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In “The Buzz” we interview experts on the legal industry living and working in Central and Eastern Europe to find out what’s happening in the region and what legislative/professional/cultural trends and developments they’re following closely. Because the interviews are carried out and published on the CEE Legal Matters website on a rolling basis, we’ve marked the dates on which the interviews were originally published.

CMS has advised investors Michael Heinritzi and Robert Hubner on their purchase of the hotel Schloss Lebenberg in Kitzbuhel from Bank Austria. Freshfields advised Bank Austria on the deal, which is expected to close near the end of the year. The contract was signed on Friday, October 7, and the purchase price was not disclosed.

When it comes to information protection, the use of property rights – including patents, trademarks, and copyrights – is not necessarily the best choice. To some extent, it is even not permitted by law. Protecting the access to know-how and commercial business information is therefore sometimes preferable to businesses, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises that tend to rely on trade secrets in order to reduce the costs of property rights protection. 

Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati has advised RHI AG on Austrian matters related to its merger with Brazil's Magnesita Refratarios S.A. (MR) with a view to creating a leading provider of refractory products. The new company will be named RHI Magnesita. Also advising RHI AG were DRUDE, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Pinheiro Guimaraes. Clifford Chance advised GP Investments and Rhone Capital, MR’s controlling shareholders, on the deal. 

Freshfields and Fellner Wratzfeld & Partner have advised UniCredit S.p.A. (Italy) on its takeover of the CEE business of its subsidiary UniCredit Bank Austria AG. Apart from shareholdings in 13 banks in Southern Europe and CEE, a loan portfolio in the amount of about EUR six billion also passed to the parent company in Milan. Grohs Hofer advised the works council and bpv Hugel advised Bank Austria’s retired employees.

Schoenherr has advised Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA) in proceedings before the European Commission regarding an alleged infringement of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits any abuse of a dominant position within the internal market which may affect trade between EU Member States. ARA has agreed to settle its affair with the Commission — the first settlement ever in an Article 102 TFEU case.

Schoenherr is reporting that, on September 30, 2016, Michael Lagler was elected as the new Managing Partner at the firm, where he will take over from Christoph Lindinger, who has led the Central and Eastern European law firm for the past 16 years. Lagler's term will begin at the start of the firm’s next fiscal year, on February 1, 2017.

On 14 June 2016, a draft law amending the Austrian Federal Act against Unfair Competition 1984 and the Austrian Price Labelling Act was published for public consultation (the ‘Draft Law’). The Draft Law intends to introduce a ban on best price clauses (also referred to as price parity clauses or most favoured nation clauses, ‘MFNs’) in contracts between providers of booking portals (more commonly referred to as online travel agencies, ‘OTAs’) and hotel operators (in the following simply referred to as ‘hotels’).

Schoenherr, working with the Swiss firm Bar & Karrer as lead counsel, is advising OVS S.p.A., a leading Italian clothing retailer, and Sempione Retail AG, in connection with Sempione Retail's cash tender offer for all publicly held bearer shares of Swiss company Charles Vogele Holding AG in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Poland. The Swiss Homburger firm and investment bank Lazard advised Charles Vogele.

Schoenherr is reporting that it advised the shareholders of Austrian freight wagon holding company ERR Rail Rent Vermietungs GmbH (ERR) on the sale of 100% of their shares in ERR and 33.3% of their shareholding in the asset management company ERR European Rail Rent GmbH to Aves One AG ("Aves One"), a logistics equipment company. Gleiss Lutz advised the shareholders of ERR on the German law aspects of the transaction, and Huth Dietrich Hahn (in Germany) and Jakobljevich & Grave Rechtsanwalte (in Vienna) provided legal advice to Aves One.

Taylor Wessing CEE is reporting that Susanne Fruhstorfer, the firm's Head of Insolvency, was unanimously appointed member of the Council of the INSOL Europe insolvency association, where she will represent Austria for the next three years.