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Bird & Bird has advised Hungary’s OTP Bank Group on its acquisition of the Albanian subsidiary of Greek Alpha Bank for EUR 55 million. White & Case advised Alpha Services and Holdings. Boga & Associates reportedly advised OTP as well. Kalo & Associates reportedly also advised Alpha.

Founding Partner Perparim Kalo has returned to his eponymous firm Kalo & Associates after serving for two years as a Justice of the Constitutional Court of Albania.

While the economy appears to have been doing better, on the back of infrastructural development, the internal judicial reorganization is leaving Albania in a bit of a bind, according to CMS Partner Besnik Duraj.

Former Borealis Chief Legal and Compliance Officer Katja Tautscher has joined OMV AG as Senior Vice President / General Counsel in Vienna.

E+H has advised German real estate investor KanAm Grund Group on the purchase of the last-mile logistics hall Cross Dock Upper Austria in Enns near Linz from the Meir Immobilien Group. SCWP Schindhelm advised the sellers on the deal.

Herbst Kinsky has advised Helu.io on its USD 10 million Series A financing round led by CommerzVentures, with the participation of Iris Capital and early-stage investor Speedinvest.

Belarus's Revera law firm has teamed up with Adamante Management to open the firm's Cyprus office.

On July 9, 2021, substantial amendments to Belarusian currency legislation entered into force. We will briefly review the key amendments.

Economic optimism in the face of adversity, the introduction of English law instruments, and some new potential for growth are the highlights in Belarus, according to Aleinikov & Partners Senior Partner Denis Aleinikov.

Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a foreign investment screening regime comparable to those now emerging in the European Union in light of the EU FDI Screening Regulation. However, it operates an authorisation system covering the defence and media sectors.

Resolving the political deadlock in one of the Bosnian entities, tackling inflation, and a shortage of workers are among the most recent challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to Partner Zlatan Balta of Legal Partners, in cooperation with Deloitte Legal.

Feeling the repercussions of global economic issues, Bosnia & Herzegovina finds itself in a more or less usual position in unusual times – with an upcoming general election this fall and swaths of legislative developments seeking to reshuffle the landscape in which lawyers operate, according to Dimitrijevic & Partners Partner Stevan Dimitrijevic.

Tokushev & Partners has advised public listed company Sofia Commerce Pawn Shops on increasing its capital with own funds in the amount of BGN 7.12 million.

CMS has successfully advised Shell Energy Europe on obtaining a license for trading natural gas in Bulgaria.

Djingov Gouginski Kyutchukov & Velichkov has advised Unicredit Bulbank, DSK Bank, and United Bulgarian Bank on their approximately EUR 160 million financing for Maxcom, Chipolino, and Maxbike.

Ilej & Partners, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, has advised Chiron Group on its acquisition of Croatia-based HSTEC. Buterin & Partners advised HSTEC on the deal.

This article provides an up-to-date overview of the currently existing FDI regimes in Croatia.

In the past decade, the tech industry in Croatia has been growing at four times the rate of the entire Croatian economy, according to research by the Croatian Chamber of Economy. Despite all the obvious positivity of its high growth, the Croatian tech scene has been facing a challenge of its own: talent gaps.

JSK has advised Komercni Banka group company KB SmartSolutions on the acquisition of Enviros. Hartmann Jelinek Frana and Partners reportedly advised the seller.

On March 1, 2022, CEE Legal Matters reported that KWKR Konieczny Wierzbicki had advised Knacks's owners on their sale of a majority stake in the company to RightBridge Ventures. CEE In-House Matters spoke with Dawid Szymanski, CEO at Knacks, to learn more about the sale.

Bernitsas Law has advised Hoist Finance on the acquisition of a portfolio of unsecured non-performing loans with a total outstanding balance of approximately EUR 400 million from Alpha Bank.

Bird & Bird has advised Hungary’s OTP Bank Group on its acquisition of the Albanian subsidiary of Greek Alpha Bank for EUR 55 million. White & Case advised Alpha Services and Holdings. Boga & Associates reportedly advised OTP as well. Kalo & Associates reportedly also advised Alpha.

With the pandemic slowly fading away, the Greek economy is reviving with a large number of projects in the infrastructure, tourism, and energy sectors, according to Bahas Gramatidis & Partners Partner Yanos Gramatidis. 

On July 7, four leading lawyers from Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Ukraine sat down for a virtual round table moderated by CEE Legal Matters Managing Editor Radu Cotarcea to discuss the increasing prominence of ESG issues and their impact on M&A transactions, due diligence procedures, and the role of the lawyers themselves.

The importance of ESG in business has become clearer as the moral and ecological reasons are now obvious to everyone. In theory, all companies support the idea of doing business in a more sustainable and climate-friendly way. However, in practice, companies usually only do something when they have to. In Hungary, there isn’t any binding ESG supply chain act in place yet, which could wrongly lead to the conclusion that the topic is unimportant. Yet considerations about ESG in the supply chain are no longer nice-to-have but have become a must-have globally, and Hungary is no exception. There are various locally relevant reasons for which companies must start prioritizing the management of ESG risks in their supply chain.

Since the end of the 2010s foreign direct investment (“FDI”) considerations have been on the forefront of transaction planning and management. Although a unified EU-level screening mechanism is not in place, recently the European Commission (“EC”) closed a landmark case, while another one is currently ongoing before the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) where the interplay of EU law and more specifically, EU merger law and national FDI rules were/are assessed. Dicta in these cases may have considerable implications in national FDI practice. This summary therefore provides a quick glance-through of the key notables taken from these cases.

Attorney Kirill Lezeiko has taken over as Head of Banking and Finance at PwC Legal Estonia from Co-Founder Viljar Kahari, effective August 1.

The resilience of the transactions market and the trust of investors in the Baltic region has proved remarkable, although figures show a 15% decrease in global mid-market M&A deals (according to the Refinitiv published M&A Review of the first half of 2022). Despite the Ukraine war and mounting global challenges the deal flow, although at a much calmer pace, continues and remains promising for the second half of the year. Looking back on the first six months, COBALT experts highlight the main trends in each of the Baltic countries.

ESG has moved from conference halls to a daily function for many companies worldwide. In Estonia, stakeholder expectations for corporate ESG are still evolving, yet rising. Some companies are already incorporating ESG into their daily business, as they understand its value. Along with stakeholder expectations, regulatory scrutiny is also increasing, showing a dramatic increase in ESG reporting requirements worldwide.

Another milestone towards the approximation of the legislation with the EU Acquis has been completed by Kosovo. The new Law No. 08/L-056 “On the Protection of Competition”, entered into force on 22 June 2022. The Kosovan legislators in the drafting of the new law benefited from the technical assistance of EU funded project “EU support for the Kosovo Competition Authority and State Aid Commission.

CEE Legal Matters readers will likely be familiar with Patricia Gannon as one of the founders of Karanovic & Partners. Since her withdrawal from the firm (reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 21, 2020), Gannon ran her own "holistic strategic advisory business" (as reported on October 12, 2020) and, recently, she announced she is working on a new social media app for lawyers – Platforum 9. We caught up with her to learn more about her new project.

The recent legislative amendments regulating commercial courts, e-signatures, intellectual property, and oil products trading are the major updates in Kosovo, according to RPHS Law Managing Partner Kushtrim Palushi.

Sorainen has provided pro bono legal assistance to Aswell on setting up the terms and conditions for the corporate application users.

Cobalt has advised Coffee Address Holding on its EUR 5 million unsecured bond issuance. Eversheds Sutherland Bitans advised on collateral agent matters and undertook collateral agent functions for the term of the bonds. Signet Bank was the arranger of the issuance.

The first half of 2022 has not (yet) yielded such high profile deals as seen in 2021 (like Printful becoming the first Latvian “unicorn”) but there has been a steady trickle of transactions following the larger wave of 2021.

As the main trends of the transaction market in the first half of 2022, the boom of startups and the changes in their valuations, the undiminished confidence of foreign investors despite the geopolitical situation, and the ongoing consolidation of the health care and renewable energy sectors can be singled out.

Noerr has advised Rebelle as the target company of a public takeover offer made by Lithuania's Vinted. Gernandt & Danielsson reportedly also advised Rebelle. Roschier and Hengeler Mueller reportedly advised Vinted.

Fort Legal has advised Eften Capital on the acquisition of the Talino real estate project from Rewo. Walless advised the seller.

The development of road infrastructure is important for the Macedonian authorities. The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia (RoNM) analyzed and undertook different approaches for the realization of infrastructure projects in the past. During the last few years, the Assembly of the RoNM (Assembly) has adopted two laws that stipulated additional regimes for the realization of infrastructure projects.

Financial technology is in its early stages in North Macedonia. The ability of alternative finance companies to utilize technology and provide products and services to underserved individuals enabled them to successfully penetrate the retail lending market and become the most embedded subsector in the fintech space. Incumbent banks, aware of the growing competition, are developing fintech solutions such as better credit scoring solutions, the digitalization of products and services, and facilitating peer-to-peer payments. Fintech players and incumbent banks alike are also experimenting with big data analytics, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. There are no initiatives in blockchain and distributed ledger technology.

An in-depth look at Kristijan Polenak of the Polenak Law Firm covering his career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about him as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.

Gladei & Partners has promoted Iulian Pasatii to Partner – the first Partner appointment in the firm's history. 

Contributed by Dolea & Co.

Energy prices have been a salient issue in CEE for the past year. Part 1 of this article covered just how high the energy prices had climbed in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, and Turkey, the impact of those prices on people, businesses, and governments, as well as the reasons why some countries fared better than others. Then Russia’s war against Ukraine changed everything, making a new energy pricing normal seem more distant than ever. In Part 2 we look at what energy experts believe could alleviate the situation and whether the war has impacted those plans.

Vukovic & Partners has advised ODM Collections on obtaining a purchase of receivables work license from the Central Bank of Montenegro.

Montenegro has reached a deadlock in appointing members of the judiciary, with cases being significantly delayed, while the government is on the verge of a vote of no confidence, according to Doklestic Repic & Gajin Attorney-at-Law Danilo Radulovic.

Srdjan Sisic has relocated to Montenegro to join One Crna Gora as its Chief Corporate Affairs Officer.

On August 5, 2022, Greenberg Traurig announced that Marvipol Development's sale of the Moko Botanika project (reported by CEE Legal Matters on February 2, 2021) had closed.

DWF has advised Zeitgeist Asset Management on its acquisition of the Raclawicka 48 co-living project in Krakow.

Only a few years ago, Europe faced a major upheaval to the international economy with Brexit, i.e. the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. This event, like the war in Ukraine or the COVID-19 pandemic, has had significant consequences for the global economy, affecting the quality of our daily lives.

Is it legal to photograph[1] attendees to an event and then use the photos, for example, for marketing purposes?

Entrepreneurship in Romania.

Bondoc & Asociatii, working with White & Case, has advised the Stabilus Group on a long-term EUR 450 million credit facilities financing.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. But in the case of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, it just might be. Russia breached Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Russia's acts have prompted the EU, the UK and the US to impose economic sanctions, such as freezing assets and disconnecting Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments network. Whilst the number of private businesses that are halting their activities in Russia is steadily growing, Russia has adopted a law paving the way for expropriations of assets of foreign firms that leave the country following economic sanctions. But what can foreign companies do if Russia proceeds to take their assets, if they are unable to freely transfer returns from investments out of Russia or if their profits collapse?

Baker McKenzie and DLA Piper have joined the plethora of firms announcing their exit from the Russian market.

Debevoise & Plimpton, Dentons, Dechert, and CMS have announced they are closing their Russian offices and exiting the market.

Recently, non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) have become the subject of significant public attention, primarily due to the high amounts of money allocated for their purchase. For example, it is estimated that the worth of the global NFT market in 2021 was about 41 billion dollars, which is more than the value of the market of classical works of art. For the sake of comparison, that is approximately twice the amount of the budget of the Republic of Serbia for 2022. Bearing in mind the nature and manner of functioning of NFTs, the nature of things raises the question of their relationship with intellectual property law, and above all, the relationship with trademark law​.

Former Partner and Co-Head of the Real Estate and Construction practice Ksenija Golubovic Filipovic has left Zivkovic Samardzic, as of August 1, 2022, to establish her own practice. She will continue to cooperate with the firm as a Consultant. Partner Uros Djordjevic will continue to lead the firm’s Real Estate and Construction practice.

NKO Partners has advised CTP on yet another acquisition of land in Novi Sad, this time from the City of Novi Sad itself.

The Slovak market is undergoing an ESG transformation. As in most CEE countries, ESG is not yet regulated by a specific law in the Slovak Republic. Nevertheless, the trend toward considering ESG issues has appreciably increased in the last two years.

Taylor Wessing has advised Slovakia's GA Drilling on an EUR 8 million investment from US-based Nabors Industries.

Hugh Owen was appointed to the role of Head of Legal at PwC Central and Eastern Europe.

ESG is undoubtedly one of the hottest topics not only in the compliance community but also in the legal one.

ODI Law has advised Holding Slovenske Elektrarne on a EUR 350 million cross-border syndicated debt refinancing.

Clifford Chance, Selih & Partnerji, and Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic & Krka have advised Ceska Sporitelna and Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka on the refinancing of Kofola. Onisko & Holesova, Planinic Soljic & Partners, and solo practitioner Klemen Ticar advised Kofola.

The Competition Board (the “Board”), the competent decision-making organ of the Turkish Competition Authority, no longer has the quorum required to render final/executable decisions as the tenure of three (3) members came to an end as of the beginning of August 2022. Final decisions, including merger clearance decisions, closure of pre-investigation and investigation procedures, are currently pending while the Board is awaiting official assignment of new board members to re-establish final/executable decision quorum.

Former CicekSepeti.com / Lolaflora.com Chief Legal Counsel Dilek Akdas Kokenek has joined Moral, Kinikoglu, Pamukkale, Kokenek as Partner and Head of the IT & C department.

Former Global Kapital Group Company Secretary Pinar Tuzun has joined HSBC as its Company Secretary in Turkey.

Asters has advised Olson Family Trust Director Chuck Olson prior to and during his visit to Ukraine on the implementation of the first phase of the trust’s humanitarian mission. 

The Laws of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Regarding Priority Reform Measures in the Field of Town-Planning” No. 2254-IX, dated 12 May 2022 (“Law 2254”) and "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Regarding Regulatory Peculiarities of Land Relations under Martial Law” No. 2247-IX, dated 12 May 2022 (“Law 2247”, hereinafter together with Law 2254 – “Laws”) came into force more than a month ago.

Over the last years the Ukrainian legal community has been actively discussing the developments in the antitrust reform and making practical efforts to implement it. MPs, the Antimonopoly Committee (the AMC) and other state bodies, international organizations, domestic and foreign antitrust experts have been involved in this process. This article provides an overview of certain changes that will further contribute to the development of the Ukrainian antitrust and competition legislation, and which have already been reflected in draft laws. Most of them were published in the form of recommendations provided to Ukraine by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) several years ago.