Hunton & Williams promotes energy partner

The appointment signals the law firm’s shift towards Central and Eastern Europe, a region it deems ripe for a fresh wave of infrastructure investment.

Hunton & Williams has promoted Kirk A. Lovric as partner, the US law firm announced in a statement.

Lovric has more than 20 years of experience in the infrastructure, energy and resources sectors, initially as a policy adviser in the public sector and then as a lawyer. He is based in Hunton & Williams’ 12 attorney-strong London office.

Fluent in English, Croatian and Serbian, Lovric has a particular interest in public-private partnership (PPP), transactions structured as independent power projects (IPPs), and oil and gas project finance deals in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). His promotion underlines the firm’s growing interest in the region, which it sees as open to fresh opportunities.

“Central and Eastern Europe is in desperate need of new infrastructure in the transport and energy sectors, particularly to meet the demand for new power plants. Optimism in these markets is high and growing at a fast pace, making them an enticing platform for investment, partnering and development of new power generation facilities,” Lovric said in a statement.

His flagship projects have included advising Croatia’s national power company on the €800 million Plomin C 500MW power plant; representing the Republic of Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the construction; financing and maintenance of the €400 million PPP 5C motorway project; standing for the Slovak Republic on the commissioning and operation of the €3.1 billion D1 Motorway; and advising the Croatian government on the €350 million Zagreb Airport PPP project.

He is also working with Croatia on the development of gas pipelines, such as the South Stream and the New European Transmission System (NETS), which will unite CEE’s transmission networks by creating a common system operator.

Industry groups and institutions have recently been drumming up the region’s potential for PPPs and major infrastructure projects, as the scarcity of investible assets in Western Europe and the infrastructure gap observed in CEE draws in interest from a new wave of investors.

Yet the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) this summer underlined the institutional, regulatory and legal roadblocks that still need tackling in most countries across the region – albeit with varying degrees of urgency – for investors to feel fully at ease with undertaking large-scale projects.

Last week, another report by the EBRD further underlined how the lack of crucial structural reforms, after good progress made over the past two decades, risked dragging most of these “transition” economies down the route of stagnation.

“Energy sector policy has emerged as one of the toughest policy areas in the transition region. The need for enhanced energy ef?ciency, investment in renewable energy and cost-re?ective tariffs is well recognised, but politically dif?cult to implement,” the report said.

The same was deemed true for reforms in the infrastructure sector – although the EBRD acknowledged moderate progress in a number of countries, especially at the municipal level.