting of 100+ international and local lawyers.

Rafał Zakrzewski has 25 years of experience in advising on transaction and project financings, acting for both financial institutions and investors with particular focus on the energy, oil and gas and real estate sectors. 

Rafał’s expertise also includes providing English law advice on debt financing, project financing and company and real estate acquisition financing. He has been advising both lenders and borrowers on cross-border financing transactions across Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltics, Central Asia and North Africa. 

“A year ago, we strengthened our team with the addition of highly experienced M&A lawyers in Poland. One of our priorities continues to be providing top quality advice to our clients at all levels, including international transaction financings,” says Andrzej Pośniak, Managing Partner of CMS Poland. “Having Rafał join our team as a very experienced international lawyer is another step towards implementing our business strategy in Poland and in CEE/CIS. We are delighted to welcome Rafał, Przemysław, Marcin and Michał to our team.” 

Rafał’s experience includes advising on EBRD’s acquisition of an equity stake in Black Sea Oil & Gas (Romania) sponsored by Carlyle, and in Raiffeisen Bank Aval (Ukraine) as well as in the US$ 350mn financing EBRD provided to Arcelor Mittal Kryvyi Rih in Ukraine. Rafał has also represented borrowers in high-value syndicated loans provided to PGNIG, PKO BP, TPSA/Orange, Polkomtel, ITI Group, CEDC and LG. In 2020, he advised PKN Orlen on the refinancing of its EUR 1.75bn syndicated loan in Poland.

Erika Papp, Head of the Finance CEE/CIS Practice at CMS, comments: “It has been extremely rewarding seeing our CEE team grow over the recent months. With the addition of Rafał,we now have five very experienced English law qualified finance partners in the CEE region, supported by a large team of international and local lawyers. This puts us in a strong position to continue servicing our clients on large international and cross-border financings.”

In the course of his professional practice, Rafal has also acted on corporate matters, including equity investments, M&As and joint ventures.

“Joining CMS allows me to strengthen our entire team, whose main objective is to ensure top-quality service to clients seeking legal support in respect of contracts governed by English law,” comments Rafał Zakrzewski. “Providing clients with legal services of the highest quality but on local financial terms is our real competitive advantage. CMS’s strong position in the CEE region allows us to handle even more transactions for existing clients and to support new clients in their cross-border investments governed by English law.  Brexit has not affected the main strengths of this legal system. Just as the English language dominates international business, English law remains globally applicable.”

Brought up and educated in Australia, Rafał received his doctorate degree from Oxford University. He is qualified as a solicitor in the UK and Australia and is a registered foreign lawyer in Poland. Prior to joining CMS, he spent many years at Baker McKenzie and Clifford Chance. He also taught law at Oxford University and is currently affiliated with Cambridge University. 

Team members joining along with Rafał include: 

Przemysław Karolak, an advocate and senior associate who advises on all types of financing transactions (project, acquisition and corporate financing) and has extensive experience in negotiating international commercial contracts. Most recently, he was seconded to EBRD as counsel where he was advising on financing transactions and projects in Central and Eastern Europe and North Africa. Prior to that, he was the Head of Commercial Law at an international insurance broker for several years and has previously worked at leading global law firms, as member of the Banking & Finance and Capital Markets/M&A teams.

Marcin Krzemień, lawyer specialising in debt financing transactions under Polish and English law, as well as in capital market transactions. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked as a strategy consultant for more than three years. He holds an MA in Law and Finance from Oxford University, an MA in Law from Warsaw University and a BA from the Warsaw School of Economics. 

Michał Horelik, lawyer who advises on financing transactions, including M&A financing, corporate lending, real estate and project financing transactions governed by Polish and English law. His experience includes working in the public sector, for private equity funds, international financial institutions and development banks. He has also advised on share issues, bond issues and financial sector regulation projects. 

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