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With oil reserves constantly estimated between 150 and 200 million barrels, Albania has been widely regarded as one of the richest in hydrocarbons European countries, whereas Patos-Marinza oil area is recognized as the largest onshore oil field in continental Europe. Therefore, it was only normal for the industry to be quickly regulated upon the transition of Albania towards democracy in the early 1990s, by adopting industry specific legislation. Law 7746/1993 and Law 7811/1994, dealing with the granting of exploration and exploitation rights and the taxation of the activities, respectively.

Boyanov & Co and Kalo & Associates have advised Albania Telecom Invest Bulgaria and One Telecommunications SHA Albania on a refinancing loan made by a club of banks including OTP Bank Hungary, DSK Bank Bulgaria, and Banka OTP Albania, for a principal amount of EUR 37 million with a maturity of 10 years. Wolf Theiss advised the lenders on the deal.

The global pandemic has impacted all markets, with subsequent ramifications for M&A. Investors are now seeking greater protection against general lock-downs and supply-chain disruptions, while governments aim to protect critical supplies and services by imposing new regulations on foreign investment in crucial or strategic industries.

Allen & Overy has advised Oesterreichische Kontrollbank on its USD 1.75 billion issuance of 0.5% guaranteed global notes due 2024.

The NFT market is still relatively new and volatile, but its potential is huge. Christie's managed to auction an NFT linked to an artwork for over USD 69 million this March, proving that NFTs are a new asset class that can carry significant value. A value, that needs protection just like any other asset class.

Natalie Hahn will join the Employment practice of Eisenberger + Herzog as a Partner starting October 1, 2021.

Revera has advised Еurotorg on its USD 300 million initial public offering and listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Revera has advised US-based The Games Fund on its USD 1 million investment in the Vandrouka Games studio.

According to Konstantin Mikhel, Managing Partner at Vlasova Mikhel & Partners, sanctions-burdened Belarus is slowly preparing for the change of its constitution. In addition, Mikhel reports that two sets of "pertinent amendments" have been passed recently – one to Company Law and the other to Advocacy Law.

Ibrahimovic & Co has advised Studen & Co Holding on an agreement with the Brcko District's Government to build a free business zone in the district.

BiH's Baros, Bicakcic & Partners announced an exclusive cooperation with the UAE-based firm BinSuwadian Advocates & Legal Consultants.

A significant number of updates, changes, and amendments to the legal framework of Bosnia & Herzegovina spells out a very strong positive direction that the country is moving in, according to Saracevic & Gazibegovic Lawyers Partner Emina Saracevic.

PPG Lawyers has advised HeleCloud on its sale to SoftwareOne. Fieldfisher also advised HeleCloud on the deal, while Wolf Theiss and Pinsent Masons reportedly advised SoftwareOne.

With the country still helmed by an interim government, it would appear that Bulgaria remains in a position to grow and prosper and is a fruitful target for investors, according to Boyanov & Co Partner Damian Simeonov.

CMS has advised Cordeel Group N.V. on the sale of a mixed-use logistics and office development to CTP. Hristov & Partners advised the buyer on the deal.

Ilej & Partners, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, has advised the Generali Investments Slovenia managed Generali Growth Equity Fund on the acquisition of 74% of shares in Diverto. Lovric, Novokmet, Smrcek advised Diverto on the deal.

Ilej & Partners, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners and working with Dentons, has advised Singapore's Hotel Properties Limited on its acquisition of a 50% stake in Kupari resort developer Avenue Ulaganja.

DTB has advised Dogus Croatia and Martimus B.V. on the sale of D-Resort Sibenik to Villa Dubrovnik and subsequent sale of a majority stake in Villa Dubrovnik to the Erste Pension Fund. Bogdanovic, Dolicki & Partners advised the buyer on the deal.

Petr Soucek has joined Kinstellar's Prague office as a Managing Associate and Head of the local Dispute Resolution practice.

The Czech Republic is experiencing strong positive winds, irrespective of the severity with which the pandemic struck, and there are things aplenty to be happy about, according to Kocian Solc Balastik Partner Dagmar Dubecka.

Allen & Overy has advised Accolade Fund SICAV on the up to EUR 120 million refinancing of its entire Czech real estate portfolio provided by Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka and UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia. Dentons advised the lenders on the transaction.

With the country experiencing one of its record-breaking tourism seasons and the business sector booming, there are a lot of reasons to see the sun shining brightly in Greece, even with summer at an end, according to AKL Managing Partner Helen Alexiou.

Zepos & Yannopoulos has advised technology venture capital fund Nabtesco Technology Ventures on leading a EUR 5 million investment round into maritime technology start-up DeepSea Technologies. The Signal Group and existing investor ETF Partners participated in the round.

KLC has advised the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on the privatization of Egnatia Motorway.

With respect to the evaluation of the success of the incorporation of certain provisions of the Hungarian Civil Code in the practice and the regulatory proposals developed by the case law, the amendment of the Civil Code has become necessary, therefore, at the end of June 2021, an act amending the Hungarian Civil Code has been published.

The European Commission approved the creation of a new synthetic securitisation product under the EU State aid regulation. The new product is in the form of guarantees on synthetic securitisation tranches to help companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in the 22 participating Member States (i.e. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden). The product is under the European Guarantee Fund and managed by the European Investment Bank Group (EIB Group). The dedicated budget is EUR 1.4 billion, however, it is expected to mobilise at least EUR 13 billion of new lending to companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on 6 August 2021 the Hungarian Government issued Decree No. 474/2021 on the different application of the Patent Act (Act XXXIII of 1995). According to the decree, patent applications filed after the entry into force of this decree will not be subject to a maintenance fee for the first three years of patent protection. The decree was promulgated on 6 August 2021 and will remain in force until the end of the state of emergency related to COVID-19.

Sorainen, working with Herbert Smith Freehills, has advised Certares on its EUR 300 million structured equity investment into the Avia Solutions Group. Magnusson, working with White & Case and Cyprus-based Antis Triantafyllides & Sons, advised ASG on the deal.

Sorainen has advised US-headquartered Dynatrace on its acquisition of Estonia's SpectX.

Sorainen has advised JAS Worldwide on its acquisition of Greencarrier Freight Services International from the Greencarrier Group.

Holman Fenwick Willan, working with RZZ Law, has successfully represented the Privatisation Agency of Kosovo in UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings relating to one of the country's largest mines.

The right to privacy that is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo is embodied in the new Law on Protection of Personal Data, which was approved in January 2019 as an amendment and supplement to the old law, which had been in force since 2010. With the introduction of the new LPPD, Kosovo has implemented an advanced and comprehensive regulatory and institutional framework for data protection, incorporating the main principles and provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

The pharmaceutical sector in Kosovo is undergoing three major policy and legal reforms to increase its competitiveness and transparency. These reforms are part of a national project to improve the underdeveloped and under-regulated pharmaceutical market which would, in turn, encourage increased spending in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector.

Sorainen, working with Herbert Smith Freehills, has advised Certares on its EUR 300 million structured equity investment into the Avia Solutions Group. Magnusson, working with White & Case and Cyprus-based Antis Triantafyllides & Sons, advised ASG on the deal.

Sorainen has advised JAS Worldwide on its acquisition of Greencarrier Freight Services International from the Greencarrier Group.

Cobalt has advised I Asset Management on a EUR 12 million development project for private student housing in Riga in cooperation with MBC Capital and Bonum Management. Triniti reportedly advised MBC.

TGS Baltic has advised Lithuanian Aid for Business Fund investor UAB Valstybes Investicinis Kapitalas on establishing its EUR 400 million state-guaranteed note program and placing the inaugural EUR 30 million issuance. Luminor bank covered the issuance.

Sorainen, working with Herbert Smith Freehills, has advised Certares on its EUR 300 million structured equity investment into the Avia Solutions Group. Magnusson, working with White & Case and Cyprus-based Antis Triantafyllides & Sons, advised ASG on the deal.

Sorainen has advised Henkell Freixenet on its full takeover of Henkell Freixenet Lietuva, formerly Filipopolis.

Data controllers and data processors had until 24 August 2021 to align with the new Law on Personal Data Protection in North Macedonia (“Law”), which introduced the GDPR in the local legislation at the beginning of 2020. Non-compliance with the new obligations for personal data protection can lead to severe penalties, such as fines of up to 2% and up to 4% of the total annual turnover from the previous financial year, per misdemeanor.

In August 2021, the Law on Financial Support of Investments (“Law”) in North Macedonia has undergone several amendments. Changes are focused on easing the conditions for application, affecting the balanced regional development, and speeding up the procedures for payment of the granted funds.

During the summer, the Assembly in North Macedonia adopted relevant amendments to the Labour Law concerning the conditions for retirement. According to the estimations by the proposers of the amendment, around 6000 employees from the public and the private sector already reached 64 years of age by the end of 2020.

Sayenko Kharenko and Turcan Cazac advised joint bookrunners Citigroup, ING, and Renaissance Capital on the tap issue of USD 50 million 8.45% secured notes due 2026 by Trans-Oil Group. Baker McKenzie and Gladei & Partners advised Trans-Oil Group. 

BizLaw.md, a Romanian-language portal dedicated to business law in the Republic of Moldova, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. We spoke with its founder, Efrim Rosca & Asociatii Managing Partner Oleg Efrim, to learn more about the project and his plans going forward.

My Indian guru, a sine-qua-non vegetarian, adores the Moldovan pies (placinte poale-n brau) made by my mom. When back home in India he will definitely once again become a chapati devotee, but for now he is in Chisinau, enjoying the taste and flavor of my mom’s baking.

Even with the political situation in the country being turbulent, Montenegro has a lot to look forward to, especially given the success of this year’s tourism season, according to Vujacic Law Partner Jelena Vujisic.

In “The Corner Office” we ask Managing Partners at law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their backgrounds, strategies, and responsibilities. The question this time: “What did you most want to be when you were little?”

CMS' Malgorzata Surdek-Janicka has been appointed as Vice-President of the International Court of Arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. Aside from Surdek-Janicka, 33 lawyers from CEE were appointed as members and alternate members of the court.

Clifford Chance has advised a consortium of banks consisting of BNP Paribas Bank Polska, Bank Pekao, and mBank on their EUR 140 million financing for Clip Group subsidiary Clip Logistyka. Allen & Overy advised Clip on the deal.

Jolanta Nowakowska-Zimoch has been named the new Managing Partner of Greenberg Traurig's Warsaw office. She will be supported by two new Deputy Managing Partners, Rafal Baranowski and Radomil Charzynski.

SPCG has advised Enterprise Investors' private equity fund on the acquisition of a 36.3% stake in Polish utility container manufacturer Modular System. Gessel advised the seller on the transaction.

EY Romania affiliated law firm Radu si Asociatii has become Bancila, Diaconu si Asociatii, with two Partners at the helm: Radu Diaconu and Emanuel Bancila.

Kinstellar has advised the joint venture of Romania's Element Industrial and Dedeman on the sale of Eli Park 1 to South African real estate investment trust Fortress. Dentons advised the buyer on the transaction.

European Directive no. 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment was transposed into Romanian law as of 2 September 2021 by Ordinance no. 6/2021 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (the “Ordinance”).

Morgan Lewis has advised Kazakh investment company Pioneer Capital Invest on the acquisition of JSC Asian-Pacific Bank from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

Dmitry Kuptsov has been promoted to Partner with Alrud's Dispute Resolution and Restructuring and Insolvency practices.

Morgan Lewis has advised Yandex on restructuring the ownership of its MLU and self-driving joint ventures with Uber and acquisition of all shares in the Yandex.Eats, Yandex.Lavka, Yandex.Delivery, and Self-Driving businesses for a cash consideration of USD 1.0 billion. Alrud advised Uber on the deal. Cooley and Herbert Smith Freehills reportedly also advised the seller. 

Karanovic & Partners has announced it entered into an agreement with Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats to provide ongoing pro bono legal support on contracts, scholarships, and copyright matters.

Harrisons has advised the EBRD on two loans to Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad – one for EUR 25 million under the Resilience Framework and one for EUR 5 million under the SME Competitiveness Support Programme.

On 2 September 2021 Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) announced a 225 million euro fine for WhatsApp and ordered the company to amend its practices within three months. It is the largest fine ever from the DPC, and the second-highest under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

With the implementation deadline for the EU Directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (17 December 2021) approaching, here is a summary of the current state of the respective national measures in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and an introduction to our own whistleblowing solution: FairWhistle.

Havel & Partners has advised Arbol Capital on the acquisition of the remaining 50% of shares in Kovaco Electric. MCL advised Kovaco on the deal.

Dentons has advised Ciklum on its acquisition of Czech-based software development company CN Group from Genesis Capital. Havel & Partners advised Genesis Capital on the deal.

Following the record-long period, since May 25, 2018, during which Slovenia failed to adopt a relevant GDPR-implementing act, the Slovenian Government has sent a new draft of the Slovenian Data Protection Act for public discussion. If the parliamentary process runs uninterruptedly, the adoption of the new Act can be expected by the fall of this year.

AP Legal has advised the founder and sole shareholder of YU PD Express doo Belgrade Ljiljana Zivkovic Karaklajic on the sale of the company to Slovenia Broadbank S.a.r.l. Schonherr reportedly advised Slovenia Broadbank on the deal.

On May 26, 2021, the EU’s new Medical Device Regulation came into force, significantly changing the applicable regime, including – of particular interest to the dynamic Slovenian MedTech start-up community – by providing a new definition of software applications that need to be certified as medical devices.

Former Inal Unver Attorney Partnership Partner Ekin Inal has joined the International Finance Corporation as a Legal Counsel in Turkey.

Former ARC Avukatlik Burosu Managing Partner Cemal Araalan has joined Bezen & Partners as a Partner and Head of Litigation.

Employees may have access to important and confidential information related to the employer, including the company’s operations, clientele and trade secrets. Use of such information without employer’s knowledge may harm the legitimate interests of the employer. In this respect, an employee should not compete with his/her employer according to the duty of fidelity during the term of the employment agreement. As this is a statutory duty imposed on the employee, there is no need for such non-compete obligation to be explicitly set out in the employment agreement.

CMS has advised mobile operator Vodafone Ukraine and parent company Neqsol Holding on the acquisition of Vega Telecom from the SCM Group.

On June 14, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that the former DLA Piper office in Ukraine had merged with Kinstellar. We spoke with Co-Managing Partners Olena Kuchynska, Margarita Karpenko, and Senior Counsel Daniel Bilak – the Management Committee of the combined team – to learn more about the merger and their plans going forward.

Let me start with a provocative statement: it is really easy and safe to do business in Ukraine today. As discussed in the article below, this is not a naive view of a Ukrainian lawyer but pure facts and statistics. Moreover, if you compare Ukraine with its neighbors, the contrast is startling: information transparency of companies coupled with super-fast registration procedures and special regime for IT companies are astonishing.