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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.

The legal landscape has changed remarkably since 2008 when I made the jump from being an in-house lawyer at the Central Bank of Albania to a legal associate at a law firm. At the time, for a lawyer working in two small-sized non-EU countries such as Albania and Kosovo, work was predominantly focused on the local markets, with no or little exposure to international activities. This started to change as the CEE region became more attractive to foreign investors, who were looking at opportunities often spread across several countries. The legal work in M&A, privatization processes, and energy investments often involved teams from various law firms, both in CEE and in Western Europe or the US, and was my gateway to gaining knowledge of the regional market and understanding the space for growth there.

The Albanian energy market is experiencing several developments reflective of regional and global events. Local and foreign investors’ interest in renewable energy projects is surging. However, some questions remain open as to whether the government will be able to fully satisfy their expectations.

Schoenherr, working with Pinsent Masons and Wenger Vieli, has advised Kontron on selling parts of Kontron Group’s IT services business to Vinci Energies during a competitive auction process, for approximately EUR 400 million. Reportedly, Baker McKenzie’s German office advised Vinci Energies. Loloci & Associates advised Kontron on Albanian matters.

Bird & Bird has advised Hungary’s OTP Bank Group on its acquisition of the Albanian subsidiary of Greek Alpha Bank for EUR 55 million. White & Case advised Alpha Services and Holdings. Boga & Associates reportedly advised OTP as well. Kalo & Associates reportedly also advised Alpha.

Founding Partner Perparim Kalo has returned to his eponymous firm Kalo & Associates after serving for two years as a Justice of the Constitutional Court of Albania.

While the economy appears to have been doing better, on the back of infrastructural development, the internal judicial reorganization is leaving Albania in a bit of a bind, according to CMS Partner Besnik Duraj.

Wolf Theiss and Yavuz & Uyanik & Akalin have advised 4iG Nyrt on the acquisition of an 80.27% stake in AlbTelecom from a subsidiary of Turkey's Calik Holding. Tashko Pustina reportedly advised the sellers. The deal was cleared by the Albanian Competition Authority on March 4, 2022.

CEE Legal Matters readers will likely be familiar with Patricia Gannon as one of the founders of Karanovic & Partners. Since her withdrawal from the firm (reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 21, 2020), Gannon ran her own "holistic strategic advisory business" (as reported on October 12, 2020) and, recently, she announced she is working on a new social media app for lawyers – Platforum 9. We caught up with her to learn more about her new project.

On April 5, 2022, leading lawyers from across all of CEE will be coming together for the Dealer's Choice Conference and Deals of the Years Awards Banquet. Leading up to the event, we spoke with Vladimir Rangeloff of Kambourov & Partners to learn what they are looking forward to the most.

On April 5, 2022, leading lawyers from across all of CEE will be coming together for the Dealer's Choice Conference and Deals of the Years Awards Banquet. Leading up to the event, we spoke with Silvije Cipcic-Bragadin of Cipcic-Bragadin Mesic and Associates to learn what they are looking forward to the most.

On April 5, 2022, leading lawyers from across all of CEE will be coming together for the Dealer's Choice Conference and Deals of the Years Awards Banquet. Leading up to the event, we spoke with Gabor Bebok of Pontes Budapest to learn what they are looking forward to the most.

On April 5, 2022, leading lawyers from across all of CEE will be coming together for the Dealer's Choice Conference and Deals of the Years Awards Banquet. Leading up to the event, we spoke with Oana Ijdelea of Ijdelea & Associates to learn what they are looking forward to the most.

With a population of approximately 2.8 million inhabitants, Albania’s economy is mostly composed of SMEs. To a large extent the financial sector is driven by commercial banks, however, in recent years, thanks also to extensive regulation by the central bank (Bank of Albania – BoA), non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) have picked up a significant portion of the market.

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