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Contributed by Deloitte Legal.

The Albanian energy market is experiencing several developments reflective of regional and global events. Local and foreign investors’ interest in renewable energy projects is surging. However, some questions remain open as to whether the government will be able to fully satisfy their expectations.

Schoenherr, working with Pinsent Masons and Wenger Vieli, has advised Kontron on selling parts of Kontron Group’s IT services business to Vinci Energies during a competitive auction process, for approximately EUR 400 million. Reportedly, Baker McKenzie’s German office advised Vinci Energies. Loloci & Associates advised Kontron on Albanian matters.

Brandl Talos has advised Kompas and Herbst Kinsky has advised Ventech on co-leading the USD 11 million Series A investment round into Prewave. Act Legal WMWP reportedly advised Prewave on the round.

Binder Groesswang has advised Linde Verlag on the establishment of its digital subsidiary Linde Digital with the participation of Venionaire Capital.

On 14 September 2022 the European Commission ("EC") published a proposal for a Regulation on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices ("Emergency Intervention Regulation" or "EIR"). The EIR requires EU Member states to implement three different measures: (i) Reduction in demand for electricity, (ii) Capping market revenues for the generation of electricity from inframarginal technologies (renewables, nuclear and lignite), and (iii) Collection of a monetary solidarity contribution from the fossil fuel industry. The EC says that the intervention measures can be based on Art 122 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union ("TFEU") which establishes a competence for crisis intervention in the energy sector. However, it is questionable if the EC's view is going to withstand a judicial review since Art 122 TFEU has a very limited scope of application and some of the proposed intervention measures appear to go far beyond that scope.

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.

Contributed by Maric & Co.

“Coal still matters” has been the predominant energy policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past decades. It sounds very old-fashioned these days in Europe, but lignite (brown coal) is the most important energy resource in the country. The fact that almost 60% of the electricity generated in the country originates from coal-fired thermal power plants leads to the conclusion that Bosnia and Herzegovina heavily relies on coal.

A lull in the markets and legislative activity, due to political and global concerns, is offset by high foreign finance confidence and high foreign investor interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with client-driven ESG projects a particularly bright spot, according to Attorney-at-Law Andrea Zubovic-Devedzic, a Partner of CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz.

Thanks to its qualities - environmental friendliness and a wide range of applications, hydrogen occupies an increasingly central place as an energy carrier. Focus on its use, and in particular on the use of green hydrogen, is also placed at European Union (“EU”) level, where in a number of acts, it is considered an important factor for decarbonization, fulfillment of the global goals of the Paris Agreement and achievement of carbon neutrality until 2050. The reason is that both hydrogen and electricity can be generated from greenhouse gas neutral sources addressing climate change and air quality issues. To deploy green hydrogen and turn it into a viable solution to decarbonize, a lot of investments and a favorable regulatory framework are required.

Even with elections coming up soon for Bulgaria, there are still plenty of interesting topics to report on, including a vibrant deal market and an active energy sector, according to CMS Partner Elitsa Ivanova.

CMS has advised Vier Gas Transport on its successful participation in a tender for selecting a consultant for monitoring and control of the implementation of a commercial dispatcher center for the Interconnection Greece-Bulgaria project held by ICGB AD.

In the wake of the war in Ukraine and Russia shutting down the gas supply to Europe, Croatia has been forced to take the upcoming potential energy crisis seriously, with several government measures and packages being implemented, according to Savoric & Partners Partner Mia Lazic.

Clifford Chance and Dominkovic & Osrecak have advised Taaleri Energia and Encro on the EUR 126 million senior debt financing package for the construction of the Zadar wind farm in Croatia. CMS reportedly advised the lending consortium.

We can probably all agree that no one likes bad surprises, and the same especially holds truth with respect to unexpected outcomes of legal proceedings. When it comes to civil proceedings before Croatian courts, so-called “surprise” decisions were recently introduced into Croatian legislation by Articles 5 and 367a of the new Croatian Civil Proceedings Act which entered into force on 19 July 2022.

PwC Legal has advised Orlen Unipetrol on the acquisition of Remaq. Havel & Partners advised Libor Vecera, Renata Vecerova, and Dieffe SRL on the sale.

The Czech Act on Ultimate Beneficial Owners (the "UBO Act") has been effective since 1 June 2021. Not even a year and a half later, Czech lawmakers introduced an amendment to the UBO Act (the "Amendment") after significant pressure from the European Commission to comply with the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive ("AMLD5").

Havel & Partners has advised Skoda Auto in resolving disputes over the use of the Skoda sign with engineering companies from the Skoda Group.

The Greek market is experiencing an intense period in terms of transactional workload, mainly due to investments coming in through privatizations and concessions, as well as the powerful development of the renewable energy market, according to KLC Law Firm Deputy Managing Partner Theodore Loukopoulos.

The highlight of Drakopoulos’ work this year would be corporate and M&A, according to Managing Partner Panagiotis Drakopoulos, as a result of the overall Greek business climate and the country’s good position geopolitically, making it particularly attractive for foreign direct investments.

Kyriakides Georgopoulos has advised the Quest Group on its acquisition of G.E. Dimitriou through a court-ratified rehabilitation agreement contemplating a EUR 5 million participation of Athex-listed Quest Holdings in a share capital increase of the target company.

Andersen Legal has advised Solar Markt on a long-term strategic agreement with investor Hiventures. Moore Legal Kovacs advised Hiventures.

There are substantial recent developments in dispute resolution and litigation in Hungary, with some uncertainty about the application of the CJEU’s jurisprudence to domestic litigation, as well as new arbitration rules coming into force, according to Provaris Managing Partner Istvan Varga.

The dynamic M&A and Private Equity practice has been the standard bearer for Jalsovszky in the past few months, mainly driven by the post-pandemic release of investment funds and booming production and healthcare sectors in Hungary, according to Practice Leader Agnes Bejo.

Andersen Global has entered into a collaboration agreement for the Baltic region with Lextal Legal, adding three locations to its existing network: Lextal in Estonia, RER Lextal in Latvia, and iLaw Lextal in Lithuania.

Ellex has advised Bigbank on its EUR 20 million issuance of subordinated bonds.

Mari Manniko has joined PwC Legal in Estonia as Head of Data Protection and Media Disputes.

Last year, more precisely in December, Kosovo endured a deepening crisis considered one of the worst in the last decade.

The long-awaited Commercial Court finally being functional and the anticipated reforms on minimum wages and the verification and confiscation of unjustified assets are the key talking points in Kosovo, according to Deloitte Kosova Legal Manager Ardian Rexha.

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.

Andersen Global has entered into a collaboration agreement for the Baltic region with Lextal Legal, adding three locations to its existing network: Lextal in Estonia, RER Lextal in Latvia, and iLaw Lextal in Lithuania.

Ellex has provided pro bono legal services for the production of the 2022 documentary film Sisters in Longing, directed by Elita Klavina.

Ellex has advised Bigbank on its EUR 20 million issuance of subordinated bonds.

Andersen Global has entered into a collaboration agreement for the Baltic region with Lextal Legal, adding three locations to its existing network: Lextal in Estonia, RER Lextal in Latvia, and iLaw Lextal in Lithuania.

TGS Baltic has advised InMedica on its acquisition of the Vilnius Implantology Center Clinic from the OP Group. Walless advised the seller.

Ellex has advised Bigbank on its EUR 20 million issuance of subordinated bonds.

North Macedonia is preparing for far-reaching tax reforms, with updated rules on the profit tax, VAT, personal income tax, and social contributions, while dealing with the economic slowdown and increased prices, according to Lalicic & Boskoski Partner Vedran Lalicic.

Back in February 2020, the new Personal Protection Data Law was published in the official gazette, which meant that North Macedonia was catching up with the European Union on personal data protection.

Dentons has advised a syndicate of banks led by Ceska Sporitelna, and including Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka and Komercni Banka, on the financing of KKCG Group and Aricoma Group’s acquisition of Musala Soft. Polenak, Boyanov & Co, and, reportedly, Andric and TM & Partners advised the banks as well. Clifford Chance advised Aricoma Group on the deal.

Contributed by Dolea & Co.

On 19 May 2022, the Moldovan Parliament voted on the new Law on Electronic Identification and Trust Services ("Law 124/2022"). Law 124/2022 will enter into force on 10 December 2022 and replaces the currently existing Law on Electronic Signature and Electronic Document ("Law 91/2014"). This replacement seeks to align the national legislation in the field of electronic signature with European norms, namely the harmonisation with Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC.

Romanian firm Stratulat Albulescu has opened a new office in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, with Sabina Cerbu joining as a Partner.

Contributed by Jovovic, Mugosa & Vukovic.

PLK Advokati has advised Montenegrin media companies Daily Press and Televizija Vijesti on the sale of a 51% stake to United Media. Schoenherr reportedly advised United Media.

On August 9, 2022, CEE Legal Matters reported that Vukovic & Partners had advised ODM Collections on obtaining a purchase of receivables work license from the Central Bank of Montenegro. CEE In-House Matters spoke with Drazen Stevanovic, CEO at ODM Collections, to learn more about the matter.

B2RLaw has become the official legal advisor and partner to the Polish Paddle Tennis Federation.

Rymarz Zdort has advised Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo on a number of gas sales agreements with Equinor for natural gas from the Norwegian continental shelf to be delivered to Poland via the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, through Denmark. 

Wiercinski Kwiecinski Baehr has advised the shareholders of Health Labs Care on its sale to Medvic, a company from the USP Group. PwC Legal advised the USP Group on the acquisition.

According to the latest figures from the National Institute for Statistics and other public information, the annual inflation rate has continued to rise and, at 15.32% in August, reached its highest rate in 20 years. Inflation has been rising at a galloping rate over the past year, both globally and nationally. 

Former Suciu Popa Senior Associate Daiana Ichimescu has joined Adesman & Asociatii as a Partner.

Radu Taracila Padurari Retevoescu has advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on its EUR 25 million loan granted to Banca Transilvania. 

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.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, in every industry where it was possible employers transferred their employees to work from home.

Radovanovic Stojanovic & Partners, working with Advant Beiten, has advised the shareholders of Hedwell Group Germany on the sale of the Hedwell Group to SAP Fioneer. Reportedly, Germany's Poellath advised SAP Fioneer on the deal.

Zivkovic Samardzic has advised both companies on the Titan Cementara Kosjeric merger with its affiliate Stari Silo Company.

PRK Partners Advises Ceska Sporitelna, Komercni Banka, and UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia in the sale of bonds issued by EPH Financing.

Penteris, HKV, and Oppenheim have advised Immofinanz on the acquisition of a retail property portfolio from the CPI Property Group for EUR 324.2 million. Reportedly, BPV Braun Partners advised Immofinanz as well.

Political upheaval has been shaking Slovakia, halting legislative efforts and endangering the country's readiness to face the energy and other crises, according to Havel & Partners Partner Stepan Starha. 

The upcoming tax reform, legislation on FDI control measures, and skyrocketing investments in business premises are the key updates for Slovenia, alongside major mergers in the banking sector, according to ODI Law Partner Branko Ilic.

Contributed by Senica & Partners.

Following the recent addition of Roxana Dudau in Romania (reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 6, 2022), Wolf Theis has announced it hired Tomasz Siembida in Poland as a Partner, and the further promotion of Austria-based Nikolaus Loudon and Venus Valentina Wong, Poland-based Konrad Kosicki, and Slovenia-based Teja Balazic Jerovsek to Partners.

Consumer Arbitration Committees’ Regulation (the "Regulation") was published in the Official Gazette dated 21.09.2022 and numbered 31960.

The Turkish market finds itself in demand, with European companies relocating their production facilities there, and the country gradually switching to green energy, according to GEMS Legal Schindhelm Partner Senem Kathrin Gucluer.

Moral, Kinikoglu, Pamukkale, Kokenek has advised Softline Holding on its acquisition of 80% of shares of Makronet Bilgi Teknolojileri from Gucly Tugay. Bener advised the seller.

Everlegal has announced its cooperation with the Danish Refugee Council to implement an online legal support platform aimed at helping Ukrainians around the world.

The Parliament of Ukraine has adopted in its entirety draft law “On Joint Stock Companies” No. 2493, dated 25 November 2019 (“Draft Law”). The Draft Law is designated to align the regulation of joint stock companies (“JSC”) operation with EU corporate governance standards.

Avellum has advised the Managing Partners of the American University Kyiv on its launch in Ukraine.