November 4-10, 2011. Newspaper "GEORGIA TODAY" publishes interviews with Victor Kipiani, partner MKD and Zannis Mavrogordato, counsel MKD by Nino Edilashvili
In order to promote the Georgian market and to further reduce the associated investment risks, the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), which promotes the development of successful business ties between the United Kingdom and Georgia, invited the Mgaloblishvili, Kipiani, Dzidziguri law firm (MKD) to organize a seminar in London.
The seminar, which was aptly entitled Managing Investment Risks: How to Protect Your Investments in Georgia, was held on October 21 and sought to overview the country’s business environment, as well as provide information and recommendations to interested business circles on how to avoid or mitigate investment risks in Georgia.
The event was opened by Giorgi Badridze, The Georgian Ambassador to the UK and Mako Abashidze, the Director of BGCC. Approximately 50 delegates from British business communities participated in the seminar, discussing practical tips provided by MKD on how to overcome and practicably resolve investment-associated risks.
The key note speeches given by Victor Kipiani, Irakli Mgaloblishvili and Zannis Mavrogordato focused on topical issues of interest to in-bound investors of Georgia. These issues included practical tips on investing safely in Georgia, local and international law protections for foreign investors, tips on the availability of international arbitration for resolving investment disputes, the challenges of contracting with state entities in Georgia and the advantages of structuring in-bound investments through corporate vehicles in countries which have signed bilateral and multilateral investment treaties with Georgia providing wide-ranging international law protections to foreign investors.
“Here [in Georgia] we face a number of risks including geopolitical risks: the country’s neighborhood, the small-sized market and the lack of strong and judicially streamlined culture,” Victor Kipiani, a partner at MKD explained to Georgia Today. According to him, these risks raise investors’ concerns and they require in-depth explanation, demonstrating both the pros and cons of investing in Georgia.
The stimulus, which can encourage foreign investors, includes among others, Georgia’s “good network of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs),” explained Kipiani. Therefore, his firm has advised potential clients on how to structure their investments and take advantage of existing opportunities.
“Georgia’s relatively liberal red tape, low bureaucracy and “soft” tax system provides a green light for foreign investors,” he added.
Zannis Mavrogordato of MKD’s UK counsel, based in London, also underscored the importance of the business friendly climate as a counterbalance to some of the risks.
“All foreign investors coming to Georgia should structure their investments to take advantage of the free international law protections offered under the network of bilateral and multilateral investment treaties to which Georgia is a party,” Mavrogordato said in an email interview with Georgia Today.
Apart from legal incentives, MKD representatives think that there are some other “vital things” that the businessmen should know before entering the country.
“The history of Georgia, the culture and people’s mentality which is enshrined through the “Operational Code”, is important when someone decides to come to this market – this is true for any country, though,” Kipiani noted.
Apart from practical advice for interested investors, the seminar focused on local and international law protections for foreign investors, the challenges of contracting with state entities in Georgia and the availability of international arbitration to resolve investor disputes in Georgia.
The MKD law firm was set up 15 years ago in Tbilisi and currently it is one of the leading and the best known law firms in Georgia, providing first-rate legal service for businesses operating in the country. In 2011, the firm was ranked as a top firm for Georgia in General Business Law in the edition of Chambers and Partners Europe.
According to Mavrogordato, the UK footprint makes MKD “the law firm of choice” for UK investors into Georgia and the South Caucasus region.
For Kipiani, representing such a successful company has a special significance: to organize this seminar in England and especially in London is important, “[this is] the business and financial heart” of Europe. “We think that holding such meetings overseas will help the European business elites [gain] useful information pertaining to Georgia’s business opportunities,” he remarked.
In his opinion, the most attractive sectors for English businessmen are infrastructure, communications, and investments in the financial sector. In addition, he noted that Georgia’s good geopolitical location can be used for creating a well-functioning regional hub for expanding further into the region and beyond.
MKD made a similar presentation in Ukraine and Germany and plans to organize such an event in Milan next year. These events are also aimed at positioning MKD as the provider of legal services pursuant to the concept of “domestic plus” which means advising not only on Georgian law matters, but also providing support on matters of non-Georgian jurisdiction too.
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