Although Bosnia & Herzegovina is relatively small, and despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Bojana Bosnjak-London, Partner in the Corporate/M&A practice of Maric & Co in Sarajevo, reports that her team has been busy, noting that they were “lucky to land quite a few good deals.”
Specifically, Bosnjak-London points to the agreement signed in April by Aluminij Industries d.o.o., the Bosnian subsidiary of Israel's M.T. Abraham Group, to restart production. According to her, with over 1,000 employees, Aluminij Industrie used to among the most influential aluminum producers in the region, but production was shut down last year due to growing debt. The recent deal, Bosnjak-London reports, followed lengthy negotiations between M.T. Abraham and the government. “Things are now looking very good," she says. "Some of the employees have already been re-hired, and production is expected to start soon.”
The firm also recently advised Shandong International, and its Bosnian subsidiary SDHS-CSI BH Banja Luka, on the Banja Luka-Prijedor-Novi Grad highway construction project: the first concession for a highway construction project in the country.
Finally, Bosnjak-London says, the firm is providing ongoing advice to the Fortenova group, which was formed from Agrokor. “They have 11 subsidiaries here and we are advising them on all the settlement implementation issues that are coming up,” Bosnjak-London says, explaining that a settlement was achieved following the procedure of extraordinary administration imposed on Agrokor, which included the transferring of the company's business activities to the new group.
“There is not much to report in terms of trends since the market is pretty much dead,” Bosnjak-London says. “We benefited from a trend of Middle-Eastern investors looking at the country, but that was last year, and while losing that is slightly compensated by Chinese activity, with the pandemic we are not overly-optimistic about the general attractiveness for investors.” Her practice's pipeline keeps her busy. “M.T. Abraham should be a long term project and Fortenova will also likely continue to supply work for a few years." Beyond that, she says, the firm is “probably looking at quite a lot of restructuring and insolvency work in the near future – we are not really expecting too much in terms of FDI, irrespective of how much it is needed.”