Covington represented Riga International Airport and the Latvian State in obtaining State aid approval for the recapitalization of Riga International Airport. On March 8, 2021, the European Commission (EC) approved the state recapitalization of up to €39.7 million, comprising a capital injection and a waived dividend payment for the 2019 financial year.

The measure was notified to the EC under the EU’s Temporary Framework for State aid to support the economy in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Riga International Airport experienced substantial loss of revenue due to the travel restrictions implemented by Latvia and other countries to limit the spread of the virus. These measures, in conjunction with the severe reduction in travel demand, have deteriorated the financial situation of the company, while the pace of traffic recovery for Riga International Airport is expected to be slower than other European airports, due to an almost non-existent domestic market.

The recapitalization aid approved by the EC will preserve the viability of Riga International Airport and ensure Latvia’s connectivity to the rest of Europe and third countries. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, acknowledged that “[a]irports are among the companies that have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak. With this measure, Latvia will contribute up to €39.7 million to reinforce Riga International Airport’s equity and [help] the company face the economic effects of the outbreak.”

The Covington team was led by co-chair of the firm’s global competition practice Johan Ysewyn and senior advisor Sophie Bertin.

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Photo of Johan Ysewyn Johan Ysewyn

Johan Ysewyn advises on all aspects of EC, international and Belgian antitrust law, including merger control, compliance, cartel and leniency issues and abuse of dominance cases.  He acts as the head of the firm’s EU Competition group, working from our Brussels and London…

Johan Ysewyn advises on all aspects of EC, international and Belgian antitrust law, including merger control, compliance, cartel and leniency issues and abuse of dominance cases.  He acts as the head of the firm’s EU Competition group, working from our Brussels and London offices.

Mr. Ysewyn’s practice has a strong focus on global and European cartel investigations and he has represented companies from a range of sectors.  He is also one of the leading experts on EU state aid issues, working both for beneficiaries and governments.

He regularly speaks at conferences such as GCR, IBC, IBA, Chatham House and other industry events and has written for numerous legal publications.  He is recognised as a leading competition lawyer by Chambers, Legal 500 and other leading industry guides.  Mr. Ysewyn has acted as a non-governmental advisor to the International Competition Network (ICN).

Photo of Sophie Bertin Sophie Bertin

Sophie Bertin is a senior advisor to Covington in their Financial Services and Antitrust practice. Her current focus is on financial services topics, ranging from State aid, implementation of regulations, interplay between various regulations, including the new data protection rules; as well as…

Sophie Bertin is a senior advisor to Covington in their Financial Services and Antitrust practice. Her current focus is on financial services topics, ranging from State aid, implementation of regulations, interplay between various regulations, including the new data protection rules; as well as the impact of new technologies (like Blockchain) on the financial services business models and resulting competition challenges.

Sophie has over 20 years of professional experience and she has broad experience helping banking clients on their strategy, restructuring, reorganization, risk management, regulatory and compliance, back-office operations and automation, as well as, advising on various issues around banking regulation and competition law (most notably State aid).