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The Vienna office of Schoenherr has advised joint lead managers Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale, Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg, and Raiffeisenbank International AG, on the placement of EUR 500 million 0.5% mortgage covered notes due 2041 issued by Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark AG. Wolf Theiss reportedly advised the issuer.

The increasing use of electric vehicles (EVs) in Austria means the supporting infrastructure requires constant development. The Austrian federal government program 2020-2024 envisages expanding the Austrian network of charging points for alternative fuels as an essential pillar of its drive towards implementing sustainable mobility solutions. In September 2020, the Austrian government followed through with its agenda by proposing the Austrian Renewable Energy Expansion Act (Erneuerbaren-Ausbau-Gesetz, EAG), which includes an amendment of the Austrian Act on Uniform Standards for Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Developments (Bundesgesetz zur Festlegung einheitlicher Standards beim Infrastrukturaufbau für alternative Kraftstoffe, BGFS). The EAG has recently been approved by the government and is now subject to discussions/approval by the Austrian parliament. The cornerstone of the amendment, which is expected to enter into force in the second half of 2021, involves establishing a public charging point register so that EV drivers can locate publicly accessible charging points when they need them and obtain other relevant information.

The Vienna Stock Exchange was founded in 1771, during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa. Initially launched as a market for state-issued bonds – only bonds, bills of exchange, and foreign currencies could be traded – it expanded rapidly. In 1818, the Austrian central bank – which had itself been founded only two years earlier – became the first joint-stock company to be listed on the exchange (and one of the first shareholders was Ludwig van Beethoven, who bought eight shares in 1819). In 1863, the Suez Canal Company had become the first foreign company to be listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, and in 1865, there was a further foreign listing with premium bonds issued to fund Turkish railway lines (“Turkenlose”). When the Frankfurter Bankverein applied for a listing of the Turkenlose bonds on the VSE, the Exchange Chamber decided to introduce rules for the admission of foreign securities, and thus, in 1873, the “Italian bond” became the first official foreign listing by means of a formal application. In December 1997, the Vienna Stock Exchange Chamber was merged with the Austrian Futures and Options Exchange to form a new exchange operating company, Wiener Borse AG, and in subsequent years the business spectrum of the Vienna Stock Exchange broadened to include market data dissemination and index calculation as well as IT services and central securities depository services.

The global COVID-19 crisis has led to a significant change in the field of M&A, both in Austria, and worldwide. In my more-than-twenty years of experience, I have not seen anything change the Austrian legal market so incredibly. Starting in March 2020, as a first step, several transactions in Austria were at least temporarily put on hold. As a result, the total number of transactions decreased in 2020. However, this trend was not unique to Austria, but represents a worldwide paradigm shift caused by increased uncertainty about the future of business.

The COVID-19 crisis continues to plague much of Europe. To get an overview of its effects across CEE – both on investment in the region and on the legal industry itself – we reached out to the members of Pontes the CEE Lawyers legal alliance, a Regional Sponsor at the upcoming Dealer’s Choice International Law Firm Summit.

The first rumors of a new infectious disease outbreak in late December 2019 initially only drew modest attention. Soon it became clear that the world had underestimated the spreading pandemic, and, despite Austria’s distance from the region of origin in Asia, by March 2020, the spread of COVID-19 in Europe had become a focus of concern. As hospitals struggled to deal with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, governments throughout Europe – including Austria – imposed lockdowns that brought society as we know it to an abrupt halt. Overnight, European cities became ghost towns, with shops and services shuttered. Revenues vanished and, through no fault of their own, businesses had to face a difficult financial reality.

Lately, the effects of COVID-19 have caused a significant surge in interest by high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on global migration, as political stability and safety, access to well-functioning healthcare and education systems, and the ability to maintain a high standard of living became even more important.

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