Infrastructure, the Open Balkan initiative, and the ongoing judicial reform are the major topics in Albania, according to Tashko Pustina Partner Florian Hasko.
As one of the next wave candidates for membership in the European Union, Albania went a long distance in the harmonization of its legal framework with the acquis communautaire in recent years. The most recent country progress report of the European Commission, issued as part of the 2020 Enlargement Package for the Western Balkans, recognized the legislative efforts of the country to align its legal framework to EU requirements and to enhance the country’s ability to assume the obligations of membership.Albania first ventured into the legal regulation of antitrust in 1995 by introducing a law On Competition, which dealt with antitrust, as well as with unfair competition and consumer protection matters. As a first attempt, it raised a lot of questions, but it also opened the topic of competition law in the country and served as a starting point in developing the relevant legal framework.
The fiscal regime of companies and contractors operating onshore in the exploration & production segment of the oil and gas industry in Albania was fundamentally changed by Law no. 153/2020 On the Fiscal Regime in the Hydrocarbon Sector (the Hydrocarbon Fiscal Law or HFL), that came into effect on February 2, 2021.
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.
Akin Gump, Bogdanovic, Dolicki & Partneri, Maric & Co, Isailovic & Partners, Harrisons, Zdolsek Attorneys at Law, Boga & Associates, Popovski & Partners, and Forgo Damjanovic & Partners have advised Croatian conglomerate Fortenova Grupa d.d., on the EUR 615 million sale of its frozen food business to Nomad Foods. Norton Rose Fulbright, Lakatos, Koves & Partners, and five firms from the SEE Legal alliance advised Nomad Foods on the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021.
“Today, what we are doing, is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws, and granting banks significant new authority.” President Clinton’s quote is quite relevant nowadays in Albania, where a major overhaul of the financial system’s legal architecture is being implemented. Indeed, in just three weeks, the Albanian Parliament enacted four very important pieces of legislation: the Law on Payment Services, the Law on Capital Markets, the Law on Collective Investment Undertakings, and the Law on Financial Markets Based on Distributed Ledgers Technology.
The control of merger transactions was first introduced in Albania in 1995. This law, however, provided only rudimentary guidance, and merger control really took off only after 2003, following the approval of Law no. 9121, “On Competition Protection” (the “Competition Law”), which established an independent competition authority – the Albanian Competition Authority (the ACA) – and provided for procedures that were aligned with EU standards. The Competition Law has been amended a number of times to further approximate its provisions with the EU acquis. The ACA has also issued regulations and instructions for the implementation of the merger control regime.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Western Balkans right during a period of accelerating economic activity and a promising economic outlook for 2020. The rapid spread of the virus forced the governments of the Western Balkans countries to introduce protective measures, lockdowns, and temporary business shutdowns. These restrictions had a devastating direct economic impact on a wide range of sectors – particularly the hospitality and transport industries – and the measures had many indirect side effects that significantly decreased economic activity.
The SEE Legal law firm alliance has announced the formal launch of two new practice groups, one dedicated to Employment and Immigration, headed by Kolcuoglu Demirkan Kocakli Counsel Maral Minasyan, and one dedicated to Intellectual Property, headed by Selih & Partnerji Partner Natasa Pipan Nahtigal.