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On January 20, 2023, Wolf Theiss announced that the merger of ALBtelecom and ONE Telecommunications (reported by CEE Legal Matters on May 17, 2022) has now closed.

Kalo & Associates has advised OTP Bank Albania on the merger of its local operation with Alpha Bank Albania, with the resulting outfit to continue as OTP Bank Albania.

With the war in Ukraine raging for more than six months, law firms across the region have reported increased workloads in corporate and M&A, tax, employment, immigration law, and inquiries on the sanctions regimes in relevant jurisdictions, noting that companies from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus are variously looking for a new home. Whether to avoid sanctions or escape the war, those companies consider a variety of factors in determining where to go.

On January 4, CEE Legal Matters reported that Dorda, working with Loyens & Loeff, had advised Croma-Pharma on entering into a business combination agreement with the European Healthcare Acquisition & Growth Company. CEE In-House Matters spoke with Andreas Prinz, Managing Director at Croma Pharma, to learn more about the deal.

Cerha Hempel has advised ARE Austrian Real Estate on the acquisition of an office and hotel building in Vienna from Generali Real Estate. Schoenherr advised Generali.

Dorda, working with Grub Brugger, has advised ZF Friedrichshafen on its acquisition of insolvent tachograph developer Intellic Germany along with its insolvent Austrian assets. Held Berdnik Astner & Partner reportedly advised the seller.

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.

Vukmir & Associates and BH Legal have advised CEFTA on a cross-border project titled CEFTA Intellectual Property and Related Rights 2021-03.

This is a breakthrough moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina as the country receives the EU membership candidacy status but, still, there are difficulties ahead, according to Miljkovic & Partners Managing Partner Sead Miljkovic.

BDK Advokati, Binder Groesswang, and Lakatos Koves & Partners, working with SZA Schilling Zutt & Anschuetz, have advised Turkish investors Baran Celik and Nuvit Gundemir and their families on the sale and purchase agreement with insolvency administrator Jan Markus Plathner to acquire Veritas Group's subsidiaries in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Turkey, and Hungary and three production plants in Germany. 

Tokushev & Partners has advised RTP Global on leading a EUR 2.3 million Plan Delta investment round that also included Eleven and 17 angel investors from Bulgaria, the UK, Germany, and the US. Dimitrova Staykova & Partners reportedly advised Plan Delta.

Tokushev & Partners has advised the Capital Investments Fund – part of the Bulgarian Development Bank Group – on its EUR 2.5 million investment in Evrotrust. Dimitrov Petrov & Co advised Evrotrust.

Tokushev & Partners has advised the Capital Investments Fund – part of the Bulgarian Development Bank Group – on leading a EUR 2.2 million investment round into Barin Sports. CMS advised Barin Sports.

Aside from Croatia entering the Euro and Schengen zones, there have been numerous other legislative updates of note – primarily in the spheres of labor and land rights – according to Miroslav Plascar, Co-Managing Partner of Zuric i Partneri in cooperation with Kinstellar.

Kinstellar’s Croatian affiliate Zuric i Partneri has advised Angelina Yachtcharter Holding on its acquisition of 85% of the shares of Jadranka Yachting from Jadranka d.d. and Arman Percinlic.

Former Osborne Clarke CEO Simon Beswick has joined Kinstellar’s Board of Directors as a non-executive member.

Kocian Solc Balastik has helped the Czech National Theatre obtain a building permit for the redevelopment of its New Stage and Operations buildings.

In its recent decision in re Smusta a.s., the Supreme Court ruled on the possibility to avoid a corporate transformation in insolvency proceedings.

Cytowski & Partners has advised Czech start-up Filuta AI on its USD 2.5 million pre-seed financing with Nation 1, SPM Invest, and Czech Founders VC.

Kyriakides Georgopoulos has advised Optima Bank on its acquisition of five portfolios of receivables from performing corporate exposures in the secondary market.

 Metro A.E.B.E. has appointed Dimitris Smirnis to Executive Director - Legal & Government Affairs.

Renewable energy is slowly becoming an evergreen industry in Greece, with strong investor interest in wind and solar power projects that stand to hasten the recovery of the country, according to Reed Smith Partner Dimitris Assimakis.

The Bucharest-based Iulia Berea Law Office and the Budapest-based Chen Law Firm have joined the BLS-CEE network. The two firms' respective Managing Partners – Iulia Berea and Chen Chen – have also joined BLS-CEE as Collaborating Partners.

CMS has advised 4iG on the acquisition of Vodafone Hungary together with Corvinus Nemzetkozi Befektetesi representing the Hungarian state. Slaughter & May reportedly advised Vodafone.

Circular products, extended producer responsibility, mandatory return system: new terms and new concept behind the new green tax regulation coming in 2023 in Hungary. The modification of the Green Tax Act has been already adopted, and the governmental decree with the specifications is to follow.

TGS Baltic has announced the appointment of Dalia Augaite, Sandra Bliuvaite-Sulciene, Marius Brasiunas, Martti Peetsalu, and Chirag Mody as Partners, while Tadas Varapnickas, Karolina Lapinskaite, and Triinu Jarviste have been appointed as Associate Partners at the firm.

Triniti has promoted former Attorney-at-Law Maarja Pild to Associate Partner in Estonia as of January 2023.

Sorainen, working with DLA Piper Sweden, has advised TSG Solutions on its acquisition of Nordic Gas Solutions.

The information and technology sector has grown exponentially in Kosovo in the past five years, mainly focusing on the provision of services to international markets. This growth has happened mainly because of two reasons: first, the labor force is cheaper compared to the European market and, second, around 70% of the population is under the age of 35 and has advanced digital skills. The mix of these two has ensured access to international markets and the provision of quality deliverables.

Squire Patton Boggs has successfully represented Kosovo in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration concerning the revocation of a microfinance license.

The latest legislative amendments on private international law and property ownership are promising for foreign investors, while Kosovo’s renewable energy investments are on the rise, according to Vokshi & Lata Senior Partner Adem Vokshi.

Cobalt has advised Lightrock and Haniel on leading a USD 30 million investment round into Aerones. 

Cobalt, working with Clifford Chance, has advised joint lead managers Deutsche Bank, Citigroup Global Markets Europe, Erste Group, and Nomura Financial Products Europe on the EUR 750 million issuance of five-year eurobonds by the Republic of Latvia. Allen & Overy reportedly advised the Treasury of the Republic of Latvia.

Ellex has helped Merito Partners set up and launch its Merito Management AIFP alternative investment fund structure in Latvia.

Ellex Valiunas has successfully represented Neringa Dangvyde Macate before the European Court of Human Rights, on a pro bono basis, in a dispute related to restrictions on the distribution of Dangvyde Macate’s fairy tale book, Amber Heart, depicting same-sex relationships and its subsequent labeling as harmful to children under the age of 14.

TGS Baltic has announced the appointment of Dalia Augaite, Sandra Bliuvaite-Sulciene, Marius Brasiunas, Martti Peetsalu, and Chirag Mody as Partners, while Tadas Varapnickas, Karolina Lapinskaite, and Triinu Jarviste have been appointed as Associate Partners at the firm.

Sorainen has advised Oxipit on a EUR 3.5 million investment from Taiwanese venture capital company Taiwania Capital. Walless advised Taiwania.

CEELMDirect Profile Pick: A series of interviews with Premium profile-holders on the CEELMDirect legal directory. Today’s interview: Robert Bachovski Sinkoli, Managing Partner at Bachovski Sinkoli Attorneys in North Macedonia.

A new Consumer Protection Act (the "Act") entered into force in North Macedonia on 15 November 2022.

Direct marketing consists of any marketing that relies on direct communication or distribution to individual consumers, rather than through a third party. Unlike traditional public relations campaigns pushed out through a third party, such as media publications or mass media, direct marketing campaigns operate independently to communicate with target audiences directly.

The country's EU candidate status and grave security concerns gave rise to far-reaching legislative reform in Moldova, with IPOs and digitalization in full swing, according to ACI Partners Partner Cristina Martin.

The Moldovan Government continues to promote in-depth reforms designed to meet the challenges of a digital economy. The last summer was marked by the adoption of new regulations aiming to stimulate private-sector innovation. The new legislation also instituted new responsibilities for digital platforms for creating, sharing, and streaming digital content to Moldovan users.

Contributed by Stratulat Albulescu.

The new General Collective Agreement („GCA“) has been published at the Official Gazette of Montenegro no. 150/22 on 30, December 2022 and will be valid for period of three years from 31, December 2022 when it came into legal force.

Former Karanovic & Partners Partner Milena Roncevic Pejovic has established Pejovic Legal in Montenegro.

Komnenic & Associates Lawyer Nemanja Radovic has been promoted to a Partner position within the firm on January 1, 2023.

As of 1 January 2023, new conditions govern aid in the Polish Investment Zone (PIZ), as indicated in the new regulation implementing the Act on supporting new investments (the new PIZ regulation).

Wardynski & Partners has advised CNS Pharmaceuticals on negotiating a contract to supply Berubicin to the Pomeranian Medical University.

Allen & Overy has advised FLE on its acquisition of the Kopernik Office Buildings in Warsaw from the DWS Group. Linklaters advised the seller.

Real estate is going through a transitional period, the Recovery and Resilience Plan's short deadlines are creating both pressure and legal work, while sustainability and waste management take center stage in Romania, according to Popescu & Asociatii Partner Loredana Popescu.

Popovici Nitu Stoica & Asociatii has advised Redport Capital on its EUR 3.2 million acquisition of over one hectare of land in the Petrom City area from Havi Logistics. Musat & Asociatii reportedly advised Havi.

The Bucharest-based Iulia Berea Law Office and the Budapest-based Chen Law Firm have joined the BLS-CEE network. The two firms' respective Managing Partners – Iulia Berea and Chen Chen – have also joined BLS-CEE as Collaborating Partners.

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.

Harrisons has advised the EBRD on its EUR 12 million unsecured loan to the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, in Serbia, for the financing of the implementation of energy efficiency measures in around 80 public buildings in 20 municipalities.

Petrovic Legal has advised Hefestos Capital on its acquisition of TMK Europe from undisclosed sellers.

Fresenius Medical Care has appointed Belgrade-based Mirko Lalatovic to the role of Head of Compliance, Central & South East Europe, EMEA.

Kocian Solc Balastik has advised J&T Agriculture and Ecology on its acquisition of 11 companies within Spearhead Czech and Spearhead Slovakia and the related acquisition financing by a banking group led by Komercni Banka. Clifford Chance advised the lenders.

Former Osborne Clarke CEO Simon Beswick has joined Kinstellar’s Board of Directors as a non-executive member.

Partner Stepan Starha has been elevated to an Equity Partner with Havel & Partners, while Lawyer Jiri Kunasek has been promoted to Partner.

Sibincic Krizanec has appointed Matic Novak to Senior Partner and Dinar Rahmatullin to Junior Partner. The firm updated its name after the promotion round to Sibincic Krizanec Novak.

Former Schoenherr Ljubljana Co-Managing Partner Eva Skufca has established the eponymous Law Firm Skufca in Slovenia.

On 15 December 2022, the Slovenian Parliament finally adopted the Data Protection Act (Zakon o varstvu osebnih podatkov, ZVOP-2, "ZVOP-2"), a national law implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"). The act had been several years in the making, with the earliest draft released for public consultation back in 2017.

Paksoy has advised Univar Solutions on its acquisition of Kale Kimya. Egemenoglu advised the sellers.

Gide Turkish affiliate Ozdirekcan Dundar Senocak has advised the Turkiye Wealth Fund on its acquisition of Bereket Katilim insurance companies and the subsequent restructuring of TWF subsidiaries' takaful insurance operations.

Moral, Kinikoglu, Pamukkale, Kokenek has advised Israel's Amiad Water Systems on its acquisition of the final 49% stake in FTS Filtrasyon Aritim Sistemleri. SCH-Legal reportedly advised the sellers.

Integrites has signed a pro bono collaboration agreement with the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs of Ukraine and the Affordable Housing Institute aimed at developing housing for war veterans and their families.

CMS has advised the EBRD on a EUR 10.8 million loan to Serbian machine manufacturer Stax Technologies.

On 5 January 2023, the "Procedure for Organisation and Maintenance of Military Registration of Conscripts, Persons Liable for Military Service and Reservists," approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1487 dated 30 December 2022 ("Procedure"), came into effect. The Procedure establishes changes regarding the military registration of Ukrainians, including new obligations for employers.